Most roller or inline hockey players know that the condition of their inline hockey wheels can make or break their performance as a player.
But before you run out and buy the hottest hockey wheels on the market and put them on your skates, there are a few things you have to know about what types of wheels to get.
There are some inline skates that although they’re made really well and have a high price tag might still come with lower end wheels or wheels that really aren’t going to work right on the type of surface you’ll be playing on.
And cheap wheels might work okay to for a couple of games but they’ll wear out quicker too. And you won’t be skating as smoothly as you should be if your skates are bumpy because of worn out wheels.
So let’s take a look at the different types of wheels there are and how to know which ones you should buy – starting with the difference between indoor wheels and outdoor wheels.
Indoor Wheels versus Outdoor Wheels – Know the Surface You’ll Be Skating On
Inline hockey wheels are made for different skating surfaces. If you’ve seen indoor roller hockey rinks, they’re really smooth and not exposed to the elements because they’re made of cement or asphalt like the rinks you’d see outside or on the street.
But there are also some outdoor rinks that are a lot smoother than the asphalt used on regular road surfaces like if you’re playing inline hockey out on the street.
When you’re playing on a rougher outdoor surface, you want wheels that will hold up the rough surfaces but will still glide easily over any outdoor debris and help you maneuver easier when you’re making those quick turns and stops.
So the wheels made for outdoor skating are designed with a softer material to help with shock absorption so you won’t trip over the various debris that’s often found on outdoor surfaces like small pebbles, leaf stems, those types things that your wheels can catch on.
Indoor wheels are made with a harder, denser material for smoother surfaces and speed. Since indoor rinks, or even the super smooth and slick outdoor surfaces that were designed and paved specifically for using as an inline hockey deck, are normally very smooth and free of foreign objects, there’s less of a chance of your wheels tripping on anything.
If you’re not sure what type of surface you’ll be skating on the most, or if you’ll be skating inside and outside about the same amount of time, you can do one of a couple of things. You can get two pairs of skates and use one just for inside and one just for outside.
You can have one pair of skates that you just swap out the wheels depending on what surface you’ll be skating on. Or you can have one pair of skates and buy what are known as hybrid wheels.
This might save you some money over having two separate pairs of skates with two different sets of wheels.
What are Hybrid Wheels?
Hybrid wheels are inline hockey wheels that are made to be used on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. The best way to see how hybrid wheels will hold up on rougher outdoor surfaces like the street or roughly paved macadam on an outdoor rink, is to just buy them and use them.
Then see how well they work on the smoother indoor surfaces after they’ve been broken in outside. If they work for you just as well as the wheels that made only for indoor or outdoor, then you’ll only need to have one pair of skates with one set of hybrid wheels.
Inline hockey wheels also come in different sizes depending on what type of skating you’re doing so make sure you’re getting the right size wheel too.
A Look at Inline Hockey Wheel Sizes
As far as the wheel size for your skates, anything between 64-80mm is excellent for inline or roller hockey skating because the wheels are made rounded and wider for the traction and grip needed during play. In fact, slalom skates are usually a minimum of 72mm since they need to provide the ultimate in maneuverability.
Even though inline hockey wheels can be rotated, if you find you’re starting to have to rotate them, it’s probably a good idea to buy a new set of wheels.
Your wheels aren’t the only things you need to keep up with. Just like on cars, hockey wheels have bearings too and they can seriously affect the performance of your wheels and your skating technique.
Wheel Bearings for Inline Skates
If you want your wheels to work right, you need to make sure the bearings are good too. You can put brand new wheels on your skates but if they bearings go bad, the wheels are going to do their job.
The wheel bearings are little rings inside the wheels that help with the overall performance of your wheels and skates. When the bearings start going bad, you may hear some rattling and feel bumpiness in your skates, which is a pretty good sign that they need to be replaced.
So the bottom line is, if you want to be skating at the top of your game, not only do your skates need to fit right and be comfortable, you need to make sure you have the right size and type of inline hockey wheels on them and make sure the bearings are in solid condition too. Proper maintenance of your gear will make sure you’re always up to speed on the rink.
Looking to save money on your hockey sticks? Mix and match used blades with used sticks for the best cheap hockey sticks money can’t buy!
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Your Inline Hockey Wheels Can Make or Break Your Game