Most skaters like to try out a variety of different types of wheels, and depending on the type of surfaces you skate on- you may need more than one type. There are several factors to think about when picking a new set of wheels
The hardness of skate wheels is measured by durometer. A low durometer wheel will be soft and grippy One of the most popular 'grippy' wheels is the Atom Poison this is great for slick floors and often favoured by newer skaters who wish to concentrate on learning skills without worrying about slipping.
Higher durometer wheels give more speed and are also good for larger skaters, As skaters advance, they often increase the hardnesses of their wheels
Most wheel brands give advice on the types of floor most suited to their wheels, such as this one from Heartless
Many skaters will mix and match their wheels having 4 wheels acting as 'pushers', there are a variety of different set ups so its worth trying out a few methods to find what suits you best.
Most wheels are made from a hard wearing urethane although a new range of Hybrid wheels such as the Atom Poison or Reckless Envy are always popular. A hybrid wheel tends to be softer and as a result can also be used for outdoor skating. Many new skaters find that a hybrid wheel gives them the grip they need whilst learning new skills.
Hub design varies as each brand seeks to develop the strongest, lightest wheel, most wheels come with a Nylon hub, this allows a fast roll but as the material is not as strong it can allow the wheel to warp slightly under pressure. Hollow 'spoked' hubs allow for pressure to be evenly distributed which helps prevent this, the new RADAR Presto wheel has a hub similar to this.
Increasingly, wheels come with a full or partial aluminium alloy hub. This prevents the shape of the wheel from being distorted under pressure which provides a better roll. Most alloy wheels now come with a hollow hub such as the Atom Juke or Rollerbones Turbo- this enables the skater to get the benefits of the alloy, without any extra weight on their feet. Alloy hubs are particularly good for heavier skaters or those who really push into the surface.
It's easy to think that all Roller Derby wheels are the same size but there is an increasing trend for smaller, slimmer wheels.
Wheels vary in both width and height so its important to decide what your priority is. In derby, most skaters start out on a full size 62mm high wheel that is around 42mm wide. This is great for stability but does reduce the turning circle of a skater and can also lead to wheel 'clipping' with other skaters. Most advanced skaters choose a lower profile wheel of around 58mm with a width around 38mm. Those wanting an even lower, slimmer wheel choose the Adonis range as this is a one of a kind 'micro wheel'
Most bearings come with an industry standard ABEC rating, but increasingly companies are moving away from using this measure and instead choose to have 'skate rated' bearings that are tested against the sport.
For ABEC rated Bearings, the higher the number the better 'roll' you will get. For derby if choosing an ABEC rated bearing aim for something that is an ABEC7 or over.
Skate rated bearings come in several formats with Bones, Bionic or Moto being the most established brands
Standard- These are good quality bearings that come with most skate packages- Bones Reds are the most popular on the market but the MOTO Deluxe bearings come as a set of 16 and are incredibly good quality.
Swiss- This is a higher quality bearing for extra 'roll' The Bionic Swiss bearings are good value for money as the pack is for 16 bearings rather than the standard 8.
Ceramic- The premium choice for your bearings, these are incredibly long lasting Bones Ceramic are one of the highest quality bearings available and give unbeaten roll.