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Choose the correct Inline Skates

Posted by Adam Choong on

Before we start, what is the difference between Roller Skates, Roller Blades, Skate and inline skates? 

Roller Skates

The term Roller Skates is usually used to describe quad skates. These retro skates are not very common in Singapore but in US, they are still widely popular.

Roller Blades

The actual term is Rollerblade which is probably the most successful brand in the history of the sport. The brand has become so popular that it has become synonymous with the sport.

Inline Skates

The term inline skating is the correct way of describing "roller blading". 

Skate

This term is used to describe all skate sports in general. Skate sports including skateboarding, roller skating, inline skating and longboarding.

Understanding the Parts 

When choosing the correct pair of skates, we must first know how serious we are in the sport. If you are not sure, rent a pair of skates or go for some skating lessons before buying. Never ever buy a cheap pair of skates. The term cheapskate is probably coined out of this. If you are decided and you want to use inline skating to keep fit and have fun, read on:

Skate Boot

Boot Only

Usually classified under 2 main types, Hard and Soft. Both have their pros and cons. Lets take a more in depth look at these properties.

Hard Boot Benefits:

  • Heavier boots keeps your centre of gravity low, thus increasing stability and balance
  • Helps you to stand straighter by offering better support on the ankles
  • Protects your foot against hard surfaces
  • Liner cushion is very thick for comfort and increased responsiveness
  • Extremely durable

Soft Boot Benefits

  • Lighter boots allow you to speed and skate longer distances
  • Comfortable like wearing a pair of sneakers
  • Breathable to keep your feet cool
  • Works well with laces to give you a compressed fit

Hard Boot Drawbacks

  • Heavier boots requires more effort from users
  • Less comfort due to hardness of the boot

Soft Boot Drawbacks

  • Lighter boots makes it harder to balance
  • Less support on the ankles may cause pronation or supination 

Below is a chart to help you decide on what boot choice to make base on your skating activity

 Soft Boot Hard Boot
  • skating on long and flat road
  • skating long distances
  • long skating sessions
  • speed skating
  • urban skating
  • doing tricks and jumps
  • aggressive slides and maneuvers
  • Slalom

 

 Skate Frame

Skate Frame

Most common are plastic frames, aluminium frames and extruded aluminium frames. Lets now decide which frame is best for you.

Aluminium Frame

  • More rigid. Allowing better power transfer from boot to wheels.
  • More durable. Metal will not bend as much under pressure and weight

Extruded Aluminium Frame

  • Extruded Frame is a reinforced one piece frame increasing rigidness for an even more powerful skate experience
  • Highly customizable

Plastic Frame

  • Lightweight
  • Plastic bends more, thus under weight, it keeps the user lower to the ground
  • Easier to control since the power transfer is lower

Below is a generic chart to help you decide base on the user's characteristics:

 Plastic Extruded Aluminium Aluminium
  • Beginners
  • Kids
  • Below 75kg
  • Low usage
  • Skaters who want the best
  • High speed skating
  • Urban Skating
  • Above 75kg
  • Fitness skating
  • Regular usage

 

Skate Wheels

Rollerblade Supreme 110mm Wheels

Inline skating wheels usually have 2 description: (mm) which is the diameter of the wheels and (a) which is the hardness of the wheel.

Big vs Small Wheels

Big wheels give you higher speed and better comfort when skating. However, it also requires more balance because it keeps you higher off the ground. Also, to hold larger wheels, the frame becomes longer, reducing maneuverability.

Small wheels give you better balance and it make turning easier. It is helpful when learning new tricks. However it significantly reduces the speed and users have to skate harder to cover distances.

Hard vs Soft

Hard wheels are extremely durable and it helps with speed. It is also good for tricks and slides. However, harder wheels also cause more vibration when you skate and it reduces traction. 

Soft wheels are very comfortable to skate on and gives you better traction. However, the rubber on the wheels wears off quickly.

Skating Disciplines

Now that you know the different parts of the skates, lets look at the qualities of different inline skate from different skate disciplines to help you make a better choice.

Kids Skates

Skate Boot Type: Soft 

To reduce the weight and provide more comfort

Skate Frame: Plastic

Again to reduce weight, and since a child is not heavy, metal frames are not necessary

Wheel Size: 70 - 76mm  (standard skates) ; 80 - 90mm (tri-skates)

Small wheels help a child stay balanced. 

Wheel Hardness: 80-82a

A semi-hard wheel is a good hardness to get both traction and durability

Fitness Skates

Skate Boot: Soft

Soft boots provide more comfort for longer skating sessions to burn the calories

Skate Frame: Aluminium

Aluminium Frame gives better power transfer to cover larger distance.

Wheel Size: 80 - 90mm (standard skates) ; 100 - 110mm (tri-skates)

Larger wheel size allows users to cover distances and reduce vibration off the ground.

Wheel Hardness: 82-85a

Urban Skating

Skate Boot: Hard

Hard boot protects the feet when skating against concrete pavement and kerbs. It also supports the ankle especially turning sharp street corners.

Skate Frame: Extruded Aluminium

Extruded Aluminium is stronger which is necessary for the small jumps out in the streets. Also, skating in the streets will have many bumps and obstacle, so having a better power transfer can help with the "start stop" experience while urban skating.

Wheel Size: 80 - 84mm (standard skates) ; 90 - 110mm (tri-skates)

Mid-size wheels get best of both speed and agility.

Wheel Hardness: >85a

Harder wheels are better for slide stops, speed, and takeoffs.

Speed Skating

Skate Boot: Soft

Soft boots reduces weight which is a big thing for speed skating.

Skate Frame: Extruded Aluminium

Extruded Aluminium is stronger which is necessary for maximum power transfer. 

Wheel Size: 100 - 110mm (standard skates) ; 125mm (tri-skates)

Large wheels gives maximum speed

Wheel Hardness: >85a

Harder wheels are better for speed and takeoffs.

Aggressive Skating

Skate Boot: Hard

Hard boot protects the feet when skating against concrete pavement and kerbs. It also supports the ankle especially turning sharp street corners.

Skate Frame: Extruded Plastic

Extruded plastic although not as strong as aluminium, significantly reduces the weight of the skates. This is especially important for jumps and tricks.

Wheel Size: 55 - 62mm 

Small and fat wheels provide the user with the most balance.

Wheel Hardness: >88a

Extremely hard wheels are better for skatepark ground and it also reinforced the frame strength.

Hockey Skates

Skate Boot: Leather

Leather boots are hard and lightweight. It has to be compressed to the users foot by laces. However, the cushioning is thin, making it the least comfortable. 

Skate Frame: Extruded Aluminium

Extruded Aluminium is stronger which is necessary for the high speed maneuvers and stops. It is also helps players get a better acceleration.  

Wheel Size: 72 - 80mm 

Mid-size wheels get best of both speed and agility.

Wheel Hardness: >72-78a

Soft wheels gives maximum traction which is important in an inline hockey game.


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