Reviews By Ron: The Roll Tests

The Roll Tests

As skaters we know that roll is not the only characteristic of an inline skate wheel but it is a very important one. Roll is one of the main reasons that wheel size has exploded over the past few years. Although there are many wheels that claim to have good roll, there isn’t much in the way of evidence to support the claims. In most cases, it is left to the skater to subjectively determine a wheels roll.

These roll tests were designed to highlight the roll factor while minimizing all additional factors so that each wheel could be accurately and more importantly, fairly judged. That being said, nothing about these tests should be taken as scientific evidence or fact. It is purely a test provoked by curiosity and the desire to share information with fellow skaters.

The Location

The tests were performed on a concrete pedestrian ramp that fed out to a smooth, peat graveled bike trail. We started on a joint in the concrete to ensure we were always starting in the same location. Once off the ramp and onto the bike trail, the terrain leveled off and then started to incline. This helped keep the tests to a manageable distance.  On the test day there was little wind to speak of and the trees and low area helped to shelter us from wind even more.



The Skaters

There were two different skaters testing each set of wheels. Skater A is approx. 5’9” and weighs 160lbs. Skater B is approx. 5’8” and weights 185lbs.

The Tests

Each skater performed four tests on each of the 5 sets of wheels. Two of the tests would be from a standing position and two from a crouched position. We started from the same spot in each test and let gravity start our momentum, not propelling ourselves forward in any way. Each skater would use the same equipment in all tests including skates, frames, bearings and spacers.  The only thing to change in each case was the wheels. All test runs were marked with poker chips representing the skater and wheel model.

The Wheels

All wheels were brand new out of the package or had 10 miles or less on them. All wheels tested in this case were 110mm. I would have loved to test a set of 100mm for comparison purposes, but didn’t have any new ones on hand. I also wanted to test some rain wheels such as Storm Surges because many skaters complain about their roll. Unfortunately, I only had 4 wheels with me and they were used beyond the point to get a fair comparison.



1. Bont Black Ops – Green X Firm, 150 grams

2. MPC Road War – X Firm, 143 grams

3. MPC Road War Turbo – XX Firm, 146 grams

4. Atom Matrix IQ – X Firm (86A), 153 grams

5. Atom Matrix – Firm (85A), 143 grams

The Results

The results were surprisingly consistent. When we were completing the tests, I thought the results were all over the board. After going back and reviewing them, there were very few tests where the wheels didn’t perform almost entirely the same. That is not to say the wheels performed the same for each skater. That is one of the surprises of the day. The best wheel for one skater was the worst for the other.

The overall distance between the worst wheel and best wheel was approx. 20-25 feet. In my opinion, this is a significant amount. The average distance between two consecutive sets of wheels was approx. 3-5 feet.


Standing

The average distance rolled when standing was about .13 miles. Skater A results are shown on the right and Skater B on the left. Skater B rolled further than Skater A on a consistent basis.  The average max speed reached for 15.5 mph for Skater A and 17 for Skater B.


Skater A – Standing

Most Roll to Least Roll
  1. Atom Matrix IQ
  2. Atom Matrix
  3. Road War Turbo
  4. Road War
  5. Black Ops

Skater B – Standing

Most Roll to Least Roll
  1. Atom Matrix
  2. Road War Turbo
  3. Road War
  4. Black Ops
  5. Atom Matrix IQ

Crouched

The average distance rolled when crouched was about .15 miles. Skater A results are shown on the right and Skater B on the left. Skater B rolled further than Skater A on a consistent basis. The average max speed reached for 17 mph for Skater A and 19 for Skater B.



Skater A Crouched

Most Roll to Least Roll
  1. Atom Matrix
  2. Atom Matrix IQ
  3. Road War Turbo
  4. Road War
  5. Black Ops

Skater B Crouched

Most Roll to Least Roll
  1. Atom Matrix
  2. Road War Turbo
  3. Road War
  4. Black Ops
  5. Atom Matrix IQ

The Conclusion

I am going to let everyone formulate their own opinions and conclusions as a result of these tests. I struggle with how much I will let the results of these tests impact my own wheel making decisions. Personally, I will NOT select a wheel based on these tests alone. In addition to roll, there are so many other important factors including wear, rebound, grip, durability, price, appearance, and more. Then there is an intangible subjectivity, a ‘likeability’ factor that simply cannot be ignored. Please keep all these things in mind when you are choosing a wheel that is best suited for you. Now get out and SKATE!


Other Reviews by Ron:

 

About Ron Marfori:  Winner of the 2012 Metrodome Inline Marathon and new addition to TWINCAM, Ron emerged as a lead pack skater in 2010, but excelled in 2011 finishing 9th in the Minnesota Inline Grand Prix.  If you have recently tried a new product and want to share a success story or warn others, let inlineskatempls.com know.