3 Wheel Vs 4 Wheel Inline Skates

If you’ve not been around the skating game for a while you may be surprised to learn that a new variety of skates have become increasingly popular – 3-wheel inline skates.

Therefore, understanding the differences between 3 vs 4 wheel inline skates could be helpful as you decide upon your next pair of inline skates.

Also known as tri-skates, 3-wheel skates contain three larger wheels compared to the conventional 4-wheel inline skate.

They are known for providing skaters extra speed and maneuverability compared to 4-wheel skates. However, 4-wheel skates may still be better suited to those seeking extra stability rather than pure speed.

In this article, we explore the key differences between the two skate types and how this impacts skating style.

We will explore the advantages and disadvantages of each skate type as well as provide purchase type recommendations based on your skill level.

Which Should I Buy: 3 Or 4 Wheels? 

There is a great chance you are a beginner or have not skated for a while and want to understand the differences between 3 and 4-wheel inline skates more.

Beginners will find challenges skating on three wheels because they are unstable and unsuitable for learners.

As a beginner, you do not need extra space because it differs from being in a race. It will get easier with time, but you will have a long stretch of difficulty.

Despite how good you are, it will be challenging as you get used to being in less regular skates with bigger wheels.

Inline skates have standard models of 76mm or 80mm, which are recreational or fitness are good because they can reach decent enough speeds.

The big three wheels and the standard ones have a difference in speed. If you choose the three-wheeled variety, you can maintain a high speed for extended periods. Four wheels skates with smaller wheels are also able to get faster.

 3 Wheel Inline Skates

However, if you are a beginner or getting back to skating after some time, you can skip that extra speed. The instability and dangers you will encounter with the three wheels are not worth it. Beginners only use three wheels once they become good.

If you are good at skating, you need more for maneuverability and less stability. Three wheels will give you more speed with the same degree of maneuverability.

Four-wheeled skates with giant wheels of about 90-110mm give more speed when going from long distances but have less maneuverability. The three-wheeled skates allow you to turn quickly in a smaller circle.

Differences Between 3-Wheel Vs. 4 Wheel Inline Skates

There is a difference between the skates with wheels, four with big wheels(110mm) and four with standard wheels (80mm).

However, skates come with different wheels 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 wheels. They differ because of what you want to do with the skate.

The 3-wheel skates have larger wheels than the 4-wheel skates. The 4-wheel skate is generally better for casual and beginner skaters because they are easier to balance and has more stability.

The 4-wheel skates are suitable for beginners or those who want to do more tricks because they are more stable.

4 Wheel Inline Skates

3-wheel skates are usually used in speed skating. The three wheels have a narrow frame hence more surface touching the ground for more speed and maneuverability.

The 3-wheel has a higher center of gravity became of the bigger wheels. 4-wheels skates have a wider frame hence more stability.

The extra wheels also give more contact with the ground, making turning and stopping easier. The 4-wheel skates also have a lower center of gravity.

3-wheel has more contact per wheel compared to 4-wheel skates. The large wheel has more contact with the ground, hence more friction between the wheel and the ground, making the skater slower. A small wheel also needs more contact with the ground, making the skater go slow.

3-wheel skates are less stable than four-wheel skates, meaning they are likely to tip over, making it hard to keep balance.

The 3-wheel skates have a narrow wheelbase than 4-wheel skates, making them difficult to turn and maneuver, while the three wheels have less contact with the ground making them less stable at high speed. Four wheels are easier to maneuver.

The three-wheel skates have a more straightforward design and fewer bearings; hence they are less expensive.

On the other hand, four-wheel is more complex with more sophisticated design and bearings hence more expensive.

Advantages Of 3-Wheel Skates

3 Wheel Inline Skates

The key advantages of 3-wheel skates are listed below:

  • Faster rollThree wheels are good because they allow a skater to enjoy the benefits of a big wheel. Big wheels roll longer, are faster, and can quickly get over bumps and cracks.
  • Easy, long strides – Tri skates need speed, and they are growing in popularity because their wheel offers quicker roll with less resistance. This allows the skater to skate longer with longer strides. This is because speed comes with ease; hence you don’t need to put much effort as it is with the four wheels.
  • LightweightThe tri skates are lighter because of the fewer wheels; hence when a skater masters the center wheel can provide excellent control, making it a good choice for experienced skaters.
  • Low resistance Three wheels have lower rolling resistance, therefore favorable for players who want maneuverability and easy control of a shorter frame.

Disadvantages Of 3-Wheel Skates 

The main disadvantages of 3-wheel skates are discussed below.

Premium Price

3-wheel skates typically cost more than 4-wheel skates. As they are newer to the market and generally less common, they are more expensive to produce.

Tough To Learn

The technique required to master 3-wheel skates is more difficult compared to 4-wheel skates. 3-wheel inline skates are not recommended for beginners.

Backward Fall

The short frames make it easier to fall backward so can be more high risk.

Less Stable 

Bigger wheels make it higher to the ground hence less stability.

Harder To Break  

Due to less surface area on the wheels and less resistance, 3-wheel skates are harder to brake, requiring decent strength when traveling at speed.

Advantages Of 4-Wheel Skates 

4 Wheels Inline Skates

The key advantages of 4-wheel skates are listed below.

  • More agile – There is a shorter point of contact with the ground hence better agility, and the skater can quickly turn. A shorter point of contact makes it easier to sprint because one can skate with faster steps.
  • Easier hill climbs – These skates are easier to climb up the hill. In addition, the lowered boot makes it easier on the ankle, meaning a more efficient technique. The lowered boot can make you keep the excellent technique.
  • Good maneuverability – They are easier to maneuver hence making smaller body motions while staying balanced.

Disadvantages Of 4-Wheel Skates 

The main disadvantages of 4-wheel skates are listed below.

Limited Speed 

4-wheel skates cannot match the acceleration or flat line speed of 3-wheel skates.

Plain Look 

4-wheel skates are classic looking so don’t catch the eye compared to 3-wheel skates.

Can’t Fit Large Wheels

The limited size of the skate means it cannot fit large wheels without compromising agility.

Difference Between 4 Wheels Flat And 4-Wheel Rockered

If you want to know more about varieties of 4-wheel inline skates, you can look at the flat and rockered setup. This relates to the setting of the wheels and finding a suitable frame.

Flat setup has those skates where all the wheels usually touch the ground, while Rockered setup at ride does not touch the ground.

Some are set higher in a unique frame or smaller than others and do not touch the ground. This setup influences the skate maneuverability.

We use the rockered setup to increase the possibility of maneuverability at the expense of stability. When you compare the anti-cradle setup, which is suitable for aggressive skating to ride down the railway, it shows that getting two sizes raises your possibilities.

There are several ways to set the rockered wheels;

  • Front rocker– In this type of skate, smaller front wheels allow easier riding on uneven surfaces. They have three back wheels in contact to allow good reflection and slide for better speed. Compared to a flat setup, this setting helps reduce speed and directional stability.
  • Classic rocker is another type where you can adjust the wheels as a cradle or banana. Rocker allows maneuverability and easier transfer. They have lower speed, though, and thus can’t use reflection.
  • Anti-rocker is used on aggressive skates to overcome rails and railings, allowing larger space for grinds.
  • Full rocker is similar to classic rocker but is primarily used in inline hockey and freestyle. The full-rocker simulates a hockey cradle.
  • Furthermore, there is the Hi-Lo setup where all wheels are in contact with the ground, but those at the front are smaller than those at the back. It is usually used on cyclo paths. The weight is at the front hence allowing better sprints and accelerations.

Which Are Better For Beginners

Inline skating is famous for all ages. Beginners should purchase 4-wheel skates initially. The improved stability will make them easier to learn compared to 4-wheel skates.

Beginners tend to find 3-wheel inline skates difficult for the following reasons:

  • The 3-wheel inline skates are less stable, meaning they can easily tip over hence the difficulty in keeping the balance.
  • The 3-wheel skates also have a narrow wheelbase, making them difficult to turn and maneuver. Three wheels also have less contact with the ground making them less stable at high speed and likely to lose traction.
  • Three wheels need the body to be more exaggerated to maintain balance. You have to lean into your turns which takes a lot of practice to the skate rolling.

On the other hand, four-wheel inline skates are easier to maneuver. You can stay balanced and make smaller body motions, and the turns are a breeze.

Once a beginner becomes comfortable with the technique, they can then move onto tri-skates.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has given you brief insights into the key difference between 3-wheel and 4-wheel inline skates by detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

3-wheel skates are geared towards experienced skaters who want to boost their speed by having lighter skates with wheels that give less resistance.

3-wheels also offer better maneuverability. However, agile skates seeking improved agility and braking power will prefer 4-wheel skates due to the better surface area of the four wheels touching the ground.

Beginners are much more likely to use 4-wheel skates as they provide better stability and are easier to get to grips with.

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