Today, roller skate wheels are formulated for their intented use. The simplest industry vernacular used to describe their known performance characteristics is: "Indoor Wheels" and "Outdoor Wheels".
Indoor Wheels are firmer and roll more easily
than outdoor wheels. Indoor wheels are formulated to perform best on smooth
surfaces with the known reliable floor coatings now used in over 95% of
commercial roller skating centers. Most importantly, indoor wheels skate
smoothly while gripping the floor coatings safely, even at high speeds
negotiating sharp turns. Indoor wheels are never recommended for outdoor use.
Used on smooth concrete they wear out sooner than designed. Used on rough
concrete, they "ride rough" and wear out much too quickly. On outdoor trails,
small stones become imbedded into the wheels causing problems in stability for
Outdoor Wheels are a result of exotic
polyurethanes perfected for skate wheels in the early 1970's. Their unique
characteristic is called "Rebound". Owing to the formulations of the
wheels, small stones won't become imbedded in the material as the skater rolls
across them. These wheels throw debris out and away as it rolls across it. This
phenomenon earned wheels of this formulation the "outdoor" signature, as they
roll well in unfriendly environments. These are softer than indoor wheels and
take more energy for acceleration and sustain speeds while skating. The cost of
outdoor wheels is greater (owing to the formulation) than indoor wheels by an
average factor between 35 and 50%.
HARDNESS OF THE WHEELS - There are two scales of
measurements used to express the "hardness" or urethane - the "A" scale (used in
skating with a range from a low of 70A to a high of 103A) and the "D" scale,
which, if converted to skate wheels, would turn in lower numbers like 43D to
55D. The "A" scale is centigrade (100 degrees is boiling) - the "D" scale is
Fahrenheit. Skate wheels makers use the "A" scale since 100+ is nearly the
hardness of a porcelain sink by skate wheels standards. There is a dynamic and
widely varying "practical" or performing" hardness is any skate wheel. Factors
affecting the practical or performing hardness of these wheels include:
TEMPERATURE - Performance of a soft (70A) skate wheels
on 120-degree asphalt outdoor will be different than on a 76-degree urethane
floor coating while indoors.
WEIGHT - A 6' 5", 240 lb skater will clearly affect a
skate wheels differently than a 5' 6", 130 lb skater. Muscle can compensate,
even be an equalizer, but urethanes with "bulk extenders" or fillers (common in
cheap skates) might actually break down under heavy weights and high speeds.
These wheels will be seen to "chunk" or break apart or flatten. However, poor
skating habits can have similar consequences. Don't be too quick to blame wheel
makers for defects. We have seen skating styles destroy wheels, bearings, plates
PROFILE (or Radius) - The profile of the wheels
determines how much of the wheel is actually touching the ground (sometimes
called the "footprint") and this effects the wheel's rolling resistance and
grip. This gets tricky: A large hub can reduce a footprint on a high-speed turn.
The narrow (or higher) the profile, the more it is suited to straight-line
higher speed skating without a lot of twists and turns. Also, the narrower the
wheel, (offering a thin "footprint" to the floor) the more easily maneuvered at
CORE OR HUB - It secures the outer race of the
bearings. The larged the hub, less urethane is used to complete the final
diameter of the wheel. Hubs these days are made of exotic and durable nylons,
zytels, and polycarbon blends. The larger the hub, the lighter the wheel becomes
and, in a dynamic way, the hub effects the point of contact on the floor
surface. Larger hubs reduce potential roll-resistance, regardless of the
SIZE - The industry standard measures the diameter of
the wheel in millimeters from the smaller (54mm - 2 1/8") to the taller
(84mm - 3"). Taller wheels have more inertia to overcome when starting out, but
sustain higher speeds for longer distances with less effort. Smaller wheels are
better short-distance (or sprint) wheels since they offer faster acceleration
(but without sustained roll) by being less resistant to quick starts and dashes
than taller ones. In theory, a hockey goalie should be expected to use a wide
profile (fat) wheel with the smallest diameter available since the longest
distance the goalie travels in a game is merely a few feet in short bursts. A
22K long distance skater will have an advantage using the thinnest (just like a
racing bike does) and the tallest wheel possible with the largest hub made
blended with the skater's own rate of endurance.
THE SEARCH - With all of these variables there is no
such thing as a universally correct set of skate wheels. There is no such thing
as an indoor/outdoor wheel that works equally well on all surfaces. Although a
72mm/78A or 76mm/80A might satisfy the basics required of enjoying a nice day on
park trails, once skaters decide to refine their skills or define their own
goals in skating, they throw open the window looking into the world of wheels.
Climbing through the window, they enter the chambers of a maze in search of the
perfect set. They mix, match, lathe, trim, groove, soak and spray them to
achieve a harmony of their own skills and the performance hoped for in their
wheels. This search can exhaust several sets of wheels to achieve! Give us a
call toll free at 1.877.277.2346 and we can help you find the set for you.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call toll free at 1.877.277.2346 if you need any additional information.