What is a wheel bite and how to avoid it?

In Blog - 06/06/2017

Nothing beats the thrill of longboarding. Whether you carve, downhill, or freestyle, having total control over your board is essential for getting the performance you need. Unfortunately, many riders experience wheel bite as a recurring problem on their ride.

Wheel bite occurs when your longboard’s wheels make contact with the deck, causing the board to come to an abrupt stop. Riders who aren’t expecting the sudden stop are quite likely to fall, suffering scrapes, bruises, or worse.

While wheel bite is sometimes the result of poor technique, in other cases, additional tinkering with your setup may be necessary to ensure that you don’t experience these jolting stops while longboarding.

Common Causes of Wheel Bite

So what technical issues put you at higher risk for wheel bite? These are some of the most common culprits:

Wheel Size — If your wheels are too large, you probably won’t have enough space between your wheels and your deck. As a result, your wheels are far more likely to hit the bottom of your deck when landing a jump or performing a sharp turn.

Loose Trucks — While loose trucks can make it easier to turn and offer a more comfortable ride for some, extremely loose trucks also pose a higher risk of wheel bite. The added tilt during turns makes this problem a distinct possibility.

No Wheelwell Cutouts — While some boards come with molded arches to create additional space between the deck and the wheels, this feature isn’t always present. Those small arches can make a big difference, especially on boards with a low ride height. Without wheelwell cutouts, low riding boards can be quite susceptible to wheel bite.

Stopping Wheel Bite

So what can you do to keep wheel bite from disrupting your ride? The following fixes are some of the best known ways to eliminate wheel bite for good:

New Wheels — One of the simplest solutions for wheel bite is to purchase smaller wheels for your board. After all, the wheels are involved in any wheel bite problem, and trading out your large wheels for smaller models is an easy fix. Downgrading to smaller wheels can also make it easier to slide while riding. Of course, not everyone wants to part with their favorite wheels, especially downhill riders whose speeds would decrease by switching to smaller wheels. New wheels can also be expensive! However, this is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of wheel bite.

Risers — Adding risers is another common approach for eliminating wheel bite. Risers are available in heights ranging from ⅛ to ½ inch, and can easily be added to provide more clearance between the wheels and the deck. Risers also have the benefit of improving shock absorption, turning, and grip. However, risers also increase the height of your board, which isn’t the best for maintaining stability and control. The addition of risers will also make it more difficult to switch your trucks.

Bushings — Changing the bushing setup or tightening your trucks is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. However, it does require a bit of research so that you know which setup you should switch to. Common solutions involve swapping from a cone/cone setup to a cone/barrel, from an eliminator/barrel to a stepped cone/stepped cone, and from barrel/cone to barrel/barrel. These adaptations will change your truck feel, but they’ll also prevent wheel bite by limiting turns.

Conclusion

Wheel bite can be a serious problem (especially for beginning longboarders), but it doesn’t have to be. By recognizing the issues that are contributing to wheel bite and taking appropriate steps to solve them, you can stay safe and have fun every time you ride.