3 vs 4 Inline Skate Wheels by Stephen Whataspoon
Today we are going to talk about the key differences between having 4 or 3 wheels on your skate.
Skates come in many different shapes and styles with one of the most noticeable differences being the size and amount of wheels. For most of us, when we imagine an inline skate, we see four wheels as that has been the norm up until around 2013 we started to see a sudden change with people skating really huge wheels, but with only had three on each boot. These were called Tri Skates.
What are the benefits of 3 wheel set ups?
The main idea is to have bigger wheels for speed and the ability to roll over rougher ground with ease and without having the added weight of a third wheel. I myself have skated a 4x110mm frame and it is good fun but it’s certainly not as efficient as getting around on 3x110mm wheels.
Tri skates are a popular choice for many skaters, from urban city skaters to speed skaters and even slalom skaters. For example, if you were to skate a marathon, you would maybe consider a 3x125mm set up with large spaces between the wheels for a longer wheelbase and more powerful stride. Someone who would like to go for an urban city cruise might choose a 3x110mm set up with the wheels much closer together, resulting in more controlled turns while still having a larger wheel to get over all the horrible UK roads. For slalom I have seen people using many different sizes, but the 3x90mm setup looks like a good choice for this discipline.
Having smaller wheels allows you to get in and out of cones easier, whilst getting you closer to the ground for control. Having one less wheel down results in the skate being lighter, making the moves much easier. A slalom skater might want to skate a tri skate with a rocker, with the middle wheel set lower than the front and back.
The benefits of 4 wheeled setups
Three wheels does not always mean faster and four wheeled setups have many benefits of their own. Having four wheels on the ground generating power whilst you push is always going to encourage faster skating and allows you to run a smaller wheel size, resulting in getting you closer to the ground for more control as well as having that extra speed. Problems arise depending on the conditions of your environment. Having smaller wheels can mean bumpy roads are a problem, but this will solely rely on the abilities of the skater of course.
The most popular skate set up would be 4x80mm, which is the perfect size for a beginner looking to get into the sport as the wheels aren’t too big so they keep you nice and close to the ground for control and are still big enough to enjoy a nice skate along a smooth surface.
When it comes to doing tricks on your skates, like jumps or gaps, it helps to have four strong axles, wheels and bearings under your feet for those heavy landings and, although it’s not impossible to do these kinds of tricks on tri skates, a four wheeled skate setup will survive much longer in the heavier skating disciplines.
There is so much to consider when choosing between three or four wheels and you also have to take into consideration where you will skate and what type of skating you will mostly be doing. Some frame companies like Endless Blading and IQON give you the option to change from four to three wheel setups on the same frame, so you wouldn’t even need to take your skates off to change wheel configuration.
So which is best - 3 or 4 wheels?
So which is better? The more important question is, which set up is best for you?
Personally I choose to skate either 4x80mm or 4x90mm. I think these sizes are the best configurations for me as a freestyle skater who is skating through the streets to the skatepark. This allows me to do whatever I want at the park as well as on the to and from the park. When I’m older, and visiting the skatepark less, maybe I’ll use my tri skate set up more often.
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