Labeda RPG Roller Hockey Wheel Review

When it comes to roller hockey, Labeda has long been considered one of the leading wheel manufacturers. Their Gripper wheels were a building block of success that spawned additional lines of wheels, including the successful Gripper Millennium wheels, Dynasty, and, more recently, their Addiction wheels. So when Labeda released their newest wheel, the Labeda RPG, calling it a “high end wheel at a great value,” we were excited to grab some and test them out. Unfortunately, they haven’t lived up to expectations.

labeda-gripper-rpg-inline-hockey-wheel-neon-yellow-white-1For some quick background, last year, I went all in and picked up a brand new set of Revision Variant Plus roller hockey wheels for my Mission AC1 skates, creating a custom setup with the company’s blue 76A wheels in the middle and red 74A wheels in the front and back. Revision referred to this in their custom Wheel Matrix on their website as an optimal speed and durability set-up. But at $11.99 a wheel, the Variant Plus are certainly a top-end wheel and not something your average rec league player will invest in. That’s what initially made the Labeda RPG wheel so appealing—it claims to offer high-end performance at the consumer-friendly price of $6.99 per wheel.

My problem with Labeda started when I went to order the wheels. At my weight (over 185 pounds, I’ll admit, I put on some pounds over the long winter), I should be using wheels in a 78A hardness. However, very few of Labeda’s wheels come in that hardness. The RPG wheels don’t, and the Millennium wheels don’t, either. Labeda’s Addiction wheels did, but at $13.99 a wheel, they are more expensive than the Variant Plus wheels. I was looking for something for your average rec league player. On the lower end, the original Gripper wheels, at $5.75 per wheel, don’t have a 78A offering, but has an 80A wheel for players over 185 pounds. As someone who stops hard on occasion, I didn’t trust an 80A hardness to fit my style of skating, fearing they would just slip out from beneath me.

Not knowing what to go with, I emailed Labeda to ask a customer service rep for their opinion on a mid-level wheel that would fit my style. No answer. So I decided to create a custom set-up. Similar to my Variant Plus set-up, I ordered four RPG wheels in 74A for my front and back wheels, and four original Gripper wheels in 76A for the middle.

The RPG wheels looked and felt great when I got them from Inline Warehouse. I was able to pop my bearings in no problem and, when I put them on my skates and gave them a spin, they rolled forever. With a dual durometer design and high quality urethanes, the Labeda RPG wheels are meant to provide players with a mix of speed and grip. So after giving the wheels a couple spins, I was very impressed and looking forward to skating with them.

I completed installing the new wheels by putting the Grippers in the middle, which took more effort to switch over my bearings. Once all eight wheels were on my skates, I noticed that the wheels looked too close for comfort. The space in between my RPG and Gripper wheels was minimal at best. The wheels spun fine, but I was worried that once I got out on the floor, they might flex and rub against each other—which would not be safe for me skating during a game. So I was cautious my first time out, but didn’t notice any real issues.

During my first few games with the new set-up, I could definitely feel the better roll of the RPG wheels. I think the Grippers slowed them down some, so a full set of RPG wheels will likely better boost speed for players. My ability to stop was strong. Not as good as my Variant Plus wheels, but very good when comparing a mid-level wheel to a higher level one. I seemed to lose the ability to stop hard and fast pretty quickly as the wheels broke in, but I was still able to corner pretty decently. Interestingly enough, I felt like the Labeda combo set took longer to break in than my Variant Plus wheels did. I didn’t feel fully comfortable on my Labeda set-up until after three or four times using them.

One interesting issue started popping up for me as I used the wheels more: I felt like the wheels were “catching” on the floor. I noticed it more when I was coasting at a slower speed. Remember when I mentioned the wheels looking like they sat too close together? I can’t be sure if this is a product of the wheels catching on each other, or maybe if the RPG wheels are manufactured slightly larger than typical wheels, but I kept getting tripped up slightly and feeling this very minor catching. I thought the issue might lessen as they broke in and wore down, but it seemed to increase the more I used them.

The last straw with the RPG wheels came earlier this week when I was inspecting the wheels before my game. After using the Labeda RPG wheels for roughly seven hours of play, imagine my surprise to see the back RPG wheel on each skate already splitting and cracking. This is definitely not something I would plan to see from ANY wheel after seven to eight hours of use. Yes, I know I’m using a wheel designed for lower-weight players, but I still couldn’t fathom that they would start deteriorating after less than one season. Not to mention that this reinforced my earlier frustration at finding an affordable Labeda wheel with a 78A hardness. Also, again, I know this isn’t quite comparing apples to apples, but my 74A hardness Variant Plus wheels don’t show a single crack or split after more than 50 hours of use. Even my third wheel on each skate, which are Grippers, show more wear and tear than my Variant Plus wheels.

Overall Impressions:

Don’t bother with the Labeda RPG wheels—especially if you’re over the weight recommendations like myself. They did provide a slight boost in speed, which would likely be more noticeable with a set of four on each skate, but the durability is terrible and the stopping power wears out quickly. After fewer than 10 games with these Labeda wheels, I have to go out and buy a new set of wheels because the Labeda RPGs are already falling apart. Most rec league players don’t want to invest $90+ in wheels, so I set out to test some mid-level wheels that would be ideal for the average rec leaguer. The Labeda RPG is not that wheel.

If I had to do it all over, I’d spend the little extra on another set of Revision Variant Plus wheels.


  1. I recently changed my wheels. I went for the old faithful grippers. Like you i went for a mixed setup (extra soft front and rear, and softs in the middle).

    When i installed my wheels, i too noticed that the wheels were close on my hilo chassis (the two rears). Mine actually touched, so in the end i used a razor to slowly shave away the excess material (left over from the mold).

    I havent had any issues with the grippers since…I was looking to get some RPGs when they arrive in the UK in september…but am having second thoughts now!

    • Hi Sam,

      Glad I’m not the only one who had issues with the size of the wheels. Luckily mine didn’t touch, but I’d be upset if I had to shave down the wheels before I even skated on them. I would definitely reconsider the RPG wheels and go with something higher end, like the Addictions, or another brand, like Revision or Rink Rat.

      I just bought some of Rink Rat’s new Conflict wheels. Little higher price point than the RPGs, but not as expensive as the Addictions. Hope to use those a handful of times and get a review up by the end of August.

      Thanks for reading!

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