We purchased a set of Rollerblade office caster wheels.
We picked up a set of these office caster wheels that essentially have Rollerblade wheels on the bottom of them. Why do you ask?
Read on if you want to know more!
Initially, we wanted skateboard wheels for the bottom of our chairs to maintain the aesthetic however they do not exist unless we make them ourselves. Rollerblade wheels were the next best thing. Since Rollerblade wheels have a low Shore A rating of around 75A it meant that the polyurethane is soft and thus will not make any noise on hardwood floors. In less than a month of having these, we ran into some problems! But don't worry, this story does have a happy ending of sorts.
For some reason, we can't post a review on any of the major online outlets unless we give them money to become a "special member" or spend a few hundred dollars. We're going to perform the review right here because that's what a blog does. On top of that since my review will have its own dedicated page it won't be buried underneath a tidal wave of fake reviews which is the great scam that amazon sellers tend to do even if a product is defective. The picture above is essentially the package that we got in the mail. The "Texas Real Rollers" with its lifetime warranty. It all looks official except there is one problem that we found out after one of our wheels broke.
There is no such company as "Texas Real Rollers!"
Go ahead and slam that name into your favorite search engine! Use quotes even! There is no such company by the name of "Texas Real Rollers". In fact, the first hits you'll find are yet-even more Amazon links. Which if you follow those you begin to realize that suddenly there's a bunch of other companies that appear to make the same identical office chair!
Ooof! - S
Competition must be stiff out there. Here are some of the names and aliases we were able to find for these casters at the time of posting. Please note that so long as it's easy to print in cardboard there will be "New Companies" popping up all the time.:
- Texas real rollers
- Office owl
- Office addiction
- Clever casters
- 44th floor
- MySit IKEA Chair (Seriously think IKEA should sue them for using their name.)
- OuYi Office Chair
- DGQ Office Chair
- ALLGREEN Products (This is probably the most insulting name out of them all.)
Sadly, none of these companies are real despite the boxes and the claims of a lifetime warranty. Because you see, a lifetime warranty can only be upheld if the company which made you the product was alive to even start with. These are all fraudulent Chinese companies etching different names and different graphic boxes for the same product to give this grand illusion of competition. Only to turn around and sell it at a higher price-point in this bizarre state of a completely false competitive market. We're not even sure if there was an original company that came up with the Rollerblade office chair caster. If there was feel free to leave it in the comments below because we would give credit where it's due!
If you do not believe us on this list that's cool. The ultimate test really is to find out if this company has its own website. If you see only Amazon listings then that should serve as a warning that this company may not exist. That being said the ones that we reviewed below "Used" to have websites but are now gone.
As time goes on. We feel that there were some companies that were slammed into a list of fake office chairs. Let's go through some of them
- SunnieDog - According to some of the commenters, this is a legit American business out of Flordia. However, it seems that they are re-packaging a Chinese product under their name. Naughty!
- ATOMDOC - Was originally put into the fake category however similar to Uniq they had to be vetted properly and they have come up with designs that deviate from the classic thruster bearing caster system.
- The Office Oasis - This is similar to SunnieDog They too have a website (Thanks to reader "Scott" for the comment on this.) Their wheels also look similar to the Chinese wheels that are out on the market. Let's hope they have addressed the quality concerns there.
The problem with the Rollerblade office wheel.
When we first installed these new casters onto our chair less than a month ago they were perfectly fine. However, because the wheel-base of a Rollerblade was a little thinner when you pushed away from your office desk. Sometimes it may have needed a little more force than a normal caster because the wheels would sort of lock themselves in a particular direction. It just meant you had to push a little harder away from the desk, not a big deal.
Two broke in less than a month's time on carpeted flooring.
After day 24 not one of them broke but two. The failure point being around the thrust bearing assembly. Also, because the people that assembled these casters were pure assholes. The bolts which hold the polyurethane wheels are riveted into the frame. Preventing you from removing the wheel and into another fork unless you bust out the carbide rotary tool set to cut the bolts away. People have also complained about the forks themselves bending from fatigue and slamming into the polyurethane wheel making a particular wheel act like a sudden break as you're rolling. However we never even got to that stage of displeasure in the life of these office caster wheels.
A mess and a disgrace.
So here we are with the metal sheered away from the thrust bearing spilling out all over your carpeted floor for your cat "Skittles" to run over. Eating them up and probably die from it. Maybe even to have one of those lucky bearings get all up into your vacuum cleaner and destroy everything inside!
We should also note that this isn't even a properly designed thrust bearing!
These clueless assholes who manufactured this decided they were going to powder-coat paint all over the raceways and say to hell with mechanical tolerance. You'll notice the groves where the bearings ride alone are rough because it's not the right metal to use for a proper raceway. The balls were simply eating away the paint and eventually the inside metal before having enough slop inside to break free spilling everywhere!
The fraud about weight distribution.
You will see a lot of these ads saying that these office casters can hold up to 500-600lbs before breaking. Well, most of everyone at S-Config.com is around 1/3rd that weight and we're here to report that calculation must be based only on the Rollerblade wheel or perhaps if said person was sitting perfectly still not rolling around at all. These are the products we despise. A product that you cannot service or get parts for. Ultimately forcing the end-user to buy even more. until the customer has bought mountains of garbage that cannot be fixed with conventional tools. Essentially, China boasted their numbers similar to how they boasted their DDR Hard-pads.
Alternatives for a better Rollerblade office wheel.
This wouldn't be a respectable blog site if we didn't offer any solutions for the hellish landscape of this product. Since we purchased these from an eBay vendor we will be getting a refund back on them. Thankfully it was all under 30 days so no drama from the vendor. Will we go back to the shit plastic office casters? Probably not! And here is why.
From an engineering standpoint, it all makes sense.
Because there is one company out there that decided to use a dual-ball-bearing (looks like 608 series bearings) set up within the stem of their casters to accept both radial (when a user forces the office chair load from the sides pushing away from their desk.) As well as thrust (when a user sits down in the chair.) To me, this makes sense, especially on carpets. Although ball-bearings are just Okay at handling thrust loads they are great are handling radial loads. Since the wheel is offset that means the bearing is accepting both thrust and radial loads. Like a skateboard; Putting two bearings in can compensate and distribute any thrust load easily enough. These were a little more expensive than the Texas Rollers we purchased. But we're hoping that we get what we are paying for on this!
Customer reviews - Networking 101.
Like the last set we got, it came with a box. But also a postcard that each header reads as follows:
We want you to be completely satisfied. Reviews are the LIFEBLOOD of our business! - UNIQ
Coming from a company where the box points to a website of www.uniqca.shop and a postcard referencing uniq.hk... Both of which resolve to a default website. We would like to think the lifeblood of a business is to actually have a legit website where people can get more information about your product. I'm no power-hungry Hong Kong business executive! So, we could be dead wrong on this! Anyways, it's a little hard to give glowing reviews when there's nothing to really refer to.
Confirmation that the stems in these wheel casters are indeed ball-bearing based.
Once we got the wheels in our mailbox we inspected them and sure enough, that is a legit ball-bearing in the stem of my caster. Excellent.
Plastic covers popping off in less than 24 hours.
Within seconds of installing my wheels and rolling into the room. I was finding these plastic caps all over the place. Great, another thing for my wonder-cat "Tabby" to die from. No need to ask what happened to "Skiddles" He's in a better place. Also, these caps are great choking hazards for babies so thanks for that as well! You guys are amazing!
It's better just to take a screwdriver and pop them all off to avoid any further mess. These new sets of wheels differ vastly from the Texas Rollers in respects that since the stem is perfectly straight I'm not using any force to push away from my desk anymore which is fantastic.
Wooden chair sockets versus steel sockets.
Many office chairs that you have seen on the market are typically loaded with steel sockets encased in a plastic leg housing. But it wasn't always this way. Older office chairs especially coming from the 1970s and earlier may have a wooden socket which all that means is they drilled a hole into the wooden leg. Inserted the caster with no reinforcement! All Rollerblade caster wheels actually have a much higher load offset than the wheels from the 1970s. As a result, these styles of wheels could crack the wooden socket from the torque and you may have to retrofit your wooden chair with a steel socket in order to use these styles of wheels.
While some may consider this a bizarre question to ask. China has never failed us when it comes to failing to measure the most basic structural parts of a chair in the interest of shaving a half-a-penny off of a product. And the size of the stems for the wheels is an important factor. If for some reason china reduced the overall diameter of the stem or worse yet shorted you the consumer on the length of the stem. Damage could occur to the base of your chair as a result. So if you want to trust our Mitutoyo CD-6"-CSX calipers lets take a look.
Alright, the average size hole of an office chair base is around 11mm in size.. the base will of course measure slightly smaller to accommodate the user pushing it into the base of their chair. Like our previous office chair stems this is a "Grip Ring" stem which means is there's a section in the middle where a C-Clipped ring floats inside to lock the caster inside of the base of the chair.
Our Measurements indicate the stem is 10.87mm Which means that it gives less than 0.1mm of play to push this caster in which is acceptable.
Measuring the stem from its base where the metal resides to the tip which has a 2mm taper you're looking at around 21.85mm. This normally isn't how people measure these. Most will measure from the base of the roller bearing plastic on up. So in this regard, the Uniq gives you a true stem, unlike most manufacturers which lie by adding the metal base into the total measurement.
Finally, we measured the spacing which can be important as if the space is too wide the ringlet may fall off or not even lock into the base. To which we found it at 2.35mm. which average is 2.5.
This just means the c-clamp ring will not wiggle around as much as a traditional caster. and may produce some stiffness if you moved it around by the head itself. However, with the ball-bearings in place that shouldn't matter.
Uniq Damage Report! - 07/13/2020
Just one month shy of two years and I have some damage to report! When I was rolling around i was feeling my chair fight me in the same way the Texas Rollers were. Where I had to use a lot of force to make the chair push away from the desk. So, we decided to investigate.
Getting past the fact that we should probably take these wheels off once a while and clean these bad boys. This is no optical illusion. It appears that our mass from typing all of these blogs has managed to bend the steel stems of these wheels so good that the screw inside that holds the 608 bearings is also bent making it virtually impossible to remove from the assembly without destroying everything. The bend in the steel is actually somewhere past the base stem which is designed to keep the chair stable at its base.
Something to note: This only happened to one of my wheels. Indicating that because of the heavy carpet that these wheels rest upon that they don't move around a whole lot. Perhaps if we had hard flooring where they could roll around free then this would probably be not that big of a concern. Also, Since it only happened to one wheel we have to look at our own habits of office chair fuckery. Perhaps we were putting all of the weight on two of the legs instead of sitting nicely in it.
Am I going to freak out on Uniq and get mad like an amazon buyer? Not really because we feel we did abuse them. which means I'll probably buy another set and keep the old wheels around and when we get some more bent stems we can start replacing them.
Uniq Death - 10/4/2020
Well! As stated in the previous paragraph. All of the warning signs were there and we choose to ignore them. Eventually, the metal bolt that goes through the bearing sheered straight off resulting in the chair suddenly breaking for the last time we sat down in it. So for those who are experiencing any sign of the stem itself bending. Replace it so that injury does not occur to you! Or better yet! grind out the rivet holding the wheels and place your own bolts in so you can service your chair.
To point where the metal sheered is luckily on the bolt and not on the caster. Which is good news as we could throw this into a clamp and try to tap out the screw that is inside.
Of course, that would also mean removing the rivet on the wheels to remove the screw-head that is still stuck inside of the assembly. Because the bolt itself was bent the top of the caster was digging into the shield of the 608 bearings inside. Hey! There is a bright side! The balls did not fall out! Meaning that our next cat Sparkles is now safe! Phew! One of the three cats is still alive! Progress!
Now, looking out at 2020 as to what is available on the net. It seems that Uniq does not make wheels anymore. This means we may be forced to our own devices to repair these for years to come. I may have to make a separate blog article when it comes to repairing the Uniq wheels over simple replacement.
Uniq Progress - 08/21/2022
Wow, It's been 4 years since we made this article.
The original four uniq casters are still sitting in my bedroom drawer. Which we believe validates our theory that we were just being a group of assholes leaning back in our chair balancing on 1-2 wheels. Putting our entire weight on those wheels at the time playing stupid games and getting stupid prizes like slamming into the floor.
There was a commentor stating that since these are soft wheels that they are meant for hard floors, and that you should stay with the traditional hard polyurethane wheels for soft floors. Unfortunately, this doesn't really pan out because at the time everyone's advertisement for Rolleblade wheels stated that it works on BOTH soft and hard floors. In reality it works great for both.
For the hard floor side. Obviously you are not dealing with hard plastics smashing against your epoxy, cement, or hard wood finish. requiring someone to re-wax your flooring.
In my personal usage, living in an apartment with half-inch brown shag carpet made by the lowest bidder. It's not tearing up the carpet like the hard plastic casters did as the axel is much higher off of the ground. So major win there.
With almost all of the leather gone and the foam cushion non-existent. It's about time to replace this chair. But the wheels will transfer over and the progress continues!
Perhaps Uniq or another chair company is reading this entry and wants to know how to correct this issue. In case you get multiple people "clown car" an office chair maxing out that 600-800lbs load the wheels will be the least of anyone's concern. What? Don't judge! Office environments can get stupid quick!
- I suppose one thing that could have been done is extend out the machine washer further. That way, when it connects to the base it can even take the load of the chair instead of relying all of the weight to be on the stem itself.
- Another thing is to change the quality of the sheet bolts to something more of tool-grade steel instead of whatever rando brand of steel we have now. Something more Ridgid that will not bend under the stress.
- Finally. Since we're not caring about the chair height. bringing the wheels towards the center of the stem would reduce the said level of stress that is thrown onto the stem. There's no doubt the wheels are farther away from the stem than standard plastic wheels. Time to bring the center of gravity a little more into check.
This will probably not be the end of this blog and will update it if anything changes. However, I would like to propose an open letter:
Dear Chinese manufacturers,
If you're going to commit theft of intellectual property. At least do it right and have it last for at least a few months. There is a market for a better office chair wheel. Can we please not fuck it up for everyone? How about starting with assembling a proper thrust bearing instead of smashing two pieces of low-grade steel with a few balls telling us this is your definition of "High Quality?" When you do make said quality product actually release a REAL company name that everyone knows is legit and will buy even more of. People will pay more for a quality product. There's plenty of offices around the world who would like better wheels so you aren't going to run out of customers anytime soon.
Dear American manufacturers,
What are you doing?!?!? people are paying good money for these sets of wheels and you are nowhere to be found! This is an opportunity to get in the door and state that you are the official Rollerblade caster company. Since obviously, no one wants to lay claim to that title.
Dear European manufacturers,
If you're there, read what we said to the Americans. We KNOW you can make a good product!
Dear Australian manufacturers,
Why the hell not? get in on this!
For those interested, we will periodically update this blog with a progress report. When you do a review of something you kind of want to keep going just so people can understand the progress of something that we found was really good like the Uniq Wheels:
As of 08/25/2018 - Original installation date.
As of 02/10/2019 - The Uniq wheels are still going strong and keeping our fat asses from hitting the ground! Still zero play in the bearings and no warp in the forks of the wheels. So to those ends, we consider it a "Mission Success." Uniq's are more expensive than any of the alternatives. But worth it.
As of 07/25/2019 - The Uniq wheels are still going and behaving just as when I installed them. Although the chair itself is disintegrating after 7 years of service and will be purchasing a new chair soon. I'll be sure to pop off the Uniq's and transfer them over to my new chair when they arrive.
As of 01/20/2020 - As we approach a year and a half of service. The rest of my leather office chair is deteriorating but the Uniq Caster wheels are still operating as they did when we first placed them in. This may be the first time we'll remove the casters and transfer them to a new office chair.
As of 07/13/2020 - DAMAGE Report! One of the casters is now bent!
As of 10/04/2020 - DEATH of one caster! Total life without serviceable intervention = 2 years 2 months 9 days.
As of 10/05/2020 - We did purchase a new set of Uniq's since only one of the forks broke we'll keep the remaining 4 in a cabinet and will report if there is more breakage.
As of 03/06/2021 - 2nd set is still going. no bending or breakage.
As of 08/21/2022 - 2nd set is still going. no bending or breakage.
With the death of the first set of Uniq's fresh in my mind. 2 years of life is hella short. But does that mean the Uniq wheels are bad? Not overly! Because we do think that we abused them in some way. After all, why is it only one of the wheels is bent and eventually destroyed whilst the other 4 are perfectly fine? Thankfully, we had another set of Uniq's in which case we shall put the four wheels aside and install the next set, and kept them on standby in case we destroy any more chair stems.
If Uniq wheels are no longer a viable option. What's the next caster wheels you would choose?
I would like to thank one of our readers "Dallas" for pointing us to these office casters. The first set of wheels I would try outside of Uniq's are ATOMDOC wheels. These wheels go back to a more traditional caster system with a stem that goes right into the plastic core instead of a thrust or ball bearing system like others. That is my only worry about these wheels is the stem itself.
That the stem will survive unlike Uniq's but will the base plastics hold? Only time will tell! It has the software plastic wheels to not screw up your flooring. With a 50mm wheel diameter versus the 70mm's on Uniq the center of gravity for these will be lower and as a result, will probably not put as much stress on the legs of your chair as they pivot around. Finally, not entirely sure how serviceable ATOMDOCs wheels are. Can we remove the truck holding the two wheels together? What about that stem? Only one way to find out which is for us to buy them. To be continued on that one!
Another ATOMDOC wheel type has appeared!
It appears that ATOMDOC has effectively made a wheel that's identical to Uniq. Not entirely sure how those copyright laws over there operate but hey! As the Uniq wheels get harder and harder to get at least there's an alternative. Honestly, If we could not get Uniq's anymore this is the wheel we would be getting. The fork system is Nylon based just like Uniq's, the bearing setup is the same. The only thing we are hoping they do better with is using better metal for the stem so they do not break like ours. Also, they riveted the wheels onto the forks which Uniq did the same thing. Which is a little on the bullshit side. Even though ALL of them are doing the same thing it's still no excuse. We cannot speak for everyone on this however we would very much like to change out our own wheels and bearings.
Moving past ATOMDOC.
I'd like to thank one of our readers "Ron J" for correcting some of our terminology on bearings and also pointing to us a new product that went through kick starter and also unlike Uniq actually has a website and support. My heart almost stopped when I had seen they actually had legit support.
Unlike Uniq, nor Stealtho's site or their Amazon Store does not really go into a nice breakdown of what sets their chair apart from the Chinese knockoffs. Except that we do hope they don't powder coat paint the inner rails of their thrust bearing raceways like what we experienced from Texas Rollers.
Final thoughts: The aftermath.
We don't hate thrust bearings as that style of bearing is actually designed for chairs. As in their very name, They are excellent at "thrust" loads. That is you sitting down in your chair. However, they are only "Okay" at radial loads (I.E. you moving around your office or carpet with them. Perhaps we got burned by those Texas Rollers to really trust a chair company to reliably build thrust-bearings!
Now, Stealtho's do have one thing going for them that my Uniq's do not. Which is the brake mechanism. On a heavily carpeted floor brakes don't matter. But if you get roller wheels on floors like wood or concrete you don't want your chair flying all over the place as you work! Unless you're a psycho like us and wish we could remove the truck/connecting rivets and install some Swiss Bones ceramics loaded with Tri-flow because we want to fly across a 90x90 foot warehouse in one push.
Speaking of. There's no indication if these casters connecting rod or "Truck" are riveted like the Uniq's. ABEC 9 bearings are awesome but from all of the dust and debris in a building, they'll get gummed up and will need servicing over the course of many years. We think of things like this because casters are one of those components you can transfer from chair to chair and should last for 25-30 years easily. Long-term usage is what being environmentally friendly is all about.
How serviceable is Shealtho's? Again, like the ATOMDOC there's only one way to find out which is to just buy them!
But these are my two suggestions if we were to go beyond Uniq's and onto something else. When we do get either of these brands we'll be sure to start a new blog and record the lifespan of those bad boys.
Until next time.
That's what server said.
+++END OF LINE.