You may never have cared to the technical aspect of skating; however, choosing the right roller skate wheels requires, that you pay attention to the surface you plan to skate on, and to match the type of wheel to use. Furthermore, assessing the right wheel diameter will come second in importance, along with the quality of bearings. Next is, you need to look at the right profile (width). And last, you are to consider the hub, or the core materials of the wheels.
``Different wheels are made for different usages and surfaces.``
What type of wheels to use on various skating surfaces?
The surface you are skating on will greatly determine whether you should go with hard, soft, or middle-ranged wheels. You should evaluate the skating surface that you are going to skate on and try to match the hardness of the wheels to the level of grip of the skating surface.
The hardness of your skate wheels is measured by durometer. The lower the durometer number the softer the wheels (78A wheels are softer that 98A wheels). Wheels less than 90 are very “grippy” and those over 90 are not.
- Slippery Surfaces require soft wheels which would have a durometer of 90 or less.
- Sticky or Grippy Surfaces require a harder wheel that would range from 90A-103A.
Weight & Size
What’s the difference between heavy/light and large/small wheels?
Did you know that the weight of wheels can attribute to half of the overall skate’s weight? The weight determines the acceleration, roll time and top speed, as well as the stability and the weight of your skate.
Heavier wheels often offer you more traction, but they can also tire your legs faster than lighter wheels.
The diameter of the wheels measures the height of the wheel, the overall height of your skates, and is measured in millimeters. While larger diameter wheels, which are in the 62mm range and higher, will be slower at acceleration, however they take less effort in maintaining rolling. Once you get going, your wheels will spin quickly and for a longer period of time than smaller diameter skate wheels.
Smaller diameter wheels, which tend to be in the 50mm range, are more stable, accelerate faster, and are lighter making it excellent for tricks such as jumping and spinning. However, they tend to die out fast in roll.
Why are bearings so important?
Bearings are the little metal or ceramic balls in the center of the wheel that allow wheels to turn and they affect the performance of the wheels and the skating overall. The Abec ratings indicate bearing quality: a better-quality skate bearing will have a higher Abec number.
A poor-quality bearing will inhibit a wheel’s performance by making them rotate slower. Make sure if purchasing new bearings, to clean the bearings out. They tend do be packed with grease to preserve the bearing, but will slow down performance if not initially cleaned. Also make sure to keep them oiled at all times to prevent the skate from ceasing.
What purpose does the profile of the wheel serve?
The shape of the wheel, the profile, has a significant impact on your overall skating. It comprises the area of the wheel that is in contact with the skating floor.
The profile of the wheel does not include any angles, lips or edges of the wheel. You need to pay attention to this. The profile affects how much surface area is in contact with the floor, which would, in turn, determine the grip and speed of the wheel.
The lips are at the very edge of the wheel, the total amount of wheel contact that would touch the floor.
- Square lip wheels have a straight drop, maximum contact area and more grip than other wheels.
- Rounded lip wheels have more give and less traction than square lip wheels, but provide more slide and cruise ability.
Width (Surface Area)
- Narrow wheel contact surface area, starting at 31mm, is less stable but more agile.
- Wider wheel contact surface area, that measure around 44mm, are heavier, slower and harder to make quick movements on. However, they also provide more grip and more stability.
Time to Make a Decision
Which wheels should you get?
If you want to maximize the usefulness of your wheels, I suggest contacting your local skating center and/or skating instructors for their advice on what wheels you should get. Use the above information as a guide to assist in making an informed decision. Having a pair of soft, medium and hard wheels does not hurt if changing between different skating surfaces.
Clearly, having the proper set of wheels would make a huge difference in your overall skating experience and progress.
Enjoy your skating and have fun !