When the time comes to purchase replacement inline wheels for your skates, you should base your selection on the following criteria:
- Skater weight
- Skating surface
- Wheel configuration
The aim is to buy the wheels that will give you the maximum grip and durability for the kind of skating you do and the surface(s) you typically skate on, taking into consideration your weight. Different wheels are suited for different surfaces. If you choose a wheel that's too hard for your surface, your skates won't have the grip you want, resulting in a lot of sliding and slipping. If you choose a wheel that's too soft, your wheels are going to break down too quickly and won't provide the durability you want.
The Skate Wheel Hardness Durometer Rating
A durometer measures rubber hardness. Since your skate wheels are made of rubber or rubberized material, they're assigned a durometer rating. The lower the durometer rating, the softer the wheel and the more grip it will provide. The higher the durometer rating, the harder the wheel and the more durable it will be.
OUTDOOR VS. MULTI-SURFACE VS. INDOOR SKATE WHEELS
Softer wheels with a stickier grip are intended for smooth, almost always indoor surfaces. Harder wheels with less grip are intended for outdoor surfaces like asphalt that have a relatively rough texture. Hard wheels will slide on indoor surfaces, and soft wheels will get chewed up by rough outdoor surfaces.
Inline wheels with a medium durometer rating are considered “all-purpose” or “multi-surface” and provide adequate or better performance and durability on a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces. But, the same way all-season tires don't grip as well as snow tires and don't help provide optimal gas mileage like summer tires, multi-surface wheels typically won't perform as well on either individual surface as a wheel specialized for that surface.
Skaters will typically find the durometer rating on the wheel—a number followed by an “A.”
Inline Wheel Durometer Ratings, Explained
Here is a brief rundown of durometer ratings and what they mean. This is a general overview. Some wheel companies may define their ratings slightly differently, so when you’re buying inline skate wheels you might search by durometer rating or descriptor like “hard”.
72A (XX-Soft) – Wheels with a durometer rating of 72A should be used only by lightweight skaters, 150 lbs or less. With their unusually soft rating, these wheels are suitable for indoor sport courts only.
74A (X-Soft) – Wheels with a 74A durometer rating are best used by players under 190 lbs on smooth indoor surfaces. Lighter weight players can also use them on tacky indoor wood surfaces and still expect decent durability.
76A (Soft) – Skaters who weigh 210 lbs or less can use 76A wheels on indoor sport courts, and players 140 lbs or less can use them on wood surfaces and expect good durability and performance. This is probably the most common wheel.
78A (Multi-Surface) – Wheels with this rating are considered “multi-surface” because they provide enough hardness for use on (sealed) cement and wood surfaces. 78As provide enough grip on smooth indoor surfaces, especially for heavier players in the 190 to 250-lb range. Players in the 150 to 200-plus-lb range can use these wheels on wood surfaces with good results. Players who weigh 200 lbs or less can use these wheels on smooth outdoor surfaces, for example sealed or painted surfaces, and expect decent grip and durability.
80A (Multi-Surface) – While still considered a multi-purpose wheel, 80A wheels are less grippy than 78A wheels and perform best on smoother rough surfaces, for example wood, or painted and sealed outdoor surfaces. They do not provide enough grip for sport courts, no matter the skater's weight.
82A (Outdoor) – These wheels perform very well on most outdoor surfaces and make a great general-purpose outdoor wheel for sidewalks and asphalt—especially for skaters under 180 lbs. 82As can be used on sealed or painted outdoor surfaces, but they will not perform as well as multi-purpose wheels due to their hardness.
84A (Outdoor/Asphalt) – If you plan to skate only outdoors on sidewalks, concrete, or tar, the 84A wheel is the one for you. It's the hardest wheel available and will hold up to a lot of use on very rough surfaces. But it's not recommended for any indoor use and likely won't provide adequate performance on sealed or painted outdoor surfaces, no matter the skater's weight.
Inline Skate Wheel Sizes
What size skate wheel you need depends on your activity and your skate. Large wheels (up to 110mm) provide more speed, while smaller wheels (59mm and less) make skates faster and more maneuverable. Activities like racing or recreational skating often use a certain wheel size, and skater preference is the final determining factor.
Aggressive Skates – Aggressive skates have small wheels, from 56 to 59mm, for the quickness and maneuverability necessary to perform jumps and tricks.
Fitness Skates – People who skate for fitness typically want wheels that roll easily and maintain speed. Fitness skates tend to have larger wheels, 90mm and up.
Inline Hockey Skates – These skates have wheels that provide a combination of speed, quickness, and performance, usually sized between 72 and 80mm. Skaters buying replacement wheels must remember that many inline hockey skates have a “hi-lo” configuration, with smaller 72mm wheels in the front, and two larger 80mm rear wheels on an adult chassis.
The exception is goalie skates, which come with small wheels, typically between 47mm and 59mm. Goalies aren't going to do the sort of straight-line skating or high-speed cornering that the other skaters do. Instead, they require maneuverability, stability, and the ability to push off with the inside wheel edges. Most goalie skate wheels are now made with square edges to allow for that.
Racing Skates – Inline racing skates made for speed or distance racing—where stride efficiency is key—typically have the largest wheels for the smoothest ride and the greatest possible speed. Racing skate wheels are usually no smaller than 90mm, and often as large as 110mm.
Recreational Skates – Because recreational skaters have wide-ranging skills, their skate wheels can measure anywhere from 70 to 90mm, depending on the skill level and preference of an individual skater. Smaller wheels are more appropriate for novice or young skaters because they don't generate as much speed, whereas more experienced skaters often opt for larger sized wheels.
In addition to their different possible wheel sizes, inline skate wheels also come in one of two wheel hub sizes:
- 608 standard hub
- 688 micro hub
These different hub sizes fit either 608 or 688 bearings and spacers, and either a 6mm or 8mm axle. That said, with the industry trending away from micro-hub wheels, it might be smart to upgrade your current setup to standard sizes if you haven't already.
Buying new inline wheels is not that complicated. Know your ability and the surfaces you typically skate on and make your selection. If you're a casual outdoor skater, it may be wise to go with a multi-surface wheel. If you skate recreationally outdoors and competitively indoors, it may make more sense to purchase wheels for each surface. Either way, you'll be up and rolling again in no time.
Are you new to inline hockey or about to replace your first set of wheels? Pure Hockey carries a variety of inline wheels in many different sizes and durometer ratings, from top makers like Bauer, Konixx, Labeda, and Mission. We also carry replacement bearing packs, not to mention all the protective equipment you need to stay safe. And our Low-Price Guarantee promises the most competitive prices available.