Guide to Buying Skates
This guide offers pointers to finding the right inline skates. It's based on many years of experience using and selling skates, and should help you find the skates right for you.
If you are in doubt, you are always welcome to contact us for help.
1. Inline skates or roller skates?
Roller skates are the classical skate with four wheels placed in pairs next to each other. The wheels are mounted on the boot with a bendable metal part,that is similiar to the trucks of a skateboard.
Inline skates are the more recent version, where the wheels are placed in a row behind each other. Inlines usually have 2 to 4 wheels attached to a frame made of plastic or metal. The size of the wheels can vary greatly.
Inline skates are usually easier to keep your balance on, as they don´t tend to tip back or forward. Inline skates also roll more smoothly than side-by-side roller skates, which means that you need to apply less force to gain speed. Inline skates are decidedly the most popular type of skates and are also the type that professional riders use. For this reason you can find more accessories and complete pairs of skates in this category.
Roller skates are often chosen by people, that are used to them from their childhood. In the end, it is a question of taste, and also the style of skating is different on roller skates. Small children will usually find it easier to learn to stand on skates with roller skates, but have a harder time to gain speed on roller skates.
2. Finding the right size
The fitting of your skates is probably the most important element of finding good skates. The skate has to sit well on your foot to give you stability,
but has to be comfortable at the same time. Not all producers of skates follow the regular sizes of shoes. If our product pages link to a sizing guide from
the producer, we recommend to read this first. A general rule of thumb is however to buy one size bigger than your normal shoe size.
Once you receive your skates from SkatePro, we recommend that you start by trying them indoors, as to make sure that you can return them, if
they are the wrong size. Can you feel a tight spot after a few minutes, you can be sure that this will be the place, where you´ll have blisters after
half an hour of skating. Trust your own feeling. You should be able to move your toes a little bit. Are your toes touching the skate or can´t you move
them at all, you probably need 1/2 -1 size bigger. Contact us, if you are unsure which size to get.
3. Boots are different
Most inline skates have a high boot (called the cuff), that gives a lot of support and stability while skating. Some experienced skater and especially speed skater prefer lower boots to have more flexibility and less weight.
Children grown fast, and therefore often grow out of a pair of skates within a year. There is a range of skates, that can be adjusted in size within 3 to 4 sizes. Adjustable skates are today of the same quality as regular skates, therefore we recommend this type for children.
Skates have different closing mechanisms. Lacing, quick locks, straps and security buckles are all possible options. Often times, this is again a question of taste. Quick locks are usually a lot faster to open and tighten and easy for kids to use. Security buckles give a more stabile binding, as they make sure that the buckle cannot open up and don´t need to be adjusted again after once having been adjusted.
4. How important is the frame?
All inline skates have a frame, to which the wheels are attached. The frame is usually made of plastic or aluminium. A soft frame requires more energy to move forward and makes the skate more unstabile at higher speeds.
Aluminium frames are usually the hardest, and if you weigh over 80kg we recommend you to choose a frame made of aluminium. However, you need to be aware that the cheapest frames of aluminium often are softer than high quality frames of plastic.
Aggressive skates usually have plastic frames, as this allows for more tricks, e.g. grinding.
5. Bearings from known brands
Most bearings use an ABEC number as a characterisation. This describes the precision with which the bearigns are made. ABEC does however not say anything about the quality, therefore we recommend to buy bearings from known brands. You can also always check what material they are made of. Are you out to invest in high quality skates, you can be sure that they will be fitted with good bearings.
Generally on bearings:
- The quality of the steel used on the bearings and balls is crucial for the lifespan of the bearings.
- The closing and greasing of the bearings is important for the speed.
If you want to know more about bearings, you can read here:
6. The wheels
There are many different types of wheels, and it is easy to get confused.Are you going for fitness or speed skating, you should go for wheels with a big diameter. These allow high speed and last longer. For hockey and aggressive skating the size if the wheels is not that important. Wheels and bearings can easily be exchanged, so in case you buy something you don´t like, you can always change them.
Some tips about wheels:
- Good grip on the street requires soft wheels
- Soft wheels are worn down faster, especially if they are not made of good materials
- Hard wheels have a longer lifespan, but don´t have as good grip
- Big and narrow wheels are best for high speed
If you want to know more about wheels, you can read:
Wheel terms explained
7. Skate with a brake?
SkatePro recommends beginners to use inline skates with a brake. A break can be in the way however, especially if you use your skates for speed. aggressive or hockey skating. Most of the regular fitness inline skates have a brake attached in the back of the right skate.
Brakes wear down over time, therefore you should make sure that you can get spare brake pads, when you buy your inline skates. SkatePro has spare brakes and brake pads for most of the skates, that have a brake installed.
Roller skates have a toe stop attached on the front of the skate (sometimes also used to set off). Most roller skates can get a second brake attached to the back of the skate, which is similar to an inline skate brake. Braking with the back is easier for some skater.
8. Remember to wear protective gear
It is very important to wear good protective gear when skating. You can seriously hurt yourself when you trip and fall. SkatePro recommends, that you at least wear a helmet and writst guards.
You can also always contact us, if you need advice and help.
See our selection of inline skates