Skating has become a very popular sport in the world, with skating championships being held around the globe. Competitions of various forms of skating have also been included in the Olympics. However, skating has a lot more to it than you see. Skating is further divided into parts, like roller skating, ice skating, and inline skating. Here, we will be discussing inline skating in detail.
What Is Inline Skating?
Inline skates are used in various sports and are very similar to roller skates, however, there is a slight change in their build. Inline skates are boots, with 3 to 5 wheels attached to the bottom of them. These wheels are made of polyurethane.
Inline skating is the most common form of skating in the world. Almost all the skating competitions, including figure skating, artistic skating, and racing, are done on inline skates. This is because these skates are modified for speed, and can bear a lot of disturbances. The wheels are very thin, which allows the wearer to not only reach high speeds but also maintain them.
The shoes also have a rubber block at the end. The wearer uses his heel to press the block on the ground when he wants to brake. Some inline skates made for aggressive skating, have a gap between the second and third wheel. This is called an H-block and is meant to lock on obstacles and grind on them. Follow our inline skates buying guide to make an informed decision.
Things to Consider When Buying Inline Skates
The Type of Inline Skating You Want to Pursue
While some of the sports in inline skating can be played with the same skates, a lot of them need specialized inline skates. For example, if you’re interested in inline hockey, the skates are going to be slightly different. This is because skates made for inline hockey are very similar to those of ice hockey.
Ice hockey players were the people that originally came up with inline hockey, so they could practice during the summer months too. Inline hockey skates have wheels that are normally 72-80mm thick. The front and back ends of the shoes are squared. Keep in mind that inline skates should not be confused with roller hockey.
Inline skates made for recreational, or fitness skating usually have very large wheels, and the bearings are smaller, and a lot smoother. The larger wheels cover more ground and generate more speed.
Aggressive skates can be identified very easily because their wheels are a lot smaller than other inline skates. The small size ensures the wheels don’t get stuck in anything. It also provides for a flat profile when the wearer jumps from a height. The shell of the boot is made of high-impact plastic that protects your foot. A liner is installed inside. There is a hard plastic plate on the outer sole, which is called a soul plate. A similar hard plastic plate is placed on the inner sole and is called the negative soul plate.
Apart from the five large wheels, there are two inner wheels in the frame too. These are smaller in diameter and are called anti-rocker wheels. Their purpose is to make it easier to grind on wide surfaces.
Inline skates in the market come with a variety of options when it comes to frames. When buying a good pair of skates, the type of frame you choose plays a very big part in their weight, durability, and comfort. This is why choosing the right material for a frame is very important.
The first option available on the market is plastic frames. These are very cost-friendly, which makes them very popular with beginners. Plastic frames aren’t very durable and can be very stiff, and heavy. They are good for learning, but we recommend you replace them as soon as you can.
Aluminum frames win over plastic frames because they are lighter, and last longer. They are slightly more expensive than plastic frames, but they offer more comfort and don’t bend under pressure. These are found on intermediate-level skates. Aluminum frames are the most commonly available frames in the market.
Finally, carbon frames are the most expensive option on the market. These are added to reinforce aluminum frames, offering the skates more power, speed, and durability. Carbon frames are usually added to inline skates used by professional athletes.
A liner is a softer boot installed inside the hard outer shell to offer you comfort. Choosing the right liner is important, because not only will you experience discomfort and pain, but you can also incur serious damage otherwise. There are four types of liners. You must choose which liner you want, based on your need, your budget, and the time you intend to spend wearing the skates.
Standard liners are perfect for beginners. They are cheap, easily available, and are usually changed when the rider becomes confident in their skill. Standard liners are made of plain foam.
You can also choose auto-fit liners. These liners are usually made of gel pads, which are not only comfortable but automatically fit the shape of your foot too. Other than these, you can also choose memory fit liners. They automatically mold to the shape of your feet like gel liners, however, they can remember the shape of your feet. Over time, the memory foam permanently hardens to the shape of your foot.
Finally, we have heat moldable liners. As the name suggests, these liners have to be heated, and then wrapped around the foot. As the liner cools down, it takes on the shape of the foot. However, always make sure you have these done by an experienced professional.
Just make sure that whatever inline skate you go for should have a comfortable liner.
Depending on the price of the skates, and the hardness of the type of skating they are made for, they can have different closure systems. Laces are pretty standard. In the early skating days, these used to be the primary closing mechanism of the skates. However, these days they aren’t enough. As per our inline skates buying guide experts, the closing mechanism is one of the most important aspects of inline skates.
The second option that is commonly seen, is Velcro straps. While laces are there to prevent the shoe from slipping off, Velcro is meant to hold your foot in place inside the cup. They are almost always present with laces.
The best inline skates in the market all offer either quick lace or boa lacing. A quick lace is tightened and loosened with just a pull, making it very efficient. A boa lacing is very convenient too, however, it tightens and loosens with the turns of a dial.
While brakes seem like an obvious addition to a pair of skates, not all inline skates have them. Beginner and intermediate skates always have breaks. However, for professional skaters, speed is most important. The brakes can prevent them from reaching high speeds. Also, if they accidentally press on their heel, they might slow down. This can cost them the whole match.
Brakes aren’t built-in professional skates, and these skaters are so confident in their skill, they don’t need them either.
Cuffs are the upper part of the skate that supports the back of your foot. This part moves with your foot and provides it with the support it needs to move forward. There are a variety of cuffs on the market, high cuffs, low cuffs, and there are also skates without cuffs.
A high cuff is perfect for people that are new to skating. This allows them to skate easily, without having to exert a lot of force. They are also very common in athletes that are experienced but don’t have a lot of strength in their ankles.
Low cuffs are made for professional athletes. This allows them to move their feet freely, and make a lot of complex turns. These require more ankle control, which is achieved through rigorous exercise.
Skates with no cuffs are extremely risky. Since you can move your ankle however you want, you can perform a lot of difficult maneuvers. However, the control and ankle strength you need for this are just too difficult.
Wheels and Bearings
An important aspect of inline skates are the wheels and bearings. Most inline skates come with polyurethane wheels and do not require any kind of air to be filled with. Some of the top-performing inline skates come with 80mm / 82A wheels which are perfect for beginners as well as intermediates. For professional riders, inline skates with 100mm wheels are considered better. Moreover, instead of 4 wheels, they have only 3 which are considered for advanced riders.
Inline skating is considered one of the extreme sports. For those that are invested in inline skating, buying a good, albeit expensive pair of skates is no big deal. However, for people that are just getting into skating, we don’t recommend they spend so much money on a professional pair. While skating is fun, there is a hard, learning patch in the beginning. Our advice is to buy an inexpensive pair of beginner skates. You can upgrade these once you are sure you want to continue inline skating.