Wheels are the essential part of our vehicles for a safe, efficient, comfortable, and fun ride! Experts always recommend others check for the tire pressure and condition before every ride.
So regular maintenance is a must for the tires of our commutes. No doubt, the same principle applies to the wheels of our skates as well. The best thing about the roller skate wheels is that you do not need to fill any air inside them. You also do not need to care about punctures that are common in rubber tires.
However, still many people do not care about them. Is it because they are made of plastic material, so no need for upkeep? Many skaters are often confused about the best option to replace or customize the wheels during maintenance cycles.
Hence, the post is intended to supply all the vital information about the wheels used in roller skates. In this way, anyone could know what’s needed, why needed, and when needed. It is to ensure to get the full enjoyment on each skating ride.
– What kind of Wheels are best for different types of Roller Skates (Jam Skates, Speed Skates, Artistic Skates, Derby Skates, etc.)?
– 1) Skating Style
– 2) Diameter
– 3) Rolling Resistance
– 4) Hardness
– 5) Material Used
– 6) Profiles
– 7) Core
– 8) Hub
– 9) Edge Lips
-7 Tips for Buying the Right Roller Skate Wheels
– Final Thoughts
What kind of Wheels are best for different types of Roller Skates (Jam Skates, Speed Skates, Artistic Skates, Derby Skates, etc.)?
A skater can choose the best if he/she knows the critical information about the wheels used in skates. So let us check how to make a better decision by considering the essential factors of skating wheels one by one. It includes wide wheel or narrow wheel, wheel diameter, wheel weight, wheel hardness, wheel’s hub and core materials;
1) Skating Style
The best part of Roller skating wheels is that you can change or customize them with the new ones from the market whenever you need them by yourself. Unfortunately, many skaters do not care about it. It is a good habit to swap the wheels as per your need in every regular maintenance of your skates.
By the way, Roller Skating wheels are generally classified into two types suitable for indoor or outdoor respectively;
Indoor – Generally, you can find hard wheels on indoor skates. These wheels fit the wheel to the indoor environments having coated surfaces and are mostly used on artistic and advanced skates. They also offer less grip but provide more speed that suits best to the indoor roller rinks.
Outdoor – A skater can counter different kinds of terrain outside the home. So the wheels should have the capability to tolerate well on everything. Many roller skates come with harder and wider wheels those better work for indoor use. So it is best to swap the wheels with the taller ones and softer ones, hence making the best outdoor use on quad skates.
A general fact is that if the wheels are bigger, then the skate will be able to move at faster speeds. Additionally, a large-sized wheel can easily roll over the imperfections coming in its way but lacks bumping. A skater needs to put lots of energy into initiating the rolling of skates having large wheels.
But, smaller wheels are made to possess less center of gravity but more maneuverability and quick acceleration. The style of skating matters most behind choosing the right height of the wheel for skating;
Below are the recommendations;
|Skating Style||Wheel Size (in Diameter)|
|Off-roading||4.92-5.91 inches (125-150 mm)|
|Speed skating, Mushroom Blading, Tri-skating||3.94-4.92 inches (100-125 mm)|
|Downhill Inline skating||3.15-3.54 inches (80-90 mm)|
|General Recreational skating||2.83-3.94 inches (72-100 mm)|
|Urban skating||2.76-3.54 inches (70-90 mm)|
|Downhill and Freestyle Slalom skating||2.83-3.15 inches (72-80 mm)|
|Artistic Inline skating||2.68-2.83 inches (68-72 mm)|
|Roller Hockey skating||1.85-3.15 inches (47-80 mm)|
|Aggressive skating||1.73-2.83 inches (44-72 mm)|
3) Rolling Resistance
The rolling resistance of the wheel is also known as CRR or coefficient of rolling resistance. In the 1990s, the CRR tends to be less, with the wheel’s hardness in the 78A durometer range. The rolling resistance is dramatically increasing above 85A durometer and below 75A durometer.
Later in the early 2000s, there is a significant improvement in urethane compounds. So skaters can ensure a better wheel life by using harder compounds, and the lowest CRR lies within the 82A-84A durometer range. The rolling speeds are far better on a hard wheel since they can absorb energy by granting very less elastic hysteresis.
4-wheel trucks usually have 3.9-4.3 inches (100-110 mm) diameter wheels. They can be replaced with the advantages of alternatives that possess more wheels with less rolling resistance.
The wheel’s hardness can affect how it will perform and for which terrain it is designed. A shore durometer is used to measure the amount of hardness that a wheel possesses and lies typically within a range of 72A-93A. Here, A is the scale for mearing the hardness of a wheel. So a high number indicates that the wheel is pretty hard and the lower numbers for soft wheels.
A wheel with more hardness means it’s more durable but not necessarily faster. Soft wheels don’t affect much by road bumps and possess more grip than their hard counterparts. After a stride, softer wheels can accelerate more straightforwardly due to their capability to well grip the surface.
For outdoor purposes, you need to use a softer wheel with hardness below 90A and vice versa. You can get Speed wheels intended for speed skating and Rec wheels for smooth turns. The contact patch of a harder wheel is less. So the friction generated is also lesser, whereas softer wheels possess more friction and will deform much.
An ideal wheel is the one that poses hardness that complements well to the skating surface and maintains the right balance among roll and grip. It should not be too soft to make it harder for you to come to a hockey or snowplow stop, neither too hard to lose the grip of a skater in the corner. Generally, softer wheels are made for outdoor, dirty, or smooth surfaces. On the other side, harder wheels suits well on sticker surfaces.
5) Material Used
These day’s manufacturers prefer to make wheels using polyurethane. It is a durable plastic style to keep the wheels light in weight but heavy in performance. Rubber or other plastics tend to have high rolling resistance or wear down faster than polyurethane. Roller skate wheels are tires (urethane) composed of the rigid (hub) to make it roll.
Elliptic profiles were intended to possess similar knife-like properties that are found in an ice blade. They can move faster due to less friction. Using this profile, makers can build the wheel to have much more maneuverability during crossing over or turning. One can easily define the outer, central, and inner edges on such wheels.
More rounded profiles were often used in recreational skates and downhill racing. As compared to the elliptical-profiled wheels, these were heavier, stable, and offer a better grip on the terrains.
The tire has more rebound or resilience, offers less rolling resistance. A wheel that possesses a rounded profile has more amount of Urethane on the tire and hence longer wears the wheels’ life.
A wheel with a flat profile is much more stable than a rounded profile one and made only for aggressive skate wheels. There is a center edge on a wheel of a flat profile so that the skater can’t lean overusing it.
The property of a wheel is also determined by the general design of the core. It means the degree of sturdiness/flexibility, shape, and material used at the hub of the wheel. The early designed skate models of 1980s and early 90s contains wheels those lacks in core feature and is prone to deformation.
This deformation can hinder a skater’s striding ability because it can lessen the skater’s top speed. From that time until now, inline skating has gone through gradual technological improvement to form the core.
Polyurethane held well in the place due to the inserted core. You can also find unique wheels with no core on the market despite the setback. The design of the Core can be semi-open, open, or full.
The open cores can typically increase the wheel’s overall lightness, and ‘Spokes’ are visible in such wheels. The element, Spokes, are placed inside the hub of the wheels for different kind of skates.
It can be figure/artistic inline skates and some slalom skates. The list also includes recreational skates, fitness skates, and inline speed skates. The other open-cores other than spokes can be internally hollowed out.
Wheels with open cores are much likely to snap under very high pressure. For example, when jumping, since their design does not allow sturdiness. Open cores also last for a shorter period due to less polyurethane around them to make up with the hollow or spoked shape.
Similar to the cross-section of a pipe, Full cores are completely solid. So core design is much recommended for the aggressive skaters who usually give a high level of strain on the wheels, mainly after a landing.
The overall weight of the wheel tends to increase on these cores due to the extra polyurethane. Many skaters avoid the full core design since the rigidity feels uncomfortable.
A semi-open core is a hybrid version of the other two kinds of cores. It is generally used in wheels of inline hockey skates, slalom skates, and urban skates. For a semi-open design, minuscule holes are made or into these solid cores.
Hub lies in the center of the skate wheel and is responsible for giving it structure and responsible for its performance. The hub of Derby wheels is made using either aluminum or nylon. Among them, nylon hubs are less expensive and are lighter in weight, making the skates very handy for jumps.
By using rigid aluminum hubs, a skater can push into the floor and conserve more energy. If you are a learner or newbie, you can start with a wheel made of nylon hub that can save you some penny, and then you can switch to either kind of hub.
9) Edge Lips
The edge of the wheel is responsible for providing better grip. Square lips, which artistic skaters mostly use, are least rounded but provide higher grip. Therefore wheels having such lips are best for indoor purposes.
On the contrary, outdoor wheels have rounded lips. They can make a skater cruise and slide better. It is because they lack grip and work pretty better over small road imperfections and hurdles like pebbles.
7 Tips for Buying the Right Roller Skate Wheels
Here are some recommendations for selecting the suitable wheels to give you the best experience as per your style and need of skating;
1) You might be confused about which kind of stake wheels works best for you, especially when upgrading to the new ones. In this case, you can take the help of the following suggestions to find the right size that works best as per your need;
|Diameter (in mm)||General Use|
|65mm-70mm||Speed, Long-track, and Outdoor|
|59mm-62mm||Jam, Speed, and Derby|
|57mm-58mm||Artistic, Jam, Speed, and Derby|
|45mm||Freestyle, and Artistic|
2) The wheel’s rotation effect can be adversely affected if the bearings used are of poor quality or damaged. If you want to care for your wheels, you also need to make sure that the bearings are in top condition.
It is suggested to use the bearings that come with higher ratings of the Annual Bearing Engineering Committee or ABEC. However, you can’t find this rating on all bearings that are available in the market.
3) You can change the wheels with updates in Skill Level of your Skating as follows;
|Skill Level of the Skater||Width/Profile||Reason|
|Beginner||44 mm||These are super wide to offer less agility and feel heavier in your movements. It is best for the skaters who do not want to compromise with the right level of stability and grip.|
|Intermediate/Advanced||35 mm||These are made to possess a small amount of grip and stability required for a learner who wants lightweight narrow wheels to agility.|
|Advanced||31 mm||These are the slimmest or say super narrow wheels, to offers much agility and amazingly light. As compared to others, they offer less grip and are also least stable than others.|
|Advanced/Intermediate/Beginner||38 mm||These have medium width and provide an outstanding balance of grip, stability, and agility to their users.|
4) If your body has more than 200 pounds of weight, then pick the wheels that are a bit harder and don’t flex much or consists of a rigid core like aluminum. As compared to an average-sized skater, a person with a heavy body can feel more grip.
5) Try not to choose less-expensive wheels since they lack bouncing or rebound. You can enjoy a great skating experience if the wheels you are using can roll well due to their better rebound capability.
6) The size of the wheel for a particular inline skate differs depending on many factors. It includes the user’s age and height (wheels used by adults might not fit well for the kids). Similarly, a tall body needs harder wheels. Traditionally the height of the wheels generally used in roller skates is 59mm and 62mm.
7) The skates made for recreational purposes generally have four wheels than those for downhill skating with five or six wheels.
You should know that the bigger the wheel, the more area it can cover in a single spin a skater can enjoy higher speeds. Small wheels are best made for the kids who start learning skating. Smaller wheels are slower, more maneuverable, and made to feel light underfoot.
Many rink, jam, or recreational skaters prefer to design and color or customize their equipment to influence others. Don’t just go with the color or eye-catching design of wheels. After all, there are many more important things to consider that can affect how you enjoy skating.
Indoor skate wheels are made for the surfaces like a skatepark, junking, speed, banked, and slat tracks. So, to ensure a less bumpy and softer ride while going through all kinds of twigs, it is best to use softer outdoor wheels under skates.
The wheels used in roller skates are but cylindrical, and their performance is affected by two factors, i.e., Diameter (Height) and Width (Pitch). The width of a wheel range between 31 to 44 millimeters. A wider wheel can offer more push-off surface and lateral stability.
Narrower wheels have less speed and stability but are more maneuverable. Beginners should start with skates having wider wheels so there will be more surface contact to provide more stability.
A harder wheel is highly preferred for ramp skating to achieve enough speed and get up the ramp. You can achieve super-fast speeds on bigger and wider wheels. So while choosing the best wheels for your roller skates, you need to consider both the hardness and size.
Depending on the application of use, the thickness and profiles of wheels matter the most. Now you can make a better-informed decision on selecting the next wheel for your skate.