We started offering inline skating tours in 1997 when skating (Rollerblading) was at its peak of popularity and your local sports store probably sold two dozen models of skates.
Times have changed.
But there are still millions of inline skaters in the United States and millions more around the world and these skaters need to purchase their skates somewhere. Here are some tips for purchasing recreational or fitness skates, based on our experience as skaters and gleaned from our friends, the pros at InlineSkates.com.
What Category Are You In?
Inline skates come in categories: recreational, fitness, racing, urban, and aggressive are the most common. Since we run skate tours that involve distance skating on paths or side roads, we don’t deal with urban or aggressive skates. With the other three categories:
- Recreational skates are for people who are just starting out or who are not confident with their skills yet.
- Fitness skates are for those more confident with their skills who want to emphasize skating faster or more efficiently.
Racing skates are just what they sound like – appropriate for those racing or training in a similar fashion. They generally have very large wheels and no brake.
Wheel Size and Durometer
Wheels are one of the primary differences in skate categories. In general, harder and bigger wheels roll faster but are less maneuverable and/or comfortable. Durometer is a hardness scale indicated by a number followed by the letter A – higher is harder.
- Recreational skates have wheels generally 80 millimeters in diameter with a durometer of 78A to 80A.
- Fitness skates have wheels that are often 84 to 90 millimeters in diameter with a hardness of 80A to 84A. Some fitness skates go up to 100 millimeters in diameter but we recommend these only for very confident skaters.
- Racing skates generally have wheels of 90 to 110 millimeters in size and a hardness of 84A to 87A.
There are other specs to consider such as the frame size (a longer frame is required to house bigger wheels but is also less maneuverable) and the bearing quality but, in general, we recommend you first consider the category of skates and then the wheel size in selecting a pair of skates. If you are worried about bearings and frame size, you probably already know your stuff.
How Much To Pay
Skate prices increase with skate quality. You can purchase recreational skates for less than 100 and pay more than 500 for racing skates. We suggest you expect to pay between 150 and 350 for a good pair of recreational or fitness inline skates.
Where to Buy Skates
Your local sports store might not carry skates anymore at all and, if they do, might not have a knowledgeable staff. The reality is online shopping for inline skates is more convenient and, for many people, the only option.
We suggest you purchase from a site that specializes in skates, such as inlineskates.com. Here are a few advantages to this site:
- Chat feature where you can ask questions about your planned purchase.
- Skate Wizard where you provide the Type of Skates, Size, and frequency/distance of your skating and they kick back suggestions.
- Videos that explain everything from bearing maintenance to purchasing replacement wheels.
- Free shipping over 80.
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for unused items.
- List of buying guides to help you make the best choice of inline skates.
We strongly suggest putting your skates on in your home when they arrive. Just putting them on your feet and standing up for a few minutes will probably tell you whether they are a good fit, without incurring wear and tear.
Buying skates is not complicated but can take a little digging simply because of the many models out there. Good luck!