By Debbie Rice
Debbie Rice races on 100mm wheels indoors but prefers 110s outside.
The big buzz these days is whether or not to move from 100mm to 110mm wheels, and if doing so will improve your performance or slow you down.
There are some pros and cons to consider. But the decision boils down to a few factors:
The bottom line is that 110mm wheels are going to be more difficult to bring up to speed (requiring more energy to get there) and are less responsive, meaning your acceleration will be slightly altered. On 110s, your strokes will feel a bit slower, but at the same time, you will feel a strong power transfer in each step. And your top-end speed will be easier to maintain once you get rolling.
If you’re a strong, powerful skater, 110mm wheels are probably the way to go. But if you’re a smaller skater, you might be using unnecessary energy to accelerate and maintain your speed on a 4x110 setup.
One alternative is a Hi-Lo setup with three 110mm wheels and one 100mm wheel. This allows for a shorter frame length (12.8 inches) while providing the roll of 110mm wheels.
My experience with 110s has been very positive. I am a small skater, about 5’4”, yet I have a long, powerful stroke.
I tried the Bont 3-point Hi-Lo set up at the Squiggy marathon and found that staying with the master men’s pack was much easier than previously on 100s. Taking off at the start I felt a little sluggish, like I was in mud. But once I got in the rhythm and got them rolling, it was a whole different story.
On the other hand, for indoor racing, I prefer a 4x100mm setup. Most of my indoor races are geared as sprints, so I want the agility and foot speed that I get from 100s.
The choice of whether to skate on 100s or 110s boils down to personal preference. Do you want to sacrifice foot speed and agility for more roll with a higher energy expense? Or do you want to stay with what feels comfortable, even if it means having to work harder to keep up in a race?
My suggestion is to try it both ways, and go with what works best for you.
Debbie Rice is the reigning women's champ of the National Roller Cup. She claimed the title with four marathon victories. She got off to another strong start this year before breaking her wrist at the Texas Road Rash, which she won nonetheless. Back on skates after a few weeks, the Houston native has been skating indoors during the lull in the NROC season. She is also making her return to roller derby as a member of a new Bont team, which debuts in September at Gear Fest in Florida. A Houston native, Debbie lives in Baton Rouge and is a Bont USA representative.
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