Which Wheels should I get for my Inline Skates?
Wheels come in many different shapes and sizes depending on what they will be used for. There are large wheels, small wheels, flat wheels, round wheels, hard wheels and soft wheels. They all serve their own purpose and if chosen correctly, could really improve your skating experience. Below we will take you through all of the different wheels available and let you know which ones are good for each discipline of skating.
What are inline skate wheels made of?
Inline skate wheels are made of polyurethane. If the skates you are looking to buy have PVC plastic wheels then put them back on the shelf and look for some polyurethane (PU) ones instead. Here at Slicks we only sell skates with polyurethane wheels as the PVC options will not allow you to hold any speed or have any grip on the surfaces you will be skating on. PVC wheels are best for things like office chairs, suitcases and shopping trolleys as they have great anti-aging properties. The PU wheels do not last as long but they do perform much better as a skating wheel We have had a few customers come in with some PU wheels that have crumbled into pieces after they were left in storage for too long so make sure you use those wheels whist you can. Polyurethane is great at shock absorption and can grip the ground really well allowing you to have ultimate control whilst skating.
What’s the difference between using big or small wheels when inline skating?
Let’s have a look at the most common wheel sizes and what they are best used for.
55 to 60mm
The smallest wheels of the range are best for aggressive skating. The idea is, the smaller the wheel the less chance there will be of it coming into contact with the obstacles you are grinding. We call this “wheelbite”. It can be very difficult to perform some grind tricks unless you have smaller wheels tucked in close to the frames. Another benefit to the smaller wheels is that you will be closer to the ground, giving you more control when landing from height.
72mm and 76mm
This size of wheel is most commonly used for rockering setups, completing wheel configurations and small sized skates. Kids skates can come with 4x72mm or 4x76mm as the skates are too small to have 4x80mm wheels sticking out at the front and the rear. There are some 5 wheel frames like the Endless ARC frames and some aggressive frames like the Oysi frames that take 72mm and 76mm wheels in certain positions alongside smaller or bigger wheels to complete a wheel configuration like 84-76-76-76-84 on the Endless ARC or 72-60-60-72 on the Oysi frame. 76mm wheels can also be used to rocker 80mm set ups. Simply place 2x76mm wheels at the front and back of your skate with 2x80mm wheels in the middle to get a great rocker for practicing freestyle skating. Skating 4x72 with a H block in between the middle wheels can also be good fun for an aggressive skater who is looking for a big wheel experience but who would still like to perform H block grinds.
Here we have the most common wheel size in inline skating. The 80mm wheel is a perfect wheel for many different disciplines of skating and especially great if you are a beginner learning how to skate. 4x80mm wheels are typically the best length for stability on the most common skate sizes. This means that the front and back wheels will stick out at the correct amount at each end of the skate which will make balancing on one wheel much easier. We see 80mm wheels being used in slides and freestyle skating for this reason as the user will have the maximum control if they are between a size 6UK and an 8UK. For smaller feet 4x76mm could be an option and then 4x84mm for those who have larger feet. The 4x80mm setup also allows for high acceleration which helps sliders skate towards where they are sliding with speed.
Here we have my favourite wheel size. As someone who has a size 8UK skate, 90mm wheels allow me to be able to do almost every different discipline of skating to some extent. I love being able to have the same setup on without having to change wheels or frames when I arrive somewhere to skate. The 90mm wheel allows me to maintain speed and acceleration on the streets, they allow me to fly around a skatepark and still land jumps from height as they are not huge and they also allow me to try slides and wizard tricks. 90mm has to be one of the most universal wheels sizes out there so definitely give 4x90mm a try if you haven’t already. Maybe consider 4x84mm if you have feet smaller than a size 6UK for a similar experience.
Having a 4x100mm setup is great for cruising around. If you like to just simply skate through the city, try some wizard moves or to get some serious cruising speed then this setup may be the one for you. Having a little more wheel than the 90mm, this wheel size will give you a longer wheelbase for more speed and it will be able to roll over uneven surfaces. You may also find some frames that can accommodate 3x100mm wheels. This is a good option for someone with smaller feet who would like to have the 3x110 experience.
The most common size for 3 wheeled tri skates is 110mm. You can also find some frames that will host 4x110mm which can be very useful for speed skaters due to the long wheelbase and the ability for the wheels to hold your top speed. 3x110mm is so popular as just like the 4x80mm set up the wheels sit out a good amount from the front and rear of your foot allowing maximum control and agility. Having 3 wheels with no rocker makes it harder to turn so this size of wheel will make it easier for you to get in and around the people and cars of a busy city centre.
The biggest wheel size on this list is 125mm. These are best when traveling longer distances. 3x125mm is the most recommended setup to skate in a marathon for example. The large wheel allows you to hold speed when rolling much easier than a smaller wheel. The size of the wheels will also give you slightly more wheelbase than 3x110mm which will be better when travelling straight for long periods of time without having to weave in and out of people and cars.
What’s the difference between soft and hard inline skate wheels?
The hardness of a wheel is measured in Durometer which is the most common way to measure the hardness of materials like rubber or plastic. This is viewed as a number followed by the letter A.
Softer wheels will have a smaller number and harder wheels will have a larger number. One of the softest wheels you can find will be around 78A with the hardest wheels being around 100A.
Softer wheels will be better for rough ground and more grip so if you are performing freestyle slalom or skating on bumpy roads then you may want to consider a wheel at 84A or less.
Harder wheels perform best on smooth surfaces like concrete skateparks and have less resistance and grip. This allows harder wheels to roll faster than softer ones and it also allows them to perform grind and slide tricks more easily. For speed or slides you may want to skate a wheel at 88A and for skateparks you may want to consider 90A to make sure those wheels slide when you are locked in those grind tricks.
I personally skate wheels at 85A or 86A as I like to be able to do a bit of everything. 85A is one of the most popular hardnesses for wheels as it is soft enough to absorb some of the vibrations from the rougher streets yet it is still hard enough to get speed and to slide. Wheels will always have more grip when they are brand new. If you are looking to slide on your new wheels you will need to work them in a little before they will start to slide more easily.
What is a Dual Density wheel?
Some wheels on the market come with 2 hardnesses. This means that they have two layers of different urethane compounds. This consists of a soft inner to absorb vibrations and a hard outer to maintain speed. These options will be much more expensive than normal wheel options but it can be a game changer for your skating experience.
What’s the difference between bullet and round inline skate wheels?
The shape of a wheel will affect how it performs. Wheels with a more flat surface will allow for more stability which is great for freestyle slalom. The round wheels can also help with aggressive skating as the shape will allow them to slide over obstacles more easily as the round surface allows for less friction. Flat or round wheels will also make it easier for you to land from height as they offer more control. Bullet or thin profile wheels allow for more speed and grip. These are perfect for speed skaters who want to get from A to B as fast as possible. Turning also becomes much easier on this shape of wheel as the shape allows you to lean and tilt much more easily than you would on a more flat surface.
When it comes to wheel configurations it is strongly advised that you have the same profile on each wheel as this will make it harder for you to balance and roll straight with your skates.
The size of the HUB of a wheel can also alter it’s performance. If you had to take two wheels at the same size but gave one a larger HUB than the other then the larger HUB would roll faster and give more stability whereas the smaller hub would give more grip and more shock absorption. This basically means an aggressive wheel will feature a small HUB to make them less likely to break when performing more high impact landings and a racing wheel would have a larger HUB to allow it to maintain more speed.
You can also get different materials of HUB too. The most common being plastic but there are some wheels with metal HUBS available. These are commonly made from aluminium which can make them more expensive and less comfortable to ride on rough ground but it will make the power transfer much better allowing you to skate faster.
When should I replace my inline skate wheels?
Whilst using your wheels, depending on how you skate, you should notice one side start to wear away. This is because some of the urethane is being rubbed away whilst you slide and drag your wheels along the ground. Once the wheel starts to look like one side is disappearing you can swap the wheels around to get the same usage at the other side again. The wheels will always wear out from the inside of the boot so simply move the wheel to the other skate and turn it around so the side that has wear is now on the outside. There are a few ways you can swap you wheels around in order to get the best usage depending on which rocker you are using. To keep the wheels flat you will need to swap the front wheels to the middle on the other skate as the front and rear wheels will get used more than the middle ones. This will create a natural rocker for you so to keep the rocker simply keep the wheels in the same position and just change them to the other skate and turn them around.
Once you have done this a few times you will see that your wheel that was once 80mm looks now like a 70mm wheel. If you are looking for speed then this is the time to replace.
Light Up LED Wheels
Can I get light up wheels for my inline skates?
At Slicks we stock wheels from Luminous who have some amazing light up wheels to choose from. These wheels use a magnetic system inside that allows the wheels to light up when you roll with them. This involves a magnetic spacer that sits in between the bearings inside the wheel. If you replace this spacer with a normal one then the wheel will just perform as normal without lighting up. Some of these wheel even glow in the dark when they are not moving which can be a nice touch in the dark winter skating months. Check out our selection of Luminous inline skate wheels here.
All of the above is simply a guide as wheels can be complicated depending on what type of skating you are doing. I mention that having bullet wheels will make it more difficult to perform grind tricks which is true but it’s not impossible. There will be some wheels you can use in situations they are not designed for and they will still work out for you. My favourite wheel to skate that allows me to perform everything I need to from urban and skatepark skating to slides and speed skating is a 90mm bullet wheel with a medium plastic HUB at 85A. This allows me to skate on the bumpy London roads with speed, to perform slides to stop, to roll around a skatepark with control and to land from height. They are not necessarily designed for all of the above but they do make it possible.