What is Wheel Bite? + 4 Ways to Prevent It [Step-by-Step Guide]

There are several things in this world that can bring an immediate stop to an otherwise fun skateboarding session: rain, security guards, rocks, and wheel bite. There isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop these anti-skate forces, but the last one, wheel bite, is worth understanding more deeply.

So what is wheel bite?

Wheel bite occurs when your board’s wheels rub against the bottom of your wooden deck.

If you’ve skated any deck for a while, be it a street deck, longboard, cruiser deck, or any kind of skateboard, you’ll notice little areas where the paint has rubbed away above the wheels. The culprit? Wheel bite.

Turning sharply on your board and also the impact of your own bodyweight coming down atop the board will cause the deck to rub against the wheels. Wheel bite occurs more frequently and more easily if you ride with loose trucks, where the nut on top of the kingpin isn’t kept very tight.

But even if you ride with tight trucks, some wheel bite is still inevitable. It’s a bit like raindrops or rocks in the pavement; you simply can’t avoid them at all times. And like little rocks in the pavement, when wheel bite happens, it’ll bring your board and you to a sudden stop. So, no, wheel bite isn’t anyone’s favorite part of skateboarding, even if it’s somewhat unavoidable.

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How to prevent wheel bite

[1] Tighten your trucks

We say that wheel bite is somewhat unavoidable because there are steps that you can take to reduce wheel bite. You could tighten your trucks, but many skaters prefer to ride with loose trucks, as it increases turnability, makes your board more maneuverable, and just makes your board more rideable, some argue.

longboard truck

[2] Add riser pads

Some skaters add riser pads between the trucks’ baseplate and the deck to increase the distance between wheels and the deck and absorb impact. This is one solution. These little inserts might even increase your pop when ollieing, but they might also affect how your board feels and maneuvers. They’re worth a try if wheel bite is a constant issue.

[3] Use the right-sized wheels

On the topic of trucks, make sure that your longboard wheels or skateboard wheels aren’t too big for your trucks. If you have large skateboard wheels but short trucks, there won’t be very much clearance between your wheels and your skateboard deck. Low-profile trucks typically stand 46–49 mm in height from the baseplate to the top of the hanger. So, if you’re riding lower trucks, make sure your wheels don’t exceed 50–53 mm in diameter. If you’re riding mid or higher-profile trucks, wheel size won’t be as much of an issue in terms of preventing wheel bite.

[4] Change your bushings

Instead of tightening your trucks, you might also swap your bushings, which are the little urethane rings that go around the kingpin. Bushings come in various durometer measurements, which indicates their hardness. Harder, larger bushings will be stiffer, so your wheels will be less likely to come in contact with your deck. However, changing your bushings will affect your board feel; actually any modification to your trucks can affect how your board feels.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting used to a different feel and rideability. After all, if you’re having  frequent wheel bite issues, it’s better to have to get used to a new board setup than to be constantly screeched to a halt by wheel bite!

longboard bushing shape
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Built-In bite prevention

For longboards and some cruiser boards, there’s more variation as far as trucks design and features. While it’s typically best for street skateboards to be the same width with the length of your trucks, meaning the edge of your wheels line up with the edge of your deck, for longboards, this isn’t always the case. Some longboarding trucks extend beyond the edge of your deck, which can improve stability. If wheels extend way out beyond the deck, wheel bite can’t occur.

Still, other longboards and some skateboard decks contain wheel wells. These little rounded pockets conform to the shape of the wheel, decreasing the surface area that can brush up against wheels and also conforming to the wheels’ shape, should wheel bite occur. With a lot of longboards and decks that contain wheel wells, they’re often made to ride with loose trucks, so that you can have great maneuverability and a mellow ride, as these boards intend.

wheel bite
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Tolerating wheel bite?

Even if you change your setup to prevent wheel bite, wheel bite might still occur. That’s just part of skateboarding! Similarly, how your board feels all around—meaning its maneuverability, handling, pop, and other factors—will probably be of greater importance than solely its ability to prevent wheel bite. Stopping wheel bite is important, sure, but, frankly, so are many other variables.

A little wheel bite here and there will probably make you fall off your board or frustratingly come to a sudden stop when atop your board. But, guess what? There are a whole host of other obstacles and objects that will also make you fall off your board and come to a stop. Stay ahead of all that by wearing proper safety gear including knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and a good longboarding helmet.

Preventing wheel bite can only improve your ability to ride your board and have a great time doing so. Yet it’s still just one consideration, among many, when setting up and riding your board.

Longboarding Guide
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