Inline Skates 3-Wheels Or 4-Wheels?

Inline skating has gone through an interesting set of events in terms of wheels size. In the 1990s, when the sport took the crowd by storm, inline skates used to have the biggest wheels of about 80mm. They were often referred to as the racing wheels. By 2004, 80mm wheels were reserved for entry-level recreational skates. Fitness skates had a wheel size of 90mm while racing wheels took a diameter of 110mm. It was not only the size of the wheels that were changing but also the number.

So, which inline skates do you prefer – 3-wheels or 4-wheels? The skates you prefer depends on your skating skills as well as the type of skating. A better base for foundation keeps you moving for long. For this reason, many skaters prefer 4-wheel skates for stability. 3-wheels skates are primarily preferred for speed.

With that said, both 4-wheel and 3-wheel skates have their pros and cons. Let us explore both options and figure which one works best for your scenario [source].

The 3-Wheels Advantage

The growth in the industry of inline skates have been slow and primarily focused on the growing wheel size or number of wheels. However, the design and frame of the skates limit the size of the wheels in a four-wheel skate. With that said, many brands focused on further increasing the wheel size. The practical solution came up as decreasing the number of wheels by one. This was the origin of the 3-wheel skates that became a milestone in no time. Nowadays, people who love speed have an obsession with 3-wheels skates. Certainly, they come up with various promising features and offer noticeable benefits to inline skating.

History and Origin of 3-Wheels Skates

3-wheel skates gained immense popularity right after their origin and release in the skating industry. They can be held responsible for shaping up cross-country skiing techniques back in the 30s. The widespread application of these models can be cited in the early 60s. 3-wheels skates made a successful come back in 1997 after a short break. These were the most iconic 3-wheeled inline skate of all time.

Popularized as the Rollerblade Coyote skate with a wheel diameter of 150mm. Another brand that emerged during this time by the name of Spin with a wheel size of 101mm. These skates had polyurethane wheels and were called the ‘Spin Transit’. The first 4-wheel skates with a wheel diameter of 100 mm each came after full six years. New releases of better models have surprised the industry since then, time over time.

3-Wheels Inline Skates Over the 4-Wheels Skates

What makes 3-wheels skates better over the 4-wheels skates? First and foremost are the bigger wheels. The skating industry has always tried to make wheels bigger and better in terms of wheel size and maneuverability. Bigger wheels certainly offer various benefits to the skaters. For example, larger wheels reduce vibration, provide a smooth ride, and serve over a longer wear period.

Manufacturers have to find a way to accommodate a growing wheel size over 120 millimeters under the skates. The 3-wheel design helps brands introduce bigger wheels under a short wheelbase. Nowadays, you can find skates with a wheel size of 125millimeter. Get ready to experience a better glide than you ever had. These new skates are incredibly maneuverable despite a shorter wheelbase.

No denial that larger wheels offer better glide, support top-end speed, and provide a more efficient skating experience. Glide effortlessly and get more from every stride with your 3-wheel skates. Go further and faster without much ado.

3-wheels skates are lightweight, nimble, and support extreme speeds [source]. You can get 125mm wheel size options in this category. These skates are easily maneuverable and suitable even for kids. However, you may find them a little expensive. Again, it may involve a harder learning curve to learn to skate on three wheels. Reduced number of wheels makes them comparatively less stable that 4-wheels. Despite all the quirky updates, 3-wheel skates are fun to use and preferred choice for many.

4-wheel skates are more stable and provide better weight disbursement. They have a smaller set up with a wheel size of about 80 to 84mm. They may not be as fast as the 3-wheel alternatives. However, better weight distribution helps in maintaining wheel integrity and skaters can push off with two wheels on the ground. More wheels touching the ground while doing tricks allow skaters to have better control than the 3-wheel setup.

Inline Speed Skates with 3-Wheels

Inline speed skating has turned a staple for many overtimes. The emergence of the 3-wheeled skates has given more wind to the passion. Nowadays, you can have an entire range of 3-wheeled rollerblades or inline skates. These skates have made speed skating even faster. The 3-wheel design certainly supports better speed. You can glide further and roll smoothly with your skates. Larger wheels have less rolling resistance and roll fewer times to cover the same distance.

Larger wheels reduce the vibrations and keep your legs stable and fresh for long. With your feet and legs relaxed, you can move faster and glide smoothly to cover more ground. As a result, you can accelerate your speed. If you are a speed skater targeting for the next marathon, 3-wheel skates having a larger wheel size are a must buy. Get yourself a nice pair of 3-wheeled inline speed skates to win your next series of races.

Are 3-Wheels Skates for Me?

3-wheel skates are being designed for all types of skating requirements. They have become a staple in the growing inline skating industry. Many brands are introducing 3-wheel inline skates in the fitness lines. In fact, 3-wheel frames are being used in most of the urban skates, which provides them improved maneuverability. Also, 3-wheels on the frame results in a shorter wheelbase. You can use these skates to cruise on open trails. Perform your best in any type of skating with these incredible 3-wheel skates.

Initially, these skates were overpriced. This is no longer the scenario. You can buy a pair of 3-wheel skates at a much cheaper price. They are definitely worth your time if you are planning to purchase a new set of skates. No matter the type of skating you perform. Be it speed skating, fitness, marathons, or urban; you can pick some phenomenal choices from the world’s major brands.

Inline Skates Wheels Buying Guide

Inline skates wheels come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and hardness. You can find an overwhelming selection of inline skates in the 3-wheel and 4-wheel category. Most of these skate wheels are designed for specific training requirements. So, how can you decide which skate wheels to pick for your skating type?

The choice of wheels may influence your comfort and overall skating experience. You must consider the following factors before you make a choice for the 3-wheel or 4-wheel skates [source]:

  • Wheel size – The size of the wheel is often measured by diameter and expressed in millimeters. You can get a wheel diameter of as small as 57mm to as large as 100 mm or even more. The sizes may vary in different types of skates. You can find larger wheels in 3-wheel skates to allow high speed. Smaller wheels are accounted for in the 4-wheel skates. They offer better acceleration and deceleration.

The wheel size for recreational skates ranges from 70 to 90mm. Skates for beginners have small size wheels. 90mm wheels are large and used by advanced high-speed skaters. Fitness skates also have large wheels for better efficiency. Racing skates have very large wheels for a smooth ride and efficient speed. The wheel diameter in these skates is over 90mm.

Aggressive skates have a wheel size between 56 to 59mm to perform jumps and tricks. Hockey skates often come with a wheel size between 72 to 80mm. However, different manufacturers may offer varying wheel configurations. Roller hockey skates have a unique frame with hi-lo setup. These skates use different wheel sizes. A larger set of wheels are in the back and smaller set of wheels in front.

  • Durometer rating – It defines the hardness or stiffness of the wheels. It is usually expressed by a number and a capital letter A. The hardness scale ranges from 0 to 100. O defines the softest rating. 100 marks the hardest material. You should look for a wheel that has a rating above 68A. A wheel with a softer rating below this is likely to wear down fast.

Different skating styles may require a different durometer rating for the wheels. Softer wheels are preferable for smooth surfaces such as skating rinks or indoor hockey rinks. Outdoor skating requires a set of wheels with a higher durometer rating usually above 78A to absorb shocks.

Recreational or fitness skates have the lowest durometer rating around 78A. These wheels offer a remarkable combination of speed and grip. This rating also supports indoor skating without sliding or slipping. Recreational outdoor skating wheels must have a durometer rating between 82 to 84A to support better speed and survive rough terrain.

The durometer rating for aggressive skating skates must be 88A or more. Inline hockey players must select wheels with a durometer rating between 72 to 74A for maximum hold and maneuverability.

  • Wheel Shape – The profile shape of your wheels can make a major difference to your overall skating experience. Aggressive skates have wheels with a flat profile. They resemble a round rectangle. This design provides a larger landing surface to the skaters while performing jumps and other tricks. Recreational skating wheels have a standard elliptical profile. They have a narrow center with graduated edges. The design provides a stable foundation and allows easy acceleration during turns.

The wheels of inline hockey skates have a round shape profile, which offers maximum contact regardless of the angle of the skates. This helps hockey players make easy sharp turns as well as quick acceleration or deceleration. Speed skate wheels often have a pointed profile appearance. This design provides better rolling resistance.

  • Other factors – Consider the following additional factors while selecting inline skates wheels:
    • Spacers – Inline skate wheels hold two bearings and may have spacers in between made up of plastic, nylon, or aluminum. Their sole purpose is to properly align the bearings in place to support better free-wheel spin and torsional strength against harder impacts. Many skaters prefer aluminum spacers as they allow better heat displacement and support improved performance.
  • Wheel Core – The core of a wheel contains spokes and hub. Hub, in turn, has spacers and bearings. Core prevents the wheel to come in contact with the bearings. It serves as an internal stiffener to maintain wheel shape under stress. The core is primarily made up of plastic or nylon to keep the overall weight to a minimum.

Different types of skates may have varying wheel core design. Aggressive skates have wheel core made up of solid plastic without spokes. Racing wheels a wheel core made up of light-weight plastic with many spokes. The wheel core design of the recreational and fitness skates allows maximum airflow to support greater speed.

  • Frame Capacity – Different skate frames and varying size capacity. This implies that you may replace original wheels with slightly larger wheels, but not much larger. Wheels that are way too large in size may not perfectly fit the chassis or may rub together while skating. Therefore, you should buy wheels according to the frame capacity of your skates.
  • Downsizing Wheels – You may purchase wheels smaller than the original ones stacked on the skates, but they may require spacers to compensate for the additional room between the wheels and the frame. It is recommended to replace your wheels with the same-sized wheels whenever required.

Related Questions

How do 3-wheel skates differ from 4-wheel skates? The following table enlists the differences between 3-wheel and 4-wheel skates:

Features 3-Wheel Skates 4-Wheel Skates
USP Speed – 3-wheel skates are primarily meant for speeding. Stability – Common inline skates setup for different skating types such as recreational or aggressive. Good for slaloms or freestyle skating.
Wheel Size Ranges from 100mm and above. Not more than 100 mm.
Other features Provide better glide and long stretch. Faster lift off. Easily maneuverable. Less stable. More flexible. Have different skate setups. Support better weight disbursement. Do not support smooth lift-off. Difficult to maintain a high speed.
Price Comparatively high. Affordable.
Learning Curve Hard to learn. Easy to learn.

Can I improve my skating techniques by switching to tri-skates? If you have a skating technique issue with your 4-wheel skates, it will not instantly disappear by switching to tri-skates. On the contrary, it may get exaggerated due to more height of the tri-skates. Better equipment does not make skating different or better over time. You must practice more and try to polish your techniques. Once you master the basics and get thorough with the tricks, you can perform better on any type of skates.


My name is Darius. I have started to skate couple years ago in my 20's. From first look it looked pretty difficult to me, but once i learned it i started to love it. Right now i am passionate about inline skating and usually I am skating together with my sister, Rasa. During the years I find out a lot interesting and useful information which i am sharing on this Blog. I hope that you will enjoy my blog same as you enjoy skating!

Recent Posts