Big Wheels, Not a Big Dilemma
By Chris Gorski
In the last few seasons skaters have seen an increase in the size of the wheels found on inline skates, and as a skater and worker bee at Inlineskates.com I’ve personally seen an influx of concern regarding the larger wheels. Although wheels have been increasing in size over the past seasons, this is no issue and definitely not something to be concerned with. With the proper know how and the ability to identify what you want out of a pair of skates and out of inline skating, you will have no issue choosing and skating on a larger wheeled skate.
Most people are intimidated by the larger inline skate wheels, and this makes sense because until a couple years ago, 80mm wheels were the end all be all of high end skating. I recall saving money from my summer job and finally buying that top of the line, highest end skate on the wall, and it came with an 80mm wheel. 80mm wheels are now found on most all beginner level skates and as skates get progressively higher end you will see the wheels go up in size, 84mm, 90mm, 100mm and even 110mm on some race and marathon skates.
So obviously there are larger wheels on the market but there are still inline skates with more moderate wheel sizes, so how do you choose?
Joining the 100mm plus club
The bigger the wheel the faster overall speed you will be able to reach, but this does come with its own issues. A larger wheel will roll faster and longer but will also need more power for each push, and will offer less maneuverability. Skaters who choose an inline skate with a 100mm or higher wheel size will be the skaters doing intense training, skating marathons, or simply skaters into distance skating when they skate. The design of a larger wheeled skate is great for distance skating and lends itself to those skaters looking to get 15+ miles out of a skating session. You will find a stiffer boot fit with 100mm wheeled inline skates which gives skaters great power transfer from their body to the skates.
Choose your own pace with a 90mm wheel skate
Have you seen the Mom or Dad with the station wagon that hauls the kids around but is also turbocharged and can be taken on a wild ride? Well, if you have you’ve seen the 90mm inline skater. Skates with a 90mm wheel size will offer skaters the ability to sometimes go for a distance cruise while still giving you enough maneuverability to skate around with the kids, or skate in a busier city setting. While skates in this range will still offer a fairly stiff fit, you will start to get a bit more comfort features and fit with a skate in the 90mm range.
Get the party started with an 80mm wheeled inline skate
You know those high end skates I was talking about in the beginning with the 80mm wheels? Yeah, forget about them. Skates with 80mm wheels are now geared towards beginner to intermediate range skaters. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get cooking on a set of 80mm wheels and they still offer great performance as a wheel size, but the skates are now more intermediate level. The skates in the past with 80mm wheels had all the bells and whistles where now they are more basic. You can still find great features that as a beginner are necessary to your skating, like a quick closure system, great fit, and comfort. 80mm skates are great for those that are not going to be skating that often and don’t want to overdo it.
So what skates do I go with, none of that describes me....
Don’t worry, it doesn't describe me either and I wrote it. I think we need to look at a term used in skiing for years, the quiver. Having a quiver of skis means you have several different skis for different applications whether it be a frontside hard pack day with the family, or a backcountry pow day with the friends. This is becoming necessary for inline skates as well. I have too many pairs of skates… too many. But I have 3 pairs that I use regularly and I use all 3 for different purposes. I have a pair of aggressive skates, a pair of recreational skates (84mm) and a pair of urban/fitness skates (100mm). The aggressive skates are great for when I actually get my old bones to a skate park, the 84mm inline skates are great for puttsing around my neighborhood or for when I know the park will be crowded. And the 100mm skates are my freedom, these are the skates I strap on when I need to get going fast and I’m going to be going for a while.
OK, full disclosure, I work for inlineskates.com and I basically just told you to go buy multiple pairs of skates… well, yup! You don’t have to be like me and buy ALL the skates ever, but try to identify your needs the best you can and purchase a skate, or skates, that mesh with your lifestyle. And if you are having trouble identifying what skates will work best for you feel free to call our customer care team and we will be happy to help!