Many people call us wondering what the difference is between the various outdoor wheels we sell. Generally, this comes down to 4 categories: durometer (the hardness of the wheel), color, shape, and size (both height and width).
Durometers can be tricky to fiddle around with, especially when it comes to indoor wheels, but with outdoor wheels, generally the softer the better. Think of them as the shock absorbers in your car or on a mountain bike - when the material of your skate wheels have a bit of bounce in it, your wheels will take the brunt of the energy from the ground, and not your body. On average, outdoor wheels are around 76-85a on the hardness scale, with 76 on the softer end, and 85 on the harder end. The softer the wheel, the more shock absorption you will get, and smoother the ride. The Luminous wheels are on the higher end of the spectrum at 85a, whereas the Moxi Gummi, Radar Energy, Sure Grip Gravity, Rollerbones Malibu, and Juice Smoothie wheels all fall around the same softness.
The outdoor wheels we stock come in a variety of colors, including some glow in the dark and light up options. If you're looking for the most variety, the Radar Energy wheels really have a monopoly in this category with their colorful hub and polyurethane combinations. The Sure Grip Gravity contains glitter if you're looking to be extra jazzy.
In roller derby and jam skating, people often talk about the "edges" of wheels. This is referring to the outer edges of the part of the wheel that contacts the ground. Jam skaters can use wheels with sharper edges to ride on just the smallest part of the wheel to do tricks (and shock onlookers who are convinced they're going to watch them break an ankle), and these edges can help roller derby players nail quick stops to help with agility. Some outdoor wheels, like the Gummi, Luminous, Gravity, and Energy, have a rounded edge, the Rollerbones Malibu is somewhat in between, whereas the Juice Smoothies have a bit more of a defined edge to them. This all comes down to personal preference.
Lastly, we have size. Obviously, a larger wheel is going to weigh more, and it's not going to be as easy to do spins or jam skate along the boardwalk. What a larger wheel will do, however, is absorb more impact and give you a smoother ride. The Radar Energy comes in multiple sizes, which may be a good choice if you want a smaller wheel, with the Luminous in the mid range, and the Smoothie, Malibu, Gravity, and Gummi at the larger end. The Smoothie is the widest outdoor wheel we carry, and this may give a skater more of a stable base if they need a bit more balance.
No matter what you choose, you'll be able to roll over bumps and cracks with ease, and not have to worry about launching yourself across the sidewalk when a rogue pebble comes your way. Check out our full stock of outdoor wheels on our website, and don't forget to grab some bearings or a Y3 tool while you're at it!