How to Pick your Roller Derby Wheels
Here are a few things you need to know about choosing the perfect wheels for your roller derby style and level.
Highs and Lows
The most common wheel heights for roller derby wheels are 62mm (tall) and 59mm (short). There are pros and cons to both heights.
o These are better for speed and long distance since bigger wheels need less effort for keeping a fast roll
o If you need to pass the '27 laps in 5 minutes' test, more height might give you an extra half lap
- At the same time, tall wheels are higher off the ground, which means less stability
- They are also not suited to stop-start action during a game of roller derby
o These are more suited to stop-start action since the smaller wheel allows you faster acceleration
o Some skate companies now only make 59mm wheels
- These are more stable since they are closer to the ground but you have to work a bit harder on your '27 laps in 5 minutes' test
Derby wheels are available in different widths and the most common ones are 44mm (wide) and 38mm (narrow).
Entry level roller derby skates generally have tall and wide wheels to allow more stability and to help you roll. But as you progress, most skaters change them for something narrower. The pros and cons of different thicknesses include –
o Wider base means more stability
o Good when you are training to skate
- But they are less agile and may feel clunky
- Wheel clipping may occur
o Narrower wheels are generally lighter
o They help you feel more agile
- However, they may make learning to skate harder since there is less stability on a narrow wheel
The hub of the wheel is the inner circle of material that the bearings are inserted into and is like the “spine” of your wheel.
The hub can affect your roll depending on its shape, style and strength. Hubs can be alloy and nylon. The pros and cons include –
o Alloy hubs are stronger and don’t flex as much, so you roll faster
o They have better aesthetics
o Alloy hubs are stronger too
- They may cost more
- Alloy hubs are heavier so this may add extra weight to your ride
o Nylon hubs are generally lighter and cheaper
o They can take bearings in and out more easily
- On a jump, there is often flex in the hub which can put pressure on the urethane
- If you are a big person or skate aggressively, the nylon hubs may flex
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