Top 10 Tips for Buying the Perfect Roller Skate Wheels

Before you buy your next pair of roller skates or a new set of wheels, it’s important to understand what you need to look for to find the perfect set of wheels.  Roller skate wheels are one of the most important parts of a skate.  Here are 10 essential tips to help you make the right choice with that next important purchase.


Tip #1: Wheel hardness and the surface you plan to skate on are top priority

Atom Pulse Soft Hardness Wheel

Atom Pulse Soft Hardness Wheel

Wheel hardness is one of the most important attributes of a roller skate wheel.  But why does the hardness of a roller skate wheel matter?  Well, the hardness (or softness) of a wheel determines how you should best use that wheel and what surfaces you should skate on with that wheel.  For example, a soft wheel (78A-89A in the picture to the right) is best used for outdoor use or slippery indoor floors while a harder wheel (90A-103A) is best used for indoor use on sticky floors.  The lower the number, the softer the wheel.  The higher the number, the harder the wheel.

RollerBones Super Elite Hard Wheel

RollerBones Super Elite Hard Wheel

With a softer wheel, you get more grip and a much softer ride – perfect for small pebbles and the normal bumpiness of an outdoor surface.  Softer wheels can also be used indoors, too, if you are on a

slippery surface and need more grip.  If you are skating on asphalt, concrete or some other slippery surface that is uncoated, then you likely want a softer wheel in the 78A-90A range.  If you are outdoors, go with a wheel in the 78A category.  Softer wheels are also better for the beginner because they provide more grip.  Grippier wheels usually make the beginner feel more secure as you will “stick” to the surface you are skating on better with a softer wheel.

On the flip side, a harder wheel is usually better for tighter, indoor, coated surfaces as these wheels provide less grip.  Harder wheels are great for more speed and give more of a slidey feel to the wheel even when on tight floors.  This is usually very advantageous to the more advanced skater as it gives you the ability to go faster as with less floor grip you also gain more speed.  Very hard wheels are also used in artistic skating as they allow the skater to spin more freely on a tight, indoor surface.

Here is a handy chart that will help guide you to the right level of wheel hardness depending on your skating:

78A-80AThese are really soft wheels that are super grippy and should be used either exclusively outdoors on asphalt and concrete OR on very slippery indoor surfaces.
84A-85AAlso considered soft wheels, these wheels are often considered a hybrid wheel that can be used either indoors or outdoors. These wheels are good for a beginner (even if you only skate indoors) as they give you more grip and control.
86A-89AThese are the softest wheels truly made for indoor courts like gyms, polished concrete or really slippery indoor wood that has not been treated.
90A-93AThese medium hard wheels provide a normal grip. They are great for medium grippy floors like polished concrete or sportcourt.
94A-96AThese are the first class of truly hard wheels. They have a low level of grip and are good for stickier floors.
97A-103AThese are super hard wheels only appropriate for roller rink floors and rubberized gym floors that have been treated and are sticky. Anything over 100A is so hard that it technically falls in the B category. This means the wheel is really hard and only meant for more experienced skaters on a sticky, indoor surface.

In a future blog post, we will go into the specifics of how wheel hardness is actually measured (known as durometer – the 78A-103A numbers above) and the actual scientific differences between the various wheel types for folks who are interested.  However, for the average skater, understanding the chart above is enough to pick out the correct skate wheels based on hardness without knowing all of the specific details.


Tip #2: A wheel’s diameter affects your overall acceleration, speed, stability and weight

Many people don’t realize just how much a roller skate wheel effects an overall pair of roller skates.  The diameter determines the height of your wheel, the overall height of your skates and is measured in millimeters (mm).  How tall your wheel is effects attributes like acceleration, roll time/top speed (how long you can roll without pushing), stability and the wheel’s weight.  Let’s look at each attribute that wheel diameter effects in more detail below:


In general, smaller diameter wheels allow for faster acceleration because they take less effort to get you moving.  A larger (taller) diameter wheel will accelerate more slowly and take more effort to get moving.  If you think about this for a minute, it makes sense.  A smaller diameter wheel has less distance to move to get a full revolution than a larger diameter wheel.

Roll Time / Top Speed

However, the opposite is true of the top speed and roll time of a wheel.  A larger diameter wheel typically has a better overall roll time and can achieve top speeds over a smaller diameter wheel.  A larger diameter takes more effort to get moving, but once it does get rolling, it takes less effort to keep it moving fast.  This is one reason why long distance speed skaters prefer taller wheels because after they get the wheel moving, they don’t have to exert as much effort.  You will also see that most taller wheels are made for outdoor use.

Acceleration / Top Speed Summary

So, smaller diameter wheels will get rolling faster, but take more effort to keep rolling faster.  While larger diameter wheels will be slower at acceleration, but will take less effort to keep rolling.


Smaller diameter wheels on average are more stable than larger diameter wheels.  With less distance between you and the ground, it’s easy to see why a smaller diameter wheel would give you more stability.

Wheel Weight

A roller skate wheel with a smaller diameter weighs less than a larger diameter wheel.

Here is a nice table that shows specific wheel diameters, their typical use and an example wheel:

Diameter (in mm)Typical UseExample
45mmArtistic, FreestyleSure-Grip Fo-Mac Mini Mac
57mm-58mmDerby, Speed, Jam, ArtisticSure-Grip All-American Dream
59mm-62mmDerby, Speed, JamSure-Grip Twister
65mm-70mmOutdoor, Long-track SpeedKryptonics Route Outdoor Wheels


Tip #3: A wheel’s weight is a large percentage of your overall skate’s weight

Did you know that the weight of your wheels can be almost half of your skates total weight?  That makes this an important consideration when purchasing a new set of wheels.  Heavy wheels often offer you more traction, but they can also tire your legs out faster than lighter wheels.  Lighter wheels can allow you to move easier and make faster, quick movements, but they can also make some skaters feel less stable.  Most moderate to advanced skaters are looking for lighter wheels, but if you are a beginner, a heavier wheel can help with stability and make you feel more grounded.


Tip #4: Purse your lips, hit those edges and watch that contact patch

Whoa!  What does all of that mean?  Lets break it down.

Roller Skate Wheel Contact Patch / Total Width

Roller Skate Wheel Contact Patch / Total Width

Contact Patch

The width of the wheel (also known as the profile) is the total size of the wheel when measured across.  This includes the total width with any bevels.

However, the contact patch is the area of the wheel that is in contact with the surface you are skating on – the actual amount of the wheel that actually touches the ground not including any bevels, lips or edges.  The contact patch can affect the grippiness and overall speed of the wheel along with the hardness of the wheel that we mentioned in Tip #1 above.

Typically, a wider contact patch equals more grip and more stability. However, it is also heavier, slower and harder to make quick movements on.  On the flip side, more narrow contact patch wheels have less stability, are lighter and make it easier to make quick movements.

Here is a quick chart that shows the most common wheel profiles/widths:

ProfileDescriptionSkater Skill Level
31mmThese super narrow wheels are amazingly light and offer a ton of agility, but they are also the least stable and offer much less grip than a wider wheel.Advanced
35mmThese narrow wheels are light and offer agility, but give you a little more stability and grip than the super narrow wheels above.Intermediate / Advanced
38mmThese slim wheels offer a good balance of agility, stability and grip.Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
44mmThese super wide wheels provide great grip and stability, but are heavier and provide less agility in your movements.Beginner
Roller Skate Wheel Lips / Edges

Roller Skate Wheel Lips / Edges


Lips and or the edge of the wheel effect the overall grippiness of the wheel.  The lips are the very edge of the wheel and depending on their cut effect the total amount of contact patch that a wheel has on a surface.

Square lips have a straight drop and have the maximum contact patch and more grip than other wheels.  There are not many wheels that have complete square lips, but there are some that are more rounded than others.  In the picture to the right, it’s easy to see that the All-American Dream wheels have a more square lip than the Sure-Grip Motion wheels.  The square lips are more common in artistic wheels.

Rounded lips have more give and less traction than square lips.  However, there are various different rounded lip configurations.  The most rounded lip wheels are usually found in outdoor wheels.  They have less grip and provide more slide and cruise ability.  These are common in outdoor wheels as it also punches out pebbles and other small obstacles you may encounter with greater ease.

On either extreme of the round and square lip spectrum, you will find a middle ground where most wheels live.  Just remember that the more square the lips of a wheel, the more traction and less give.  The more round a wheel’s lips, the less grip and more give.


Different types of wheel hub core materials

Different types of wheel hub core materials

Tip #5: A wheel’s hub and core materials affect the overall way that a wheel rolls

The inner portion of the wheel is known as the core or hub of a wheel.  This is the hard part area in the center of the wheel where the skate bearings snap in place.  Looking at the picture to the right, you can see that there are three main types of cores: Hollow, Nylon and Aluminum.

Nylon Cores

This class of wheels are light, less rigid and more affordable.  These often come in a spoked pattern (as the Road Hog wheel in the image on the right shows).  These wheels tend to be slower as they don’t transfer power to the wheel as well as an aluminum core.  They also are softer because the core does not help to keep the wheel as round.  This means more contact patch on the surface, and thus a slower overall ride.

Aluminum Cores

These cores are the strongest and most rigid of the hub materials.  They are also the heaviest and most expensive of the three core types.  The stiffer core allows for the wheels to roll longer as it keeps the wheel perfectly round.  These wheels also slip easier when you push because they are more round and don’t give you as much traction.  Remember, that traction is equivalent to a decrease in overall speed.

Hollow Cores

These wheel cores fall between the nylon and aluminum types.  They are fairly light wheels (much lighter than the aluminum core) and don’t have the same drawbacks as a nylon core.  These are a good in-between wheel and can provide you with the acceleration you need along with the slightly stiffer core that gives you a long roll.


Roller Skate Wheel Tread

Roller Skate Wheel Tread

Tip #6: Don’t tread on me – the wheel tread myth debunked

Believe it or not, tread is one of those features of a wheel that really aren’t as important as you would think.  We added this tip because so many people think that tread is what helps with grippiness of a wheel.  That is false.  Most wheels are made of urethane and as a wheel gets heated up, it will grip more to the surface you are skating on.

So, the tread is pointless?  Well, not exactly.  One place where tread does help you is when you have just put your skates on and you hit the surface skating.  In this case, your wheels have not heated up yet, and so the extra tread does help keep you more stable for that short time period.  Also, the softer your wheel, the faster it will heat up and the more grip you will get.  That is why we said earlier that softer wheels have more grip than hard wheels.


Tip #7: A skater’s weight affects overall acceleration and roll time

Your body weight also has a huge affect on how your wheels will react and perform.  If you are over 200 lbs, you will get more grip from a wheel than an average skater.  Therefore, you may want to compensate for this by going two or three steps up on the durometer.  So if you are skating on a 90A, you may want to go up to a 92A as your extra weight will automatically put more pressure on your wheel and cause it to sink more into the surface.  If you are over 200 lbs., you also will want to look into getting a more rigid core as your wheel will flex more under your weight.  An aluminum core will be best for you as it is very rigid and will better support you and the wheel.

On the other side, if you weigh less than normal (under 100 lbs), then you would want to do the reverse of what was suggested above.  If you would normally buy a 92A wheel for the surface you are skating on, then you may want to go a little softer as your weight will not press down on the wheels as hard.  You can also get away with going with any core type (nylon, hybrid or aluminum).

If you fall somewhere in between 100-200 lbs, then you should be good with using the recommended wheel hardness for the surface that you are skating on.  You can also go with any of the three core types.


Saving Up for Roller Skate Wheels

Saving Up for Roller Skate Wheels

Tip #8: Cost is always a factor

Of course, the cost of roller skate wheels are always a factor.  Wheels today come at a variety of price points.  You can get a very cheap pair of wheels for less than $30, but you do get what you pay for in wheels just like anything else.

A good set of wheels will on average cost around $80.  However, there are wheels that go as high as $150.  It all depends on how you plan to use the wheels and how important the overall quality of the wheel is to you.

If you do need a new set of wheels, Skates Emporium has some of the best deals on roller skate wheels on the web today.  Be sure to check us out.  We have wheels ranging from as little as $17.95 to as much as $153.95.


Roller Skate Wheels in Multiple Colors

Roller Skate Wheels in Multiple Colors

Tip #9: Color and style do matter (sometimes)

Depending on your intended skating use, color may be one of the more important characteristics of a wheel for you.  I can see the experienced skaters among you laughing, but if you are in to jam or rink skating, color and look do matter.

Color really makes no difference in how well a wheel rolls, how fast it will go or how grippy/loose it is to the surface.  However, the color and look of a wheel are important to many skaters.  After all, many of us love to skate (and love our skates) because of how they look and how they make us feel when we wear them.

Based on the other tips, there is no way that style and color could not be included, however, it is the least important factor for how well a set of wheels will work for you from a performance standpoint.


Tip #10: Lastly, proper wheel choice is dependent on the type of skating you do

So, lets put together everything we have learned and pick out the best set of wheels for you.  The most important part of picking the correct wheels is focusing on the type of skating you plan to do most often in your new wheels.  How you plan to use your wheels should weigh heavily in picking out the perfect set.

Different wheels are made for different uses.  Are you planning to skate outdoors?  Are you into jam skating, speed skating, artistic skating, roller derby or just regular rink skating?  There are certain wheels made for the particular type of skating that you plan to do and understanding all of the tips that we discussed above will help you to pick out the right set.

Let’s go over some of the main types of skating and what kind of wheels would be good for each use.  Please realize that these are just suggestions.  The best way to know if a wheel is right for you is to buy a couple of different sets and try them out.  Only then will you truly know what kind of wheel you like best.

Outdoor Skating

If you are skating outdoors, then you definitely want to go with a softer wheel – a low number on the durometer scale – something in the 78A-88A range.  As we discussed earlier, a softer wheel allows for more give in the wheel as it makes contact with outdoor elements like small pebbles and dirt.

A low durometer wheel will also last longer outdoors, will give you more grip and, most importantly, will give you a smoother ride outdoors.  These lower durometer wheels are perfect for asphalt or concrete surfaces.  If you are not a beginner, you also will want to go with a tall wheel as it will give you more roll.

Here are a couple of good outdoor roller skate wheels to check out: Sure-Grip Motion, Atom Pulse, Atom Road Hog and Kryptonics Route.

Jam Skating

Jam skating combines dance, gymnastics and skating and started out as a throwback to the 1970s roller disco scene. If you are in to jam skating, then you know the popular styles like shuffle skating, footwork, power and ground breaking.  To jam skate, you need the right kind of wheels.  Most jam skates have wheels in the 93A-96A durometer range.  This provides a medium-hard boot that allows for some grip, but not too much.  This allows for a great agility and quick turns, which are hallmarks of the jam skater.

Jam skating wheels also come in all different types of colors and styles – both important to the jam skater.  The vast majority of jam skate wheels fall into the larger wheel profiles – usually in the 40-44mm range.  They also are in the larger wheel diameter – in the 62-65mm range.

Popular jam skate wheels include: Vanilla Backspin, Sure-Grip 50/50 and Sure-Grip Twister.

Speed Skating

The best wheel for a speed skater depends on whether you are after rapid acceleration or long roll time.  Most speed skaters want a long roll time, so they tend to go for slightly harder, taller wheels.

Speed skating wheels are commonly 62mm and fall anywhere from 80A-101A in hardness.  As we stated in previous tips, it really depends on the surface you will skate on and your weight that will determine what the correct wheel hardness is for you.  However, most speed skate wheels are wider, have a larger contact patch and provide enough traction, stability and agility to allow the speed skater to cut corners and get the most roll from every push.

Popular speed skate wheels include: Vanilla Backspin, Atom Stroker and RollerBones Turbo.

Artistic Skating

Artistic skating consists of doing special jumps and spins on roller skates – much like you see during the Olympics on ice skates.  Artistic jumps include the axle, loop, flip, lutz and salchow (pronounce sol-cow).  There are also special artistic spins like the sit spin, camel and inner/outer one legged spins.

With all of this spinning and jumping, the artistic skater needs a narrow wheel that does not stick to the surface they are skating on.  Artistic skaters need wheels that have a lot of give and will allow them to quickly turn and spin without much friction from the surface.  Therefore, most artistic skate wheels are extremely hard – in the 100A+ range.  They also are usually very narrow.  This allows for the most agility and movement of the feet.

Popular artistic skate wheels include: Sure-Grip Spirit, RollerBones Super Elite and Sure-Grip All-American Dream.

Roller Derby

If you are in to roller derby, then most of the wheels you will be using will be in the 59-62mm diameter range.  Derby skaters use all different profile sizes, but the most popular is definitely in the 38mm size.  The wheel hardness for derby skates is pretty varied, but most people buy derby skates in the 90-96A range, though that does vary based on the surface you are skating on and how grippy you like your wheels.

Popular derby wheels include: Atom Juke 2.0 Alloy, Atom Stroker and Sure-Grip Zombie

Regular Rink Skating

For all other kinds of skating, it really comes down to the type of surface that you are skating on and the other tips that we presented above.  Look at the surface that you are skating on at your local rink before you make a choice.  Also, ask other fellow skaters at your rink what they like to ride on.  That will give you a great sense of what’s best for you.

Wrapping Up

We hope that you learned a lot from our top 10 tips on buying the perfect roller skate wheels.  What do you think about the tips we presented?  Did we miss one?  What are your favorite wheels and why?  Drop us a comment and let us know what you think!

Comments 18

  1. Great blog post! I was looking for information on roller skate wheels and this really helped me to understand what to look out for when I get ready to buy my next set. Thanks so much for all of your help!

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      Thanks, Tom! I’m so glad you liked the post. I’m glad it helped you out. I hope to hear more from you in the future. Please come back and check us out again in the near future. We’re going to be adding a whole lot more cool stuff soon.

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      Hi Elia – Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my article! I’m glad you liked it. Please be sure to check back soon and signup for our newsletter. We’ll have a lot more great articles coming soon.

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      Hi Leslie. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article. Great feedback! I do have a little in the article about outdoor skating, but you’re right in that I didn’t go into great detail about bowl skating/outdoor skating here. I’ll have to create another article just about outdoor skating. With the snow melting and Spring finally coming, I’m sure folks are ready to get outside and skate. Nice website, by the way, and really neat concept. We need to get more people skating. Thank you for doing your part!

  2. Thank you so much for your very useful blog. I am a past artistic skater (in the 80’s) so I know all about artistic skate wheels, but I am heading to Barcelona for an outdoor dance/jam skating event and was unsure of what wheels to get. Your advice and breakdown is fantastic.

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      Hi Patricia – Sorry for the late reply. Thank you so much for your comment. I too am an artistic skater from back in the day. I’m glad my breakdown helped you. After a few months away, I’m back. How was Barcelona and skating outdoors there?

  3. This is really helpful, i’m looking to get a pair of skates, as I want to learn artistic however be outdoors, is there any specific skate I should be looking for?? From this information I have collected that by being outdoors you need a soft wheel however artistic needs a hard. So I’m a little bit out of my depth here haha! Thanks you in advance!

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      Hi Amber! So nice of you to stop by and drop us this great comment & question. As with most things around skate wheels, it all depends on the skater, the intended use and the surface. Typically for outdoor skating you want a soft wheel as it lasts longer and is more durable to the bumps and debris that you will encounter outdoors. However, it really depends on the surface you are skating on (be it outdoors or indoors).

      Most people who skate artistically use a hard wheel and do it indoors on a wood surface with a tight clear coat plastic on top of the floor (shiny surface). That’s at least how every floor was when I skated competitively. That clear coat plastic makes the floor extremely tight and is something speed skaters and roller derby skaters love because harder wheels more easily stick to the floor (and a harder wheel provides skaters with more speed but also has a lot less grip).

      As an artistic skater, you need a hard wheel on this type of surface to get a good, easy spin as the harder wheel is more slick. My artistic wheels are really hard – 103A. However, if you want to do artistic skating (jumps, spins, etc) outdoors, then it really depends on the outdoor surface. I have a set of very soft 78A wheels that I use outdoors, and I could easily spin with them on my smooth concrete garage floor (5-6 revolutions). I could even spin somewhat well with them on my unfinished (slightly more grainy) concrete sidewalk outside of my garage – but not as easily (4-5 revolutions). However, if I took these same wheels into my local rink with a hard wood floor with a tight clear coat plastic on top, I’m not going to get more than 1-3 revolutions before I stop spinning. The wheel is just way too grippy for that kind of surface.

      So, if I was skating outdoors and ONLY doing artistic skating, then I would probably go with a harder wheel. Something in the mid-to-high 90s should be fine (again, depends on the surface). If I spun with my really hard 103As in my garage I would really spin like crazy. In fact, I’m going to have to go try that soon! :-). However, if I wanted to do some basic art spinning but also skate around the park trail, on an outdoor track and on the side walk, then I would go much softer with a 78A sacrificing for a better all-around outdoor wheel.

      What kind of surface do you skate on outdoors? Is this just for fun or are you competing?

      Thanks for stopping by and for the question,


  4. I was wondering if you have any info on bearings? If I buy new wheels, do I use the existing bearings on the old wheels or find ones to fix the new wheels? I was researching bearings and there’s a ton of different options. I picked up the Sure-GRIP 50/50 and wanted to know if I had to get bearings for them.

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      Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by. I’m actually in the process right now on gathering research for an article around picking the perfect bearings. The quickest way to find out about the new article is to sign up for the newsletter as that’s where I will first share all of the information with my audience. You can do that at the bottom of any post or on the sidebar to the right. It’s going to be a pretty in-depth article as there is a lot of information to sift through. However, let me share a few things that article will contain to help you out now with your question and give everyone a sneak peek.

      Most bearings are rated with an ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineers Committee) rating which is used primarily to rate bearings for manufacturing purposes. See most bearings in the world today are made for manufacturing reasons, not skating. The ABEC rating is a number system with ratings of 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. The higher the ABEC rating, the higher the bearing precision and also the higher the price. However, unless you plan to go 100 MPH on your skates (I wish!), the extra ABEC precision isn’t really going to do much for you (except have you pay a little more for the bearings).

      Here are two quick key things I’d recommend for you:

      First, buy a bearing that is built for skating. Many of the ABEC bearings out there are manufacturing bearings that are retrofitted for skating purposes. Other companies like Atom (who make Bionic Bearings) and Bones (who make Super Reds) are redesigning bearings from the ground up to be used for skating. Skating has different needs for bearings than manufacturing, so it makes sense that these skating manufacturers are creating bearings just for this purpose. I personally really love the Bones Super Reds which you can get on my site for under $50. They’re really great bearings at a super price. I use them and my inline speed skating daughter, Violet, loves them, too. We have several sets that we use. If you do a ton of outdoor skating, then a ceramic bearing is better because it can withstand moisture better and won’t rust. Again, I’d go with Bones Ceramic Super Reds here. I have one set for my outdoor wheels and love them. They are super smooth (when they’re clean). They are going to cost a lot more, however, because they are ceramic which do better in the outdoor elements (about $150). You can get away with a metal bearing outdoors, just keep them dry or they can rust.

      Second, and more importantly, buy some bearing cleaner and bearing lube (if you are into speed skating). One of the key ways to increase the longevity and the performance of a bearing is to keep it clean and lubed up. I use the Qube Bearing Spa to clean my bearings and then the Qube Lube to keep them flying during use. Basically, I try to clean my bearings every month and then I lube them up before I go out each time. A clean and lubed bearing makes a huge difference!

      You asked: If I buy new wheels, do I use the existing bearings on the old wheels or find ones to fix the new wheels?

      For me, this would really depend. I really like to get new bearings to go with new wheels. I guess it’s similar to that new car smell. 🙂 If I had the old bearings for a couple of years and they were not skate rated bearings, I’d get a new set. However, it really depends on the type of skating you are doing and whether speed is a huge goal for you. If you decide to keep your existing bearings, then at the very least get some bearing cleaner and clean them (if you haven’t already). You’ll see a big difference just with cleaning them. You’ll need a way to get your bearings out of your old wheels. You can do it the old fashioned way with a screwdriver and a hammer (tap very lightly so you don’t damage the bearing casing!), or you can use a tool like the Bones Bearing Puller or the Snyder 2-Piece Bearing Press which makes the job of inserting and removing bearings way easier.

      I hope that helps answer your question, Jen! If not, just drop me another comment or shoot me an email.

      P.S. Here is a really good article that I will definitely be quoting in my bearing article. It’s by a skate bearing manufacturer, Bones. In my opinion, they make some of the very best skate bearings: ABEC vs Skate Rated Bearings

  5. Really cool site! Been thinking about getting my “first pair” of derby skates and came upon SE while researching wheel info.

    Y’all ROCK (…and roll)!!!

    Honey B

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  6. Thanks for all the great information! I’m looking to get back into roller skating at the local rink here where I reside and I guess the best way to describe our style of skating is artistic. We roll somewhat fast (but not roller derby fast), shuffle, do spins, jumps & other similar moves on a usually shiny indoor rink floor. I’m looking into purchasing some Riedell 120 Uptown Rhythm Roller Skates for this purpose & am wondering if I’d need different wheels from what comes standard on them? I’d consider myself somewhat of an experienced skater, definitely not a beginner, but won’t be doing backflips on skates any time soon either!!

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      Thanks for stopping by, Joy! It really depends on what type of wheels come on that outfit. Often the wheels and bearings differ from site to site. If you are doing artistic skating (especially spins), then you likely will want a harder wheel. Anything 98A or above should work fine on a normal hardwood floor. At the rink I skate at regularly, they have a hardwood floor that is used mostly for speed skating so they put a lot of plastic on the floor which makes it really tight (very sticky). On that floor, I use a pair of RollerBones Elite clear 103A wheels. They are super slick and let me spin even on a very tight floor. Picking the right wheels for the right surface for the right type of skating is really the trick. For art, I like harder wheels.

  7. Hi there!

    I am trying to build a pair of skates and have narrowed it down to everything but the wheels, and I was hoping you might have some suggestions. I was a competition speed skater a decade ago and am now going to learn, then coach a Jr Derby team. I also want to be able to use my skates for artistic/rec skating in my off time at a rink. The Jr Derby practice floor is a school auditorium. It is a pretty dirty wood surface, not much shine or slip, but mostly free of pebbles and other debris. So I am looking for wheels that will work well in both that environment, and a traditional slippery rink.

    Here are my skates so far:

    Riedell 811 Boot
    Reactor Pro Plate
    Super Red Bones Swiss Bearings

    I definitely want a wheel with an aluminum hub, and was thinking something in a 58-60mm range would be good middle ground from the tiny speed wheels I am used to and the rugged wider wheels needed for Derby.

    Ultimately I am looking for wheels that:

    -Help with stability since I haven’t been on skates in a REALLY long time, and thanks to kids, have some extra weight to work with.

    -Have the best roll with the least amount of effort, sort of as a way to “cheat” my way back into skating shape.

    -A harder wheel that will allow fun rec moves like rexing, backwards, and spins, but not to hard that I fall on my butt the first time I try to push off.

    -Something that will really allow for tight crossovers, which is something the Jr Derby girls are looking to learn/improve upon in particular. I used to be really great at those, but again as a speed skater, had really tiny wheels. I want to make sure I am not knocking into massive wheels that stick out when attempting to re-learn this technique.

    -Color obviously isn’t a huge deal, except I absolutely do not want white wheels. I hate the way they look. What about the light up wheels, are they just cheap “fun” wheels?

    Finally, I would also like a 2nd set of wheels for freestyle skating outdoors, something I have never done (to even consider taking my custom skates outside was blasphemy back in the day!) on quads, but would love to give it a try! I tried rollerblading and absolutely hated it. I am assuming I would need separate bearings as well for outdoors right? Do they make closed bearings to keep dirty and whatnot out?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Post

      Hi JaelynRae,

      Thanks for stopping by. Those are some nice skates so far that you have picked out. I think you have one of the better boots, plates and certainly bearings on the market. The Bones Swiss bearings are super nice. For outdoor bearings, I’d go with the Bones Ceramics if you are in a place that is humid / rains quite a bit. Otherwise, if not, you can get away with Bones Reds. The Ceramics are pretty expensive.

      As far as wheels are concerned, there are so many choices. Thankfully wheels and bearings are fairly cheap (at least compared to the whole skate), so I have many sets. For speed and derby, my favorite quad wheels are the Sure-Grip Hyper Cannibal wheels. They have a blue set that are a little softer and more stable. The orange wheel is harder and the primary choice for the quad speed skaters at my local rink. You may have a hard time doing multi-revolution spins in these wheels, but they are great for derby and speed. They are a little wider (62mm) than what you said you wanted, but they are a good wheel. I have a second set of quad wheels that are super slick when I want to do freestyle / artistic skating. These are my favorite artistic skating wheels – Roller Bones Elite.

      For outdoor skating, I get a very soft wheel because I want extra stability. Falling outside on cement isn’t fun to me. So, I went with the Sure-Grip Motion Wheels. These are super grippy, so you aren’t going fast or doing spins outside in these wheels. Overall, the harder the wheel, the faster it’s going to move and the more you can spin in it. The softer the wheel, the opposite is true – slower and harder to spin. If you want a good overall wheel, you can’t really do bad with anything in the 93A-98A range. You can pretty much use those wheels on any smooth surface indoor / outdoor.

      I hope this helps you out. If you need more info, feel free to reach out to me at

      Happy skating!


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