There are many things to factor in when choosing a wheel that’s right for you. Durometer (hardness) of wheels, nylon hub versus metal hub, skating surface, skating style, body type and what your favorite color is (haha, no, just kidding).
What durometer wheel do I get?
This depends on you. What type of surface do you skate on? What is your skating style/ability? What is your body size? I find that most derby players skate on wheels ranging from an 88A to a 99A in hardness. The lower the number, the grippier/softer the wheel. The higher the number the faster/harder the wheel. I personally like to skate on a bit of a grippier wheel because I jam and I don’t want any slippage. I currently skate on Radar Halo’s and Reckless Morphs depending on the floor. Normally a lower durometer with Halo’s on a slick floor and with Morphs a higher dual durometer on a grippy floor. But this is just what works for me. With newer skaters, I like to start them on a grippier wheel until they get their balance down. Then move on to a faster/harder wheel.
So, do I get a nylon hub or aluminum hub?
A nylon hub as more give, or flex, and is lighter. That can give a skater more surface grip and control. An aluminum hub does not give, or flex, which makes the wheel more solid and less energy is used. It basically comes down to personal preference. Most derby wheels are made with a high-quality urethane hub which is stronger than nylon, but lighter than aluminum. Sometimes with aluminum hubs it’s hard to get your bearings out.
Please do not hesitate to call the shop. Lets talk wheels!
From Atom Wheels:
Choosing the right wheel
The Atom Wheels Matrix was designed to help skaters better understand what wheel hardness will work for their certain size in conjunction to floor surface. In general, larger skaters should have harder wheels and smaller skaters should have softer wheels (keep in mind what surface you are skating on).
Narrow vs. Wide
Narrow wheels have been around for years, mostly seen on hockey, art, rhythm or recreation skates. Just recently have the narrow wheels hit the derby world. Narrow wheels are lighter and thinner which allow the skater to move, juke, stop and sprint better. Atom Wheels, in the narrow profile, are 38mm which allows the skater to be agile, juke and stop better, but not sacrifice the roll and grip that you get from a wider wheel. Narrow wheels are not for everyone so use at your own risk!
Hub Style – Atom Wheels can be found in three different hub styles:
- Tri Spoke Core – This core is used on most cost effective wheels by Atom. These wheels are very light but not as stiff, which is why the cost is lower
Hollow Core (HCT) – Hollow Core wheels allow for great stiffness without all the unnecessary weight. The stiffer the wheel the more roll you will get. Atom Hollow core wheels are Glass filled technology that allows for greater stiffness and better roll.
Hollow Core Alloy – The HCA core is a NEW core from Atom Wheels. This core is just as stiff as a full aluminum core but reduces weight by 30%. The aluminum cap allows the wheel to be stiff while entering into a straightaway stoke or corner and the plastic on the back side allows for full rebound to get as much power as possible
- Hardness – The hardness of a wheel is rated on the “A” rating scale. The higher the number the harder the wheel, which allows for more roll and less grip. On the other hand, the lower the number the softer the wheel which will allow the skater to have more grip but less roll.
What are wheels made out of?
Atom wheels are made out of the highest quality Urethane. Urethane wheels were first introduced in the skateboard industry and later introduced into Roller Skating to replace the HARD wooden and clay wheels. This was one of the biggest breakthroughs to ever hit skating. Urethane allows the skater to go faster, grip better, and have an overall better skating experience. Unlike other wheel manufacturers, we ONLY make wheels. We are dedicated and focused on making the best wheels for all types of skating, especially roller derby! Our in depth R&D in other fields of skating gives us profound knowledge about performance urethanes. The same urethane used in derby by Atom Wheels has dominated the race industry since 1989!
Bubbles, what are they and do they effect my skating?
During the manufacturing process, wheels are poured very slowly due to the high viscosity urethane that is used. As it cures little air bubbles are caught in the wheel. When the wheels are trimmed these bubbles show up as tiny “holes”.
These tiny “holes” will not affect the performance of the wheel and in fact, these “holes” confirm that Atom Wheels are made out of the highest quality urethane.