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Hot Wheel Info and Basics

September 6, 2011 General No Comments

Hot wheel info and basics
By Wayne Anderson
Oct 30, 2001, 11:57

 

I’m often asked questions about skate wheels, so this month I thought I’d address this ever-changing topic in detail. Our look at wheels starts with some of the important terminology that applies. A short glossary:

 

Size. This refers to the circumference, the actual size of the wheel. Wheel size is denoted in millimeters, and the average hockey wheel size is either 72mm or 76mm, although the full range is from a 59mm children’s size to an 82mm racing wheel.

 

Durometer. This refers to the hardness or softness of the wheel. Keep in mind that the lower the durometer number, the softer (grippier) the wheel, and the higher the number, the harder (slipperier) the wheel. The average durometer for hockey wheels runs from 74 to 86. Also remember that the harder the wheel, the more durable it will be.

 

Profile. This is the width of the wheel, the part that actually touches the surface of the rink or ground. Hockey wheels come in two types of profile, normal and “speed.” The speed profile is slightly thinner than the normal one, and is, obviously, designed to provide greater skating velocity.

 

Hub. The hub is the inside area of the wheel where the bearing fits and holds the wheel to the truck. In most cases, this is an 8mm hole where the bearing fits in.

 

Things have changed

In the past, you would buy your favorite skate and it would come with one set of wheels that you would use everywhere you skated. Today, however, with the introduction of several new surfaces to skate on, things have changed dramatically.

The good news is that the wheel manufacturers have been keeping up with the changing times. Because so many Roller Hockey International players use Hyper Wheels, I decided to go right to the source for an update on the world of wheels. Craig Forrest, a former L.A. Blade and college standout at Yale, is the director of marketing and promotion at Hyper, and he took me on a tour of their Huntington Beach (CA) plant.

Forrest spoke of the different playing surfaces available these days and agreed with me that recreational players are just now learning what the pros have known for a while; you should change your wheels according to the surface you’re playing on. Trying to skate on Sport Court (plastic tiles) with a wheel designed for outdoor play is like trying to play blindfolded.

On Sport Court you need a wheel with a lower durometer number—about 74 or 76, as with the Hyper Power Edge Court wheels. This wheel comes in two durometers and colors—a natural-colored wheel with a 76 durometer, and an orange wheel that is a little softer, a 74 durometer. Both come in two types of profile (normal and speed, as described above) and in either 72mm or 76mm sizes.

For outdoor use, a higher number durometer is necessary, usually an 80-to-86 for use on asphalt and cement. On smooth concrete (the base floor of most ice hockey rinks used to play roller hockey on) a “middle of the road” durometer is called for—from 76 to 82.

Again, all these wheel varieties come in different sizes and profiles, so you can choose the ones you prefer.

 

Rock me, baby

Mr. Forrest also told me something interesting: most pro players “rocker” their skates, just as an ice hockey blade gets rockered when sharpened. Most roller hockey trucks can be rockered by changing the height of the axle hole. If the truck is not rockerable, you can still achieve the same effect by using different size wheels.

Most RHI players use a 72mm wheel on each end and two 76mm wheels in the middle. This allows for a combination of speed and maneuverability, since the 76mm wheel offers more speed while the 72mm allows for quicker turns.

While the norm for RHI players is a 76mm wheel, for the recreational player the decision on which size to use will probably be based on the size of the rink he or she plays on.

What’s next in wheel design from Hyper?

“On a professional level,” says Forrest, “we are striving for player performance to be as close to an ice hockey player’s performance as possible. And for the general public, we are continually striving to produce the best product at a reasonable cost.”

 

A stopper’s wheel

A new goalie’s wheel was recently introduced to the marketplace. The new wheel is a 64mm model, and has a durometer of 82. The smaller size puts the goalie’s skate lower to the playing surface, allowing the stopper’s pads to emulate an ice hockey pad in height off the surface.

The new wheel also allows for a quicker turning radius, quicker outs, and—due to the harder durometer—offers an easier slide across the net. Give them a try if you’re looking to improve your performance in net.

The world of wheels is an ever-changing one, so don’t be surprised if you hear about some new compound or special wheel for the surface you’re skating on. Odds are it’s going to happen—we just don’t know when.

 

Wayne Anderson is managing director of Huron Hockey’s new roller hockey schools.

This first appeared in the 11/1994 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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