This week's column:
Should I Put Junior on 110s?
July 27, 2011
Hi, Bill: My 10-year-old son, who wears a size 6 shoe, wants to move into a 4x110mm skate setup. He has skated on this setup before and did pretty well. I know this setup is longer than a 3-wheel frame and probably not as practical, but he really likes the big 4-wheel setups. Please help with this decision. I want to get him the best equipment possible. Thank you. - Ken from Everett, WA
Hi, Ken: This is a question I get a lot from parents these days. In some countries, the question has been settled by skate federations, some of which have restricted wheel size for children. They’ve done this due to concerns that big wheels strain young bones and joints and lead to the formation of bad skate technique.
In fact, I would have been happy if the internaional federation had limited wheels to a maximum size of 100mm for all skaters. I think 110mm wheels have changed our sport for the worse. They have given an advantage to big, strong skaters who find it easier to push the bigger wheels, and they have made the sport more dangerous by increasing speeds and making it easier for athletes to go fast even if they lack the skill to skate safely in packs.
As for your son, I would not put him on a 4x100mm setup at his age. He has a reasonably sized foot. But at 10 years of age, I would recommend a setup with a mix of 110mm and 100mm wheels: either a 110-100-110 -110 configuration or a 110-100-100-110 configuration. These setups are closer to the ground and shorter from front to back. As a result, they are easier to control and better for the development of skating skills.
For a time our club in Timaru discouraged the use of 110mm wheels by youngsters. But we found that this put our skaters at a competitive disadvantage because of the increased roll of 110mm wheels. So we changed our policy and brought in 3x110mm plates (frames) for the skaters about your son’s age. And these have worked well.