Winter is Coming
I don't watch Game of Thrones, but I'm hoping enough people do that they think this title is funny.
We're in Ottawa, where tropical conditions continue. It's hard to believe that we're sitting in a full HEAT ADVISORY and a mere four months from now, it'll be 80 degrees colder. FACT. If extreme weather is your thing, give Ottawa a shot; you will not be disappointed.
The change in weather means hockey season is upon us (or curling season...whatever floats your boat) and means a change of practice venues. Around here, that means we go from concrete floors to wooden floors, but you may be switching to tile, rubber floors, or maybe even another concrete floor. This may mean a change of wheels.
Here are some things you should know about wheels:
1. Durometres mean nothing. Well, almost. They tell how hard the wheel is, but that does little to explain the relationship between that hardness and the floor you're skating on.
2. What's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander. Just because your skater buddies prefer certain wheels for certain surfaces doesn't mean those wheels will work for you.
3. Wheels of the same durometre but made by different companies can feel completely different.
4. More expensive wheels aren't better than cheaper wheels in terms of performance. That's more of a durability thing.
5. There's so much about each brand, each wheel, each hub, each thickness, each material, and all that crap, to throw a whirling dervish out of whirl.
6. Buying wheels by colour is just not a thing. So, like...don't.
7. A change in temperature can affect what wheels you need, even if you're not changing venue.
So. How do we figure this out? We establish a general guideline. They key here is GENERAL.
1. In GENERAL, smoother, slicker surfaces require grippier wheels, which means wheels with a lower durometre (84, 88, 91).
2. In GENERAL, stickier, muddier, or softer floors require harder wheels, meaning a higher durometre (93, 97).
So. That's that. Good luck.
We've covered some general truths about wheels, and we've covered some generalities that will help you get started, but given that there are so many wheels, this outline doesn't help you choose wheels. So now we're going to talk about size, width, and shape.
Indoor wheels come in two sizes: 59 mm or 62 mm. A larger wheel gives you more sustained momentum (work a bit less hard to cover more ground), a smaller wheel gives you more immediate speed but you gotta work harder to keep it. There's also a NEGLIGIBLE weight difference.
Indoor wheels come come a variety of widths, typically falling withing the 31 mm to 44 mm range, with the two most popular widths being 38 mm (narrow) and 44 mm (wide). The narrower the wheel, the more agile it is, but more width gives it stability.
MAKING THE DECISION
Knowing all this, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
1. What's my budget?
Less expensive wheels can perform just as well as their pricier buddies but generally won't last as long.
2. What kind of floor am I skating on?
This will help you figure out the durometre range; the more grip you seek, the lower the durometre. The more slip you seek, the higher the durometre.
3. Do I crave stability or prefer to dance around a bit?
Skinny wheels make for great movement, wider wheels make you hard to shove around.
4. How fast do I want to roll?
Smaller diametres are tough for sustained speed but give you good immediate spring, while larger diametres keep a good roll going with less work.