Whether you are a complete beginner, or already have skating experience, our inline skate buyer’s guide is here to help you make the most informed decisions when buying inline skates and, although nothing beats trying a skate on in store, if you need any advice please call us on 0207 225 0004 and we will be happy to talk you through whatever you need to know.
Inline Skate Components
Upper Boot: This is where your feet go. Upper boots can be classed as a soft boot, semi soft or hard shelled.
Liners: Liners can be either integrated with the skate (built in) or separate (can be taken out).
Closure System: This how you tighten and secure the skate to your foot, and can consist of a combination of lace systems and buckles.
Frames: The part underneath the skate that sits in-between the boot and the wheels. Frames are usually made from plastic or aluminium and vary in length.
Wheels: These allow you to roll. Wheels are available in a range of sizes and hardness and are made from polyurethane.
Bearings: Installed inside the wheels to allow them to spin. Bearings come in a range of speeds to suit different levels of skaters.
Choosing Your Inline Skates
With a huge range of inline skates to choose from, the two most common questions we get asked are; What are the differences between skates and Which skates do I need?
What are the Differences Between Inline Skates and Rollerblades?
Inline skates and rollerblades are the same thing. When they were first invented, inline skates were named rollerblades, however some people refer to them as inline skates due to their wheels being arranged in a line. This naming convention also helps to separate inline skates from roller skates where the wheels are arranged 2x2.
What Type of Skates Do I Need?
This will depend on the type of skating you wish to do and your skill level. We’ve broken down the different types of rollerblades below, to help you work out which inline skates would suit you best.
If skating around the park for a bit of fun, or wanting to skate to get fit are your thing, then you will want to look at recreational skates, or fitness skates as some people call them. Recreational skates are perfect for rolling around the park, commuting or to use as a form of exercise to work on your fitness.
Skating is a great form of anaerobic and aerobic exercise and a lot less stressful on the joints than running and offers a great cardiovascular workout too. On top of all this skating is fun and it gives a sense of freedom and, much like other forms of exercise, it can be beneficial for your mental health.
Soft Upper Boots: Most recreational skates come with a soft upper boot with is comfortable, light weight and breathable. As the materials give easily, getting a good fit is fairly straightforward and soft upper boots generally come with laces allowing you to choose how tight you want them.
Bigger Wheels: Recreational skates most commonly come with 80 to 84mm wheels with more advanced fitness skates range from 90mm to 110mm wheels. Larger wheels make the skate smoother over rough surfaces and provides a safer ride as you are less likely to trip on uneven surfaces or obstacles.
Longer Frames: A longer wheelbase provides more stability which is good for both beginners starting out and for experienced skaters who build up speed. Larger wheels also require more space so generally as wheel size goes up so does frame length.
Over the last few years freestyle or urban skating has grown massively and manufacturers have introduced a broad selection of skates into the market to meet the demand. We have grouped Urban and Freestyle into one guide as you generally use similar skates for both disciplines.
Freestyle skating involves using your skates to do tricks on the ground and evolved from slalom skating, but now many skaters don't stick to staying within the cones. Spins, slides, step-overs and skating with style could all fall under the freestyle skating bracket.
Urban skating is taking your freestyle skills to the streets and using whatever you can find to skate. It is basically a cross between freestyle and aggressive skating. The city becomes your playground and there is almost unlimited creativity in what you can skate.
Harder Upper Boots: Most urban skates feature hard shells or at least semi hard shell. These harder uppers provide more support which is needed when doing tricks. They are also more durable to withstand damage from jumps and slides. On high end skates carbon is also used to shave weight and increase rigidity.
Wheels: This can really vary massively in urban skating and people use anything from 80mm right up to 125mm. The size will depend on the style of skating the user likes. One common factor though is that urban wheels are harder than recreational wheels, this allows them to slide more easily and they last longer.
Frames: Again these will vary in length. Slalom/Freestyle skaters will usually use short frames as they are more responsive and manoeuvrable. Urban skaters are now using frames of all lengths to accommodate larger wheels. Lots of these longer frames will feature in-built rockers which help to make them more nimble. Urban frames are tough whatever the length as again they need to stand up to more stress and wear.
Replaceable Parts: Urban skates tend to have lots of replaceable parts as they suffer from more wear. This allows you to not only replace parts but also leaves more options for customisation. For example most urban boots will accept a whole range of different frames, this allows you to upgrade your skates easily and transform the way they perform.
You can check out our freestyle inline skates here.
Firstly aggressive skating is not being angry on rollerblades. Aggressive skating is the type of skating that involves doing tricks such as jumps and grinds either in the skatepark or on the streets. So if you are want to grind down handrails or catch some air in the skatepark ,you need aggressive skates.
As aggressive skates are made for doing tricks, they are always very strong and durable as they have to be able withstand the home serious punishment. They are typically more chunky than other skates too as you need more space on the soles of the skates for grinding.
Upper Boots: The uppers on aggressive skates are most commonly hard shells but you do find some semi soft skates where only the top portion is soft. Plastic is the most common material but some high end models use carbon fibre too. The chunky boot allows extra space for grinding plus wear and tear.
Wheels: Aggressive skates usually use much smaller wheels than freestyle and recreational skates, typically between 55mm and 60mm. Smaller wheels provide a lower centre of gravity and more stability which helps when landing tricks, they also get in the way less when grinding.
Frames: The frames on aggressive skates can vary massively but commonly they are all designed to make the skater as low to the ground as possible to help with stability. You will also find most aggressive frames have more space between the middle two wheels, this extra space makes room for grinding and allows the user to slide along rails or ledges.
You can check out our aggressive inline skates here.
3 Wheel Skates
A question we get asked a lot is what is the difference between inline skates with 3 wheels and 4 wheels? Over the last few years many 3 wheel Tri Skates, as they are known, have appeared since the brand Powerslide founded the movement with many other brands following suit.
Three wheeled skates allow you to have a skate that is fast, because of the increased size of the wheels, but also very manoeuvrable, because the frames can be shorter as they only need to hold 3 wheels. You end up with a setup that can have the speed of a race skate but the responsiveness of a traditional 4 x 80mm setup. Put simply, you get the best of both worlds but the trade off is ride height, which means you will have a higher centre of gravity, which takes a little getting used to but anyone can get the hang of it.
Upper Boot: This can vary and be either soft or hard. On recreational 3 wheel skates you will nearly always find a soft boot. Urban Tri Skates will usually be plastic for added strength and support.
Frames: These vary in length. On urban and freestyle Tri Skates, the frames will usually be as short as the wheels allow to give the most manoeuvrability. Recreational and fitness Tri Skates will have longer frames to give more stability at speed.
Wheels: These will range between 90mm on slalom setups right up to 125mm for the fastest skates. Some consider 110mm wheels to be the sweet spot as they don't make the skate as high as a 125mm wheel but you still get a lot of speed. We would also recommend a beginner skater not to go above 110mm to start with.
You can check out our 3 wheel inline skates here.
When it comes to children's inline skates there is a huge selection to choose from. Kids skates vary in price and quality which is why will never stock anything that we don't think is good enough to learn on properly. If you spend too little on a kids skate they will be poor quality and the child will find it very hard to get started and will probably want to give up, not realising its the skates that are holding them back.
Key features to point out is that 99% of our kids rollerblades are adjustable, a simple mechanism allows the skates to extend by pulling the toe caps forwards. This allows a single pair of skates to last the child a few years which means your child always has a skate that fits correctly and isn't too big and you get your moneys worth. Having a good skate to start with makes such a difference to the learning process and is well worth the investment. Kids skates from some of the larger brands are literally little versions of adult skates and are equal in terms of quality.
Upper Boot: Most commonly these are soft as it allows the skate to extend more easily and to accommodate a child's foot as it gets wider. Some of the cheaper kids skates might use a plastic shell as they are cheaper to produce but hard shells can also be found in kids urban and freestyle skates too.
Frames: Plastic is the most commonly used material for the frames of kids skates as they help absorb shock and are lighter than metal. Higher end kids skates will come with aluminium frames but you will expect to pay more for these skates.
Wheels: One thing nearly all kids skates have in common is that they have smaller wheels than adult skates, typically between 72mm and 80mm. This is because shorter frames can't accommodate big wheels and also you don't want a kids skate to be too fast when they start out.
Closure: Lots of kids skates have a more child friendly closure system and usually avoid laces. Some will use a simple speed lace which requires pulling to tighten and some even use velcro. This helps the child to get their skate on and off themselves.
Size Adjuster: This is the part that makes the magic happen. Most kids skates have a simple push button that releases the toe cap and allows it to slide forward. In most skates this will increase the width as well as the length. Generally most kids skates will extend 3 or 4 sizes.
You can check out our recreational inline skates here.
Learning How To Skate
If you want to learn how to inline skate, the easiest way is to just get out there and give it a try. Remember, it will be hard at first but anyone can get the hang of it with a little practice.
There are also plenty of inline skate instructors and, having one or two lessons to learn the basics, can make a huge difference. Check out our skate lessons page for details of skate schools within the London area.
Another way to get some tips is the internet or just searching YouTube. You’ll find hundreds of videos teaching the basics or you could also check out Asha at Skatefresh, who has created an amazing app for teaching skating with all the content and advice you could ever need.
You can check out our full range of inline skates here.