Inline Skating Wheels By Type
File: Inline skate wheels.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Purchasing inline skating wheels can seem intimidating at first. This is because some skate models are manufactured to include wheels, whereas other skate frames allow for custom wheel configurations. However, customizing wheels is half the fun!
Once you've graduated from beginner-level skating experience, you may be curious about different types of skate styles. Wheels are an essential component of your skate and can drastically change your experience. Whether you want to skate aggressive, freestyle, or just up your fitness, your skate foundation starts with wheels.
This buying guide will discuss the most important factors to consider when purchasing inline skate wheels. In addition, we'll provide an overview of different types of skate wheels and customizations to help you determine which wheels best suit your skate style.
Are Inline Skate Wheels the Same?
Inline skate wheels may have similar features, but they can be significantly different depending on what type of skating you want to perform. When purchasing rollerblade wheels, there are four different factors that you'll need to consider, including wheel size, wheel hardness, wheel shape, and wheel material.
Purchasing the wrong type of wheels can result in injury or prevent peak performance. By understanding how these four essential wheel components impact your skating experience, you can be better prepared to make the best purchase for yourself.
The wheel diameter size is a critical consideration when purchasing a set of wheels. Wheel size can drastically change the way you skate, and each offers different benefits. For example, very large wheels may be more challenging for beginners to balance on, but they maintain high speeds more easily. On the other hand, smaller wheels are great for fast acceleration. Still, they may be uncomfortable skating long distances because of the extra effort to maintain the inline skate wheel rotation.
Inline wheels are measured in millimeters. An inline skate wheel that measures 57mm or below is considered small, while a wheel diameter above 90mm is generally considered large. Later in this article, we'll discuss what wheel diameter is best suited for different types of skating.
Wheel hardness, also known as durometer, is measured on a scale of 1-100 and is denoted by A. For example, an inline skate wheel typically ranges from 68A-90A; the lower the number, the softer the wheel.
Wheel durometer is an essential factor that will influence the environment you skate in.
For example, a softer wheel below 82A is best suited for indoor rinks. Softer wheels have more grip and offer better precision and control. When used outside, however, soft wheels may become damaged by debris. On the other hand, a harder wheel that's 82A and above will be better suited to navigate hard, rough surfaces like pavement and concrete.
Although harder wheels may have less grip than a softer wheel, you can still get some of the shock-absorbing benefits of a soft wheel by choosing a lower durometer that's approved for outdoor use.
Frequently Asked Questions: Wheel Durometer
What are 82A wheels?
Wheels with an 82A wheel durometer rating have a moderate hardness which is suitable for outdoor recreational use.
What is the Difference Between 78A and a 82A?
The main difference between 78A and 82A wheels is where you plan to use them. Generally speaking, 78A wheels are more suitable for indoor skating, while 82A wheels can be used for outdoor skating.
You might think that all inline skate wheels are shaped the same, but you would be incorrect! Although all wheels may look similar when they're on a skate, if you look more closely, you'll notice that different wheels have different profiles based on their usage. Wheels may be wider and flatter, or they may have a thinner, 'sharper' edge that makes less contact with the ground.
A wider flatter wheel makes more contact with the ground, providing better balance and maneuverability. On the other hand, thinner wheels may require an adjustment period but can handle more speed and turn more easily.
If you ever had hard plastic wheels on your rollerblades as a kid, you know how difficult they can be to skate in. These days, most inline skate wheels are made out of polyurethane, a durable type of plastic, but offers more shock absorption and 'rebound' than earlier models.
Although wheel material has come leaps and bounds since inline skating was first introduced, it's still important to check what your inline skate wheel is made out of.
Which Inline Skate Wheels are Best?
Broadly speaking, there's no inline skate wheel that's better than another. It all comes down to the type of inline skates you have and what skate experience you want to perform. For example, if you're going to skate recreationally, aggressive wheels would certainly not be the best option for you. However, if you plan to skate aggressive, then they're perfect for that use!
Below, learn more about the different types of skate wheels and some basic specifications for each.
Aggressive skaters are in a league of their own, and because of this, they need to purchase aggressive skates and aggressive skate wheels. Aggressive skating requires smaller wheels that are wider, flatter, and very hard, making them suitable for the hard impact required to perform jumps and tricks.
Aggressive skaters will typically look for wheels ranging between 42-72mm with a hardness of 88A-90A. We do not recommend using other wheels for aggressive skating, at risk of causing personal injury.
Recreational wheels are the most common types of wheels used for skating, and for a good reason. They're easy to learn on, are affordable, and can be used in different environments and settings. Recreational wheels are most suitable for recreational skates, and the skate's wheel size can range from 70-90mm and a durometer of 78-84A.
An important consideration for this wheel will be its durometer. However, if you plan to use your skates at indoor skating rinks, you may want to consider a softer wheel.
Cross-training wheels are great for serious fitness skating, which is often used by athletes who want to take their workouts to the next level. Cross-training wheels can be a great option for avid runners or skiers who want to improve their endurance and stamina in the off-season or train with less wear and tear on joints.
Cross-training wheels vary, including everything from 72mm to 110mm, with a hardness ranging from 82A to 88A.
If you plan to skate through the city, that urban wheels may be for you. However, urban skates feature a shorter frame for hairpin turns and control, so using urban wheels on other skate frames may not be the best option for you.
Urban wheels are often 80mm, but 90-100mm wheels are available if you want to maximize your wheel rotation to maintain high speeds. Because urban wheels are used outside, they typically have a hardness ranging from 82-88A.
Freestyle slalom skaters are considered artistic inline skaters and need wheels that allow for precision and control to perform tricks and intricate maneuvers. Freestyle wheels are most appropriate for skeletal aluminum skate frames that are lightweight, durable, and can maneuver with precision.
Freestyle wheels typically range from 72-80mm depending on the size of the skate frame and commonly have a hardness rating between 83-85A. It's also important to note that freestyle skaters often use 'rocker' wheels created by mixing wheel sizes and wheel positions.
Speed skaters are in a league of their own and require wheels different from other skates. Speed skating requires speed wheels, which have larger wheels than fitness wheels, ranging from 90-100mm and a durometer of 83-88A.
Larger wheels promote efficient wheel rotation to maintain speed faster than smaller wheels, making bigger wheels a necessary component of speed skating. Speed skates also have narrow wheels, similar to an ice skate blade, making less contact with the ground to eliminate unnecessary friction for a smooth ride.
All-terrain wheels, also known as off-road wheels, are not for the faint of heart. Reserve all-terrain wheels for highly experienced skaters who have mastered turning and stopping at high speeds.
All-terrain wheels are designed to be used on a skating surface that is uneven such as rough roads and trails. The wheel sizes range from 100-125mm with a typical hardness of 82-85A. By having slightly less hardness than other outdoor wheels, all-terrain wheels provide more shock absorbency, which helps them navigate a rough skating surface more easily.
You'd probably think twice about skating in the rain, but with rain wheels, you can navigate the streets more safely. Rain wheels are designed specifically to handle wet and rainy conditions and are typically made of soft polyurethane exteriors with a harder interior core. Rain wheels normally feel less smooth than standard wheels to help give extra traction when navigating wet conditions.
The skate's wheel sizes can range from 80-125 mm with a durometer of 70-84A. In addition, rain wheels can be applied to urban, speed, or cross-training frames to help you extend the length of your skate season. Skating experience is highly recommended before using rain wheels.
Choosing the Number, Size, and Position Of Your Wheels
Who said you had to be on four wheels? Although four wheels are standard, skaters can choose from three- or even five-wheeled inline skates to fit their needs. Three wheels, also known as tri-wheels, may offer more speed, but they also provide less stability than four wheels. On the other hand, speed skaters often use five-wheeled skates because they provide additional stability.
You can also customize wheel positions to create rockered inline skates by using different-sized wheels.
A front-rocker set up can be created by using toe wheels that are smaller than the remaining wheels. This set-up is often used primarily by urban and hockey skates to increase maneuverability and stability.
On the other hand , full rockered inline skates require two middle wheels that are larger than the toe or heel wheel, which is often used for freestyle and hockey skates.
Lastly, an anti-rocker is desirable by aggressive skaters who want speed but can grind rails. In this case, the toe and heel wheels are larger than the wheels in the middle to accommodate grind rails.
Inline Skate Wheels for Every Occasion
Whether you plan to show off your artistic skills, want to hit the half-pipe, or need wheels that can get you where you need to go – there's a wheel for that!
Inline skate wheels are specific to performance and often require significant experience, so it's important not to get in over your head. However, upgrading your skate wheels can unlock new potential and introduce you to new forms of skating. In addition, you may find that your favorite way to skate is one that you haven't tried before!
When you're ready to upgrade your wheels, check out our selection of skate wheels.