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What are the differences between the types of inline skate wheels?

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What are the differences between the types of inline skate wheels?
Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Question: What are the differences between the types of inline skate wheels?

There are many size, composition and use differences between inline skate wheels.

Answer:

There are many types of inline skate wheels for the different inline skate disciplines, styles and skating conditions.

Wheel Profile

One thing that makes them different is the wheel profile, which is the shape of each wheel from a head on view. The profile establishes how much of your wheel touches the ground when you skate. There can be a big difference in the profile views of wheels, and each profile has a purpose. The profile is important because a wider flatter wheel has more traction and grip, but also more rolling resistance and won’t glide as well. Wheel profiles and sizes are different depending on the skating discipline.

  • Inline hockey wheels, recreational wheels and figure or dance wheels can work across these same disciplines, but you should be aware that you may not have all of the wheel properties needed for the activity.
  • Recreational wheels are usually multi-purpose, but again, you will not have any sport-specific wheel benefits. 
  • Aggressive skaters prefer much smaller flatter wheels for their grip and control.
  • Speed skaters prefer taller narrower wheels because they offer less rolling resistance and more responsiveness.

Wheel Durometer

Another thing that separates wheel types is the wheel durometer or hardness of the wheel. You will not be able to see the hardness, but you can feel it when you skate. The higher the durometer number, the harder the wheel, and the harder the wheel, the longer it will last – but a hard wheel gives a rough ride and provides less grip on your skating surface. The smaller the durometer number, the softer the wheel, and the soft wheels grip much better and ride smoother but do not last as long. 

Wheel Diameter

The wheel diameter is the height of the inline skate wheel in millimeters. A higher wheel will roll faster than a shorter one, when all other skating equipment and conditions are equal. But, small wheels accelerate faster than big wheels. Speed skaters use the tall wheels for speed with less maneuverability, while slalom, hockey and inline figure skaters use small to mid-sized wheels diameter for a combination of speed and control for maneuvering. Aggressive skaters use short wheels for stability.

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