Three: Learn About Wheels and Bearings
skates can be equipped with an astounding variety of wheels. Wheels
determine the type of "ride" that the skate will deliver. The easier
they roll the more you will enjoy skating. However, a wheel that rolls
too fast may put you beyond your comfort zone. Wheels may be too hard
or soft for the intended surface, causing a bumpy or mushy ride. They
may be too big, reducing maneuverability.
three things that you need to know about inline skate wheels:
- The diameter of a wheel is the length across the widest part of the
circle, measured in millimeters (mm). The size is important because the
larger the wheel, the faster it rolls. Smaller wheels are more
maneuverable and stable, but roll more slowly. Most recreational skates
come with 72-76mm diameter wheels. Aggressive skates come with smaller
wheels; racing skates with larger ones. Sizes can range from 44-80mm.
Wheels also vary in thickness, or "profile." Thinner wheels are faster
but less stable than thicker ones. The wheel's size will be marked on
Hardness - Wheels
are made out of urethane, a plastic material whose hardness can be
varied. The hardness is measured on a durometer, with 0 being the
softest and 100 being the hardest. Softer wheels absorb more bumps for
a smoother skate, but they tend not to last as long, nor are they as
fast as the harder wheels. Most recreational skates are equipped with
78A or 82A wheels, with 78A considered to be on the softer side.
For indoor surfaces, harder wheels, like 85A are appropriate; for
outdoor use or on rough terrain, use a softer 74A. You can also mix
wheels with different durometers, making some wheels harder than
others. This gives you the flexibility of having good shock absorption
plus durability. A wheel's hardness is marked on its side.
- The wheels roll on ball bearings, which are inside the hubs of the
wheels. The quality of the bearings will affect the amount of effort
the skater must apply to rotate the wheels. Bearings are rated
according to the precision with which they are made. Typically, higher
priced skates will use bearings designated as "precision" and are rated
ABEC-1, ABEC-3, or ABEC-5. The difference between ABEC 1 and 5 bearings
is not usually a major factor to the beginning skater. Lower priced
skates will not use rated bearings.
out. They must be rotated to avoid uneven wear and to get the maximum
use from them. The skate you purchase should allow you to rotate and
replace the wheels easily. Most manufacturers provide a maintenance
guide that will explain this procedure.
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