Before the rotten fruit and beer bottles come flying let me clear one thing up: I am not writing about the use of inline skates in flat track roller derby. I agree that would be blasphemy. Instead I’m here to discuss the crazy idea of screwing inline skate wheels to your favorite quad skates. Yes, I skate with inline wheels on my quad skates.
Who are you? Are you insane?
Jentropy and yes.
Anyway, I guess I should tell you a bit about myself and how I skate: you know, for context. I spend most of my time jamming for the Peninsula Roller Girls. I may not be the fastest skater, but I’m very agile. Unlike the rest of my life, where I focus on being well rounded, in derby I focus on improving what I do best.
How did you end up here?
Why inline skate wheels? Shortly after I started jamming I tried slim wheels: Radar Diamonds. They were awesome. Slimmer wheels are more agile, lighter, result in fewer wheel bumps and conserve energy with their lower rolling resistance. The scientist in me had to know, though, if slim is awesome is slimmer more awesome? To find out which width works best for me I must keep going slimmer until I discover problems.
And yes, I am a wheel junkie.
Get to the point already. Are they awesome?
For me? Hell yeah!
- They’re ridiculously agile: I find that I can pop onto my toe stops and pop off very easily. Juking/side stepping is also much easier for some reason. The wheels connect to the ground quickly, but they also let go fast.
- They’re much lighter: I never expected a few ounces to make such a big difference.
- Short bursts of speed: Since they make getting on and off of ones toe stops easier, short bursts of acceleration become more accessible. I find I use them a lot more on inline wheels.
- No hubs: All of the inline wheels that I can find which fit under my skates are the ‘aggressive’ style. This means that they do not have much of a hub. This makes them a lot squishier than typical quad skate wheels of the same durometer. For this reason they seem to drain my energy reserves faster.
- Rolling ankles: They’re really skinny! The wheels I currently favor have a 18mm footprint. This means sometimes when I come down my center of pressure (where I’m pushing down) falls outside of my wheel base. When this happens my ankle starts to roll. So far I’ve been able to react quickly and avoid injury, but only time will tell if I can retrain myself.
The wheels I stole from my partner’s children’s inline skates
The first inline skate wheels I tried were the ones off of my girlfriend’s inline skates. These were marked with ‘Bauer’ on the side. They were of unknown specification, but normal skate bearings fit. I estimate that they were 75a hardness and 60mm tall. They were also just too wide so I had to McGyver my axel nuts to keep them on.
During my first experiment, at Wumpskate, my eyes lit up. I jumped out on to the surface and noticed that I could run around as if I were in sneakers. I skated around a bit and found junking, jumping and stops all very quick. The rolling resistance, however, was pretty bad. I didn’t have any reference for speed, but I felt sluggish in the straight line.
Just the same I took them for a spin at my next scrimmage practice. They were very fast off of the jammer line, and I was able to shuffle through the pack with ease, but I was unable to score any points. They were sooooo slow! They were as fun as they were useless at derby. As the other jammer zoomed past me I realized my experiment had failed… or had it?
Yak 96a 62mm aggressive
Not ready to give up I scoured the web for inline wheels to try. My search led me to Amazon and to these Yak wheels.
Upon receiving them I tried them out at the next available alternative skating event: Rainbow Skate. They had the same burst of speed potential as the mystery wheels, but they did not feel like skating through mud! I’ve kept them on ever since. They’ve been to derby practice, around my office and even outside. Here’s what I’ve learned about them.
- They’re 96a durometer but skate more like a 92a. I blame the lack of a harder hub.
- I can finally power slide / hockey stop! Whee!
- Landing big jumps (e.g. jumping the apex) is a lot easier.
- They fit almost entirely under my skate which makes wheel bumping nearly impossible.
- I get a lot lower when I’m turning during a sprint. My chest is almost at my front knee. I have no idea why.
- They seem to handle a variety of surfaces better. They even work OK outdoors!
- But, I’m a lot slower than my 96a Radar Diamonds in the longer sprints. This has changed my strategy a bit. When I’m not the lead jammer I’ll favor a sprint and hit instead of attempting to nonviolent pass.
If you like slim or super slim wheels, you may want to try out inline wheels.
If you’re not ready to try them out yet, keep an eye on my blog. As I try more inline wheels I’ll post my thoughts here.
Footnotes on a blog entry? neeerd!
- Yes I realize that there is a risk of finding a local minimum with this experiment technique. If you can come up with a cost effective method of conducting this experiment (say without buying every wheel size imaginable) feel free to contact me.
- I’m kind of a little bit goth, at least sometimes.
- Yeah, I’m also gay. Is that a problem? Grr!