Roller skating has undergone a remarkable resurgence in recent years, capturing the hearts of both nostalgic adults and thrill-seeking youngsters. Whether you're an experienced skater or fresh meat stepping into the world of wheels, understanding the importance of roller skate wheels is crucial to optimize your performance. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences in roller skate wheels across various skate styles, including skate park, roller derby, outdoor/trail skating, and jam/rhythm skating.
‘Hold up, what do all the numbers mean?!’ Let me explain before we get started. Wheel size is straight forward, however, if you are new to skating, you may also be new to ‘duros’. Durometer is a measurement used to quantify the hardness of materials, including roller skate wheels. It is represented by a numerical value on a scale called the durometer scale. The higher the durometer rating, the harder the material.The long and short of it is: 78a = soft wheels and 100a = hard wheels. Soft wheels = grippy. Hard wheels = slippy. Soft wheels combined with a soft skating surface (such as a grippy sport hall or wooden skatepark) will make for a sluggish and tiring skating experience, likened to skating on treacle. The other extreme would be skating a hard and uneven British pavement road with hard wheels, this is also no fun, unless you enjoy feeling of every lump and bump penetrating deep into your bones. Soft wheels make for a much more comfortable ride in this circumstance. It’s about finding the sweet spot to suit the type of skating you are participating in.
Let’s get into it.
Skate Park Wheels: Imagine the adrenaline rush as you conquer ramps, execute gravity-defying tricks, and glide with confidence at the skate park. To excel in this fast-paced environment, you need wheels that are agile, responsive, and designed for high-speed maneuvers. Skate park wheels are typically smaller in size, ranging from 55mm to 59mm in diameter. These wheels are made from harder durometer materials, with a rating between 92A and 101A. The smaller size provides stability during high-speed spins and jumps, while the harder durometer ensures quick response, better control during tricks, and reduced grip for slides and grinds. Personally, I use either CIB Park Wheels which are 58mm/98a or Luminous 58mm/100a (depending on if I’m feeling flashy or not ✨)
Roller Derby Wheels: Roller derby is an intense, full-contact sport where speed, agility, and grip are essential. Finding the right balance between grip and speed is crucial for roller derby wheels. They generally fall within a medium size range, typically ranging from 59mm to 62mm in diameter. Roller derby wheels tend to have a durometer rating between 88A and 95A. This combination allows for quick lateral movements, sharp turns, and excellent grip on the track, ensuring optimal performance during fast-paced gameplay. The optimal hardness will depends on the floor that you are training/playing on and also your skill level. The most popular roller derby wheels are Radar Halo and RollerBones DOTD wheels, which both come in a variety of duros :)
Outdoor/Trail Skating Wheels: Venturing beyond indoor rinks and exploring the great outdoors on your roller skates adds a thrilling dimension to your skating experience. Outdoor and trail skating requires wheels that can adapt to different surfaces and provide a smooth ride. These wheels are typically larger in diameter, ranging from 60mm to 70mm. They also have a softer durometer, falling between 78A and 85A, to absorb shocks and vibrations, enhance comfort, and provide excellent grip on rough surfaces. The larger size and softer composition allow for better stability, improved traction, and an overall enjoyable outdoor skating experience. I skate outdoors a lot, whether that’s doing the school run or dropping orders off to the post office, pavements around here are particularly crusty so my go to wheels for a comfortable ride are soft 65mm wheels, such as Luminous 65mm/78a or RollerBones Barcelona 65mm/80a.
Jam/Rhythm Skating Wheels: Jam and rhythm skating focus on artistic expression, fluidity of movement, and precise footwork. To perform these graceful moves, you need wheels that offer exceptional grip and maneuverability. Jam/rhythm skate wheels usually fall within a medium to larger diameter range, typically ranging from 57mm to 62mm. Their durometer rating is between 88A and 95A, striking a balance between grip and speed. These wheels allow for fluid transitions, controlled glides, and effortless spins on both indoor rinks and smooth outdoor surfaces.
Conclusion: Choosing the right roller skate wheels tailored to your skating style is the key to unlocking your full potential and enjoying the thrill of roller skating. Remember to consider the specific demands of your chosen skate style, the surfaces you'll be skating on, and your personal preferences when selecting wheels. Whether you're conquering ramps at the skate park, engaging in intense roller derby bouts, exploring the outdoors, or expressing yourself through rhythmic movements, the perfect wheels will elevate your skating journey. So, grab your skates, find your ideal wheels, and let the exhilaration of roller skating take you on a thrilling ride!
As always, Rollaboots is here to help! For any questions of queries, please feel free to drop us a message over on Instagram or email at email@example.com 🖤