Buying Inline Skates

Buying Inline Skates

(1) Is inline skating for you?

(2) Basic Construction of Inline Skates

(3) Various kinds of inline skates

(A) Recreational, Fitness and Speed Skates

  • purpose
  • what you're looking for across the construction divide -
  • what you're looking for across the construction divide
  • determining your size.

(B) Aggressive skates - Special issues pertaining to buying aggressive skates -purpose -what you're looking for across the construction divide -determining your size -

(C) Hockey Skates - special issues pertaining to buying hockey skates

(1) Is inline skating for you?

Inline skating is an easy to learn sport, where you can set your own pace. As a recreational activity, it's easy to learn and relaxing. If you can ride a bike, you can skate. And there's no better feeling than feeling the wind on your body as you take in sights of a nice, warm day. As a fitness activity, it's dynamic and safe. You can set your pace...and unlike such activities as running, it's low impact on your knees. Additionally, there are many opportunities to compete in racing competitions, worldwide. And for those who love to take a few risks in life..., aggressive inline skating is one of the most challenging extreme sports around.

(2) Basic Construction of Inline Skates

Each style of skate has a number of similar components.

In-line skating wheels are usually made of polyurethane, a molded compound that allows for different compounds wheel hardness.

Typical wheel diameters are from 50-100 mm 
Larger wheels are designed for speed 
Smaller wheels are designed for maneuverability

Changing your wheels 
To avoid excessive, uneven wear, they need to be rotated as wear becomes evident to spread the wear Wheels should be changed when they show excessive wear on all sides. Skating with worn wheels is unsafe.

Wheel hardness is measured in durometers. Lower numbers indicate a softer wheel and higher numbers indicate a harder wheel. Durometer is denoted by the suffix "A" (example - 80A) The typical recreational in-line skate wheel is 78A or 82A Softer wheels are good for winter and provide a softer ride. Harder wheels are better in the summer when the pavement is hot and the wheels tend to soften.

Frames hold wheels and bearings in place Most recreational frames are made of an aluminium alloy or nylon and fiberglass composites. Make sure the frames you select are designed for the type of skating you plan to do Metal frames are stiffer, faster, and lighter, but typically cost more


Materials Recreational skate uppers are usually made from synthetic materials that offer durability, comfort and breath-ability Hockey skates are usually made of leather composites 


Many boots contain a cushioning liner usually made of a foam material Sometimes reinforced along the toe and sides for protection (in hockey skates) or increased stability 

Hard shell

Constructed of molded plastic and similar to a ski boot The lower half covers and protects the foot The upper half wraps around and supports the ankle The two halves are connected with a hinge system that allows the ankle and boot to flex forward naturally 

Soft boot

  • Made with an external (and sometimes internal) plastic cuff to provide support, like a hiking boot
  • Provide a good fit and performance
  • Very breathable and lightweight
  • Generally secured by laces


Two Bearings are fitted to the hub of each wheel. Precision bearings have an "ABEC" rating that indicates the precision of their manufacturing The general ABEC range is ABEC-1, ABEC-3, ABEC-5, ABEC 7 and ABEC 9 It is commonly believed that the higher the rating, the more precise the manufacture and the better the performance and speed. However the ABEC rating does not take into account the quality of material used in the bearing, nor its likely durability in the use as an inline skate component.

Further, there does not appear to be regulation in the ABEC labelling of bearings. We therefore recommend that the ABEC rating be viewed as a minor factor in assessing skating equipment. A good Abec 1 bearing may out perform and be more durable than a poorly engineered bearing Labelled ABEC 7. Of far more importance is the reputation of the manufacturer. Some manufacturers of high quality bearings do not even label their bearings with an ABEC rating.

All bearings can be serviced Some bearings have a metal shield with a removable "C" ring, or a plastic/rubber type removable shield. These may be taken apart to be cleaned, lubricated or replaced. Other bearings have a metal shield on each side that protects them. A shield can be removed (and discarded) and the bearing serviced. the bearing should be relaced in the wheel hub with the exposed side of the bearing facing the inside of the wheel.

Bearings don't need to be cleaned after every use, but if they become wet, they should be cleaned, dried and re-lubed


Most manufacturers offer different braking systems The most common form of baking system is a pad housed behind the rear wheel that stops movement by applying heel pressure to the brake. Most brake pads have a "wear line" that indicates how much performance is left in the brake. The brake pad should be replaced before this wear line is reached. The brake is only one method of stopping.

Other methods are T-stop, Snow-plough, Hockey stop. The advantage of brakes is that they allow you to stop without wearing your wheels. This is a valid advantage as the pressure you put on your wheels when stopping from high speeds is significant Braking and speed control skill is acquired with the application of practice over a long time. In the learning period care should be exercised in choice of skating terrain until a high level of speed control has been attained. Hockey skates and speed skates normally do not include braking systems

(3) Various kind of inline skates

(A) Recreational/Fitness Skates


These skates are for people who skate recreationally or for fitness. The priorities behind their design are speed, durability and comfort. They are usually of a softboot construction, made more like a skate shoe than a ski boot. The wheels are usually relatively large and soft, and the bearings high quality to facilitate speed and a soft ride.

(i) Wheels - Typical wheel diameters are from 70-100 mm; the larger the wheel, the faster, the smaller, the slower but more maneuverability - for beginners, we recommend getting skates with the capacity for at least 80mm wheels. That way, if the skates come with smaller and slower wheels, more suitable for beginners, you can always upgrade the wheels to bigger and faster wheels as your skating improves.

(ii) Frames - frames are usually made of nylon, aluminium, magnesium or a combination of either of these three. The magnesium and aluminium frames are usually stronger and sometimes lighter. A long wheel-base chassis will necessarily be constructed of an alloy for stiffness, but a well engineered composite reinforced plastic chassis will be suitable on most recreational skates, and preferable to a poorly engineered alloy chassis. br> Skates with longer frames are generally faster than those with shorter frames.

(iii) Uppers/Liner - all of the major brands (K2, Salomon, Roces, Rossignal) have excellent quality, comfortable liners, that will remain comfortable long after purchase. You might also consider a skate that allows your foot to breathe easily. These skates, usually, are structurally weaker (slightly) than their hardboot counterparts but not agreat deal of structural strength is necessary in recreational skates.

(iv) Bearings - bearings can always be upgraded. However, if you are sure that you will eventually upgrade your skates, you may as well choose a skate with the good bearings, as it will work out cheaper, and you'll go faster from the start.

(B)Aggressive Skates

Aggressive skates are for people who like doing tricks. The skates support this desire. They are usually much more solid in construction than other kinds of skates, and come with grindplates on the frames...pieces of hard nylon, used to facilitate grinds along gutters, poles, steps, ledges and certain people's fingers. :) In addition, aggressive skates usually come with smaller and flatter wheels than recreational and hockey skates. Sometimes as much as 30mm smaller. This makes the skates slower, but provides the skater with the better control essential in performing tricks. The wheels are also harder, in general, as aggressive skaters subject their wheels to stresses and pressures other skaters don't.

What to look for in an aggressive skate... 
(i) Wheels -Very small wheels (50-67 mm) are best for aggressive skates -Wheels this size are also very hard to withstand grinding and jumping a hardness rating of 80-90A is recommended. 
(ii) Frames - Aggressive skate frames are usually very solid to withstand the impacts of aggressive skating; ensure that the skate you choose has well-regarded frames (all aggressive skates on have better than adequate frames) - We recommend skates with Universal Frame System (UFS) compatibility. Many newer skates are UFS compatible. UFS is basically a standard method for bolting frames to skates. The main advantage is that if, for whatever reason, you want to change the frames on your skates, you can attach any UFS compatible frame. 
(iii) Uppers/Liner - For aggressive skating, we recommend skates with extensive padding in the liner and upper. This is to cushion your foot and ankle against the impacts of landing tricks. We also recommend purchasing skates with sole protection to protect your foot against such impacts. 
(iv) Bearings - For aggressive skating, ensure that the skates you are buying are of high quality. You need fast AND durable bearings, a combination only found with the higher quality and usually more expensive bearings. 
(v) Closure - An important element in an aggressive skate is a closure system that secures the ankle firmly in the skate. It really shouldn't budge. If your ankle moves too much, the ankle support is inadequate. - we recommend buckle systems that do NOT have buttons that release the closure. The problem with these is if you fall on a buckle, and the buckle is pressed and the skate comes undone, you can cause yourself some serious mischief. Better alternatives are buckles that you need to pull to release. - buckle systems that you only need to set the tension once, are also a great for convenience.

(C) Hockey

Hockey boots are usually constructed using a stitched boot technology. The stitched boot is usually very light The skates are meant to fit like a glove, tightly with no movement of the foot in the boot. This facilitates sprinting giving the needed to maneuver effectively during hockey games.

The wheels and bearings on hockey skates need to facilitate fast skating with rapid changes of direction. High quality bearings are important. The wheels are usually about under 80mm in size or a combination of two different sizes; with the larger wheels at the back, a design known as the "HiLo". The smaller wheels at the front make turning easier than with large diameter wheels, and by having the large wheels at the back, you don't compromise your speed as much as if all of your wheels were small.

(ii) Frames - hockey frames are quite short for maneuverability. They are usually constructed of a light weight extruded re-enforced alloy designed to withstand the harsh pressures of hockey skating, including the odd puck in the skate!

(iii) Uppers/Liner - the most obvious difference between a hockey skate and the other skates is the stiched boot construction - with the absence of soft and comfy foam. It is usually made of woven nylon, and often coated in plastics and other strong materials to prevent wear of the nylon boot. The boots are very light due to the use of nylon also due to the lack of padding. While skates do have some foam padding, it is minimal. Lacking the cushy padding of most other skates, hockey skates are not as comfortable initially as recreational and aggressive skates, but with a good quality hockey boot, comfort should improve as the boot molds to the foot with use.

To find out more about how to choose the right pair of skates for yourself, or any other inquries including sizing, fitting, maintenance and repairs or hiring skates, please feel free to call us on 03 9819 9991


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