Roller skate wheels are the most important part of your roller skates. And, in this article, I will go over the best roller skate wheels on the market today plus give you tons of tips about what to look for before you buy.
I will give you my top picks whether you are indoor or outdoor skating. I’ll also go over the best roller skate wheels for the popular roller sports like roller derby, hockey, speed skating, jam skating and artistic roller skating. Finally, we’ll go over the best roller skate wheels for beginners and also the best light up wheels for those of you out there who want a little bling and want to turn some heads.
I also have one of the most thorough roller skate wheel guides below my recommendations. This will give you the Top 10 Tips for Buying the Perfect Roller Skate Wheels, so be sure to check that out below, too!
If you need quad or inline skates, be sure to check out my Best Roller Skates and Best Rollerblades and Inline Skates pages. Also, if you are just starting out, please check out my How to Roller Skate and How to Rollerblade pages where I go over all the basics for getting started with skating.
Let’s get started!
The Best Wheels for Your Roller Skates
Below is our quick table that shows you our top picks for roller skate wheels:
The Atom Pulse is my favorite quad outdoor skating wheel on the market today. These are just awesome wheels. When you are roller skating outdoors, it’s important that you have soft wheels. Harder wheels are better for indoor roller skating, whereas softer wheels are better for outdoor skating where you’ll come into contact with rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete.
These soft wheels are 65mm tall and 37 mm wide so they are skinnier than the roller derby and speed wheels that I discuss later but the perfect width and height for beginners and outdoor skating.
The Atom Pulse also has a 78A durometer, which is just a fancy tool that is used to measure wheel hardness. Different roller skate wheels have different hardness scales. 78A is perfect for outdoors whereas something in the mid-90s and up is good for indoors (see below for more details).
Finally, these wheels come in a variety of fun colors including blue, purple, green, pink and black. So, there is a color for whatever mood you’re in on outdoor skating day. I own the Atom Pulse pink wheels and they look awesome on my outdoor roller skates.
Also, please note that these outdoor wheels are often sold in 4 packs. So, unless you plan on skating on only one skate, be sure to order 2. One cool thing about a 4 pack is you can buy 2 colors and mix and match.
Next up, we have the Sure-Grip Motion. Like the Pulse, the Motion is also a great outdoor skating wheel. It weighs in with a 78A hardness rating which is just right for roller skating outdoors. These softer wheels are great for not making your legs jiggle and vibrate as much on rough asphalt.
The Motion measure up at 62mm tall and 38mm wide, so they are just a little wider than the Atom Pulse. Also like the Pulse, these skate wheels come in a variety of colors including: black, pink, red, purple and teal. Something for everyone.
Finally, just like the Pulse, these wheels are often sold in 4 packs. Perfect for mixing those colors up if you are so inclined.
My favorite indoor skate wheels are the Roller Bones Turbo. The Turbo is one of the best all-around wheels on the market. Great for speed skating, roller derby or serious recreational skating, its an awesome wheel.
It comes in a variety of wheel hardness including 80A,85A, 88A, 92A, 97A or 101A. With the 80A-88A, you could even wear these outdoors. With all of those wheel hardness types to choose from, you can mix and match your wheel to your skating surface easily.
The Turbo wheels are 62mm tall and 38mm wide. They come with extruded aluminum hubs which are perfect for extra stability, more roll and excellent ability to take the full force of each of your pushes.
If you want narrow wheels that are perfect for quad skating, then give these wheels a try.
Our best indoor quad wheels runner up are the Sure-Grip Fame. These wheels also come on the popular Sure Grip Fame Roller Skates – one of our recommended roller skates for beginners. These wheels are great for indoors. They have a 95A hardness making them great for the roller rink though they could be used outdoors on really polished concrete.
These wheels are great for both recreational and artistic skating and roll smoothly. The Fame are smaller wheels that come in at 57mm tall and 30mm wide. This smaller wheel profile helps when doing artistic skating.
The Fame come in two different wheel types: a clear wheel you can see through and a more matte version that is not transparent. The transparent wheels come in clear pink, red, purple, and teal. The matte version come in white, black, blue and aqua.
If you feel the need for speed, then the Hyper Shaman wheels by Sure-Grip are your ticket. These wheels come in 4 different hardness types: 97A (white), 95A (red / pink), 93A (green) and 84A (blue).
The blue 84A is good for outdoors and is the grippiest wheel. The other 3 colors are best for indoors depending on how fast you want to go and the surface you normally speed skate on. The white wheel will be the fastest at 97A, but will have the least grip. Whereas the 93A will have the most grip out of the indoor wheels.
This wheel is wider than a lot of the other wheels listed here because it is a speed skate wheel. You want a large contact patch to be able to push from, that’s the reason for the extra width. This wheel is 62mm tall and a whopping 40mm wide.
The Shaman also come with a full size aluminum hub allowing the urethane wheel to perform with greater top end speed. The Shaman wheels have intense grip and different hardness ratings per color so you can maximize your speed options.
Our runner-up in the speed skate category are the Sure-Grip Monza. This wheels is new to the Sure-Grip line. This brand new compound was designed to work better than its predecessor, the Power Plus wheel, which was completely redesigned to offer a better look and feel.
This wheels is actually a cross between two of Sure-Grip’s most popular wheels – the Zombie and Hyper Cannibal wheels. The Monza has the grip of the Zombie and the speed of the Cannibal wheels – my old favorites.
These speed skate wheels come in 3 different wheel hardnesses including 93A (purple), 95A (red or gray) and 98A (teal) allowing you to find the right wheel for your skating surface.
The Monza also have a machined aluminum hub. This allows for maximum power on your pushes and makes sure your wheels roll strong. These wheels are even wider than the Shaman, coming in at 42mm wide and 62mm tall.
For all of you artistic skaters our there, you’ll love the Rollerbones Elite. This is actually my favorite set of indoor wheels that I wear all the time. They are great for both recreational and artistic skating.
I personally wear the 103A 62mm wheels. However, there are 2 different wheel hardness to choose from 101A and 103A. Plus, there are 2 different wheel heights to pick 57mm and 62mm. Both wheels are 30mm wide.
The harder 103A wheels will give you a lot of slide making spins and turns easier even on the stickiest of wood floors. The 101A gives you a little less slide and more stability. These wheels also come in 4 different colors: clear, red, white and black.
If you want to spin and jump, then take it from an old, washed up figure skater. These are a great set of wheels.
The best roller skate wheels for roller derby are the Sure-Grip Zombie. These indoor skate wheels are some of the most popular derby wheels making them a fan favorite.
These wheels come in three different size profiles: Low (59mm x 38mm), Mid (62 mm x 38mm) and Max (62mm x 42mm). The low profile provide instant acceleration and increased lateral response. The Mid are perfect for increased lateral response. The Max profile is perfect for maximum grip and stability.
The Zombie skating wheels also come in 4 different durometers and colors: Purple 89A, Black 92A, Red 95A and Green 98A. The 89A soft wheels are better for slippery indoor surfaces, whereas the 98A hard wheels are better when you skate indoors on stick surfaces.
These roller skate wheels offer a special core that is made from a solid billet of aluminum. This manufacturing process helps to increase strength and allows the hub to have a tighter tolerance insuring the bearing and inner core fit perfectly. This also means your bearings will easily slide in and out of the wheels without a ton of effort.
The core also uses a unique technology where it is treated with a special anodizing process that increases the hub durability and the urethane bonding.
Like other roller derby and outdoor wheels, these Sure-Grip wheels are often also sold in packs of four. So, if you see them in 4 packs, make sure to buy two so you have enough wheels for both of your roller derby skates.
My favorite roller derby wheels are the Atom Poison Savant. These wheels are great because they are a mixture of two of Atom’s most popular wheels – the Poison and the Savant. The Savant became famous for it’s ultra-light yet solid core design. Poison wheels are world renowned for being super grippy without feeling sluggish.
The Savant oversized core reduces the overall weight of the wheel. It also increases your speed and overall roll. With all that increased speed, the molded 7mm lip insures you get all of the grip you need regardless of whether your making a quick turn or going around the corners.
These wheels are also super light coming in at just 68 grams per wheel. This is a 20% reduction in weight compared to Atom’s popular older Boom wheels. They measure out at 59mm tall and 38mm wide.
The Poison Savant comes in with an 84A durometer which is a perfect hybrid wheel for both indoor and outdoor surfaces. Because of the mid range durometer, you won’t get the highest speed on these wheels, but they will provide more grip and stability while still rolling well. They come in 5 different wheels colors: black, blue, green, pink and purple.
All of Atom’s wheels are sold in 4 packs, so be sure to buy 2 if you want a full set. Atom does this because some derby skaters like to use different wheels on the outside of their skates vs the inside. This allows you to mix and match and also reduces the price when you just need to replace a couple of wheels on your skates.
The Poison Savant wheels are perfect for playing roller derby on outdoor tracks, slick sport courts, bank tracks and dirty wood floors.
The best roller hockey skate wheels on the market today are the Labeda Addiction. These skate wheels are designed to have great grip, better wear and have a faster roll speed. They are the first hockey wheel to use harder outer and inner urethanes that can grip plastic floors. The harder urethanes are able to flex and compress when side loaded. This provides superior grip during stopping and push offs.
The speed and durability of these wheels are excellent. Plus, the wheels grip more than some of the softest wheels on the market. This is due to Labeda’s secret urethane combinations.
These wheels come in two different durometers – a 76A and a 78A. These are perfect for sports court and other slick surfaces where roller hockey is often played. Labeda recommends the 76A Grip wheels for skaters under 170 lbs. The 78A Grip + wheels are recommended for skaters over 170 lbs or those advanced skaters who want more speed and can handle less grip.
These wheels also come in 5 wheel heights including: 59mm, 68mm, 72mm, 76mm or 80mm. They also come in 4 colors including: white, orange, yellow and teal. If you are serious about roller hockey, then the Addiction is the wheel for you.
Best Skate Wheels for Beginners
For all you beginner roller skaters out there who want to learn how to roller skate, I highly recommend the Sure-Grip Boardwalk – both the roller skates and the wheels. This is the wheel on my top pick for the top roller skates for beginners. If you already have a pair of skates and just need a great beginner roller skate wheel, then this is a great choice.
The Boardwalk is made for outdoor skating. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the wheels indoors, too. It just means you’ll go a little slower. And for beginners, that’s a good thing. The softer the wheel, the better for beginners. This wheel comes in with a 78A durometer reading which is perfect.
The wheels is 65mm tall and 36mm wide. It also comes in a wide variety of 9 different colors including: black, blue, light blue, light pink, light purple, light green, pink, purple and red.
My top pick for the best light up roller skate wheels are the Volcanic Dazzle Hybrid roller skate wheels. These skate wheels are bright and beautiful with 8 direct lights per wheel and each light have a 4-color output that are visible from every angle. The wheels only light up as you spin. Otherwise, they are stealthy and no one knows you have light until you start rolling!
These wheels are great for multi-surface roller skating. Whether you are indoor or outdoor skating, these wheels will work fine with their 85A durometer. Not too hard, but also not too soft. These wheels measure in at 62mm tall.
These roller skate wheels have high-performance ABEC-9 bearings already pre-installed in them, so you don’t even need another set of bearings. Just take off your other wheels, slap these wheels on your skates and turn heads!
Also, these wheels come in 4 packs, so if you want to outfit both skates with these wheels, be sure to pick up 2 packs.
The Firefly is our runner-up pick for best LED roller skate wheels. These wheels come in 2 different heights: 58mm and 62mm. Both sets of wheels are 32mm wide. The taller wheel will give you a little more speed while the shorter wheel is better for beginners who need more stability.
These roller skate wheels offer ABEC 3 bearings already pre-installed in the wheels, so you don’t need to buy any extra. The package includes eight wheels and while no durometer rating is reported by the manufacturer, they do come in around 82A. So, they are good for smooth outdoor surfaces and all indoor sufaces.
If you want to turn heads at the rink, the Firefly will certainly accomplish that mission!
If you really want some great wheels that slide on the rink floor, then you got to have the Sure-Grip Wood wheels. Beginners beware, these roller skate wheels are slick. It’s almost like skating on ice. So, if you really like to slide or are into rhythm skating, then these are the right roller skate wheels for you!
These wheels are 58mm tall and 38mm wide. Just a little wider than an artistic wheel but more narrow than a speed or derby wheel. They have 8mm hubs (as do all of the wheels I recommend on this page), so all 8mm bearings will work with them.
They are made out of wood. No urethane here. These super hard wheels really are slick. I have a pair and it’s pretty hard to get a good push off with them on a rink floor that hasn’t had coating put on it in awhile. With that said, spinning and sliding is as easy as being on a pair of ice skates.
You will get eight wheels in a pack and they are definitely not outdoor skating wheels. Unless you like some serious leg jiggle and want to wear down these hard wheels in a hurry. Only roller skate with them indoors where you’ll roll smoothly.
If you are into jam skating, then the VNLA (formerly Vanilla) Backspin Eclipse wheels are going to be your jam. These wheels are new on the market and growing in popularity. They sport a light aluminum core which is perfect for extra stability and transferring all of your power to the wheel. Whether jam skating, speed skating or playing roller derby, these are the right wheels for indoor quad skating.
The Backspin Eclipse comes in 2 different hardness and 3 colors: Orange 97A, Oil Slick 95A and Black 95A. The oil slick is really popular. It looks like a rainbow oil slick you’d see under that old beat up car. They come in 2 sizes 59mm tall x 38mm wide and a 62mm tall x 44mm wide.
The Backspin Eclipse provides a lower center of gravity offering the skater more control and agility while jam skating. Designed to be light and strong these aluminum hub roller skate wheels come with a lifetime guarantee, so skate on for a smooth roll. They also come in 8 packs, so you just need 1 set to fill both of your jam skates.
If you are an advanced skater and love to dance, then look no further than the Sure-Grip Velvet roller skate wheels. These wheels will have your roller skates sliding and dancing to the rhythm while you are indoor skating at your local rink.
The Velvet is special because it’s not made out of urethane. Instead, it’s made out of a material from the 20th century called vanathane. While the process to produce vanathane is different nowadays, these roller skate wheels are still a lot like their forefathers and have a lot more slide than even your hardest urethane wheels.
They come in a variety of colors including black, white, red, pink, lime green and aqua blue though the black and white sets are the easiest to find online.
Because these wheels are not made of urethane, it’s hard to measure their hardness on the same scale. Sure-Grip claims they are 90A, but I think they are much harder. Most would say these are close to a 103A. I have tried them and think they are even harder. They really slide well (not as good as the Sure-Grip Wood, but pretty well).
These roller skate wheels are also super tiny. They come in at 55mm tall and only 30mm wide. So, don’t expect to be winning any indoor skating speed championships in these puppies. They are slow, slick and ready for those dance moves!
Top 10 Tips for Buying the Perfect Roller Skate Wheels
Helping You Select the Right 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
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.
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-80A||These 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-85A||Also 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-89A||These are the softest wheels truly made for indoor courts like gyms, polished concrete or really slippery indoor wood that has not been treated.|
|90A-93A||These medium hard wheels provide a normal grip. They are great for medium grippy floors like polished concrete or sportcourt.|
|94A-96A||These are the first class of truly hard wheels. They have a low level of grip and are good for stickier floors.|
|97A-103A||These 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.
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 Use||Example|
|45mm||Artistic, Freestyle||Sure-Grip Fo-Mac Mini Mac|
|57mm-58mm||Derby, Speed, Jam, Artistic||Sure-Grip All-American Dream|
|59mm-62mm||Derby, Speed, Jam||Sure-Grip Twister|
|65mm-70mm||Outdoor, Long-track Speed||Kryptonics 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.
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:
|Profile||Description||Skater Skill Level|
|31mm||These 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|
|35mm||These narrow wheels are light and offer agility, but give you a little more stability and grip than the super narrow wheels above.||Intermediate / Advanced|
|38mm||These slim wheels offer a good balance of agility, stability and grip.||Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced|
|44mm||These super wide wheels provide great grip and stability, but are heavier and provide less agility in your movements.||Beginner|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are skating outdoors, then you definitely want to go with a pair of outdoor roller skates 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.
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. This is why most speed skaters wear inline skates or rollerblades with really tall 100mm-125mm inline speed skate wheels.
However, quad 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.
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 95A-100A+ range. They also are usually very narrow. This allows for the most agility and movement of the feet.
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 roller derby skates is pretty varied, but most people buy roller derby wheels in the 90-96A range, though that does vary based on the surface you are skating on and how grippy you like your wheels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are roller skate wheels universal? Aren’t they all the same?
No, roller skate wheels are not all the same. Roller skate wheels are often made out of the same material – urethane – but they are made in different sizes and with different wheel hardnesses for different skater sizes, skating surfaces and skating types / sports. Picking the right wheels requires you to match up the kind of skating you plan to do with the right wheel. As a general rule use softer wheels when outdoor skating and use harder wheels when indoor skating.
How long does it take to learn roller skating?
A person can learn the basics of roller skating in just a few weeks. However, it take many months of practice to become proficient with it. To get really good at quad skating, be sure to learn the basics and then practice at least once a week.
Finding the best roller skate wheels can take quite a bit of research, but I hope I have shortened your journey to picking out your next great set of wheels. Whether you are looking for outdoor skating wheels or smaller wheels to do rhythm skating, I hope that the quad skate wheels I covered along with my added tips will make your next purchase that much easier.
Want to Learn Even More About Skating?
Want more reviews on roller skates? Check out my Best Roller Skates page for a list of all of the quads I recommend. I also have pages for roller skates for men, roller skates for women and roller skates for kids where I recommend the best skates on the market today for each group. Or, check out my roller skates for beginners if you are completely new to roller skating.
Or, if rollerblades or inline skates are more your style, then check out my rollerblades for men, rollerblades for women or rollerblades for kids pages. Or, if you are completely new, check out my rollerblades for beginners page.