How to Buy Inline Hockey Wheels
Inline Hockey Wheels Buying Guide
Here is some advice from HockeyGiant.com on how to buy Inline Hockey Wheels
Inline hockey wheels are available in many variations according to size, color, durometer (hardness of the wheel) and bearing type. In order to choose the correct wheels, it is important to identify the surface that you'll be skating on, your weight and the type of chassis setup/wheel configuration on your skates. When buying inline hockey wheels, the goal is to find the right balance of grip and durability so that you can achieve long-lasting performance from your wheels. If you choose a wheel with a durometer that is too hard and slick for a particular application then you'll slide around because your wheels won't have any grip on the surface. If you go with a durometer that is too soft then your wheels are likely to chunk and split very quickly. So once again, you want to make sure that you find an appropriate blend of grip and durability based on your weight and the surface upon which you'll be skating.
Durometer (Hardness of the wheel)
Here's a general breakdown of the intended use for wheels in each class of durometer. A lower durometer rating (i.e. 74A) indicates a softer wheel with more grip. A higher durometer rating (i.e. 84A) will provide more durability and less surface grip. It's also important to consider that although a heavy player may be able to get away with using a soft wheel on a smooth surface without wearing them out too quickly, the wheels may feel like flat tires. If too much weight is being absorbed by the wheels then they will compress too much to hold their form. Also, just to clarify, the reason that wheels with a lower durometer rating have more of a tacky grip texture is to compensate for the slick surface upon which those types of wheels are used. Sport court is a relatively smooth, slick surface made of plastic/rubber tiles, and usually 74A and 76A wheels are the best choice. Outdoor wheels with 82A or 84A durometer do not have as much grip texture because outdoor surfaces like asphalt provide plenty of grit and texture on their own, which is countered by the hardness of outdoor wheels, making them more durable and useful for that application.
- 72A (XX-Soft) – This is an unconventionally soft durometer. These inline wheels should only be used on an indoor, sport court surface by a skater who weighs 150 lbs or less.
- 74A (X-Soft) – This is a commonly used durometer by players under 190 lbs on an indoor sport court surface. Players under 130 lbs should be able to use 74A inline wheels on a smooth, wood surface without wearing them out too quickly.
- 76A (Soft) – This is probably the most commonly used durometer. Players weighing 210 lbs or less can use this type of inline wheel on an indoor sport court surface without experiencing much of the “flat tire” effect. Players who are 140 lbs or less can pretty safely use this type of inline wheel on a wood surface as well.
- 78A (Multi-surface) – Inline wheels with a rating of 78A are typically referred to as multi-surface wheels because they are hard enough to handle sealed cement and wood surfaces while still maintaining enough grip to be used on a sport court surface with relatively good results. Players in the 190-250 lb range can effectively use this type of wheel on an indoor sport court surface. Skaters in the range of 150-220 lbs can pretty safely use this type of wheel on a wood surface. Players under 200 lbs ought to be able to use this durometer on a very smooth, painted concrete surface without severely decreasing the life of the wheels.
- 80A (Multi-surface) – An 80A inline wheel can still be considered a multi-surface wheel but of course it will have less grip than a 78A. This type of wheel is not highly recommended for use on a sport court surface. It is best suited for wood surfaces, in any weight class. On a sealed cement surface this durometer will hold up well, but is probably going to be a bit too hard to grip the surface as well as a 78A wheel.
- 82A (Outdoor) – An inline wheel with an 82A durometer is hard enough to be used on unsealed sidewalk cement, and it should hold up fairly well on asphalt for players under 180 lbs. It can be used on a sealed cement surface as well, but there will likely be substandard results due to the lack of grip provided by such a wheel as hard as this.
- 84A (Outdoor/Asphalt) – This is just about the hardest inline hockey wheel you will find. It is absolutely an outdoor wheel intended specifically for sidewalk concrete or asphalt surfaces. Skaters of any size can use this type of wheel on a blacktop or asphalt surface with favorable results. This type of wheel is not recommended for smooth, sealed concrete surfaces. It is best suited for street hockey on asphalt and gritty concrete.
Wheel Size & Chassis Configuration
There are many different sizes of wheels ranging from 47mm to 100mm. Depending on the which type of chassis you have on your skates, you will need anywhere from 1 to 3 different sizes of wheels. For instance, Tour Inline Skates have a Labeda chassis with four 80mm wheels, so only one size is needed. Older CCM Inline Skates came with a wheel configuration of 80mm-76mm-76mm-72mm, with the largest wheel in back and the smallest wheel in the front; so 3 different sizes of wheels were required. CCM and Reebok now use Labeda Chassis on their skates, so they have since discontinued the aforementioned chassis. Mission and Bauer inline skates have a Hi-Lo setup, which is demonstrated below, with wheels in sizes 80mm-80mm-76mm-76mm. With all manufacturers, junior and youth skates have smaller wheels, and usually sizes 11 and smaller use only 3 wheels on the chassis. It can be a little confusing to take in all of this information at once, but the wheel sizes are printed on your wheels for reference and we also list the wheel configuration for each of the skates that we sell on the product pages.
Inline goalie skates come with smaller wheels than player's skates. The two most common sizes for goalie skates are 47mm and 59mm. The predeterminations for stock wheel sizes on goalie skates are dependent upon the size of the skates and the inclinations of manufacturer of the skates and chassis. Goalies need to be able to push off of the inside edges of their wheels, but they don't need wheels with as much surface area as an out-skater because they aren't likely to be doing as much straightaway skating or cornering at high speeds. Most goalie wheels are now made with squared edges that provide a more geometrically advantageous shape to dig in and push off with.
Standard Bearings vs. Micro-Bearings
The core of the wheel is the center, plastic part into which the bearings are inserted. There are two different core sizes available: 688 micro-bearing core wheels (pictured on left below) and 608 standard bearing wheels (pictured on right below). As you can see, the holes in the middle are different sizes, therefore they require different bearing sizes. There are essentially 4 different types of spacers: Floating Standard 608, Floating Micro 688, Standard 608 and Micro 688. They are labeled in the image below. There are 3 different axles pictured below as well: 6mm Axle and Screw, 8mm Axle and Screw, 8mm Axle Bolt.
The tree diagram below starts with the wheel type (608 or 688) and then identifies which spacers and bearings will be needed based upon your axle type. Most axles, whether 6mm or 8mm, have a female end into which the male screw is inserted, although some axles (usually just 8mm) have threads on the end of the bolt which screw directly into the chassis threads. In any case, the mm size of the axle and the wheel core type determines which type of spacers will be needed in order to properly mount the wheels to your chassis.
Most inline hockey skates are assembled with standard bearing wheels on the chassis, but there are some skates that are assembled with micro-bearing wheels. Since micro-bearing core wheels are currently being phased out you might consider making the switch to standard bearing wheels just for the sake of future availability and compatibility.
Inline Hockey Wheel Manufacturers
There are a handful of companies that manufacture inline hockey wheels. A few of the reputable brands would include Labeda, Rink Rat, Hyper, Red Star and Kuzak. Each of these brands offers a variety of indoor and outdoor wheels in many sizes and colors. Most often, wheels are sold individually in order to accommodate the various types of wheel configurations and the price per wheel can range anywhere from 99 cents to $25. Always make sure to buy wheels that are appropriate for the surface that you'll be skating on, and strong enough to hold your weight. The quality and condition of your wheels can make or break your game, so take the time to consider your options carefully.