There are many styles of roller skating (rhythm, shuffle, jam, roller derby, speed, etc), there are even more wheels. There are wheels with certain styles of skating in mind, there are some that are just generic. We will go over some of the main categories of wheel differences.
There can be differences in the outer width and height of wheels. The one size that always stays the same is the inner opening, where the bearing is placed. That is always the same size on any recently manufactured wheel.
The other measurements of the wheel, height and width, are measured in millimeters and will be indicated with the abbreviation mm. If you skate a certain style of skating it is always a good idea to check with fellow skaters of that style to see what size they prefer, this can usually be a good guide for helping you choose the right size for you.
Wheels can also come in several heights, the thought process behind that is a larger wheel makes it easier to maintain a speed, but smaller wheels are better for quick movements. This is a suggestion, and may take a little experimentation with different wheels to find just what size is best for your personal style of skating.
Wheel hardness is listed with an A behind it. So 84a means the hardness of that wheel, also referred to as the grip level. The higher a number on the hardness, the less grip it has. A high number, with virtually no grip would be 103A, this is preferred in many styles of dance skating to make it easier to glide your wheels. The most commonly used grip would be in the mid 90’s a 93a or 95a. Slicker floors, like a polished concrete derby track might need an 84a. Then outdoor skating you want the softest possible. By having the softer wheel it will “shock absorb” some as you roll over cracks, small debri, something like 78a.
The main styles of hubs are nylon or aluminum hubs. Nylon is of course typically a lighter material, and so most common in skate wheels.
The charm of an aluminum hub roller skate wheel is that it will be less likely to have “give” to it. This can be important with a skater of larger size, or if wheels will be for long term use. Many skaters change wheels frequently so they do not need them for years, but if this is the case for you, it might be best to invest in aluminum hub wheel.
There is one cross between the two, the wheel that has a true nylon hub, with an alloy insert. This is to help the hub last longer, but without as much weight as a completely aluminum hub would give.
For more information on which wheel is best for your style of skating feel free to call us at 888-98SKATE!