If you’ve been looking for a thrilling new hobby, inline skating will be a dream come true. It burns plenty of calories – and better still, it is fun!
There’s just one hurdle to overcome… purchasing a pair that aligns with your needs.
A top tip when it comes to purchasing inline skates are to go to a supplier who knows what they’re talking about.
One difficult balance you’ll have to make for yourself is figuring out the distinction between choosing a pair that’s too cheap, and going for a model that offers a performance which far surpasses your expectations or capabilities.
As a beginner, it’s highly probable that you’ll have never-ending questions about which pair is best for you. How big should the wheels be? Are laces useful, or are they just a feature of retro skates that are best avoided? And what exactly is an ABEC rating?
So often, all of this information can be included in reviews without a detailed explanation of what it means – and why it’s important. But when you depend on a retailer (or a manufacturer) who has worked hard to become an authority on everything inline skates, it certainly makes your life as a consumer easier.
One difficult balance you’ll have to make for yourself is figuring out the distinction between choosing a pair that’s too cheap, and going for a model that offers a performance which far surpasses your expectations or capabilities. Unfortunately, as specialist skate stores are out to make a profit, this is where things can get muddled!
Some top tips to get more bang for your buck include purchasing skates which are not from the current season. It’s improbable that you’ll be missing out on any essential technology which would enhance your enjoyment, but you will get a generous discount because it’s highly probable they’ll be discounted.
Also, make sure that this particular pair of inline skates isn’t so old that purchasing new wheels and other parts for them when they wear out will be an ordeal.
Lastly, try to see what safety features have been integrated into the inline skates themselves wherever possible. If you’ve never mastered the art of braking before, or you feel a little unsteady on your feet, it’s likely you’ll need more support for your ankles than an intermediate skater.
Inline Skates Selection Criteria
In a nutshell, the durometer rating is a clever guide which informs you how hard the wheels of your inline skates are. The hardness will vary depending on whether they’re hockey skates that have been designed for use on indoor surfaces, or recreational models which are best enjoyed in the great outdoors.
Interestingly, when you become more of an advanced skater, you might decide that you want wheels with varying durometer ratings.
When you’re buying a mainstream pair of inline skates, you’ll normally find that the durometer rating fluctuates between 78A and 82A.
This allows you to get the best of both worlds – including a firm connection to your surface, and fewer vibrations. However, to ensure that you don’t ruin your ride, get advice from a skate shop specialist first.
You should go for harder wheels based on your skating habits in the past. If you’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of wear and erosion after a few uses, there could be two problems. The first would be the quality of the wheels, while the second may be your tendency to travel over rougher terrains.
When you’re buying a mainstream pair of inline skates, you’ll normally find that the durometer rating fluctuates between 78A and 82A. If you spot models with a higher durometer when you’re shopping around, it’s likely that they will be so-called “aggressive” skates, which are actually designed for people who are performing advanced tricks where the wheels need a lot of resilience against friction.
You should also bear in mind that if the durometer rating exceeds 82A, you’ll probably feel like you have less of a connection with most surfaces, and even the most minor of bumps will be keenly felt.
The highest durometer rating you’ll find on the market is 100A. Do remember that you’ll be wanting a lower number when you’re indoor skating – somewhere between 72A and 78A comes recommended. Meanwhile, outdoor models should go up to around 84A typically.
The durometer rating should also be considered in tandem with the diameter of the wheels, as this’ll determine how fast you’re able to travel on the roads.
Now, you might be reading this buying guide as you prepare to buy your child their very first pair of inline skates – perhaps as a birthday or a Christmas present.
But here’s the downside: oftentimes, they can grow out of them within months, meaning that you get a very poor return on investment.
They also don’t command much cash on the second-hand market, making it even harder to generate some money which can be put towards getting a larger size.
Whenever you’re buying inline skates for children, always look out for pairs which come with an adjustable sizing feature.
That’s where most good manufacturers have employed an innovative streak – in a bid to ensure that their consumers get the most value for money.
Whenever you’re buying inline skates for children, always look out for pairs which come with an adjustable sizing feature. This allows you to expand the size of the boot with a simple click – meaning when their toes begin to feel a little squeezed, or they run the risk of blistering, you can give them more freedom to move around. Over time, it’s highly likely that this feature will save you hundreds of dollars – especially if your child is an avid skater.
To reflect the fact that these are inline skates for children, you’ll also find additional safety features in place. This includes a sturdy ankle cuff and dual closure systems – which we’re going to cover in more detail during the next section.
One thing to bear in mind when choosing a size range is that most skate manufacturers try to ensure that their boots correspond to a person’s normal shoe size. The way to find out whether or not a skate fits snugly is to see whether or not you can push a finger down the back of the boot when it’s on – as this should be achievable with a little bit of difficulty. If it slots in too easily, it’s likely too loose.
Typically, adjustable skates will cover three normal shoe sizes. If your child is coming close to the end of one range, you might want to go for the next one up to ensure you get maximal usage.
For want of a better phrase which avoids a cringe-worthy pun, very few manufacturers have decided to reinvent the wheel when they’ve been designing the closure systems for their inline skates. With a few notable exceptions – which we’ll come to in just a moment – you’ll normally find that the fastening devices for your next pair fall into one of just a few distinct categories.
First up, we’ve got the humble lace. This closure system has been a stalwart of inline skates for many decades – and for good reason. They provide even support for the whole foot, meaning that you’ll be able to feel tight and secure everywhere.
Some companies have introduced patented Boa technology, which works in a similar fashion to power assisted lacing.
Laces have been bettered still by so-called “speed laces,” or if you want an even fancier term, “power assisted.” They work by cutting the time it takes to put on (and take off) your inline skates – a common source of frustration which has plagued enthusiasts for many years. All you need to do is give these laces a tug before they tighten up or loosen, meaning you’re able to get up and go in seconds. Fantastic!
Some companies have introduced patented Boa technology, which works in a similar fashion to power assisted lacing. The only difference is that the laces go through a dial which you adjust to get the right fastening. If you’re not too good with your hands, or if simplicity is key when you’re speed racing, this will come in handy. This is also helpful if the laces are the only closure system on the inline skates, not least because these can often come loose quite regularly on longer journeys.
Also worth an honorable mention is Velcro, which are as much to do with how your feet are positioned within the inline skate.
Last but not least are buckles – and in some cases, you may have two or three of these on each boot of your inline skates. They’re well worth checking out – especially when they’re thrown in along with laces or power straps.
Accessories for your inline skates will normally fall into one of two categories. First up, you have replacement parts for your pair – which could include wheels, bearings, new straps, a carry bag, protective sunglasses, or even a brand-new boot.
The one thing we would always recommend during your search for new components is whether or not they will be compatible with your pair of inline skates. The last thing you want to do is purchase some wheels which are 100mm in diameter, even though the maximum your pair can accommodate is 80mm.
Make sure you purchase safety gear for use with your inline skates well in advance of their arrival, as this will prevent any temptation to head out without protection.
Try to see what’s on offer from the company which designed your inline skates in the first place, as there might be discounts or a loyalty program where you can get upgrades for less.
Also, it’s more likely that you’ll be protected by a returns policy – and it’ll be way easier to find replacement parts for discontinued models in their past catalogues… a must if you own quite an old pair of inline skates to begin with.
Next – and this is arguably the most important category – make sure you purchase safety gear for use with your inline skates well in advance of their arrival, as this will prevent any temptation to head out without protection.
The stuff that should be at the top of your list includes a helmet – no matter how talented you are at skating. It needs to be a snug fit, made out of a resilient material such as polystyrene.
Kneepads also help to reduce the chance of fractures, scrapes and nasty lacerations when you fall over, and shouldn’t be so restrictive that they impede your movement – just like a tight pair of inline skates can. The same applies for elbow pads. Wrist guards are also an excellent idea.
The research behind the importance of safety gear is something to behold. Let’s compare the number of injured skaters who were wearing protection, compared to those who weren’t. Just 7 in 100 skaters have been injured when they were wearing helmets and pads – compared to 82 in 100 who went out without safety gear.
Now, there are some inline skates out there which have been designed with speed in mind. Typically, they will come with a larger wheel diameter – or with the opportunity for you to upgrade to bigger wheels when you feel more confident.
Unfortunately though, you will get a trade-off with your freedom of movement, and you might end up finding it more difficult to glide around effortlessly.
One key feature of inline skates which have been built to go fast is the inclusion of additional wheels, in some circumstances. Most recreational skates boast four wheels, but speed skates could have five or more.
There are some ways that you can enhance your speed even if the size of your wheels isn’t on your side.
This is done to ensure that your skates are longer overall, which reduces the number of times you have to push. Just make sure that if you’re still getting acquainted to speed skating, that you have a gradual brake which can be deployed. Also, for safety reasons, it’s also best to avoid public areas that are often crowded so you avoid an unwanted accident.
Now, there are some ways that you can enhance your speed even if the size of your wheels isn’t on your side. The first is to try and ensure that your center of gravity is lower by bending your knees.
Again, this could become difficult if you have really high ankle cuffs, which are usually found on skates designed for beginners. As your confidence builds, you’ll be able to attempt the classic “double push” technique which is seen as the holy grail for many skaters.
When you’re speed skating, you want to keep momentum – and when doing laps on a course, you can often slow down when it comes to corners. This is best avoided when you gradually control your skates around such bends. It’s also important to marry certain strides together for maximal effect.
Once again, if you’re a beginner, be sure to go for wheels which are less than 84mm or so. Otherwise, you could find yourself out of your depth when skating – and this will impeded upon your enjoyment of this hobby as a whole.[reviews cat=”2″]