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Before choosing a set of dinghy wheels, there are a few points you should consider, including price, ease of installation, and intended use. Perhaps the most important factor is the material of the wheels. Solid plastic wheels are inexpensive and less buoyant, but wheels with inflatable tires typically have better traction. It is also important to make sure that wheels can move smoothly over sand, and so wide wheels may be a better choice than narrow ones that can get stuck. You may also want to consider whether it is better to buy a dolly for your dinghy or to attach wheels directly to the boat itself.
There are two main types of dinghy wheels: wheels made of a hardened plastic such as polyethylene and pneumatic tires made out of rubber. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. In choosing between these materials, you should consider the surface on which you plan to wheel the dinghy.
Plastic wheels are generally less expensive than inflatable tires, and can be easier to drop into the water when bringing a dinghy into shore because they are not buoyant. They function best on hard surfaces such as pavement, rocks, and packed sand. Plastic wheels do not roll well in loose sand, however, so beachgoers may not find them ideal.
Wheels with inflatable tires, while pricier, have the advantage of working well on all surfaces. Tires can be purchased with treads for increased traction on slick surfaces. Some dinghy owners find that deflating pneumatic tires slightly allows the dinghy to roll over sand with greater ease.
Surface area also matters when choosing a set of dinghy wheels. The greater the surface area, the better the wheels will function on sand. Narrow wheels dig furrows into sandy surfaces that make rolling a dinghy difficult, especially if it is a heavier boat.
Dinghy wheels vary in how they are installed. Some sets are bolted directly into the transom, or stern area, of the dinghy in such a way that they can be flipped or lowered down into position when needed. Plastic wheel sets are often removable or attached to a dolly structure. When deciding on a set, think ahead to how often you will be rolling the dinghy and whether the size and structure of the dinghy justifies installing a heavy-duty set of wheels.
Overall value is another factor to consider. It is possible to buy used dinghy wheels over the Internet or at some marine equipment dealers, but many boaters opt for new wheels. Consider first of all whether wheels are necessary for your particular style of boating. Some dinghies are light enough to carry, so if you’re a casual boater in good health you may want to forgo wheels entirely. If you are a frequent user of your dinghy, or if you prefer ease of transport, it may make sense to invest more in a higher-end wheel set.
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