Roller Skating has enjoyed a massive pandemic boom.
Like so many others, I took the plunge and invested in my very own roller skates - beginning, what I hope will be, a life long passion.
After hours researching and trying to replicate the beginners tips and tricks in the gravel car park across the road, I stumbled (this time not literally) on a post that gave me an "a-ha" moment.
For a newbie to the sport, it's easy to assume that one roller skate wheel fits all... they're don't!
After getting sucked into a vortex of overwhelming information and chatting to my newbie skater crew, it was obvious I wasn't the only one in the dark.
So here's my holy grail of a "beginners guide" to which roller skate wheels will be best for you... plus some bonus beginners tips along the way.
I'll be talking you through:
- Different types of quad roller skating
- What are your roller skate wheels made from?
- Wheel hardness
- Wheel width
- Wheel height
- Where to buy your next set of roller skate wheels
"Beginners tip #1 When first learning to skate, keep your knees bent and try not to look at your feet!"
SKATE GOALS!!! @PeachySkaterr wearing the Kaleidoscope Bodysuit
What Are The Different Types Of Roller Skating
In this article we'll be specifically talking about Quad roller skate wheels and there are tonnes of different types such as:
- Indoor skating
- Outdoor skating
- Artistic skating
- Speed skating
- Jam skating
- Roller derby
The boot can differ between each type, such as Roller Derby but for now we'll be covering all the basics of choosing the right wheels for indoor and outdoor skating.
"Beginners tip #2 Roller skating is more about shifting your weight than moving your feet"
Our fave roller guide - Queer Girl Straight Skates - giving us a wheely good guide... (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves 😂)
What Are Roller Skate Wheels Made From?
Most skate wheels are made from polyurethane, a durable plastic that has good grip and endurance.
The hub or core is made from either Nylon or Aluminium. This is where the skate bearings snaps into place and holds your wheels.
Nylon hubs are light and more affordable and tend to be softer and slower. Aluminium hubs are stronger, more expensive and more rigid that Nylon.
The bearings are the bits your wheel fits on to and the higher the ABEC rating, the better performance and tolerance the bearings have.
These bearings do not come with the extra wheels you buy, and each wheel has 2 bearings. This means for one pair of skates you will need 16 individual bearings. For more info on bearings check out this handy Bearings FAQ.
The easiest way to tell what size bearing you have is to check out the stamping on the shield of your existing skate bearing. Most will be stamped with 608. This means you have 8mm.
If stamped with 627, you have a 7mm bearing but this is rare and you probably won't need to know this as a beginner.
"Beginners tip #3 You can buy slow roll substitute bearings to keep you slow whilst you learn before switching back to normal bearings!"
Roller Skater Outfit Favourits
Roller Skate Wheels - Hardness
The Durometer scale:
Much like our own Stretchometre referring to the firmness of our Lycra, the Durometer is a scale that refers to the hardness of a skate wheel.
This scale can get pretty confusing if you're new to the roller world but to break it down:
The hardness of a wheel is measured on the A-scale, ranging from as soft as 74A up to 105A, which is the hardest you will likely find. This hardness will affect the durability, shock absorption, and grip on your indoor or outdoor surfaces.
"Beginners tip #4 Wheel hardness and the surface you skate is the most important thing to consider when choosing your wheels"
Durometer scale compared to the type of skating and surface skated on
For indoor skating, usually on coated wood or coated concrete the Durometre scale is as follows:
- 97A for standard surfaces
- 95A for slippery surfaces
- 92A for extra slippery surfaces
For outdoor skating on normal concrete or asphalt:
- The softest range from 78A-85A
Artistic Skating usually indoors on coated wood:
- Very hard wheels typically ranging from 97A to 103A.
- Typically on the harder side ranging from 95A to 98A.
"Beginners tip #5 When you first buy your skates, switch up your wheels for some softer 78A's whilst you practice outdoors on roads and carparks"
Roller Skate Wheels - Width
The width of the wheel is known as the profile and ranges from roughly 31mm to 44mm.
Narrower roller skate wheels...
- are great for advanced skaters
- are great for artistic skating
- lower your centre of gravity for maximum manoeuvrability
Wider roller skate wheels...
- are great for beginners
- give a higher centre of gravity which offers more stability
- offer more traction
- are great for indoor speed skating
Roller Skate Wheels - Height (diameter)
The wheel size refers to the diameter which ranges from roughly 45mm to 70mm.
Bigger diameter wheels are generally faster for Speed skating and outdoor surfaces whereas Artistic skating requires smaller diameter wheels for stability and mobility.
"Beginners tip #6 Taller wheels are better for outdoor surfaces"
Where To Buy Roller Skate Wheels
All the big Roller Skate brands like Impala, Moxi and Rio Roller sell there own brand skate wheels.
As always we suggest trying to buy from your local skate shop to help support small businesses where you can.
Brands like Atom Wheels, Rollerbones, Sure-grip and Rookie are also constantly bringing out all kinds of specialist wheels plus some indoor/outdoor hybrids so you can get the best of both worlds. Here are just a few of our picks to get your started.
Have you just bought your first Roller skates or do you have some hot tips for newbies?
Comment below to join our growing gang of Burnt Soul Roller babes! 💖
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