Hey, What About Wheels? What Do Skaters Use and Why?

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Wheel Elements 
Adapted from Tony Chen’s Article on
 “Wheeling Around”

DUROMETER is the hardness of the wheel. The larger the number, the harder the wheel.  Most recreational  skate wheels you will find range from 78 to 82A durometer. Harder durometers are used more for aggressive skating and go up into the 90s.  The harder the wheel, the longer it lasts, but also the rougher the ride and less grip on the skating surface.

DIAMETER is the height of the skate wheel, measured in millimeters (mm). Most wheels are 70mm, 72mm, 76mm, or 80mm, except aggressive skating wheels, which are in the low 60s and mid 50smm and speed wheels at 100mm. In general, given the same conditions, the taller the wheel, the faster you can skate.

CORE: The core contains the hub and spokes of the wheel. The hub is where the bearings and bearing spacer (where the axle goes through) is.  Core are made anywhere from solid (no spokes) in aggressive wheels, to super-light spoke designs in racing wheels.

PROFILE: is the shape of a wheel (looking head on)The profile determines how much of the skaters wheel actually makes contact with the ground while skating.

Comparing Core Types Cores can vary a lot so choosing wheels based on a core isn’t easy. 

Speed skating and racing wheels are comprised mostly of spokes, which make up most the wheel.  This makes a lighter wheel and allows air to pass through to cool the bearings. 

A larger core also means there is less “wheel” material to wear down. If speed is what you are after then that shouldn't matter.  If longer wear is more important then you don’t want to go with larger core.

Cores are usually made of nylon type materials, aluminum, and plastic.  In general, there's not too much to worry about the core. The main exception is if you do lots of jumping then you should look for a sturdier, smaller core.


Choosing Your Inline Skate Wheel Profile

Inline hockey wheels, recreational wheels, and speed wheels are somewhat interchangeable. Any of those types of wheels will work for any of those skating activities. You won't have to swap wheels every time you switch activities, but you don’t get the best performance for your activity either.

  • Recreational wheels have average height, average taper.

  • Speed wheels are taller, thinner, more tapered

  • Hockey wheels are shorter, wider, rounded.

  • Aggressive wheels are short, wide, with a rounded profile and have a solid core

Now it doesn’t matter what profile you get any type of wheel will wear down past the point of the original profile. Whether you replace your wheels, or not, is mostly up to you. Unless your in a highly competitive mode, you will find the profile only makes a small difference, so I'd just use the wheels until they're worn all the way down.




Choosing a Durometer
You don’t have to use the same durometer on all your inline skate wheels. Some skaters use a mix wheel hardness for a comfortable grip to the ground and absorption of shock.  If you decide to mix your wheels take a look at the following first. 

  • Wear patterns
    Before you rotate your wheels next time, check how your wheels wear. Do any wheels tend to wear a lot more than the others? If so, you might want to put harder wheels in their place. I grind down my back wheels more than the others, so I can use a softer wheel in the front , and harder ones in the back.

  • Durability and shock-absorption
    You may find your wheels wear down faster than you'd like because you skate outdoors a lot or on rough ground.. You can use all harder wheels, but then you feel every bump and dimple in the road.  You can replace half of your wheels with a harder durometer, like half 78A's and half 82A's. The order that you put them in, isn't really that crucial but to maximize the life of your wheel remember to check your wear patterns.

  • Skating style
    Speed skaters and aggressive skaters are the ones who use mixed durometers the most. Speed skaters do it for the durability and shock-absorption as we talked about above. Aggressive skaters often use the anti-rocker setup where the middle two wheels are very short and hard, and the front and back wheels are tall, to make rail slides easier.


With the wheel diameter there isn't a whole lot to consider. Most recreational skaters prefer the tallest wheels they can fit on their. Taller wheels means more speed and the wheels last longer than shorter wheels of the same durometer.

  • Aggressive skaters will obviously favor shorter wheels, possibly even wheels under 60 mm, to give room for grinds and slides, and also to keep their skates closer to the surface.

  • Dance Skaters will also want shorter wheels to keep their skates closer to the surface and offer stability and control during quick turns and transitions

  • Hockey players may opt for 70-72mm wheels, for a lower center of gravity down, which gives them better stability during high speeds while playing.

  • Speed skaters usually go for the tallest wheels in the 80 to 82mm range. Or 76mm for sprint races.






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