Choosing the Right Roller Derby Wheels
What do i need to think about when looking for roller derby wheels?
If you are like me you have just forked out for skates plus the price of protective gear and the thought of spending more money doesn’t exactly thrill you, but it’s worth it! How do I know? I did it and once you have done it too then you will feel the benefit. Skating will feel even better.
I opted for the Riedell Volt Quad skates and they are a great pair of skates, but If you want as much practice as you can get you will be best off getting indoor and outdoor wheels so you can make the most of any good weather and free time that you have.
I ploughed through the internet and spoke to some Derby Dolls who really know their stuff and this is what I found out:
You can get some pretty badass wheels out there on the market, like the ones with the lights in that flash! They look awesome but stay clear – they suck, all show and no performance!
Each Roller Derby wheel comes with a hub which can be metal or plastic and this will be the home of your bearings. ON the outside of the hub will be a rubber tyre (much like that of a car but much harder). Your tyre will have been assigned an A rating that will indicate how hard or soft the wheel is. The rating ranges from 70A (this being the softest) and 103A (you guessed it – this being the hardest).
You want to look at using anything below an 85A for outdoor use as this is softer and will help absorb some of those bumps and dodgy surfaces that you will find outside.
Apparently 85A is your best bet for indoor as well as outdoor but I think by trying to have the best of both worlds you end up having to compromise dramatically on both. I know it’s more money but I strongly recommend it as it will make life a lot easier for practicing and improving.
Like me, you may soon find that you are carrying extra wheels for different surfaces and bearings that suit all types of floors.
The right wheels on the right surface will make a massive difference to your performance and your ability to progress and learn new things.
Tip: Hard wheels on an outdoor surface will make things harder for you
Tip: If the wheels are making you have to work hard then this can put you off so make sure that you have some wheels that aid your learning and not hamper it.
Also think about the diameter of the wheel.
If you choose a wheel with a bigger diameter you will find that they are slightly ‘grippier’ than smaller ones with exactly the same A rating. This means that there is more of the wheel making contact with the floor so this will provide you with slightly more stability but will also slow you down a little.
The wheel diameters vary between 57mm and 66mm – which are common for standard axels. Bigger wheels do run the risk of making contact with the plate when you are turning so bear that in mind or you may end up on your bum. For larger wheels it will be worth checking out longer axels which are made to hold larger wheels but this can cost you.
Ok so there are a few elements that determine how well your wheels work. One being the wheels themselves and the other is the bearings.
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