Before you buy inline skate wheels, you need some basic information, since wheels are an important part of your inline skate setup. Wheels are designed with different combined properties to accommodate inline skaters of different sizes, at various skill levels, in a variety of inline sport disciplines and using a range of skating surfaces or skating conditions. This knowledge will be essential when you purchase new skates or replace wheels on existing skates.
- Learn about the anatomy of an inline skate wheel.
- Find out how the wheel durometer can affect your skating.
- Discover the impact of various wheel profiles on skating maneuvers.
- Get information on why the size or wheel diameter of your wheels matter.
- Learn why some skaters keep all wheels flat on the skating surface.
- Find out how rockering wheels can help some inline skating disciplines.
- Learn one method of four wheel rotation.
1. Inline Skate Wheel Anatomy
Learn about the anatomy of your inline skate wheels. Identify the basic wheel components, and the basics of inline skate wheel performance.
Your inline skate wheels are as important to the performance of your skate setup as the tires on a car. Wheels can come in a variety of diameter sizes measured in millimeters, shapes called profiles, hardnesses identified by durometer number and with different amounts of rebound that indicates responsiveness and grip.
The design of each wheel gives it a unique footprint that helps determine how it performs for various skating disciplines and skating surface conditions. Recreational skates use small to medium sized, soft wheels with good gripping properties to control speed and vibration. Speed skates use bigger, harder, faster wheels, since inline racing is done on controlled surfaces. Aggressive skates use small wheels that are designed for maneuverability.
Basic components of a wheel:
- Wheel hub or core
The industry standard for all inline skate wheels is 24mm thick, and the wheels are usually marked with the diameter size in mm and a number followed by the letter A to identify the wheel’s durometer.
2. Inline Skate Wheel Profiles
Discover the impact of various wheel sizes and profiles on your skating performance.
Your inline skate wheel profile is determined by the shape of a wheel from a head on viewpoint. The profile establishes how much of your wheel touches the ground when you skate. There can be a big difference in the profile views of wheels and each profile has a purpose.
Wheel sizes are different depending on the skating discipline. Inline hockey wheels, recreational wheels and figure or dance wheels can work across these same disciplines, but you should be aware that you will not have all of the wheel properties needed for the activity. Recreational wheels are usually multi-purpose, but again, you will not have any sport-specific wheel benefits. The profile (shape) is also important; a wider flatter wheel has more traction and grip, but also more rolling resistance and won’t glide as well. Aggressive skaters prefer smaller flatter wheels for their grip and control, while speed skaters prefer taller narrower wheels because they offer less rolling resistance more responsiveness.
- 42-72mm for aggressive skating. Aggressive wheels are short, wide, with a rounded profile and have a solid core. The very small wheels are used for anti-rocker.
- 72-80mm for slalom skating. Slalom wheels are average height and rounded for maneuverability. They are very similar to figure and hockey inline wheels that also need to combine maneuverabiity and grip.
- 64-80mm for roller hockey skating. Hockey wheels are wider and rounded for traction and grip.
- 68-76mm for artistic or figure inline skating. Artistic or figure skating wheels have average height, with a slightly rounded profile for maneuverability and grip.
- 70-78mm for general recreational skating. Recreational wheels have average height, average profile for all-purpose uses.
- 76-90mm for serious fitness skating. Fitness wheels have a taller height and slightly thinner profile for distance travel.
- 90-110mm for speed and marathon skating. Speed wheels are taller, thinner, more tapered for speed on controlled surfaces.
Wheel profile and size will be more important to serious or competitive skaters in any inline skating discipline.
3. Wheel Durometer Affect
Find out how the wheel durometer can affect your skating.
The wheel durometer describes the hardness of the wheel. The durometer is usually the second measurement stamped on the wheel or wheel packaging, followed by the letter “A”. A wheel marked as “76mm/78A” will measure 76 millimeters in diameter will have a hardness of 78A. The larger the durometer number, the harder the wheel, and the harder the wheel, the longer it will last – but a hard wheel gives a rough ride and provides less grip on your skating surface. The smaller the durometer number, the softer the wheel, and the soft wheels grip much better and ride smoother but don’t last as long.
Durometer ratings do not go over a 100A rating. Recreational skate wheel durometers are usually in the 78A to 82A range. Indoor skates are typically 72A to 78A and outdoor skates go from 80A to 84A. Inline skate wheels with high durometers are used for aggressive skating, and their durometer measurements can go into the 90s. It is not necessary to match the durometer of all wheels on your inline skates. A mixture of wheel durometers can result in a combination of surface grip and a smoother ride for speed skaters, figure skaters and aggressive skaters.
Most seasoned skaters choose to ignore all of the rules and assemble unique wheel durometer combinations based on their own wheel experiences, skating goals and personal styles.
4. Inline Skate Wheel Diameter Affect
Get information on why the size of your inline skate wheels really matters.
Your wheel diameter, the height of the inline skate wheel in millimeters, has an effect on your skating performance. If all other wheel, skate and skater conditions are the same, a taller wheel will roll faster than a shorter one when you exert the same effort. However, small wheels do accelerate faster than the big ones that need more initial effort on takeoffs.
- Inline racers need the tallest wheel diameters they can get for speed.
- Experienced recreational skaters often prefer wheels with the biggest diameter that will fit on their inline skate setup to get a combination of speed and a longer wheel life.
- Hockey, slalom and inline figure skaters tend to pick a small to mid-sized wheel diameter that is relatively fast, but allows control for quick turns and maneuvering.
- Aggressive skaters need very short wheels for superior stability in stunts.
All-purpose recreational wheels can be used for many styles kinds of inline skating until you are sure of the wheel diameter size and other wheel properties needed for your specific skating needs.
5. Flat Inline Skate Wheel Setup
Learn why many skaters prefer to keep all inline skate wheels flat on the skating surface.
The majority of three, four and five-wheeled inline skates are designed to support wheels that are all the same size and aligned on the skate frame at the same level. In this basic flat inline wheel setup, the wheels all touch the skating surface at the same time. This configuration is very stable for most inline skating needs, offers good speed, but limits maneuverability.
An optional flat setup is called “hilo” with all wheels in full contact with the skating surface. In this configuration the wheels get smaller toward the front of the frame to allow the benefits of speed from the bigger wheels, maneuverability from the smaller wheels and stability from the flat contact. This setup requires a special frame and may or may not actually offer these benefits.
6. Inline Skate Wheel Rocker
Find out how adding rocker to wheels can help some inline skating disciplines.
The curve of an ice skate blade makes it possible for an ice skater to turn tighter. A curved wheelbase or wheel rockering makes tighter turns and footwork possible for inline skaters.
Rockering your inline skates occurs when the wheel heights are arranged to mimic the curved base of an ice skate blade. This is can be achieved or adjusted by changing the position of the eccentric spacers to raise the heel and toe wheels, by lowering the middle wheels or by doing both. This is can also be accomplished by mixing the skate’s wheel sizes. Rockering the wheels will make it considerably easier to maneuver, execute quick dance footwork, spin or turn quickly on your inline skates and will make your inline skates more responsive overall, but there will be less stability while skating.
A full rocker simulates the curve of an ice blade and is used by inline figure skaters, freestyle slalom skaters and artistic inline skaters tend to use this setup. This rocker setup allows one or two wheels to contact the skating surface at a time. Full rockered inline skates are easy to turn but slower and it will be difficult to maintain balance.
Street and urban skaters use front rockers to help handle rolling over irregular skating surfaces while keeping enough wheels in contact with the surface to maintain stability at a reasonable speed.
Anti rocker setups using small, hard inner wheels are used by aggressive skaters for grinds on ledges and rails.
7. Four Inline Skate Wheel Rotation
Wheel rotation is very important to the efficient function and safe use of your inline skates. Make sure to include rotation in your skate maintenance program.
Regular inline skate wheel rotation is recommended for even wheel wear and to make them last longer. When the inside edges show more wear or when your wheels vary in size – when they are not rockered – it is time for wheel rotation. When they start to look like prehistoric cave-man wheels, you have waited a little too long and it is time to replace them.
There are other ways to rotate inline skate wheels beyond the simple graphic shown below. Some skaters have skates with three wheels or five wheels and need to use a different pattern. Experienced skaters often prefer to rotate inline skate wheels based on their own specific wear patterns and the needs of their skating discipline. Usually the rotation still includes these things:
- Wheels are moved from one skate to the other.
- Wheels are flipped from inside to outside.
- Wheel positions will shift to accommodate size, effects of wear patterns and flat or rockered setup.
If your inline skates are uncomfortable after rotation, you should consider rotating the wheels more often. You will adjust to the new wheel positions after skating in them for a while.
8. Maintenance of the Rollerblades
To get the highest performance of wheels of recreational rollerblades, it is advised to routinely check the wear of wheels after each ride. If wheels are worn or worn unequally, traction and stability may be upset or even become dangerous. During using the rollerblades, wheels are subject to wear. It is a normal process of the material wear out by contact with surface. Natural abrasion of wheels is normal as in the case of car tyres.
The wear of wheels depends on a lot of factors:
- intensity of use,
- style of riding,
- a type of surface,
- a manner of braking,
- the user’s weight.
One user can rollerblade with one set of wheels through the whole season, while another user can wear such a set during the amateur hockey training within one-two days.
Remember, that Raven rollerblades are designed for smooth recreational riding for persons starting their adventure with rollerblading.
Raven rollerblades belong to the category of recreational rollerblades of their price class and to the grade of wheel hardness 82A. If you intend to use rollerblades for agressive riding, figure riding or playing hockey, you should equip yourself with a completely different product than rollerblades for recreational riding. Wheels of such rollerblades should be harder and fulfil different requirements for rollerblading on a specific smooth surface, like in skateparks etc.
The first/front wheel usually wears faster and on one side because of the manner of riding, the user’s weight, stress pattern in a rollerblade frame during riding etc.
New Set of Wheels and inline Skates Bearings
The wearing out of wheels is a normal result of exploatation while riding and the manner of braking. To extend the service life of wheels, one should remember about their proper maintenance, storage as well as about swapping wheels around whenever you notice that they start to wear out unevenly. In this case one should swap wheels around according to the method presented above.
9. Safety First!
Always check the technical condition of rollerblades before putting them on:
• Move each wheel to check stiffness of bearings. If bearings squeal, one should clean and oil them, or, if it is necessary, replace them with new ones.
• Check bolts fixing wheels. Make sure that they are tightened with using proper tools i.e. a hex key (hex wrench, Allen key). If wheels do not rotate
smoothly and freely, one should check whether the bolts are not tightened too firmly.
• Inspect the state of wear of wheels according to the undermentioned picture. Excessively worn wheels significantly decrease quality and the safety
• Inspect the state of a brake. In case of its significant wear replace it with a new one.
• Worn and tattered laces should be replaced with new ones.
• One should replace wheels only with new ones, identical to factory-installed ones, compliant with the product specification available at the manufacturer.
When rollerblading, one should always use elbow pads, wrist guards and knee pads as well as a helmet and reflective elements! One should not make any modifications of the equipment because it may reduce the safety of a user!
Principles of safe use:
1. Rollerblading should take place on an even and dry surface. Before a ride, one should make sure that in the area where rollerblading will take place there
are not any wet surfaces, holes, pits, rocks, stones and moguls that would cause a fall and body injuries.
2. One should not use rollerblades after dark.
3. One must not perform any complicated figures and acrobatics when rollerblading. Rollerblades serve purely and simply for recreational riding.
4. One must not use rollerblades neither in the street nor on the pavement as well as in places where the road traffic, bike (cycle) traffic and pedestrian traffic
5. A rollerblade brake can warm up as a result of using it during riding. One should pay attention so as to not touch it to avoid a burn injury.
6. While rollerblading one should not use earphones and not listen to music.
7. Obey traffic regulations and road signs when rollerblading. The same rules like in case of other vehicles apply to you when you rollerblade on public roads.
8. If you are a beginner in rollerblading, it is advised learning of the basics of riding and moving on rollerblades, which are generally available in the Internet in
forms of films, tutorials etc.
If you hear disturbing sounds, swish, unnatural noises of friction a.s.o. while rollerblading, or you notice any failure of rollerblades, cracks or worn elements, immediately stop further using the rollerblades because it may endanger your life or health.
10. Inline Skates Warranty
A manufacturer’s warranty covers only products purchased from an authorised agent /distributor. The warranty will be taken into account purely and simply on the basis of the proof of purchase with a visible date.
The manufacturer’s warranty covers a 12-month period for parts and elements of rollerblades. The warranty does not cover parts that are subject to normal wear or if a product was not maintained properly and it was used in a way improper for its intended use.
The present warranty does not cover damage arisen as a result of negligence (improper use, not obeying the instruction manual, normal wear of elements and parts, improper maintenance or modification of a part of the product, inconsistency with safety conditions and/or precautions concerning the use etc.) or in case of damage caused by repairs, replacement of one of elements or parts for non-original ones, or the maintenance done by persons other than authorised service personnel.
The guarantor is not liable for natural wear of individual elements, mechanical damage, faults developed as a result of alterations of the purchased equipment made by yourself, faults developed as a result of installation of e.g. bindings, bearings a.s.o. on your own i.e. outside an authorised service centre.
The warranty does not exclude, limit, nor suspend any of the Buyer’s rights resulting from non-compliance of goods with the contract.
Have fun skating safely!