By Steve Kopitz
Every roller skate wheel is different. They can vary in size, hardness, shape, and even hub material. It is important to choose a wheel that is suited to type of skating that you will be doing whether it is indoor, outdoor, artistic, or speed.
The diameter or height of a skate wheel is measure in millimeters (mm). Smaller wheels provide maneuverability needed for aggressive skating, artistic skating, roller dancing, and roller hockey, while wheels on the larger side will provide a smoother ride and faster speed than the smaller wheel. Larger wheels are typically used for fitness and speed skating.
The typical size of an indoor quad skate wheel is 62mm in diameter by 35 to 44mm in width. The width of a wheel corresponds to the speed that you want to travel.
A typical outdoor wheel is anywhere from 60-70mm in diameter and 32-42mm in width. The varying sizes helps to give the wheel more surface area in order to make the skate more stable when skating outside and encountering different terrains.
A typical artistic skate wheel is 55-65mmin diameter by 30-31mm in width. The smaller width allows for the wheels to be easily maneuvered. Freestyle singles skaters typically use smaller wheels compared to figure skaters and dance skaters who tend to use wheels on the larger side.
A typical speed wheel for quad skating is 62mm in diameter by 40mm in width. Quad skate wheels for indoor speed roller skating in general are wider than other quad skate wheels.
The hardness of a skate is also called its Durometer. These phrases are often used interchangeably, so hopefully you won't be too confused when you come across them. The hardness of a wheel is measured on the A-scale, ranging from as soft as 74A up to 105A, which is the hardest you will likely find. Wheel Durometer will affect its durability, shock absorption, and ability to grip on an indoor or outdoor skating surface.
Indoor skate wheel Durometers are typically suggested as follows:
• 97A for standard surfaces
• 95A for slippery surfaces
• 92A for extra slippery surfaces
The wheels that are used by artistic skaters are also the wheels that are most often used by indoor recreational skaters. (See Artistic Skating below)
Outdoor wheels will usually have a hardness range from 78A to 85A
Artistic skaters tend to use very hard wheels typically ranging from 97A to 103A.
Speed wheels are typically on the harder side ranging from 95A to 98A.
Profile is often used to describe the shape of a skate. Wheels that are designed for fitness and speed skating are narrower with a round or pointed skating surface. This shape of skate is the best for fitness and speed skating because it provides the most maneuverability for turning tight corners and provides the most speed.
In today's marketplace skate wheel hubs are typically made from durable nylons or aluminum material. The hub serves as housing for the wheel's bearings and is the central support for the wheel. The larger the hub, the lighter the wheel becomes and the less urethane is used to complete the final diameter of the wheel.