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Inline Skates Buyers Guide

Here at Slick Willies we have a fairly large range of Inline Skates to choose from, this guide will help with learning about the different types available and help you find what is best for you.

Inline Skates or Rollerblades (as they are also called) all feature a row of wheels in one line under the boot. They are a great way to get around and can be used for exercise, as a mode of transport or just for going out and having some fun. Skating is a great way to keep fit, it puts less stress on the knees than running and is arguably more enjoyable.

Nothing beats trying a skate on in store but if you can’t make it in to our shop and want more advice please call us on 02072250004 and we will talk you through whatever you need to know.

Things to consider

  • For Who – We have Men's Skates, Women’s Skates and Children's Skates. Apart from having different colours for men and women there are also differences in the fit of the skate, women’s models tend to be slightly narrower and also come with lower cuffs to fit the shape of the leg. Nearly all of our Children’s skates now come with expandable sizes that they grow with child’s feet which means you can buy one pair which will last years, perfect and great value for money.
  • Skill Level – There are Inline skates suitable for every level of skater from beginners all the way up to the most experienced users. For those starting out you won’t want something too fast so avoid huge wheels and don’t go for something too advanced. For the more experienced skaters we have a great range of high end models from all the top brands.
  • Cost – Inline Skates really vary in price and like most things you get what you pay for, there is no need to spend more than is necessary but generally as you spend more you get higher quality parts and greater comfort.
  • Sizing – Sizing comes up differently on all brands and also some skaters will like their boots tight and others loose. If you are between sizes we always recommend going slightly bigger so for example if you are an 8.5 then go for 9. If in doubt about what size to get then feel free to give us a call and we can give advice on every individual model.

Explaining the Parts on Inline Skates

An Inline Skate can be divided up into a few main parts, here we will talk you through the basics of each area.

  • Wheels (Size) – The size of the wheels affects the speed of a skate and how smoothly it rolls over rougher surfaces. The most common wheel sizes are 80mm, 84mm and 90mm. An 80mm wheel is the standard and is great for any level of skater, not to fast but stable and smooth. When you move up to an 84mm you get a higher top speed and a slightly better ride over poor surfaces. At 90mm and above is when things start to get fast, these wheels are great for covering longer distances and commuting. 90mm wheels and bigger are suited to skaters with some experience.
  • Wheels (Hardness) – Wheels come in different hardness ratings measured in durometers , this is known as the A Rating. The higher the number the harder the wheel, most inline skate wheels range between 78a and 85a. A softer wheel absorbs more shock and has more grip, most entry level skates come with between 78a and 82a wheels. Harder wheels roll faster, they give less grip but they last longer. Harder wheels are found on intermediate to experienced level skates and generally are between 83a and 85a.
  • Bearings – Bearings are what makes the wheels on the skates turn and there are two in the centre of each wheel, they are usually rated by speed. A higher number indicates a better quality and faster bearing. Most skates come with a rating between 3 and 9. For more information please read our Bearings guide.
  • Frames – This is the part of the skate that holds the wheels in place and there are two main types plastic and metal. Plastic frames are usually found on entry level skates as they are light and help absorb some of the shock from the road. Plastic frames are still strong and can handle years of recreational skating. Metal frames are usually made from aluminium but on more expensive models sometimes magnesium, they are found on intermediate to advanced level skates. The advantage of having a metal frame is that they are more rigid than a plastic one, this gives you more power when you skate and they feel more responsive under the foot. If a skate with a metal frame is within your price range they are well worth the money.
  • Hard Boots – A hard boot is a skate that has a plastic shell around the foot, a hard boot offers more support and is hard wearing. Hard shells are commonly found on freestyle skates as they tend to take more wear and tear. Hard boot’s are great for taller or heavier users as they offer far more support than a softboot.
  • Soft Boots – These are found on most recreational skates, a soft boot is made from trainer like material to keep them light, breathable and comfortable. All the support needed around the ankle is provided a plastic cuff which is commonly fastened with a buckle and strap. A soft boot enables you to skate for hours and keep’s your feet feeling fresh.