Roller Skate Wheel Guide
Roller skating is an activity people take up for many reasons: enjoyment, exercise, competition, artistic expression, and more. The hobby offers participants a range of skating activities, such as aggressive skating, recreational skating, skating for fitness, hockey skating, racing on skates, artistic skating, jam skating and outdoor skating. For a safe and enjoyable experience, skaters have to choose wheels carefully
When choosing skate wheels consider the skate type, the appropriate size, the skating surface, and the skater’s experience. Skaters who take these factors into account when selecting wheels not only have the best experience but also get the longest life from the investment.
Durometer Ratings for Skate Wheels
The durometer rating refers to the hardness of the wheel. This scale runs from 0 on up past 100, with higher numbers denoting harder wheels. Skaters find the durometer rating for most wheels on the side, where "A" always follows the number for urethane wheels. Manufacturers almost never make skate wheels with a rating below 68A. The average durometer rating for skate wheels ranges between 72A and 102A. Most recreational indoor skate wheels have a durometer rating of between 88A and 102A because the hardness allows for a fast, smooth ride on most indoor surfaces.
Hardness – generally a soft wheel (85A-88A) will grip but won’t roll as fast as a harder wheel (94A-98A). Harder wheels won’t grip as well as softer ones. This is where you’ll need to think about the track surface you’ll be sing them on. If its slippery, then softer wheels are for you, whereas if its grippy then go for harder ones for more speed. Also, if you’re the kind of skater who likes a bit of slide when moving around the pack, then a harder wheel may suit you better. If you are thinking of skating outdoors then 78A would help absorb the bumps on rougher surface.
Rebound – not often considered but if you take 2 wheels of identical hardness and drop them onto a hard surface, the one which bounces highest has the best rebound. Cheaper wheels tend to have less rebound and can feel dead. A better rebound usually means a better roll whilst retaining good grip when comparing 2 similar hardness wheels.
A good option for wheels suitable for both indoor and outdoor skating would be a wheel with a hardness of 78A
Skaters who enjoy a better grip choose the low end, between 88A and 94A. Skaters who love a firm, speedy feel choose the high end, between 94A and 102A. Hockey players, even when playing indoors, choose a lower durometer level (72A to 84A) for extra manoeuvrability.
Wheel Sizes for Skate Wheels
Widths range from 30mm to 42mm and height from 55mm to 70mm. The smaller wheels primarily used for artistic or dance for the ability to easily maneuver them. The wider and larger wheels are great for indoor speed and outdoor traction.
Wheel size refers to the diameter of the wheel. Manufacturers make wheels in different sizes. The type of wheels that skaters need depends on the type of skating. Artistic skating requires smaller wheels for stability and manoeuvrability, while racing requires larger wheels for fluidity and speed.
Recreational skating falls in the middle. Widths range from 30mm-42mm and height from 55mm to 70mm. Beginner skaters usually choose smaller wheels because they limit speeds, preventing accidents in the learning process. When purchasing wheels, a skater should take into account the skates' frame capacity, the size of the wheels that the skate frame can handle. This information is on the skates.
Wheel Shapes for Skate Wheels
Skate wheels range from narrow to wide. In general, narrow wheels are less bulky and make manoeuvring easier, so they are used in artistic and rhythm skating. Wide wheels add stability during cornering because they have a better grip, so they are great for speed and jam skating. For regular indoor skating, however, a medium wheel is fine. The profile of each thickness varies, with some wheels slightly squared at the edges and some nicely rounded. The more rounded the edges, the faster the wheel. In shaping, as with width, skaters who regularly skate indoors choose wheels in the middle of the continuum with a balance of grip and speed.
Bearings for Skate Wheels
Skate wheels turn thanks to bearings. These small metal balls might not look like much, but they affect the performance of wheels. When quality wheels are paired with substandard bearings, the wheels rotate slower and do not function as they should. Many manufacturers place an Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) rating on their bearings, which is not a brand name, but an indication of tolerances. Most skate wheel bearings carry an ABEC rating. When the rating is higher, the tolerance and performance is better. Some manufacturers do not use ABEC ratings but still create high-quality bearings. Use the rating system as a guide, but not all good bearings have ratings.
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