The History of Skateboard Wheels
Skateboard wheels were first invented in the early 1900s. A few inventive children took old roller skate wheels and attached them to 2 by 4 boards. The original skateboard wheels were made from steel, and were very difficult to use, because the wheels had very little traction.
In the 1950s, the first commercial skateboards were manufactured, still with metal wheels. By the 1960s, manufacturers realized that metal wheels were not working for skateboards, so they tried making boards with clay wheels. However, the clay wheels were not much better than the metal wheels, and produced a fast, bumpy ride that was difficult to control.
It was not until the 1970s that skateboard manufacturers began to use polyurethane wheels for skateboards. The inventor of the skateboard polyurethane wheel was Frank Nasworthy, who noticed that urethane wheels preformed better on roller skates, and figured they would work better on skateboards as well. When polyurethane rollers manufacturers started to create urethane wheels for skateboards, the sport took off. In the mid to late 1970s, young people across the United States started skating on boards as its own sport, rather than just as a novelty activity. The first skateboarding tricks and official skating rules were also created in the 1970s.
By the 1980s, polyurethane rollers manufacturers were busy with the creation of wheels for skateboards, which was now an established sport. Since the 1980s, the construction of skateboard wheels have not changed much. Some modern polyurethane formulas provide better traction and resiliency than the original mixtures, but the construction remains essentially the same. Clear wheels actually provide better performance than colored wheels, because the pigments in the wheels allows for less urethane in the wheel. The greater concentration of urethane, the better performance the wheel will have both in flexibility and traction.