If rollerblading is something you may have stopped doing for many years.

You might be amazed to see a lot of new and interesting-looking skates with only three wheels.

What is this all about?

These are becoming increasingly popular but not as easy to learn.

Sometimes they’re called tri-skates.

Then again, why are they even exist?

What is the difference between 4 and 3-wheel inline skates?

Tri-skates(3-wheel inline skates) are less stable than regular 4-wheel skates and, therefore, not ideal for beginners.

However, they have larger wheels that allow for better maneuverability.

So, to truly understand the differences between these skates and the reasons they exist, you need to first understand what skate designers are trying to help skaters do with the skates and how their designs affect that.

3 Wheel4 Wheel Flat4 Wheel Rockered
Nimbleness.Many 4-wheel setups use smaller wheels (and thus are cheaper), like 80mm or 84mm.Center pivot point.
Lightweight.Adult skaters can achieve greater speeds by using larger and more powerful wheels.Ideal for slalom or dance skating.
You have the option of 125mm wheels.Better weight disbursement.You can achieve amazing feats with a rockered frame.
Children can use bigger wheels to reach higher speeds.
ConsA 3-wheel setup speed are lower than a 4-wheel one.A 3 wheel setup is not as quick off the line.This is not a good setup for most types of skating.
It is more costly because larger wheels are more expensive.Skaters think this setup is boring when compared to a 3-wheel setup.The pivot is not good for recreational skating.
It takes some time to learn how to skate on 3-wheel setups, even if you’re already used to 4-wheel configurations.It is not possible to use 125mm wheels as they would make it difficult for skaters to move effectively and maintain proper form.This setup and frame would not be suitable for speed skaters.
It can be difficult to master skating with this setup.
A 3-wheel setup is less stable than one with four wheels.
2 CentsMany people are moving to 3×110 or 3×125 frames. The 125mm wheels are too large for any 4-wheel setup. They look great but are a bit different from the standard inline skates. They are fun to use because you get off the line faster than a 4-wheel setup, and they allow you to move super fast while remaining agile. The 3-wheel setup is also great for children! A smaller boot requires a smaller frame, and a 3 wheel setup allows children to have the larger wheels they desire to achieve the speed they desire.These styles of skate are mostly for dance and slalom skaters. A rockered frame can provide a pivot point at the center that allows for incredible moves in this style of skating. The nimbleness that this frame provides makes for an awesome audience experience when watching these 2 types of skating. This setup is less stable and will make it difficult for dance skate or slalom skate. They’ll need to learn how to balance on fewer wheels to achieve the greater maneuverability that this setup offers.These styles of skate are mostly for dance and slalom skaters. A rockered frame can provide a pivot point at the center that allows for incredible moves in this style of skating. The nimbleness that this frame provides makes for an awesome audience experience when watching these 2 types of skating. This setup is less stable and will make it difficult for dance skate or slalom skate. They’ll need to learn how to balance on fewer wheels to achieve the greater maneuverability that this setup offers.

So, The following is a brief explanation, which will hopefully make you sound like an expert on the topic.

Which one should I choose? 3 or 4-wheel inlines?

This question is likely to be asked by someone who hasn’t been able to skate for some time and is new to the sport.

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You could also be a seasoned skater who wants to learn more about the differences.

If you are a beginner, it is best to avoid going straight into those three big wheels.

It will make your learning process very difficult.

This extra speed is not necessary.

You don’t need that extra speed to compete in races.

While it might be okay for a while, there will be some danger and dodginess.

Even if you are very good, it’s possible for the accident to happen if you adjust to the higher and more unstable position of larger wheels.

Skates 76mm and 80mm is the standard models.

The recreational or fitness skates are going to be great for getting decent speeds.

Speed is the difference between those of standard and big three wheels.

However, 4-wheel skates speed is at the top end, which means you can maintain a high speed for a longer period of time.

Even though the wheels are smaller, you can still go fast on the four-wheeled version.

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If you are just starting out or returning to skating after a long period, you don’t really need the extra speed.

It’s not worth the risk and instability that comes with three wheels.

The three-wheeled wheels are rare for anyone, not a serious skater. Get really good at it first.

If you are already a skilled skater, the answer is yes.

You basically get more speed. Stability is reduced.

There is more speed but not as much maneuverability.

You’ll get more speed with four-wheeled skates that have larger wheels (90-110mm) but less maneuverability when you go long distances.

The three-wheeled skates have a smaller turning circle, making it easier to turn.

3 Wheels Vs.4 Wheels Skate: A Graphical Explanation Of the Difference Between those Skates

Let’s now look at the differences between tri-skates (110mm), skates with four large wheels (90-110mm), and standard skates (around 80mm).

Skates come in different wheel configurations, so it’s important to note that they can achieve different results.

Skates come with 3 wheels, 4 wheels, or 5 wheels.

They can be customized to suit your needs.

Some wheels are small and wide, which offer a lot more stability and grip.

These wheels are great for doing tricks and skating on-ramps.

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You can get more speed with larger wheels, but this is not necessary for what you are doing.

The Difference Explained

There are some factors that can make a difference between the different types of skate setups and the boot you choose.

These are the ones that really matter in this discussion:

1. Speed

Bigger wheels are faster.

2. Maneuverability

The skate is more maneuverable if it has wheels underneath the boot than those that extend beyond the front and back.

3. Stability

This is a combination of how high they are above the ground (you have more wobble) and how far they extend to the front and back (extending provides some stability).

The brands wanted to maintain the speed of large wheels, and the maneuverability of having the wheels did not extend too far from the skate’s front and back.

This was done by having three large wheels instead of four medium/small ones.

They took up the same space from front to back, but they forced the frame to be taller so that you could go higher above the ground.

This gives you speed but also the ability to turn fast since the wheels don’t extend. But you lose stability.

Let’s say this is a standard four-wheel skate.

These wheels measure around 78mm to 80mm.

These are your standard skates. You can’t go wrong with these.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

Summary: If you are just starting out, it may be difficult with less stability to pick up the basics. It might not even be worth it.

The differences between inline skates with three wheels and four wheels explained

Okay, let’s take a look at what the various wheel setups can do for you in terms of stability and maneuverability.

Imagine this person moving to the right side of your screen.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

Due to all of the friction she has in front and behind her, it’s going to be hard for her to turn left and right.

She will have a wider turning circle.

Skaters are sometimes set up this way because they have four big tires and can travel very fast on four wheels.

Whereas this guy here:

Source from inlineskateworld.com

He will find it easier to turn.

He doesn’t need to use his feet and body as much, so the turning circle is much smaller.

That’s maneuverability!

Now, Let’s get to stability.

In this girl here:

Source from inlineskateworld.com

She will feel less stable than this guy.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

And that’s because higher off the ground, you can wobble more side to side.

Whereas if you extend out the front to back, you get a little more stability in the sense that you’re not going to fall forwards and back, but it’s still a lot less stable than being close to the ground.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

This is where you will find out what skate manufacturers did by taking off one wheel and changing the size.

This example could be either your 4 x 80mm, or 4 x 76mm.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

Pay attention to the length and the height

The skate’s length should not be too long at the front or back.

These skates are used by most people.

These skates are great for beginners.

You will be able to skate on the streets or in the park and can go decent distances at a good speed.

You will be able to join skate events and move around.

But, Bear in mind that these skates are not designed for racing and don’t have ramps.

Take a moment to notice what happens when you make the wheels larger

These could be the 90-110mm wheels.

Source from inlineskateworld.com

Here, we’re after speed. Faster = bigger wheels

(as long as they’ve got good bearings, of course, which they almost certainly will)

But they lift you off the ground higher, giving you less stability.

They also extend from the front to the back, making it less possible to make tight turns.

They can feel very differently and be more difficult to adapt to.

Now, What happens if you take one of the wheels off?

Source from inlineskateworld.com

You have the same size of wheels, but you just took one-off.

By removing a wheel, you are now able to maneuver more and able to turn in a smaller circle.

But you still get the speed of larger wheels.

Notice that the frames have to be higher in order to accommodate the larger wheels.

This means you are higher above the ground.

which means a big difference in the stability you get.

One thing to keep in mind is that boots should be able to support you better if you’re taller on the boots.

That is why the speed skater skates look so extreme because they have smaller boots and large wheels.

If you are thinking of trying out bigger wheels, you should not buy a recreation skate because you cannot upgrade them.

Get a freestyle skating skate with four wheels.

Make sure to check if you can upgrade the wheels to a larger size.

Then, upgrade when you feel comfortable skating on the four-wheeled model.


I will shared expert tips, tricks, and advice for those who love inline skate. I do sometime share unique selection of videos and photos that will inspire you to get out and skate!

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