Choosing the right roller wheel can be a daunting task for new roller players, whether they be completely new to roller hockey in general or just transitioning from ice to roller.
In this post we will be going over the different kinds of wheels you can buy and how the different shapes, sizes and durometer of the wheel can affect a skater’s performance.
It’s All About Numbers
Every wheel has two sets of numbers. The first ending in mm, that is the size of the wheel.
The second one ending in A, that is the durometer or hardness of the wheel.
Wheel sizes for hockey specific holders range from 47mm up to 80mm depending on the size of the skate.
To see which size wheels are compatible with your skate check the side of the chassis and in most cases, it will be displayed there.
The Bigger the Better?
The size of the wheel can affect multiple factors including: Speed, Acceleration, Smoothness of ride, ability to travel uphill and durability.
A larger wheel will have a greater top speed and speed retention, as the distance travelled during one rotation of the wheel is much greater than that of a smaller wheel (imagine trying to cycle with really small wheels on your bike! It would be quite hard).
A larger wheel will allow for a smoother ride when skating outdoors over bumpy terrain because the extra rubber will help dampen the vibrations on the wheel caused by the terrain, plus the fact that you can quite literally ride over the top of cracks in a surface. Larger wheels also provide slightly better durability.
This is because there is more material that can be worn away before the wheel becomes unusable.
Smaller wheels will allow for faster acceleration, this can be explained by some pretty complicated physics but just try to think of the bike reference again.
They offer better control, with the ability to accelerate and decelerate faster. Changing direction and turning also becomes a lot easier and ultimately results in greater manoeuvrability.
These attributes of smaller wheels are all tailored for players wanting to be able to change directions quickly, stop and start faster and skate with more agility.
The second number ends in an A which refers to the durometer of the wheel.
This is how hard the wheel is ranging from 72A (extra soft, only indoors) to 85A (very hard, outdoor only).
For wooden floors we recommend 78A-80A, for indoor courts (excluding wood) 74A-78A and for outdoor skating look for 82A-85A wheels.
An extra variable to take into account is the players’ weight. As a rule of thumb the heavier the player the bigger the A number should be.
Wheel profiles can affect your speed and grip on the surface you are skating on.
A “race” profile is a very thin wheel shape where there is less contact on the skating surface and hence less friction allowing you to skate much faster.
A “hockey” profile which is more traditional is slightly more rounded and allows for more surface area to be in contact with the floor at one time which is great for turning fast and having better grip.
The low down on the Hi-Lo
Many skaters opt for the conventional flat inline wheel set up i.e. all wheels of equal size, on a level skate frame and all touching the surface together.
This is a good set up for speed and stability but can limit the skater looking for some quick turns with top grip.
A popular setup for inline hockey players is a “hi-lo” set up.
Exactly what is says on the tin…a set up that goes from high to low. This requires a frame designed to support wheels starting from a larger wheel at the heel to a smaller wheel at the toe.
With this set up you get the stability from all wheels in contact with the surface together, speed from the larger rear wheels and manoeuvrability from the smaller front wheels.
So where do I go from here?
Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer on which roller wheels you should buy, but hopefully this brief guide can help you make the decision that is right for you.
At Willies Ice Hockey Emporium, we stock a whole range of inline hockey wheels and bearings. If you have any questions or would like to discuss options in more detail please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team.