Best Skate Frames/Inline Chassis for Roller Hockey

If you’ve ever shopped for a pair of roller hockey skates, you’ve noticed they come with different wheel configurations. Originally, most hockey frames used 76mm wheels straight across the bottom. (See the Suregrip H305 or Kuzak Team frames). Then someone thought it would be a good idea to change it up. Now it seems that each manufacturer has its own style.

Wheel Sizes Vary Across Brands

Bauer’s OneUp uses a 72-72-80-78 configuration, Mission’s HiLo setup is: 76-76-80-80, Reebok/CCM’s Tri-di is 72-76-76-80, Tour skates uses Labeda’s Hum’er chassis that runs 80mm wheels in each position. Finally, there are Sprungs that also use a flat 80 setup.

It’s hard to know what to choose!

To make sense of it all, let’s look at the principals behind the technology.

Why Length Matters

As a general rule athletes who want stability, glide, and speed choose equipment that places more surface area on the ground. When more maneuverability is desired, something shorter is preferred. This is true across multiple sports: Downhill skis vs. freestyle skis, long board vs. skateboard, BMX vs. road bike, etc. The same is true for hockey.

When hockey skates first came out, they were 76 all the way across with generous spacing between each wheel. The long wheelbase helped with speed, but lacked tight handling. To combat this, two methods were employed. The first and most obvious method was to reduce the size of the gaps between each wheel. Tighter spacing created a shorter wheelbase.

Second, the chassis was rockered to mimic an ice hockey skate blade. This essentially “shortened” the wheel base since no more than three wheels would contact the ground at the same time.

Roller hockey frames chassis

The Invention of HiLo

Another idea emerged. Someone figured out that (4) 76mm wheels were equivalent in length to (2) 80mm wheels in the rear position and (2) 72mm wheels in the front position. Using the SAME wheelbase length, the skater’s forefoot would now be closer the ground. Bringing the ball of the skater’s foot closer to the ground would accomplish the following:

  • Place the skater’s posture in a more sprint-like position.
  • Increase stability

The logic behind this can be seen by comparing a sports car to an SUV. The less stable SUV is more likely to rollover because it is higher off the ground, altering its center of gravity. Similarly, a skate with 80mm wheels all the way across is less stable than a skate with 72mm wheels. However, a skate with 72mm would be less efficient in terms of speed. (See our wheel buying guide for more info) By using the 72/80 HiLo setup, the skater would, in theory, have the best of both worlds.

72/80 Setup vs 76/80 Setup

All the same principles of the HiLo chassis apply if all four wheels are in contact with the ground. The only difference is the 76‘s will have a slightly longer wheelbase and a slightly flatter angle.


Unlike the HiLo chassis, the Tri-Di’s I’ve seen are rockered so the front wheel is slightly elevated. It only touches the ground when the skater applies pressure towards the front of the skate. The forward pressure then causes the rear wheel to lift off the ground. In this case only three wheels are in constant contact with the playing surface, shortening the wheelbase considerably.

Straight 80

There are two chassis I know of using all 80mm wheels: the Hum’er chassis by Labeda and Sprungs. The front two wheels on the Hum’er have very little clearance. In some cases the sole of the boot is concave or hollowed to accommodate the large wheels. This allows the skate to have the angular shape of a HiLo without reducing wheel size.

Sprungs are by far the most unique of all roller hockey skate frames. They are rockered like an ice skate which means only two wheels are contacting the surface at a time, but because of the suspension, this changes depending on the amount of pressure applied. We’ve reviewed these frames in detail in a previous post.

How Different Size Wheels Affect Your Skating

By now you’ve probably concluded that the different wheel sizes affect three different factors:

  1. Efficiency (speed)
  2. Maneuverability
  3. Foot position

The Winner

So which skate frames are best? The answer, as with most equipment, is the same: It depends on the skater. You have to find what foot position is comfortable for you. Then decide what’s more important to you: speed or maneuverability. In summary, you want to use the shortest wheelbase possible without sacrificing your desired stability and speed.

The following article was a great resource for writing this post:

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  1. Matt Hooper said on August 22, 2012

    After thousands of miles and a thousand roller hockey games there is no question in my mind the very best configuration is 76 76 76 76 in the shortest wheelbase & lowest chassis available. I have experimented with all set ups from many manufacturers. Incredibly- the best Frame was one of the pioneers from the 1990’s–Motor Corp. Awesome frame and set up. Incredible strength. Tight wheel base. Screaming around the net in a tight circle all 4 wheels touching give you the best grip with no speed loss. 2 or 3 wheels and rocker frames equals slower turns. It’s that simple. You may turn a little tighter- but slower or the wheels can not grip enough for the speed of the turn. The BEST combination of speed and turning goes to the 76mm x 4 chassis. The Motor chassis may be 15-20 years old and a little heavy by 2012 standards but it is outstanding in every way. Sure Grip 505 runner up. For further explanation of my decade long comparisons email me : *Incredibly- many young kids have never even used a ‘straight frame configuration ! They dont even know what they’re missing performance wise.

    • Lonnie said on November 4, 2013

      I just bought my first pair on inline skates. Played ice hockey for years. I bought size 5 Tour LX-5 skates with 76 mm on a flat chassis. Tried them out last night at a rink. I think you may be right about not rockering those skates. The key to sharp turns is loosen the strings around the ankles and don’t use the last hole. This alone will give your ankles the amount of flexibility they need. Keep the knees flexed, heavy weight shift and trust that all 8 wheels are grabbing the floor.

  2. martin Brody said on June 9, 2013

    Rockered frames equal less wheel gripping the surface on super tight turns equal wipe outs. Having 4 wheels running at different RPM’s add to instability during high speed turning. How can this be in debate ? Try them both on and put them to the test. (4) 72mm or (4) 76mm wheels will out perform all these other goofy configurations. Tour got it right- straight (4) chassis. The difference is stunning. (4) 80mm would be fine for racing. Not for turning. You’re up higher and the wheel base is larger.

    Imagine the Tour De France. Imagine a large wheel in back and smaller one up front. Now imagine a tight turn in traffic. Now imagine a broken neck.

  3. Figone Thodas said on July 20, 2013

    I would be considered an excellent inline skater. Been clocked at 30 MPH. Played roller hockey for 25 years, right from it’s inception really. I think all the different ‘rockers’ and combinations out there are simply for Manufacturers to stand out from competitors. After 25 yrs of inline skating I have concluded :

    1. Rockered frames with different sized wheels are less grippy on turns.

    2. 80 mm wheels are fastest on straightaway but not optimum for Hockey.

    3. The Durometer of wheels can not be trusted. An 81A Labeda can feel much stickier than a 78A from another company.

    4. Using a top of the line Ice Hockey boot converted to an Inline Skate is the best combination.

    5. 76mm wheels on a short wheelbase frame set as low to the Skate as possible is a fantastic combination for Roller Hockey.

    In closing……this debate will rage because a great skater can perform his magic in any skate configuration. But when you’ve reach the very top 1% of skaters, Four 76mm wheels, preferably Labeda, ABEC 5-7 Swiss Rated Bearings on an NHL Boot with a tight, low chassis is the very best combo , bar none.

  4. Quint said on May 8, 2014

    I do not like rockered frames. They slip on tight turns. I have a Sure Grip 505 frame a set of CCM Tacks. Awesome.

  5. John s said on November 8, 2014

    Let me go further, I’m 51 and playing roller hockey 40+ years back when we skated on quads that were made of steel and fiberglass ect… My dad had the idea in mid 70s to remove a old skate boot and mount it to a quad frame and that back then was wicked and soon all other players took notice and we’re skating on this set-up! The grip you got with the hard urethane glass wheels sucked but you dealt with it,cause our surfaces back then were nothing like we have today. The biggest improvement came with the big krypton skate board wheels the skate boarders were using,you got extreme grip and total smoothness and stealth ninja quiet!!! Then came the inlines and that just opened the flood gates to a market that today is just as nuts as the people buying them,again my dad has passed and as we speak I just switched boots (Ccm) I have used for 20 plus years to a new pair of (Ccm) that I converted my self. It was like loosing my dog very emotional!! Same chassis Bauer Tuuk competion straight no rocker 76mm wheels and that my friends is my young friends is my story,and at 51 I dare you to cover me in open ice or tight phone booth type hockey!! Listen to us old timers when it comes to these things and not a salesmen trying to sell you something you don’t need!! Listen to Mat and Figone they speak the truth!!

  6. Bruce said on November 27, 2014

    I tried many skates and settles with high end Tour because their frames allow all 4 wheels to touch. I am 212 pounds and rockered frames are not as grippy on tight turns. I am quite happy with all 4 -80mm wheels grabbing at the same time. I will not go back to rockered frames. No way.

  7. Dan Shea / San Diego said on December 8, 2014

    $800 bucks down the drain. I just swapped back to NON ROCKERED frames and I am loving life. I got some damn near new CCM 1052 Ice Skates from Play it Again….and had a straight non rockered chassis put on. I skate on Sport Court. I use 72 -72-72-72 across the board. All touching. All turning. All the time. I can now turn twice as hard and fast as my old rockered skates. And what a bonus- Ice Hockey Boots are far superior to my old Roller Hockey Boots. I feel so badly for kids spending $400- $1000 bucks for these crazy new fangled skates that are more sizzle than steak. My set-up cost $100 bucks for skates and $150 for the chassis. Just try and get me back in Hi-Lo rockered skates. NFW.

  8. Harry C said on January 2, 2015

    15 yrs old…160 pounds…..started 4 years ago. Just started to notice I’m slipping more coming around the net. Because I’m heavier ? Thanks for all the advice. Next pair will be Tour. Have Mission now. I dont know any other company with non rockered frames. I cant imagine whipping around the net with these skates if I were 180+ pounds. I would be on my butt everytime or have to slow down. Makes sense ! Less wheels touching less grip.

  9. Ross / Minesota said on January 28, 2015

    I played Professional Roller Hockey for 4 years. Sport Court surface. I was top scorer on my team all 4 seasons. Lead the entire League twice. Fellow players that rockered their wheels had to use extra grippy softer wheels. I had many freebies and tried everything out there. I was most comfortable with 4 (76mm) wheels 78A or 76A Labeda. All touching at the same time. I did in fact feel a lot of slip with the frames that used multi- sized wheels. Some guys will not change because they are so use to one type set up. For my kids ? I bought ice skates and had the blades removed and put Sure Grip fames on. All wheels touching. I dont think it really matters until you get to a certain weight. Might as well start them off correctly.

  10. Duncs / Australia said on July 17, 2015

    Just came across this post and here’s my two cents worth. Been skating now for 36 years, ice, quad roller in car parks and gyms (converted Bauer Turbo boot on quad chassis with Kryptonic wheels), and inline. Played numerous times on Aus Inline State Teams and a couple in the Vets Aus National squad. Have small feet 8-8.5 U.S. Shoe = 6.5-7 skate. Used CCM Tri Di (turns great but unstable), Tuuk Rocker (awesome turn, but slow speed and knackering to keep that speed), Reebok 4x80mm (good speed but felt sooooo long & heavy. So much so that I switched the front two 80mm wheels for 76mm. Felt shorter and more on my toes. Lost grip but tighter turning). Problem was that with a smaller foot/boot the 4x80mm always felt way too long (probably OK if the boot is above a size 8-9). Managed to get hold of some Alkali RPD Max in a 6.5 that come with 4x76mm as standard (the size 7 & above use 4x80mm). Wow. The all 76mm flat chassis is superb. Tight turns, stable with great grip. Does not feel long either, just right. Alkalis recess the second front wheel into the boot (like Tours) which makes the skate feel heaps more stable. Couldn’t be happier with this set up. One bonus of using 76mm wheels over 80’s is that you save around 20 grams per wheel, doesn’t sound like much but 80 grams can be felt and over an entire game makes for less player fatigue. 10 out of 10 for the 4x76mm recessed boot set up.

    • Alexander Mundy said on October 22, 2015

      I did the exact same thing. I tried everything. Then purely by chance our Rink had a Tour Skate demonstration. I grabbed a pair of 9.5’s and off I went. Out of the box I skated better with all wheels touching. Turns were incredible. I COULD NOT turn hard enough to make those wheels slip. In my Mission’s Hi Lo – I slipped like crazy on every tight turn. I changed one thing on my new Tours- I took off the 80mm wheels and put 76mm wheels on. I am in bliss. I dont think young lightweight kids understand any of this. When they break 170…..180 pounds they will need this information. Lastly- I notice players with HiLo’s compensate on tight turns. They are slipping like crazy and think it’s normal. So they adjust.

  11. Bobby Turner said on March 3, 2016

    I’m on my 4th frame in 2 years. Expert ice skater. Couldnt understand why I was slipping so much on inlines. Old timer I play with told me to drop the HiLow. Switched to 4 x 76mm. His mistake. Now I can catch him. Now in hindsight- different sized wheels trying to spin in harmony seems wacky as hell. I am very happy with 4 x 76mm. All touching the floor at one time.

  12. Micah Torrence said on November 3, 2016

    Long story short ? I switched over to all (4) wheels the same size. Better turning grip and faster top end. That said- I’ve seen great skaters in every Set Up known to man. The difference is they compensate. They are doing techniques that are not very efficient and have almost invented their own style. I got my CCM Skates at Play It Again…..I think the wheels are 76mm possibly 80mm….

    I will not go back to Hi Low….they slip in tight turns. I now have those same kids wiping out trying to catch me on super tight turns. I love it. I also noted I am much more comfortable skating backwards at a very fast speed with all 4 wheels the same size. My elbows wish I found this out 3 years ago.

    Put me down as a convert. ( 5′ 9 185 lbs )

  13. Chris said on December 5, 2016

    I have a vocanix 7000 series alloy super lo profile chassis and i try to look for. It online to find ou how much they are worth and cant find them anywhere can any one help me find out anything

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