Which Frames should I buy for my Inline Skates?
There are so many different types of frames on the market with many different lengths, max wheel sizes and wheel configurations. There are frames that allow you to rocker wheels up and down, some that allow you to skate either 4 wheels and 3 wheels, there are short frames and long frames and frames that allow you to grind on ledges, rails and ramps. Here we will take you through all the different types of frames that are available and how they differ.
The most common frames to find on a pair of inline skates would be standard aluminium 4 wheeled frames for 80mm wheels. Most Tri Skates will come with a standard aluminium 3 wheeled frame for 110mm wheels. There may be the odd pair of skates that come with plastic frames but most commonly these will be recreational skates where the frame cannot be removed or on aggressive skates.
Is it better to have Plastic or Metal Frames for Inline Skates?
Depending on what discipline of skating you are doing, you may need stronger frames or lighter frames.
Plastic frames will be cheaper, lighter and will have slightly more shock absorption. This is useful on some budget recreational skates to keep the price down. There are a few companies like K2 and Rollerblade who offer similar skates with one having plastic frames and one having metal frames with the plastic version being cheaper and lighter and then the metal version being longer lasting but slightly heavier. Plastic frames are also very popular in the aggressive skating world. The plastic can absorb some of the shock when you are performing grinds. You can also create grooves in the plastic to make future grinds lock in more smoothly. These frames are actually surprisingly strong but this is due to the size of them. Having small aggressive wheels around 60mm allows the frame to be short which in turn will make it a little more reliable than a taller plastic frame for 80mm wheels or more. Plastic is usually avoided by racers, freestyle skaters who prefer metal frames for the following reasons.
Metal frames can be heavier but some of them are designed in very creative ways to help keep them light yet strong. Strong frames can be important to those who require lots of power transfer in their skating. Racers need to save as much time as they can by skating as efficiently as possible so having a frame that is solid with no movement is essential. The same goes for freestyle skaters who need the maximum control whilst performing these fast pace stressful manoeuvres. There are different types of metal used in different frames. Some of the cheaper metal frames will be cast, which is good enough for casual skating but it may not be suitable for some disciplines that put lots of stress onto the frames. Stronger frames use stronger metal but they use as little as possible by leaving lots of holes in the frames placing the metal only where it needs to be to keep the structure. This allows the frame to be as light as possible yet durable.
There are lots of brands out there who make frames for inline skates with some being better than others. At Slicks we look to sell the frames from companies who do the most testing and bring out the best quality products whilst avoiding some of the brands out there who are just making cheaper versions of popular frames without the same kind of high quality production. Anyone can start a frame company these days so it’s a good idea to do your research and make sure you are choosing a brand you can trust. Thankfully we've already done our homework on this.
Which Inline Skating Frame brands are Best?
Our favourite frame brands include Endless, Wizard, Kizer, FR, Powerslide, IQON and Kaltik.
For urban city skating we need our frames to be universal. This is where brands like Endless and IQON shine as they can adapt to your needs.
Endless Blading Co.
Endless frames can do it all, even with their minimalistic design. They have lots of wheel sizes to choose from in their range like 4x80mm all the way up to 3x125. The standard Endless frames come with the ability to host 4 wheels and 3 allowing you to swap, without even taking the frames off, if you have the spare wheels ready to go in your bag. The frames come with the unique Endless rocker, where the wheels sit at different heights, that feels fantastic on the streets. This makes street skating more fluid and smooth. We love Endless here at Slicks as we know we are getting top quality products that are vigorously tested before release with a reliable design.
IQON are one of the newer brands on the block but they are not short of experience. With help from Powerslide, IQON have created probably the most universal frame out there. The IQON Decode frames have so many customisable options allowing you to set up nearly any wheel configuration you like. There are a few different versions of the frames that allow for different wheel sizes like the Decode Pro 80, Decode Pro 90 and the all new Decode Pro 110. The 80 and 90 Decode allow for 4x80/90mm yet also 3x100/110mm and also the ability to put a grind block in between 2 smaller middle wheels. The 110 Decode allows for 4x110, 3x125 and also 5x80mm. Also within, for example the 4x90mm setup you could rocker the wheels so you have a 4x90mm rockered frame or a 4x90 flat frame. Because IQON removed the little lips that allow bearings to spin inside the frames they have the ability to move the wheels around wherever they like inside without any rubbing. In order to do this they have created their own IQON bearings which have the lip on the bearings themselves instead of the frames. You must have IQON bearings to skate IQON frames. Thankfully they come included with the frame when you purchase them.
Long Distance Skating
For long distance skating it’s very handy to have really big wheels. 110mm or 125mm would be recommended to make sure you can carry as much speed as possible so you can travel as far as you can comfortably. The best way to have these big wheels without the extra weight is to have a tri setup with 3 wheels on each skate. It’s also a good idea to have the wheels distanced apart so your wheelbase is longer. This allows you to get more acceleration when pushing. Brands like Endless and IQON do offer these configurations so they could be a good option for long distance skating but those who are looking for maximum efficiency may choose to go for something lighter like the Core 12.5 from Powerslide or the Rollerblade RB 3WD 125 frames.
For Slalom and Slides we usually recommend Fr and Powerslide frames. Both companies make stock frames that come with some of their budget skates but they also make some really strong and durable frames that come on their more expensive skates and which are also sold separately.
FR are a very reliable source of great frames for slalom and slides as most of the people working in the company have previously or are currently world class competition skaters. They know exactly what is needed and how to test the frames correctly. FR’s frames come with multiple options when it comes to wheel sizes and configurations. The FR Deluxe V3 frames are popular with freestyle skaters. It is stiff, light and lower to the ground. These frames come flat or rockered in various lengths and will help you to perform all your tricks with ease and precision. They also have some options where the 2 middle wheels are smaller to allow you to have a bigger wheel on the outside for balancing on one wheel yet you will still have a shorter frame to help with turning in and out of those tight cones.
The Powerslide Nexus frame is a great option for freestyle skating as it has rockerable options, it is light and it has strength. The back two axles can be turned upside down to rocker the wheels allowing you to have tri skates yet be able to turn in between the cones and perform those slalom moves. The aircraft aluminium helps keep the frame responsive yet light. Also, having one less wheel will also make the whole experience much lighter for the user and it will allow the frame to be shorter so you could have 3x90mm wheels with a short frame length. This will allow you to get those 1 wheel tricks much easier.
Aggressive frames will typically host 2 or 4 wheels from 55mm up to 65mm. They come in many different shapes and sizes with some being designed for 4 wheels flat, some for 2 wheels and 2 smaller anti rocker wheels in the middle and others that are designed for 2 wheels with a large space in the middle for grinding on rails and ledges. There are many aggressive frame brands out there but these are our favourites.
Kaltik is a frame brand from Ireland that produces solid and reliable frames. We have the very popular Kaltik stealth frames which come in 2 different versions. V1 comes with the ability to have 4x60mm wheels with a huge H-block in the middle to make plenty of room for the rail or ledge. The frame wraps around the middle wheels making skating flat with 4 wheels that little bit easier due to the lack of wheelbite. The frames also have a concave shape so that only the ends will be touching what you are grinding on. The lack of friction allows the frame to slide much faster. V2 is basically the same frame but with the option of rockering the wheels. It can host 4x64mm wheels flat when the wheels are rockered up and also 4x68mm flat when they are rockered down. There is also an option to rocker the outside ones down and to rocker the middle ones up with 70mm outer wheels and 60mm inner wheels. Kaltik also has some freestyle aggressive options where there are zero middle wheels allowing you to grind with ease. Kaltik has become very popular around the globe due to their frames being so efficient.
Kizer is an aggressive frame company owned by Powerslide. They have one of the widest ranges of frames out there to meet the needs of as many aggressive skaters as possible. There are metal frames that will be more durable and faster to slide which are great for skatepark skating, especially in a bowl setting where there is less heavy impact grind. For those you will want to consider one of Kizer's many plastic frame options. One of their most popular frames is the Kizer Fluid frame which comes in different versions depending on whether you would like to skate flat or with an anti rocker. There is also the Slim Line frame which offers rockerable options allowing you to use bigger wheels on the outside to help with speed yet still having those smaller middle wheels to help you avoid wheelbite when grinding.
Frames that are best suited for wizard skating typically have a rockered configuration on a really strong metal frame. If you are looking at getting into Wizard skating then Wizard and Endless would be our recommendations.
For Wizard skating Wizard frames will be one of the best options as I’m sure you can imagine just from their name. This company pretty much invented this whole new style of skating that is growing in popularity. Their range offers you frames that will be long lasting and strong so you can have the best responsiveness possible to perform those wizard movements. On their first model the wheels were rockered to mimic the way wheels will feel after you have used them for a while. The front and rear wheel will be used more which will cause them to get smaller quicker than the middle wheels. This gives you a nice free feeling when turning so Wizard created the frames to be like this fresh out of the box. The first Wizard frame was the NR90 which had 4x90mm with this Natural Rocker system installed. Since then we now have many Wizard frame options including some with smaller wheels, bigger wheels and some with 5 wheels that feature a different rocker called Progressive Rocker which allows you to twist and swivel on the middle wheel. In addition to those 5 wheeled frames we also have the Wizard Advanced Frames which feature bigger wheels at the front and the back allowing you to perform one wheeled tricks with ease. The PR frames come with either 76mm or 80mm wheels across the whole frame whereas the Advanced has two options of 3x80mm in the middle with 2x100mm at each end and 3x84mm with 2x100mm at each end.
Endless is another great option for Wizard skating as they feature a different but similar rockering system to the wizard frames. These frames are not necessarily designed for wizard moves but they can certainly perform them. The standard Endless 80, 90, 100 and 110 frames will allow you to practice your wizard moves whilst also being a great frame for urban skating. This is due to the unique rockering system designed by Endless which allows you to have the manoeuvrability whilst keeping the stability needed to go at high speeds. Endless has now released the ARC frame which is their first 5 wheel frame allowing you to get those wizard moves by twisting on that middle wheel. If you are specifically going to be practicing wizard skating then maybe the ARC is a better option for you over the standard Endless frames. The ARC features bigger wheels at the front and rear allowing for easier rolling on one wheel tricks. The middle wheels will be 76mm with a choice of either 80mm or 84mm wheels at either end depending on how you rocker the frames with the adjustable axles.
4 vs 3 vs 5 Wheeled Frames
Depending on which type of skating you are doing, using 4, 3 or 5 wheels could make things easier or more enjoyable for your skating experience.
Having 4 wheels on your skates is the most common and original wheel configuration. This is great for those who are beginners, those who wish to do lots of turns and for those who need to stay low to the ground. 4 wheels can allow for a longer wheelbase to help with power to skate quickly and is common with a lot of speed skaters and Freeskate/Urban skaters. Sometimes having 4 bigger wheels can be really heavy but it can be enjoyable knowing that turns will be easier than having 1 less wheel. 4 wheeled frames are usually more universal allowing you to skate 4 wheels in most situations from city skating, speed skating, slalom, slides, skatepark and more.
Tri setups are great for using bigger wheels to maintain speed and keeping things light by eliminating 1 of the wheels on each skate which make them a great option for long distance skating. It’s a little harder to perform tighter turns but there are examples of rockered 3 wheeled setups that have become quite popular in slalom.
5 wheeled frames are typically used in downhill or wizard skating. The long wheel base of a flat 5 wheeled frame will give you lots of stability when reaching high speeds allowing you not to worry too much about speed wobble. The 5 wheeled frames that are made for Wizard skating have a rocker where the middle wheel is lower to allow for those swivel turns you will be performing.
What is Rocker and Anti Rocker within Inline Skating?
We have spoken about rockering a few times in this guide so let’s dive into what rockered wheels are. To allow for the wheels to turn easier you can raise the front and back ones so you are only on 3 or 2 wheels at one time. The lack of friction will allow the wheels to swivel with ease so those Slalom or Wizard moves will be much easier. Some frames will have bigger rockers than others. Slalom skaters usually prefer a bigger distance between the wheels and the ground for those super tight turns that they need to perform. Wizard skaters may prefer a smaller rocker allowing them to perform the turns easily enough yet to still have stability when skating through the streets.
Anti rocker is essentially the opposite of a rocker meaning the middle wheels are smaller. This is typically used in aggressive skating. Most of the time these wheels will be much harder to allow them to slide on obstacles easily. This helps when it comes to control in grinds as the wheels help to hold you onto the ledge or rail. When you have 4 wheels flat it’s a little harder to grind on some objects as the middle wheels may touch the obstacle you are grinding which will slow you down or stop you grinding completely.