With products follow the standards! 48 mm wheels are too darn small


I’m going to start this blog entry with an example from my childhood. For whatever reason my sisters and I were content with the original Atari for years. When Nintendo came up we weren’t begging for a video game system. I played at friends’ houses but never got a Nintendo system myself. Trying to pinpoint a year, I’d guess 1990, we had Atari for a long time by then and even Nintendo was getting old. So when it was time to ask for a new system I had the decision to make. The older Sega Geneses, or the new spangled Turbo Graffix 16. I was a sucker and went against the vastly more popular choice. I got the Turbo Graffix 16 for Christmas or a birthday, and was the only one in the neighborhood with that system. Unlike the Sega Genesis one had to buy new games to play Turbo Graffix 16. So none of my friends had it, one could not rent games in video stores at the time, I ended up getting Sega Genesis a few years later, and this taught me a valuable lesson.  The lesson I learned from my childhood video game system choice is with products most of the time it is better to go with the mainstream choice, or even the companies that hold a monopoly on a service. As an adult consumer I have Verizon for my cell phone service like the majority of people in the NYC area.

Now I’ll go into my current skateboard product debacle completely brought on by myself. Over Christmas visiting my parents I bought a new skateboard deck from my friend’s shop in Toledo Ohio.  At the time I had a perfectly fine setup, so I was saving that deck for later.  In January and February I got a cold or the flu three times so I had a lot of time to think about skating without actually skating. Somehow I wrapped my head around that if I had smaller wheels, I could get back a lot more tech tricks. So first I looked up the online for wheels, and saw the online shops had them as small as 48mm. But for 48 mm and 49 mm there are only a few companies making wheels that small.  In today’s world the standard wheel only goes as small as 50 mm, but more are made at about 52 mm.  A tech wheel tops out at 53 mm, but a lot of people ride bigger wheels for speed on the streets or at parks. So with this information I contacted a few shops in NYC through facebook to see if they carried 48 mm wheels, and none of them did.  48 mm are outside the norm of modern day skateboarding, yet I felt compelled to get them.

Over winter online I got 48 mm Spitfire wheels, Bones bearings, and Bones bushings. That made a practically new setup for spring except I kept the Thunder trucks. When I told several of my NYC skate friends of my wheel choice they picked fun at me.  One of my friends said it best that with wheels that small I was going to have to push while going downhill. Some of my friends ride wheels that are as big as 60 mm.  Several of them called my small wheels bearing covers. Not every skater is nostalgic for the small wheels and big pants era of the early 1990’s. For a time, I’d say 1991 to 1994 people could not get larger wheels and I think the smallest ever made were about 38 mm.

Skating my new set up about a month ago I liked it. I felt more consistent. I was landing my tricks and glad I didn’t lose any tricks considering being sick for a lot of winter. I think though that since skating was on my mind through winter, I was pumped getting back in spring and skated harder.  I also got a new camera, and the filming while showing improvement does show that all of my tricks are low.  Also, for skating from spot to spot in NYC these small wheels are torture. Every crack is felt, on rough ground the vibrations roll up my legs, and I lag behind my crew as far as speed goes.

Last week, I bought a pair of 51 mm from a friend that owns a shop in Washington Heights, and I think that’s a good compromise. They are still relatively small, all tech tricks should be possible, and it’s within the standard size range for wheels. These new wheels I’ll set up are good quality being Bones. I should be able to pop a little higher, and go faster from spot to spot.

Lastly, standards are usually made for reasons. In some things like how you dress, what you eat or drink, or what music you listen by all means go with your gut and go for what you like.  But when evaluating products or services the popular thought is always worth noting when making decisions on things you plan to use regularly.

2 thoughts on “With products follow the standards! 48 mm wheels are too darn small

  1. Love these articles! And I admit… I was the guilty party calling them ‘Bearing Covers’, still, you were getting flips with the wheels locked down!

  2. Thanks Simon! If I just skated flatland for tricks this would be fine. But pushing from spot to spot as we do is tough on those wheels!

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