Pebbles are notorious among skaters.
This is because such a small seemingly insignificant piece of nothing can stop you suddenly and send you flying to the pavement. The sound is unmistakable and sounds sort of like a powerslide as you board screeches to a halt.
This can turn from annoying to dangerous at high speeds and when trying to skate big ledges or stairs. So beware of the pebble, but don’t let it stop you.
Is there anything we can do to stop falling from pebbles and other small debris?
How To Avoid Falling From Pebbles
Scope Out Your Spot
This is incredibly important if you’re getting ready to try a large trick down a set of stairs or off a ledge.
Walk up to where you will be skating and look around on the ground. Look for any visible cracks, pebbles, or other debris. If you do see some, kick it away with your foot or use a broom if you brought one. Essentially this is just tidying up or cleaning up the spot you want to skate.
If you watch any pro skaters getting ready to hit a big rail or stair set, then always walk up to it and check out the spot before attempting it. Hitting a pebble and flying headfirst down some stairs is not something most people want to do.
A trick is to keep a small broom in the trunk of your car. You can whip this out and use it if the spot is particularly covered in pebbles and rocks.
Shift Your Weight
This is a technique that really only works if you see the rock coming up to your board. If you manage to notice a rock or pebble before you hit it, you can just slightly lift up your front trucks and shift your weight back. This will let the front wheels ride over the pebble easily.
Though it is still possible to have your back wheels catch the pebble. Try and shift your weight back to the front wheels and maybe even turn your board so that this doesn’t happen.
The huge downside to this technique is that you need to notice the pebble before you ride over it. This simply won’t happen all of the time. Some of these nasty pebbles are pretty hard to spot especially when moving with some speed.
Get Softer and Larger Wheels
The last and most effective method is to get softer or larger wheels. This is also not a perfect solution, because the wheels need to be pretty soft to ride over most pebbles, and then they won’t be good to do tricks with.
One solution that I see guys at my local do is to cruise to the park on soft wheels or longboard wheels and then switch them out to harder wheels. This can take some time and requires a T-tool but is a good option. Just switching out the wheels on one board is much cheaper than owning another board just to cruise with.
Because this is the case, longboard wheels work just fine though you might need a riser pad to avoid getting wheel bite. Otherwise, you don’t really want to skate on wheels that are lower than 88a hardness or larger than 59 mm. If you try to do so, tricks will be hard to do or even downright impossible for some tricks like powerslides.
It is true that a slightly larger and softer wheel will help, but just don’t go overboard. An 88a hardness wheel that is sized at 58 mm is a good choice for a compromise.
Skateboarding has a bad rep as being reckless and risky. If you want to see how dangerous skating really is, check out my data-driven guide here.
Best Skate Wheels For Pebbles
To recommend wheels here, I need you to understand two things:
- The bigger and larger a wheel is the better it will handle cracks.
- You will struggle to land tricks and control your board if your wheels are too large and soft.
I’m going to shoot for the middle and recommend a wheel that can handle pebbles and cracks decently well, but it is also skateable when it comes to doing tricks.
Powell-Peralta G-Bones Wheels 97a/64mm
The first thing you might notice about this wheel is that it is still hard at a 97a durometer and that it is bigger. Yes, 64 mm is pretty big for a normal skate wheel and might put you at risk for wheel bite.
However, the size of this wheel is what allows it to simply roll over small pebbles and cracks easily and the hardness makes it still suitable for tricks. The board control isn’t sacrificed at all and you get a bit of a smoother ride.
Powell-Peralta is a well-known and respected brand founded in part by Stacy Peralta who was one of the original Z-boys from So-Cal in the 70s. Peralta also created the legendary Bones Brigade which included talents such as Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen.
This wheel’s one downside is the potential for wheel bite. It means you either need to keep your trucks tight while you skate it or you should add risers pads. I personally would just skate with slightly tighter trucks.
How To Skate Over Sidewalk Cracks
Sometimes an uneven or large sidewalk crack can make it hard to skate an area. Often though you will have to just deal will sidewalk cracks as long as they aren’t too big.
If a sidewalk crack is too big or deep, it is best to simply avoid it by skating around it or doing an ollie over it. Normal and smaller cracks in the pavement can usually just be rolled over with enough speed. A nice trick is to bring your front wheels up as you approach the crack so only one set of wheels has to roll over it.
Most sidewalks are skatable enough with speed. It is only when you are inching forward that it becomes incredibly easy to get caught on any small crack you find. My current flat ground spot has tons of small cracks and uneven tiles in the pavement. It isn’t ideal, but these are the sort of things you need to deal with during street skating.
If you want to find out how to ollie and skate a curb, check out my visual guide here.
So that’s it.
Pebbles suck and they can stop even the best skater in his or her tracks. When you’re doing street tricks at a spot, look out for pebbles on the ground especially on the run-up to a stair set. Try and kick them away from where you’ll be skating. Maybe keep a broom in the trunk of your car.
Otherwise, if you see a pebble you can sort of shift your weight back onto your tail so the pebble isn’t caught in your front wheels. Softer wheels can also make it easier to ride over pebbles and small debris. I know some guys who put on longboard wheels to cruise to the park and then switch them to harder, smaller wheels to skate at the park.
Sidewalk cracks can be annoying, but as long as you have a bit of speed, then you should ride over them with no problem.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.