What's the most important factor when choosing inline wheels?
When choosing replacement inline skate wheels, quality should be your number one consideration. Cheap wheels will perform poorly and not provide a satisfying rollerblading experience. If you're buying on a budget, spending a bit more on the wheels and less on the bearings will typically yield the best performance to cost ratio. The inline wheels found on the RollerBob site range from very good to excellent and any wheel you choose here will often significantly outperform the original inline wheels that came on your skates.
What size inline wheels do I need?
The easiest way to determine what size inline wheels your skates use is to simply look at the wheels that are currently installed. Usually you'll find two numbers printed on the wheels that indicate the size and the durometer. The size will be stated in millimeters with a number followed by 'mm' (example: 80mm). The durometer can be similar a number, but followed by the letter 'a' (example: 80a). Although the number 80 is used in both examples the 'mm' and the 'a' after the numbers indicates they're different pieces of information. The more important number to know about your inline wheels is the size in millimeters.
Is there any useful information on the inline frames?
Typically major brand inline skates like Rollerblade, K2 and Salomon will print the maximum size wheels that the skates will fit somewhere on the frame. Usually this is shown as "Max wheel size, XXmm" where XX is the maximum wheel size that is recommended for your skates (example: Max wheel size, 90mm). In the case of a roller-hockey skate that may use more than one inline wheel size look for something like Hi/Lo 72/80 or 72/76/76/80 on the frame. In the first case 72/80 is telling you that that the skates use a combination of two 72mm wheels in front and two 80mm wheels in back on each skate. The second example 72/76/76/80 indicates that each skate uses three sizes, a 72mm in front, two 76mm in the middle and an 80mm wheel on the back.
Do I need to buy new bearing spacers with my inline wheel kit?
It's not necessary to buy new bearing spacers as long as you remember to reuse the spacers that are in your old wheels. Not installing bearing spacers in your new wheels will cause the wheels to spin slowly lock up when the axles are tightened. Most people mistakenly try to solve this by loosening the axles and risk having the wheels come off while they're skating. The most common and dangerous mistake people make when changing their inline wheels is forgetting to install the bearing spacers into the new wheels. If you're buying a set of performance inline wheels with high end bearings, getting a new set of precision aluminum bearing spacers will help get the most free spin (lowest rolling resistance) and is highly recommended. Many times there are other good reasons to buy a new set of spacers:
The spacers that came in your skates are plastic and you want to replace them with a good aluminum set.
You're having difficulty getting your wheels to spin freely when the axles are tightened
You suspect the stock bearing spacers currently installed may be damaged or out of tolerance.
You just don't want to take the time to remove the spacers from the old wheels and would rather just buy a new set.
Is it possible to use larger wheels than what came stock on my inline skates?
Many times you can install a larger wheel than what was originally on the skates from the factory. However you will rarely be able to install a size much larger than the maximum size indicated on the inline frame. The exception to this rule are the ZeroDrag wheels that are 0.5mm larger than other brand wheels. A skate with a maximum wheel size stated as 80mm will usually accept the 80.5mm ZeroDrag wheels without any problems.
How important is the durometer number?
The durometer number only indicates the hardness of the urethane and doesn't give any insight as to how fast or how low the rolling resistance might be for that wheel. While the durometer number can be useful for fine tuning some performance aspects, it doesn't matter when determining if a wheel will fit into your skates or not. Inline wheels with durometers from 74a (very soft) to (90a very hard) can be found. However for recreational and fitness skating, inline wheels in the 82a to 86a hardness range are best. The 84a durometer is the most popular and typically offers the best mix of performance, long wear and a reasonably smooth ride for most people. While it's generally true that a harder wheel will last longer remember that softer wheels will ride more smoothly on a rough trail and a harder wheel will be noticeably more harsh on the same trail.
What should I know about choosing inline bearings?
Using a quality, name brand bearing is important. RollerBob features ZeroDrag brand bearings that are high quality, value priced and built specifically for inline skating. The most important consideration when buying inline bearings is if you want the low maintenance properties of a greased bearing or the performance advantages of an oiled bearing. Keep in mind that the performance difference between the most and least expensive ZeroDrag bearings is subtle. Recreational skaters who are not interested in doing any maintenance will be happiest using the greased ZeroDrag Recreational bearings. These for the most part can be installed and forgotten about until wheels are needed again. Typically the Recreational bearings will go two seasons without any maintenance. Fitness skaters and skaters who occasionally race may want the extra performance edge of an oiled bearing and these skaters are typically willing to oil the bearings as needed. A really good time to oil your bearings is when you rotate the wheels.