3 Wheel vs 4 Wheel Inline Skates: Which Should I Get?
If, like many, you have rediscovered your passion for inline skating over tje last couple of years, you may have been surprised to see in stores or on the road, rollerblades with only 3 wheels, also called triskates. More and more brands produce this type of skate and we see them for many styles of skating, whether for training, roller-hockey, long distances or freeride. In fact, one of the first steps in choosing your next inline skates and which will influence the number of wheels and their size, is to determine your skating style. Check out our previous blog post on the subject to learn more!
In short, why 3 wheel inline skates? This is a very popular question we get, for those who want to purchase a skate or upgrade their skates with new wheels. Let's analyze the main differences with traditional 4 wheel skates. The key features discussed in the next sections are summarized in this table:
3 wheel inline skates
3 wheel inline skates usually feature larger wheels, with a diameter ranging from around 100 to 125mm. By removing one wheel, there is therefore more room for the others, which can get bigger!
A bigger wheel makes starts and accelerations more difficult, but once the speed is reached, it is no longer stoppable! Larger diameter wheels therefore allow you to maintain speed and go faster than with smaller wheels. In marathon speed skating, the 125mm 3 wheel models broke all competition records.
Larger diameter wheels reduce vibrations that come from the ground and provide a smoother experience, whether on asphalt or crushed stone. By their size, the larger wheels also make it easier to pass over small obstacles, such as cracks, holes or bumps.
With only 3 wheels and therefore a shorter frame in length, 3 wheel skates generally have good maneuverability, since the turning radius is smaller.
This one is easy: one less wheel, so less weight in the end!
Since manufacturers have to build the frame higher to fit the bigger wheels, our foot in the skate is therefore higher, which strongly influences stability. In addition, the shorter frame increases the risk of falling from behind.
Grip and braking
With 3 wheels in contact with the ground instead of 4, the contact surface is less and therefore there may be a drop in grip, whether under braking or when turning.
The goal behind 3 wheel inline skates is to provide the benefits associated with large wheels, i.e. more speed and more comfort. However, this type of skate requires more skill and energy to change speed and direction.
4 wheel inline skates
4 wheel inline skates are the most common and are most often associated with aggressive or recreational type skating.
With 4 wheels, the frame of the skate is longer, which increases stability. These skates also having smaller wheels, that are closer to the ground and therefore more stable. This is why these skates are often recommended for the skatepark or for skaters returning to rollerblade, as they are easier to change directions and gain confidence. This type of skate is also suitable for people who get tired quickly in a flexed position and want to opt for a more upright position.
As mentioned, 4 wheel inline skates typically feature smaller wheels, which help in quick direction changes and accelerations.
With one more wheel, 4 wheel inline skates are a bit heavier. For those who travel long distances, it can make a big difference.
Maintaining high speed with 4 wheel inline skates is more difficult, since more force and energy are required for each push. It therefore takes more effort to cover long distances.
4 wheel inline skates are suitable for most skating styles except long distance. With their smaller wheels, these skates are more agile and more stable for sudden changes of direction and braking. On the other hand, you have to put in more effort to gain speed and maintain it.
Which one to buy: 3 wheel or 4 wheel skates?
If you're a beginner or haven't raced before, big wheels are probably not for you. You will not take advantage of the extra speed enough and you will feel that the skate is unstable. The 4 wheel models with 76 to 90mm wheels still allow you to reach interesting speeds. It is quite rare for an inexperienced skater to start with 3 wheel inline skates, since it is not worth it in terms of speed.
If you have come to experiment with skates with bigger wheels, we suggest purchasing 3 wheel inline skates, like a freestyle skate, because these skates allow you to change the size of the wheels and increase the size gradually. As things progress, 4 wheel skates offer much less leeway to increase wheel size, given the short distance between the frame and the wheels.
If you're into speed or long distances, 3 wheel inline skates with wheels over 90mm are the best option, which will allow you to cover more ground with each push.
Finally, several models of inline skates have removable frames, which allow to exchange for a set-up including larger wheels, or 4 wheels. So you have more flexibility and you won't be stuck with just one option!
Shop our collection of 3 wheel inline skates.