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June 30, 2010

Three Wheels or Four?

QHi, Bill: I am thinking of buying the new Bont 3x110mm frame for a my 16-year-old daughter. But I am wondering about the advantages and drawbacks of this setup? Should I get her a 4x100mm setup instead? My daughter is 1-meter-60 (5-foot-3) and trains primarily indoors. Thanks - Philippe from Montreal

Hi, Philippe: These days, most skaters your daughter’s age and size compete on four-wheel setups with three 110s and one 100. If your daughter has any thought of skating outdoors, I would recommend this setup — that is, if her feet are size 36 (US size 4) or larger.

If she intends to stay indoors, you might also consider a 4x100mm setup. But be advised that on the grippy, 200-meter banked track at Worlds last year, 4x100mm setups were out-rolled by 4x110mm wheel setups and 3x110+1x100mm setups.

You didn’t mention your daughter’s boot size. But this is important when selecting a skate setup. Be sure to avoid setups that put too much urethane in front or in back of the boot.

An optimal setup has no more than half a wheel plus the hub protruding beyond the toe and heel. Any more and crossovers become difficult and skaters tend to develop the habit of flicking their wheels back on the corners.

I wouldn’t worry about the extra weight of a four-wheel setup. My daughter Nicole was your daughter’s age when she moved up to a 4x100mm setup. (There were no 110mm setups back then.) Even though she was the smallest girl at Worlds, she was the only one on 100mm wheels. These days, Nicole skates on a 3x110+1x100mm setup.

I don’t like skate setups with large gaps between wheels, which is what you get with 3x110mm setups. So I can’t recommend them. And that’s without even considering the fact that they are slower than four wheel setups with 100 and 110mm wheels.

Of course, there are always exceptions. I recall a family of U.S. skaters who did very well one year at the 3 Pistas races in France on homemade 3x100mm setups.

But I think you're daughter would probably do best on the 3x110+1x100mm setup.

Cheers, Bill

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