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:

ScaleDescription
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:

Acceleration

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.

Stability

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

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.

 

 

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

[*Full disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and do earn a commission if you choose to use my affiliate links (the links to Amazon on this page). I try to make it clear that they are affiliate links by making them look more like advertisements.  I’m really proud of the products that I recommend and I use them often when I skate.  I will never push you to use an affiliate link as my main goal is to just give good advice and help more people enjoy skating.  I will only recommend products that I know well and use, so if you have any questions about any product I recommend, please let me know in the comments below and I will be more than happy to help you out!]

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 Skate Wheels

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.

My Recommendation: Atom Pulse Outdoor wheels.

I use these wheels a lot when I skate outdoors.  They are soft and easy to skate over rocks and small pebbles which I have a lot of on the roads around me.  I’m not a huge outdoor skater as I live in Texas where it is usually 100 degrees Fahrenheit most of the summer, but when I do go outside I use the Pulse.  The biggest reason I purchased these is because most of my indoor wheels are super hard and they just don’t work well on the road.  You may be able to get by with a harder wheel if you are on a tennis court, outdoor basketball / sport court, but if you are on a road or sidewalk with potential small pebbles, you need a soft wheel or you will face plant.

* Disclosure

 

Jam Skate Wheels

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.  I personally don’t do a ton of jam skating, so I can’t recommend a wheel.  If you are new to this space and want to start doing jam skating, then I would steer you towards Vanilla (VNLA) Jam Skates product line.  They specialize in Jam skating and have some low cost options under $200 that can help you get started.

 

Speed Skate Wheels

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.

My Recommendation: Hyper Cannibal Speed Skate Wheels
By far my favorite speed skate wheel. I love the aluminum core of these wheels and the durometer. They are perfect for speed skating on a hard wood floor with plastic. A lot of the competitive speed skaters at my rink swear by these wheels and use nothing else for competition. I personally have a pair and love them. My pushes never slip with these wheels and I can both hug and crossover on the turn without sliding too much while still getting a solid hard roll. Remember, you want as hard of a wheel as you can handle on your pushes and around the corner to help you maintain a top speed.

* Disclosure

 

Artistic Skate Wheels

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.

My Recommendation: RollerBones Art Elite 103A Skate Wheels

I really love these wheels. They are my go to wheels for most of my regular rink skating. They are super thin and hard. I’ve even speed skated during sessions and some speed skate practices in them – although they are super loud if there is no music playing :-). They are super slick (which I like) making it very easy for me to spin and slide. Again, they are not for everyone, but they are one of my favorite sets of wheels that I have ever used.

* Disclosure

 

Roller Derby Skate Wheels

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.  I personally don’t play roller derby, so I can not make a recommendation here.  However, I do like the look of the Atom Savant roller derby wheels and may snag a set just to try them out.  I’ve heard they are super light.  [Full disclosure: not a recommendation as I have not used them]

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 61

  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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      Author

      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.

    1. Post
      Author

      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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      Author

      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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      Author

      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,

      Jeff

  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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      Author

      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 them 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 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

      [Full Disclosure: The product links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a small commission if you purchase using one of these links. I only use affiliate links on products that I use regularly and recommend. Otherwise, I just use regular links throughout the site.]

  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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      Author
  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. [Full disclosure: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link. This means I get a small commission if you purchase. I only use affiliate links on products I use regularly and recommend fully.]

  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!

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      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, 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.

      [Full Disclosure: If you click any of the links in this comment, you will be taking to Amazon using my affiliate code. This means that if you then purchase through Amazon, I will get a small commission. I use these small commissions to help pay for running this website. I do recommend any product that I link to Amazon using an affiliate link, so if you have any questions about a product I recommend, please feel free to ask in the comments section here.]

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

      Happy skating!

      Jeff

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  8. Thanks. Im just getting back into skating after many years and am used to artistic wheels. My daughter who is 12 wants to learn to skate so we have been to the rink 4 times in two weeks. I have a pair of sure grip fame 97a and rc medallions 96a. Both feel slippery right now as i haven’t skated in years and was thinking about getting something more beginner friendly for a while as im struggling with balance and endurance and dont want to slip around the ring so much lol.

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      Hi Brandi – If you are skating on a surface with no grip (indoor plastic coating), then a 96 or 97 wheel is going to be pretty slippery. You might want to drop it down to the low 90s or even high 80s. If balance is your issue, one quick thing to do for beginners is to tighten the axle nut (the nut on the end of the axle that holds the wheel on) until the wheel just barely rolls when you spin it with your hand. This will help with balance as it feels much more like walking with the wheel barely rolling. This can help new skaters a lot as they get used to the feeling of having all of that extra weight on their feet. Then, once you feel comfortable, loosen the axle nut to let it roll more freely.

  9. Hi Jeff great blog for the information on wheels. My daughter is 9 years old and is into speed skating for last 2 years. I would like you to recommend some good wheels along with their specifications for indoor shiny and smooth surface for her.

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      Hi Gaurav – If the floor she is skating on is tight, I recommend Hyper Cannibal wheels for speed skating. The Cannibals are my favorite and are what my daughters and I use on our quad speed skating. [Full Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link and I will be given a small commission if you purchase them from Amazon. I love my Cannibals and use them every time I speed skate, so I highly recommend them.]

  10. I am searching a roller shoe skates for my daughter aged 9 years
    She is learning skating from last 6 month,
    She is using normal skates now the teacher is saying for shoe skates
    Please prescribe best high speed shoe skates which help to increase the speed with less effort
    Price don’t keep any matter result is the matter but it would be cheep and best ( life and quality should be excellent )

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      Hi Amy – I’ve never used the Reckless Morphs wheels, so I couldn’t speak to how well they’d work on a sport court. Just looking at the durometer, it looks like they range between 84A-97A. I’d probably not go much past a 90/92A on a sport court, but that’s just me. It really depends on how slick you want your wheels to feel and how good your balance is on your skates. At my rink, when there is no plastic on the floor, I sometimes like to wear my 103A artistic wheels so I can spin and turn super easily. However, I’m not going to speed skate or play derby in them unless I want to be sweeping the floor with my bottom. 🙂

  11. Thank you so much for your information. I’m an 80’s skater and of course today skating there is so much going on, your information has help me understand the important of a wheel as well the important of the body weight something that wasn’t provided to us back in those days. I do now feel better and confidence in purchasing the right things now so thank you again.

  12. Dear Jeff Stone
    I’m back with a second question I’m about 235 pounds and I’m looking for some comfort wheels that I can skate on in door wooden floor while dancing, gliding and skating. which one would you advice me of, I’m looking at the Radar varsity plus wheel and the Roller bone Elite wheel.
    Thank you for you time.

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      Hi Bobby – I have never skated on the Radar Varsity Plus, but they look nice. They are very similar to the Roller Bones Elite that I do skate on regularly. I skate on these bad boys (Roller Bones Elite 103A), and I love them. Again, not recommended unless you have good balance. They are awesome wheels. Because they are so hard, they do make quite a bit of noise, but that’s hard to hear in my rink because the music is usually good and loud. 🙂 [Full Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link, so I do get a small commission if you purchase it. I love my Roller Bones Elites. They are the best freestyle / artistic skate wheel I have ever used and I recommend it highly. I use it almost every time I session skate because of how much movement and slide I get.]

  13. I’m just a beginner and I want to buy my first pair of roller skates. My question is if I want to use my roller skates both for outdoor and indoor do I have to buy two pairs, because in shops skates are often referred to outdoor or indoor. Is it possible to just buy two sets of wheels so that I could change them depending on the situation? I would be very thankful to hear your answer as I’m really concerned about this problem.

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      Hi Kate – It is totally possible to buy one set of skates and 2 pairs of wheels. I do this myself as finding the right skate boot is usually a pain for me – finding a good pair and spending the time breaking them in takes time. I have 3 sets of wheels in my skate bag. 1 for outdoors, 1 for indoor speed skating and 1 for indoor session / jam / dance skating. I also bought 3 sets of bearings so that I can just keep the bearings in my wheels and don’t have to change them. Also, I don’t like to use bearings both outdoors and indoors so that’s why I have different sets. You just need a simple wrench to loosen the axle nut so you can take the wheels on and off. I use a wrench like this one PowerDyne Y Tool for loosening and tightening my axle nuts. The nice part about this wrench is it has multiple uses – loosen/tighten toe stops, loosen/tighten axle nuts, axle pins, etc. [Full Disclosure: The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link. I recommend the PowerDyne Y Tool and use it every time I have to adjust my skates.]

  14. Hi Jeff
    I would ask your help to choose the wheels of my skates, I have hard wheels for rink skate but I would like to buy new wheels for an outside surface. I want to skate on a concrete basketball court in the park 1 block from home with jumps and spins, can you help me to figure out which wheels should I use for this type of surface.
    Thank you.

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      Hi Patty – If you are trying to do jumps or spins outdoors on a basketball court, I’d personally go with a harder wheel just because of the type of skating I’d be doing (spinning). Something in the high 90s low 100s. It does depend on how good your balance is and what kind of speeds you think you will be traveling. Personally, I love my RollerBones. I have a pair of the RollerBones Elite 103A wheels. If I was going outdoor, I’d probably go with RollerBones Super Elite 101A wheels myself, but that’s because I really don’t mind sliding and I have good balance. If balance is an issue for you, then you might want to go with a softer wheel. Maybe something like this Moxi Trick Wheel which is a 97A, however, I can’t speak to that wheel as I have never tried it myself. It does look like a good durometer and width for what you are trying to do. [Full Disclosure: The RollerBones Elite link above is an Amazon Affiliate link, so clicking it and purchasing will help us with maintaining our site. However, the Moxi link is not an affiliate link because I have never used that product.]

  15. Hey mate. Nice guide but unfortunately I disagree with you on wheel hardness. As a kid I skates on an indoor track that had banked ends so harder wheels were certainly better as grip was not a factor. On normal smaller indoor tracks however grip is a massive issue if you skate at speed. It is impossible to power around a corner on hard wheels (I generally power slide 80% of the bend on my 98A’s). I find wheels in the 80’s range are much better for indoor. Conversely I find soft wheels are far to grippy for the more course outdoor surfaces and don’t give you sufficient slide when trying to stop or make sharp turns. Also soft wheels tend to get chewed up a lot quicker outdoors.

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      Thanks for stopping by, Luke, and leaving a comment. Surface grip and skater balance go hand-in-hand and very much depend on the individual. What is slippery to another skater may not be slippery to you or I. It really does depend on the skater, the surface and what exactly you are trying to do on your skates. All of the information above is based on my general experience with skating over the past 30 years. Your experience may be different, and I appreciate you taking the time to share it here with all of us.

  16. Thank you for these insights !
    I would say price comparison websites provide sometimes results which are not accurate, so you should
    read on how it works before using them.I would like sharing with you a powerful text about these platforms.
    I really liked it:

  17. Jeff looking to buy the Jackson competitor viper fugitive skates are they good for indoor arena skating wood floor and I assume it is treated I also have a wide foot do skates come in wide size’s

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      Hi Edward – The Jackson Competitor series are women’s derby skates, so I have never used them. A number of beginner derby girls I know do have these skates and seemed to like them. They do come in 1/2 sizes, so that also helps. Some skates do come in wide sizes, but that is not the norm. Most skate sites / skate shops will have you go up a size if you think they are going to be too small. Of course, always look for the type of skate you are trying to buy and check their sizing chart. For example, here is the Jackson boot size chart. When I am buying a new boot, I always Google [Boot Manufacturer Name] boot size chart and then measure my foot. Sometimes the size I wear in shoes does not match the measurements, however, most of the time it does match.

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  18. I bought a cheaper pair of skates to remember how to skate. I bought some Moxi wheels for outdoor skating and put some Bones Reds in them. However, when I took my original wheels (more for indoor) off to upgrade, those bearings were extended on one side. When is it necessary to use extended bearings or spacers? Appreciate your input!

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      Hi Michelle – I personally don’t use bearing spacers, however, they are go in between the bearings on the axle. They can help to take the pressure of the axle nut off the bearing. Some of the benefits can include a smoother and faster wheel spin, plus you can tighten the axle nut without the bearings stopping. I personally just don’t tighten my axle nut so tight and then I don’t need spacers, however, some people like them.

  19. Hi. I only started roller skating this year with Special Olympics, but won 4 gold medals at Pa FallFest. I want to improve my performance for next year!

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  20. Thank you so much, my girlfriend and I are learning how to skate and getting really into the practice of it. Your blog is so helpful and even seeing how in depth you respond to folks who ask you more is really heartening. Thanks a lot and really looking forward to using these tips!

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  21. Pingback: New Skaters and Wheel Selection – The Hardest Habit

  22. HI
    My son is 7years old and he is doing speed skating. He tried Warrior and Atom striker recently for the trail purpose. Atom striker is very good and light weight wheel. Which one are recommend for him as i am going to buy one set for indoor and one set for out door.

    height : 120Cm
    Weight : 45lbs

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      For indoor speed skating, I really like the Hyper Cannibals. My daughters and I use them for our speed skating. For outdoor, I would probably go Atom Boom. [Full Disclosure: Both links are Amazon Affiliate links. I have used and do recommend both products as they are solid for what you want to use them for.]

  23. Learning how to buy the right wheels is absolutely essential when it comes to buying parts for your skateboard. I particularly like that the article goes over how the core materials effect the way the wheel rolls. This can make a huge difference for your board, so you want to make sure that you’re choosing the right replacement parts.

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  24. Really great information! Ive been out of the loop for over 15 years. Im building skates soon and this was really helpful. I will probably buy my wheels from you guys.

    Thanks

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      Thanks, Shaun. We no longer sell products and are instead turning into just a site for great skate information. If you would like to help us out, please be sure to use our Amazon Affiliate link when shopping. Any commissions we earn helps us continue to maintain our site.

  25. Wow what a great site.
    I Have lung disease and need a really light pair of skates. 2 pushes and I’m out of breath!!
    Have aggressive inline skates that have worn 3 times! ( from 5 years ago) Too heavy. Wrong skates!
    Now my daughter wants to go indoor skating every week I am desperate for a pair which to be honest doesn’t take much effort and are light. Not bricks on my feet like now!! I can just about Skate…. ish. Stopping, well that’s another story. Problem is we may try outdoors too! Told about them three wheel extra extra big wheeled skates quite new out that are light and indoor and out. Any ideas? Thanks Jeff

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      Hi Joreeder – Thank you for stopping by the site. I am so happy to hear that you are pushing yourself into skating. Your story is very inspiring. I love your determination! You can do it!

      Aggressive inline skates are usually much lighter in weight than quads. For instance, my daughter’s Lugino Struts weigh a lot less than my Vanilla Diamonds. If you are going for an inline skate, than the Struts above or the VNLA Carbon are good and both pretty light for the price. The only problem is that these skates are really advanced, so if you are not a great skater, I would NOT recommend them. They take a lot of patience and great balance to get good at them. Plus, they can really put a lot of pressure on your ankles (you are skating on a thin wheel diameter). This can make even a good quad skater like me still be pretty shaky, and I too was only on them a few times before I went back to my quads. They were just too much work for me. [Full Disclosure: The links above are Amazon affiliate links because I have used the products above and do recommend them.]

      I have no experience with the 3 wheel skate, so I can’t speak to how light or effective they may be. For quads, I would go with a nylon core wheel (as opposed to a metal core which weighs more). I’d also look for a smaller wheel 59mm as less material means less weight. These new Atom Savant roller derby wheels look really promising. They only weigh 68 grams a piece. That is super light – the lightest I’ve seen for good quad wheels. I may have to get myself a set soon to try them out. 🙂 Wheels make a big difference in overall skate weight as you have 4 of them on every skate. I can’t really recommend them those as I have never tried them myself, but they do look like something you may want to look into as they are the lightest I have ever seen.

      If you are building your own skate, then next I would go with a nylon plate as they are lighter than aluminum. Nylon is cheap and so you will find them on many skate packages you find online. If you don’t mind spending a bit more and want a better, more stable skate plate, you should go with a magnesium plate which are super nice.

      If you want more of a personal touch and want someone to build the skate for you, I would checkout someplace like Medusa Skates which we have here in Austin. They specialize in roller derby skates and many roller derby skaters want a light pair of skates. They are well known in my area for being knowledgeable and friendly. Plus, their big advantage is they have a brick-and-mortar storefront so you can try on a skate before you buy it.

      Otherwise, if you can’t do that because you don’t live in Austin :-), I’d recommend you either call up Medusa or find an online shop like Bruised Boutique who offer custom skates online. You can literally pick every piece of your skate. However, I would call them and see if they will work with you to customize it just right. You may have to try a couple of different boots before you decide on your custom skate order. Many of these sites will work with you on getting the right boot if you do it BEFORE you place a big custom order. Once they build a custom skate for you, they don’t usually want you returning one part of it, so I would call first. [Full Disclosure: I have no relationship with either website, but have heard good things about both.]

      I hope this helps you joreeder and I hope I see you back up and skating soon!

  26. Nice through commentary on the subject. The most thorough I’ve seen on any page so far!

    I’d like to make a slight correction though if it hasn’t been brought up before. The weight of the wheel is a factor not so much in comparison to the weight of the skate but more so because it will be rotating while in use.

    Just as with cars, especially for performance, where the weight of the wheel is virtually neglible in comparison to the weight of the car, however it makes a significant difference in performance because of it’s rotational mass. With all other factors being equal, a lighter wheel will allow for better acceleration, braking, and handling due to it’s reduced rotational mass not necessarily because it reduces the overall weight of the car.

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