Inline Skate Wheels 101

01
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Inline Skate Wheel Anatomy

See the Basic Components of Your Inline Skate Wheels Inline Wheel Anatomy. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Things You Should Know Before and After You Buy Inline Skate Wheels

Before you buy inline skate wheels, you need some basic information, since wheels are an important part of your inline skate setup. Wheels are designed with different combined properties to accommodate inline skaters of different sizes, at various skill levels, in a variety of inline sport disciplines and using a range of skating surfaces or skating conditions. This knowledge will be essential when you purchase new skates or replace wheels on existing skates.

  • Learn about the anatomy of an inline skate wheel.

  • Find out how the wheel durometer can affect your skating.

  • Discover the impact of various wheel profiles on skating maneuvers.

  • Get information on why the size or wheel diameter of your wheels matter.

  • Learn why some skaters keep all wheels flat on the skating surface.

  • Find out how rockering wheels can help some inline skating disciplines.

  • Learn one method of four wheel rotation.

  • Get an option for rotating five wheels.

  • Find out how to rotate three-wheeled skates.

Learn about the anatomy of your inline skate wheels. Identify the basic wheel components, and the basics of inline skate wheel performance.

Your inline skate wheels are as important to the performance of your skate setup as the tires on a car. Wheels can come in a variety of diameter sizes measured in millimeters, shapes called profiles, hardnesses identified by durometer number and with different amounts of rebound that indicates responsiveness and grip.

The design of each wheel gives it a unique footprint that helps determine how it performs for various skating disciplines and skating surface conditions. Recreational skates use small to medium sized, soft wheels with good gripping properties to control speed and vibration. Speed skates use bigger, harder, faster wheels, since inline racing is done on controlled surfaces. Aggressive skates use small wheels that are designed for maneuverability.

Basic components of a wheel:The industry standard for all inline skate wheels is 24mm thick, and the wheels are usually marked with the diameter size in mm and a number followed by the letter A to identify the wheel's durometer.
02
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Inline Skate Wheel Profiles

How Wheel Profiles Affect Skating Performance Inline wheel profiles. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Discover the impact of various wheel sizes and profiles on your skating performance.

Your inline skate wheel profile is determined by the shape of a wheel from a head on viewpoint. The profile establishes how much of your wheel touches the ground when you skate. There can be a big difference in the profile views of wheels and each profile has a purpose.

Wheel sizes are different depending on the skating discipline. Inline hockey wheels, recreational wheels and figure or dance wheels can work across these same disciplines, but you should be aware that you will not have all of the wheel properties needed for the activity. Recreational wheels are usually multi-purpose, but again, you will not have any sport-specific wheel benefits. The profile (shape) is also important; a wider flatter wheel has more traction and grip, but also more rolling resistance and won’t glide as well. Aggressive skaters prefer smaller flatter wheels for their grip and control, while speed skaters prefer taller narrower wheels because they offer less rolling resistance more responsiveness.

  • 42-72mm for aggressive skating. Aggressive wheels are short, wide, with a rounded profile and have a solid core. The very small wheels are used for anti-rocker.

  • 72-80mm for slalom skating. Slalom wheels are average height and rounded for maneuverability. They are very similar to figure and hockey inline wheels that also need to combine maneuverabiity and grip.

  • 64-80mm for roller hockey skating. Hockey wheels are wider and rounded for traction and grip.

  • 68-76mm for artistic or figure inline skating. Artistic or figure skating wheels have average height, with a slightly rounded profile for maneuverability and grip.

  • 70-78mm for general recreational skating. Recreational wheels have average height, average profile for all-purpose uses.

  • 76-90mm for serious fitness skating. Fitness wheels have a taller height and slightly thinner profile for distance travel.

  • 90-110mm for speed and marathon skating. Speed wheels are taller, thinner, more tapered for speed on controlled surfaces.


Wheel profile and size will be more important to serious or competitive skaters in any inline skating discipline.
03
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Wheel Durometer Affect

How Wheel Durometer Affects Your Skating Inline wheel durometer affect. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Find out how the wheel durometer can affect your skating.

The wheel durometer describes the hardness of the wheel. The durometer is usually the second measurement stamped on the wheel or wheel packaging, followed by the letter "A". A wheel marked as "76mm/78A" will measure 76 millimeters in diameter will have a hardness of 78A. The larger the durometer number, the harder the wheel, and the harder the wheel, the longer it will last – but a hard wheel gives a rough ride and provides less grip on your skating surface. The smaller the durometer number, the softer the wheel, and the soft wheels grip much better and ride smoother but don't last as long.

Choosing a Durometer for Your Discipline

Durometer ratings do not go over a 100A rating. Recreational skate wheel durometers are usually in the 78A to 82A range. Indoor skates are typically 72A to 78A and outdoor skates go from 80A to 84A. Inline skate wheels with high durometers are used for aggressive skating, and their durometer measurements can go into the 90s. It is not necessary to match the durometer of all wheels on your inline skates. A mixture of wheel durometers can result in a combination of surface grip and a smoother ride for speed skaters, figure skaters and aggressive skaters.

Your Skating Preferences

Most seasoned skaters choose to ignore all of the rules and assemble unique wheel durometer combinations based on their own wheel experiences, skating goals and personal styles.

04
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Inline Skate Wheel Diameter Affect

How the Wheel Diameter Can Affect Skating Inline wheel diameter affect. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Get information on why the size of your inline skate wheels really matters.

Your wheel diameter, the height of the inline skate wheel in millimeters, has an effect on your skating performance. If all other wheel, skate and skater conditions are the same, a taller wheel will roll faster than a shorter one when you exert the same effort. However, small wheels do accelerate faster than the big ones that need more initial effort on takeoffs.

  • Inline racers need the tallest wheel diameters they can get for speed.

  • Experienced recreational skaters often prefer wheels with the biggest diameter that will fit on their inline skate setup to get a combination of speed and a longer wheel life.

  • Hockey, slalom and inline figure skaters tend to pick a small to mid-sized wheel diameter that is relatively fast, but allows control for quick turns and maneuvering.

  • Aggressive skaters need very short wheels for superior stability in stunts.


All-purpose recreational wheels can be used for many styles kinds of inline skating until you are sure of the wheel diameter size and other wheel properties needed for your specific skating needs.
05
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Flat Inline Skate Wheel Setup

The Benefit of a Flat Wheel Configuration Inline wheels without rockering. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Learn why many skaters prefer to keep all inline skate wheels flat on the skating surface.

The majority of three, four and five-wheeled inline skates are designed to support wheels that are all the same size and aligned on the skate frame at the same level. In this basic flat inline wheel setup, the wheels all touch the skating surface at the same time. This configuration is very stable for most inline skating needs, offers good speed, but limits maneuverability.

An optional flat setup is called "hilo" with all wheels in full contact with the skating surface. In this configuration the wheels get smaller toward the front of the frame to allow the benefits of speed from the bigger wheels, maneuverability from the smaller wheels and stability from the flat contact. This setup requires a special frame and may or may not actually offer these benefits.

06
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Inline Skate Wheel Rocker

Why Wheel Rocker Helps Some Inline Skating Styles Inline wheels with rockering. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Find out how adding rocker to wheels can help some inline skating disciplines.

The curve of an ice skate blade makes it possible for an ice skater to turn tighter. A curved wheelbase or wheel rockering makes tighter turns and footwork possible for inline skaters.

Rockering your inline skates occurs when the wheel heights are arranged to mimic the curved base of an ice skate blade. This is can be achieved or adjusted by changing the position of the eccentric spacers to raise the heel and toe wheels, by lowering the middle wheels or by doing both. This is can also be accomplished by mixing the skate’s wheel sizes. Rockering the wheels will make it considerably easier to maneuver, execute quick dance footwork, spin or turn quickly on your inline skates and will make your inline skates more responsive overall, but there will be less stability while skating.

Full Rocker

A full rocker simulates the curve of an ice blade and is used by inline figure skaters, freestyle slalom skaters and artistic inline skaters tend to use this setup. This rocker setup allows one or two wheels to contact the skating surface at a time. Full rockered inline skates are easy to turn but slower and it will be difficult to maintain balance.

Front Rocker

Street and urban skaters use front rockers to help handle rolling over irregular skating surfaces while keeping enough wheels in contact with the surface to maintain stability at a reasonable speed.

Anti Rocker

Anti rocker setups using small, hard inner wheels are used by aggressive skaters for grinds on ledges and rails.

07
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Four Inline Skate Wheel Rotation

How to Rotate Wheels On 4-Wheeled Inline Skates. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Wheel rotation is very important to the efficient function and safe use of your inline skates. Make sure to include rotation in your skate maintenance program.

Regular inline skate wheel rotation is recommended for even wheel wear and to make them last longer. When the inside edges show more wear or when your wheels vary in size - when they are not rockered - it is time for wheel rotation. When they start to look like prehistoric cave-man wheels, you have waited a little too long and it is time to replace them.

This is one way to rotate four-wheeled inline skate wheels using the simple graphic shown above:

Step 1
Loosen the wheel bolts and take all wheels off of the frame.

Step 2
Place each wheel in it's old position beside the inline skate frame. Or get use a Rotation Station to arrange your wheels.

Step 3
Use a clean cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris on the bearings and hubs of each wheel. Wipe down the the frame and boot, too. If your bearings need cleaning, this is a good time to do it.

Step 4
Use the graphic above to determine the new positions for your wheels and switch each wheel to it's new position beside the skate and frame.

Step 5
Put the wheels back on the skates, making sure to switch skates and positions as placed. The wheels should now face the opposite way on the frame - the side that faced the outside of the skate should now be on the inside, and vice-versa.

Step 6
Put the wheel bolts back on and tighten them so that there is no wheel play or shifting on the frame.

Step 7
Spin each wheel to make sure they are adjusted and secure.

There are other ways to rotate inline skate wheels beyond the simple graphic shown above. Some skaters have skates with three wheels or five wheels and need to use a different pattern. Experienced skaters often prefer to rotate inline skate wheels based on their own specific wear patterns and the needs of their skating discipline. Usually the rotation still includes these things:

  • Wheels are moved from one skate to the other.
  • Wheels are flipped from inside to outside.
  • Wheel positions will shift to accommodate size, effects of wear patterns and flat or rockered setup.

If your inline skates are uncomfortable after rotation, you should consider rotating the wheels more often. You will adjust to the new wheel positions after skating in them for a while.

08
of 09

Five Inline Skate Wheel Rotation

How to Rotate Wheels On 5-Wheeled Inline Skates. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Wheel rotation is very important to the efficient function and safe use of your inline skates. Make sure to include rotation in your skate maintenance program.

Regular inline skate wheel rotation is recommended for even wheel wear and to make them last longer. When the inside edges show more wear or when your wheels vary in size - when they are not rockered - it is time for wheel rotation. When they start to look like prehistoric cave-man wheels, you have waited a little too long and it is time to replace them.

This is one way to rotate five-wheeled inline skate wheels using the simple graphic shown above:

Step 1
Loosen the wheel bolts and take all wheels off of the frame.

Step 2
Place each wheel in it's old position beside the inline skate frame. Or get use a Rotation Station to arrange your wheels.

Step 3
Use a clean cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris on the bearings and hubs of each wheel. Wipe down the the frame and boot, too. If your bearings need cleaning, this is a good time to do it.

Step 4
Use the graphic above to determine the new positions for your wheels and switch each wheel to it's new position beside the skate and frame.

Step 5
Put the wheels back on the skates, making sure to switch skates and positions as placed. The wheels should now face the opposite way on the frame - the side that faced the outside of the skate should now be on the inside, and vice-versa.

Step 6
Put the wheel bolts back on and tighten them so that there is no wheel play or shifting on the frame.

Step 7
Spin each wheel to make sure they are adjusted and secure.

There are other ways to rotate inline skate wheels beyond the simple graphic shown above. Some skaters have skates with three wheels or four wheels and need to use a different pattern. Experienced skaters often prefer to rotate inline skate wheels based on their own specific wear patterns and the needs of their skating discipline. Usually the rotation still includes these things:

  • Wheels are moved from one skate to the other.
  • Wheels are flipped from inside to outside.
  • Wheel positions will shift to accommodate size, effects of wear patterns and flat or rockered setup.

If your inline skates are uncomfortable after rotation, you should consider rotating the wheels more often. You will adjust to the new wheel positions after skating in them for a while.

09
of 09

Three Inline Skate Wheel Rotation

How to Rotate Wheels On 3-Wheeled inline Skates. Image © 2009 Carlesa Williams, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Wheel rotation is very important to the efficient function and safe use of your inline skates. Make sure to include rotation in your skate maintenance program.

Regular inline skate wheel rotation is recommended for even wheel wear and to make them last longer. When the inside edges show more wear or when your wheels vary in size - when they are not rockered - it is time for wheel rotation. When they start to look like prehistoric cave-man wheels, you have waited a little too long and it is time to replace them.

This is one way to rotate three-wheeled inline skate wheels using the simple graphic shown above:

Step 1
Loosen the wheel bolts and take all wheels off of the frame.

Step 2
Stack up and align the wheels to determine their sizes beside each inline skate frame. Or get use a Rotation Station to arrange your wheels.

Step 3
Use a clean cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris on the bearings and hubs of each wheel. Wipe down the the frame and boot, too. If your bearings need cleaning, this is a good time to do it.

Step 4
Use the information on the graphic above to determine the new positions for your wheels and switch each wheel to it's new position beside the opposite skate frame.

Step 5
Put the wheels back on the skates, making sure to switch skates and positions as placed. The wheels should now face the opposite way on the frame - the side that faced the outside of the skate should now be on the inside, and vice-versa.

Step 6
Put the wheel bolts back on and tighten them so that there is no wheel play or shifting on the frame.

Step 7
Spin each wheel to make sure they are adjusted and secure.

There are other ways to rotate inline skate wheels beyond the simple graphic shown above. Some skaters have skates with four wheels or five wheels and need to use a different method. Experienced skaters often prefer to rotate inline skate wheels based on their own specific wear patterns and the needs of their skating discipline. Usually the rotation still includes these things:

  • Wheels are moved from one skate to the other.
  • Wheels are flipped from inside to outside.
  • Wheel positions will shift to accommodate size, effects of wear patterns and flat or rockered setup.

If your inline skates are uncomfortable after rotation, you should consider rotating the wheels more often. You will adjust to the new wheel positions after skating in them for a while.