Sep 14, 2020
Hey folks Scald Eagle here. For those of you who don't know me, I am a Jammer for Denver roller derby team and a Team USA Skater. I have been skating for over 10 years so hopefully, I know a thing or two about roller derby skates and wheels.
If you are just getting into roller derby and looking to learn more about wheels, this video should help you out.
An important thing to note, that despite being offered in four different colors, try not to choose based on color but rather pay attention to the hardness.
Wheel Size and Hardness
The Bont Evolve range of wheels is suitable for roller derby skating and speed skating.
59x38mm - Blue 88A, Purple 92A, Red 95A, Black 98A
63x42mm - Blue 88A, Pink 94A, Green 96A, Orange 98A
Today, I want to talk to you about some of the pros and cons of different wheel hardness's also known as the durometer. If you have seen the "D-word", it refers to the hardness of the urethane that the wheel is made out of, and in my opinion, there is no one size fits all. So, understanding what kind of wheel hardness you need for the specific surface that you're likely to be skating on is something you definitely need to be thinking about as you go to make your purchases.
When it comes to different kinds of surfaces, you can come across polished concrete, painted concrete, sports court/ skate court, or wood flooring, and all have different levels of grip. Therefore, we need to be thinking about the hardnesses of the wheels that we want to be skating with on those different surfaces.
The Bont Evolve Roller Derby Wheel comes in four different hardnesses; 88a, 92a, 95a, and 98a. An important thing to note, that despite being offered in four different colors, try not to choose based on color but rather pay attention to the hardness. Because that's really what you're paying for and what you want to be focusing on when you're putting your setup together.
Make sure you get the right durometer for the surface that you will be skating on most or most often. Also picking up different durometer wheels to accommodate the different surfaces that you would be training and competing on is very common. For example, I skate on a sport court/ skate court surface but then sometimes for a tournament I will be skating on polished concrete. My recommendations for a polished concrete surface would be the 88a or possibly 92a, which means they're stickier and will have a better grip on a more hard and slippery surface. Whereas the 95a and the 98a, those are a harder durometer and not as sticky in the urethane, so if the skating surface is sticky, like a freshly polished wood flooring, then you're going to want a harder wheel.
Your skating style might also influence your wheel preference. For example, I'm a jammer, so I am concerned about speed and control. Whereas, blockers often tell me they like a little bit of give in the hardness of their wheels to minimize getting penalties like stop blocks. I often prefer skating on a slightly more sticky wheel, even if you're losing some miles per hour because going as fast isn't the most important thing in roller derby. The ability to control your speed and stop is really what you need to be thinking about when you're picking a wheel and not what color looks cute.
The Bont Evolve Roller Derby wheel is 59mm tall and 38m wide. When comparing to the Evolve Speed version they are a little bit shorter and skinnier, for specific reasons. In roller derby, we want to accelerate quickly and have agility. A narrow wheel allows us to have more agility and maneuverability, and with a shorter wheel, we can accelerate faster to get up to top speed. Due to the style of play, roller derby skaters do not have to maintain pace like speed skating. It's more a start/ stop/ accelerating/ deaccelerating motion, therefore having the right wheels is important.
Lastly, the Evolve wheel has a hub that is nice and stiff and made out of polycarbonate. This allows for a great transfer of energy from the trucks into the high-grade urethane of the wheels. The urethane is also long-lasting and the break-in time is low. Putting on a fresh pair of wheels for a game is never a good idea, but with the Evolves, after a few practices, they'll be ready to rock and roll! And will be able to roll for you for a long time.
Scald Eagle aka Hillary Buscovick was born and raised in Gunnison, Colorado. Growing up in the mountains provided her an avid outdoor lifestyle, including ice hockey, fastpitch, and archery hunting, all of which helped prep her to take on roller derby.
Shortly after graduating from college in 2010, Eagle joined the Rose City Rollers of Portland Oregon where she played for 7 years, helped win two Hydras, and was named 2015 WFTDA Champs MVP. In 2017, she moved to Denver Colorado, where she continues to play high-level roller derby with the Denver Roller Derby League’s Mile High Club.
She’s been honored to make the USA Roller Derby roster for the 2014 and 2018 World Cup teams and has been privileged to be a part of the BONT team since 2011. She’s a restoration construction contractor in her other life and has aspirations to start her own tiny house building company alongside wife Lady Trample and their fur baby, Janet!