When it comes to inline skates, the wheels you choose to ride on could quite possibly have the biggest impact on how well you skate. Inline skate wheels come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials (or composition). Different wheels are made for different skating styles, so picking the proper set of wheels is going to prove to be a very important choice.
When you are out shopping for that perfect diamond engagement ring, if you have done your homework your choice of diamond will be based on a set of criteria known as the 4 C’s. Well, buying wheels for your inline skates also has its four basic criteria to be considered: your body weight, your skating level (novice, intermediate, advanced, pro), your skating style, and lastly, your comfort zone in regards to speed. There are 4 properties, those being size, profile, core, and hardness. These are all equally important, since they all have a direct bearing on your choice of wheels.
First up, we will go over the hardness, or durometer, of the wheel. The higher the durometer is, the higher the hardness of the wheel. Harder wheels will last much longer, but they will also transmit much more of the bumps and shocks of the ground to your foot and knees. In general, you will be able to find wheels in the range of 74A which is the softest, up to 88A, which is quite hard. The A denotes the durometer scale. The average recreational skater will be interested in wheels in the range of 78A to 82A, since these wheels provide a fairly decent compromise between grip and smoothness or roll.
In general, you will want harder wheels for skating on smooth surfaces like skating rinks or smooth concrete, if you are a heavier skater, or you value your wheels lasting longer over comfort of ride. In contrast, a lower durometer wheel will be wanted if you will be riding on streets and other rough surfaces a lot, area lighter rider, desire better shock absorption or just want better traction overall.
Next up is wheel size. Larger wheels will allow you to skate faster since they will provide less rolling resistance. Sadly, as you get larger, stability goes down, and requires the skater to be of higher ability to make good use of them. Smaller wheels will have lower top speed, but will provide for a much more stable ride. Aggressive skaters will generally go for smaller wheels for stability, because speed is not quite as much of an issue, whereas speed skaters will use the much larger diameter wheels for the decreased rolling resistance. Recreational skaters will generally find themselves with a choice of wheels between 72mm and 80mm. Be sure to check the users manual for your particular skates, because different models will have limits to the minimum and maximum wheel sizes they accommodate.
There will be more about wheels next time. Trust us, there is plenty to be said!