How to trim and reshape worn-out longboard wheels

November 4, 2022 | Skateboarding
Downhill longboarding: sliding and safety depend on non-worn-out high-performance urethane wheels | Photo: Red Bull

Longboard wheels can be expensive. Sometimes, instead of throwing a used set into the garbage, the best thing to do is trim and reshape them to give them a second life.

The reconditioning process will not only save you money but also improve the performance of your longboard wheels.

Riding with a set of uneven urethane wheels at high speed could be dangerous and potentially put your life at risk.

By trimming the worn-out equipment, you will increase safety levels and skate confidently down a hill and slide smoothly into curved streets.

You need a set that doesn't wobble at high speed and keeps you in complete control of the turns and slides across the asphalt.

The reshaping work also allows you to choose a new lip profile according to the wheels' future use.

The most common longboard wheel lip shapes are:

  • Rounded Lips (free riding and sliding);
  • Sharp 90° Lips (racing);

Most of the tools and materials you'll need are simple and only require a spot to mount the vise.

If you don't own all the items listed below, you can easily borrow them from a friend, a woodshop, or a skate shop owner.

If you don't have a handheld grinder, you can attach the wheel to a power drill using cone bushings, washers, and a kingpin.

Then, as the wheel rotates, get a file or heavy sandpaper to smooth out the imperfections.

Longboard wheels: if your set wobbles, it's time to trim and reshape it | Photo: Sterling/Creative Commons

Tools and Materials

  • Handheld grinder;
  • Small vise;
  • Old hanger;
  • Marker;
  • Ruler;
  • Two bad bearings;
  • Axle nut;
  • 1/2'' wrench;
  • Goggles;
  • Earplugs (optional);
  • Respirator (optional);

Longboard wheels: a worn-out set has less grip and is unsafe to ride at high speeds | Photo: Talavasek/Creative Commons

Longboard Wheel Trimming | Instructions

If you can't do the reshaping job outdoors, do it with a vacuum sucking up the tiny urethane particles.

Here's how to reuse your old set of longboard urethane wheels:

  1. Cut off the old hanger's ring area where the kingpin goes through a shortboard-style truck;
  2. Take the hanger and tighten it down in a vise with the wheel sticking up so when you look down at it, you see the bearing;
  3. Before mounting the wheel, get two old bearings and tighten down the nut, so the wheel has minimal flop and only slight resistance. Don't worry about speed rings or spacers - you don't need them. The goal is to have the rotating grinder spin the wheel while it is shaving the lip;
  4. Now that the wheel is mounted, pick up your ruler and the marker;
  5. Measure down from the lip as far as you want to trim. Mark that with a color that stands out. For instance, in a white wheel, you can use red. You will know the trimming is over when the mark is no longer there, so make the lowest point on the mark the total distance you want to trim;
  6. Get the grinder at the correct angle. Otherwise, this step will be compromised. You want the grinder flat on the top of the wheel with only a little bit over the lip. Having the lip under the center of the grinder may chunk and destroy your wheel;
  7. Put on your safety gear and grind. Make sure to do it outside, as particles will go everywhere and stick to every object. Don't try to grind the whole amount at once. Stop every few seconds, so the wheel doesn't heat up. If the wheel heats up, the particles start to get stringy, and the overall job becomes very messy;
  8. Once you approach your mark, start grinding at smaller intervals, so you don't overtrim it. Once you hit the spot, you're done;
  9. Flip it around and do the other side if you want/need to. You can even match the lip profile;
  10. Now that your wheels are done clean your equipment and take a shower. Ride the repaired longboard wheels to smooth out small burs that might still exist. They will come off quickly;

The trimming may remove the thin layer of dirt on the surface of the wheels and improve their grippiness.

You can also add flex to the inner and outer lips by scooping out some urethane material inside the wheel.

You'll feel that the transition between grip and slip will be more gradual and natural.

The procedure described above can quickly transform a rounded free-ride wheel into a sharp-edge racing wheel and vice-versa.

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