Roller Skate Wheels 101: A Beginner's Guide to Wheel Selection


Roller skating is a thrilling and versatile sport, offering various styles like rhythm, shuffle, jam, roller derby, park, outdoor and speed skating. Each style demands specific gear, especially when it comes to roller skate wheels. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of roller skate wheels, helping you make an informed choice for an exceptional skating experience. Don’t forget to check out the amazing collection at Bont Skates for a wide range of options.

Understanding Roller Skate Wheel Size

The Importance of Size in Skating

Wheel size, measured in millimeters (mm), plays a crucial role in your skating performance. The height and width of the wheels impact speed and agility. Larger wheels maintain speed effortlessly, while smaller ones are great for quick movements. It’s always beneficial to consult fellow skaters to find the perfect size for your style.

Decoding Wheel Hardness

Grip Level: The Key to Skating Comfort

Wheel hardness, indicated by a number followed by 'A' (like 93A), determines the grip level. Higher numbers mean harder wheels with less grip. For instance, a 103A wheel has minimal grip, ideal for dance skating. Softer wheels, around 78A, are perfect for outdoor skating as they absorb shock better, providing a smoother ride over rough surfaces.

The Role of Hubs in Roller Skates

Choosing Between Nylon and Aluminum Hubs

Nylon hubs are common due to their lightweight nature, whereas aluminum hubs offer less give, making them suitable for heavier skaters or long-term use. There are hybrid options too, with nylon hubs featuring alloy inserts for durability without much added weight. Remember, installing bearings in aluminum hubs requires precision to avoid damage. It's best to use a bearing press to help insert metal bearings.

Selecting Wheels for Different Surfaces

Mastering Various Terrains with the Right Wheels

Choosing the right roller skate wheels for different surfaces, from smooth indoor rinks to rough outdoor paths, is crucial. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Soft Wheels (78A-84A): Best for outdoor surfaces, providing grip and shock absorption.
  • Medium Wheels (85A-91A): Versatile for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Hard Wheels (92A-100A): Ideal for indoor rinks, offering minimal grip for faster speeds.

Importance of Wheel Size

Balancing Speed and Agility

Wheel size influences your skating dynamics:

  • Smaller Wheels (57mm-62mm): Great for agility and quick turns, suitable for jam or derby skating.
  • Larger Wheels (63mm-70mm): Perfect for achieving high speeds and covering long distances, ideal for outdoor skating.

Wheel Profile Matters

Shape Influences Performance

The wheel profile affects grip and maneuverability:

  • Narrow Profile: Offers quick turns and is great for agility-focused skating like roller derby.
  • Wide Profile: Provides better grip and stability, especially on outdoor surfaces.

Choosing Wheels Based on Your Skating Style

Customize Your Wheels to Your Skating Needs

  • Artistic Skating: Opt for medium to hard wheels with a narrow profile.
  • Roller Derby: Medium-hard wheels with a narrow profile balance grip and slide.
  • Speed Skating: Choose hard wheels with a wide profile for high speeds.
  • Recreational Skating: Medium wheels with a wide profile are versatile for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Outdoor Skating: Choose soft medium to large wheels for better shock absorption. 

Pro Tips for the Perfect Wheel Selection

  1. Compare Wheels: The right combination of wheel size and hardness can enhance your performance and comfort.
  2. Surface Compatibility: Soft wheels stick to indoor surfaces, while hard wheels are unsuitable for outdoor use.
  3. Mixing Wheel Hardness: Using different hardness levels for inside and outside wheels can offer a unique skating experience.
  4. Switching Wheels: You don’t need separate skates for indoor and outdoor; just swap the wheels!

Choosing the right roller skate wheels can elevate your skating experience. By considering factors like hardness, size, profile, and your preferred skating style, you can find the perfect match. With the right wheels, you're all set for an enjoyable and smooth skating journey. And for an extensive selection of high-quality wheels, don't forget to visit Bont Skates.

Remember, the joy of skating comes not just from the sport itself, but also from the equipment you choose. Happy skating!