A Basic Guide to the Difference Between Recreational and Freestyle Urban Skates

A common question we get asked by new skaters is "What is the difference between recreational skates and freestyle skates?"

The first thing to think about when deciding between the two would be to consider what type of skater you want to be. Are you someone who wants to have a bit of fun, take it easy and skate for a bit of fitness? If so you will probably want a recreational skate. If you are someone who wants to skate through the streets and learn how to do some tricks then a freestyle/urban skate could be a better option.

Let's take a look at some of the key differences between the skates:

Upper Boot
Recreational skates come with a soft shell. Some of them could be compared to a trainer with wheels on the bottom. The soft shell comes with the benefits of being lightweight and comfortable right out the box. They are also nice and breathable, perfect for those summer skating days at the park.

Freestyle skates or Urban skates will have a harder more supportive shell. This tends to be made from plastic but other materials such as carbon fibre are also used in high end models. An internal liner provides the comfort you need moulding to the shape of your foot within the skate. Hard shells provide more support for doing tricks and they also protect your foot, they are also a lot more durable than soft boots so can stand up to a great deal more wear and tear.

Recreational skates tend to come with longer frames which space out the wheels further than on freestyle skates. This longer wheel base is more stable which helps not only beginners when learning but also experienced skaters when they build up speed. Recreational frames also tend to be lighter as they have more cut outs to save weight.

Frames on freestyle skates tend to be shorter and they will nearly always pack the wheels as close as possible together. Having the shorter wheel base allows more manoeuvrability and makes your skates feel more agile allowing for sharper and quicker turns. Freestyle frames tend to be more solid too as they need to stand up to more stress than recreational frames. A more rigid frame also helps with control too.

Both recreational and fitness skates come with a large range of wheel sizes, usually between 80mm and 100mm. The differences lie in shape, hardness and compound.

Recreational skates tend to come with softer wheels which provide a bit of extra grip and a really nice smooth ride. The wheel profile tends to be more of a bullet shape (pointy) for speed as they have a smaller surface area in contact with the ground.

The wheels on freestyle skates will often have a rounder profile providing more stability. They are usually a harder compound which means they stand up to more wear and damage, this harder compound also makes them better for sliding too.

So, when choosing between a recreational or a freestyle skate, ask yourself, are you someone who likes to go for a relaxed exercising session, or are you someone who when given the opportunity would want to roll down that set of stairs instead of skating past them? If you are the second person then you should be considering some freestyle or urban skates!

Check out our range skates here.