Recreational inline Skate buyers guide

So you are buying a new pair of Inline skates? Here is what to take in to account when choosing your perfect setup.

In this article it is assumed that you want to have a pair of skates to cruise around with. You might like ice skating, used to love skating as a child, want an alternative to running or just want to get in to a new sport and am looking for some expert advice on what model to choose. Below is a summary of important aspects in to buying skates. If you have more questions you can always reach out to us on whatsapp

Popular skate models

The short answer: Go for the FR skates or Powerslide Next models

Half of our friends skate the FR skates and the other half skates the Powerslide Next models. They are both timeless and good looking skates that have great value for money.

3 or 4 wheels

The short anwser: If you are unsure about this, take 4 wheels.

Since about 2015 the market has been flooded with fancy 3 wheeled skates that look really fast, but do not be fooled by marketing. We like skaters to be as comfortable and secure one can be on their skates. The 3 wheeled skates usually stand allot taller and thus make every technique (like braking techniques) allot harder. You might win some small amount of speed with 3 big wheels, but the lack of confidence you will have on them will ironically maybe even make you go slower in the end because you will be more risk adverse.

4 wheels also will give you better feeling with the road. The more points of contact you have the better the ride is when the road is kind of bumpy.

80mm or 90mm wheels

The short answer: big feet take 90mm, small feet take 80mm

You want your wheel base (the length of your frame) to be in proportion to your foot. If you have a relative short wheel base, then you are more manoeuvrable, you accelerate faster and will prefer intermediate speeds.

If you have relative a long wheel base, then you are more stable and les manoeuvrable. you will accelerate slower but once you get high speeds it will be easier to maintain them.

 

Hardboot vs Softboot

The short answer: Go for a Hardboot 

A hardboot skate has a removable liner. This means that the padded part of the skates can be taken out and replaced. Softboots do not have removable liners.

Some of the cheapest skates on the market are softboots (do not get those, they are horrible) and also some of the most expensive skates on the market are softboots.

Skates should NOT flex sidewards at all. The stiffer a skate is built, the better it performs (stiff on the outside does not mean it is not comfortable on the inside).

Some of the most stiff skates in that regards are carbon based softboots like the Seba CJ, Powerslide Evo or FR SL. They are however all over 400 euros. The cheapest way to create a well performing skate is to built it in the hardboot style.

Double sizing?

The short answer: all hardboots come in 41-42 style double sizing

Its typical for hardboot skates to come in double sizing. This means that 2 or more sizes are bundled in to one. It is expensive to create these moulds so that is why brands combine sizes. They will put a size 41 liner in a size 42 boot and call it a 41. Because this is actually a little lie, we will correct for this on our webshop and call it a like it is. If you buy a 41-42 size, then this can mean two things:

1. Either the brand advertises it as a 41-42 themselves and we advertise it conform to their labeling

2.  Or we have purchased the size 42 skate and labeled it 41-42 ourselves since their 41 would also use the same mould and does not differ in any sensical way.

After years of experience helping people in the store, and comparing different skates to each other for ourselves, we noticed that it is never justified to put in a smaller liner in a bigger shell. The shell should always be filled up in length to the max. Every body likes to have a little bit more room at their toes. A skate should fit perfectly, but this fit comes from the top and with of the foot. not from the lengt.

Sometimes skates that are listed on our website as double sized can be found somewhere else floating on the internet with a single size. That means it is falsely advertised.

With or without a brake?

Short answer: The heelbrake is great for beginners.

Not all skaters use a heel brake system. The reason for not having it is because if you do crossovers it actually gets in the way. 

The point where you can take off the heelbrake is when you master the T-Brake stopping technique.

If you fancy a skate that does not come with a heelbrake out of the box, then there are multiple add on heel brakes that are universal and can be mounted to almost all inline skates.

What size to choose?

The short answer: take your shoe size or one size up

Skates should feel be very very tight. The problem is that most people are not used to having this sensation on their feet at all and thus think they need a bigger size.

When you stride, your are moving controlling your wheels with your foot and the skate is the tool to transfer this movement. The stiffer the skate and the tighter the connection between those wheels and your foot, the better performance you will get. 

If you are thinking of getting a hardboot skate, then you can dive in to this excel sheet in the description of one of our vlogs. The sheet lists the true, inside length of all the hardboots we sell. If you know the length of your foot, just add about 10mm-20mm for the liner and then you will have the perfect size. Of course skates vary in width and height as well but then at least you have one of the metrics right. 

If you order a skate and it is not the right size, then you can always return and exchange it for another size or get a refund. Before doing so, read the next chapter below.

 

How to know the size is right

The short answer: Commit to skating them in house

Never put on a pair of skates and then, while not even tightening them, decide that it is not your size.

When you get new skates, first put in the laces before you put them on. Skates have allot of padding in the back that pushes the foot forward and you need the closure system to push your foot back in to this padding.

Close the buckle, laces and straps as tight as possible. Then, make sure your ankle joint is as close to a 45 degree position. This means bending your knees a bit and press your shin against the front of the skate. This is the skating position and this is the position you should use to consider the size. Do not judge the size in any other stance.
Skate around the house a bit and see how the control is.

It should feel very tight overall, but not have a specific pressure point.

A good way get some indication of how this skate works with your foot is to take out the liner and try the shell without the liner. Never put on the liner without the hardboot shell. You need the shell, laces and buckle to push your feet back in the liner. A liner in your size will always feel too tight when tried on without the rest of the skate. Instead put your foot in the shell, shove it to the front so that your toes slightly touch and then feel how many fingers you can put in the back behind your heel. It should be more than 1, but not more than 2 fingers. If its less then 1 finger you will either need a way smaller liner (not smaller size but with less padding) in this shell, or you would need a bigger skate. If you have more than 2 fingers of room in your skate, then your skates are most likely to big. 

Price range

The short answer: Get skates that are around 200-250 euro's to be save

Skates that are not build proper do not give you any control and are very slow. If you buy cheap then you will either not have fun at all because of the lack of confidence the skates give you and you will stop skating, or you will want a decent pair soon after buying your first one. That is why it is better to rent skates at our skateshop on the Overtoom 327, Amsterdam then to buy a low quality skate.

Skates that cost below 150 euro's always have something seriously wrong with them. Cheap softboots are too weak and unsupportive. Your skates will bent underneath your foot and it will be nearly impossible to stand up straight in them. Cheap hardboots like the Impala or Tempish brands have a decent boot but lack in the wheel and frame quality and are thus very slow.

Skates that are around 200-250 euro's are at the sweet spot. They usually have every metric spot on. Great hardboot, great liner, great frame, great wheels etc.It just comes down to personal preference in style and and how a certain skate fits your foot.

Skates that are above 350 euro's are most likely the carbon based softboots. These are the unicum of the inline skating hardware and ace in all the metrics possible. The special thing about these boots is that they are more likely to be very very comfortable and can accommodate more different foot sizes. The risk of buying an expensive hardboot like a Powerslide Evo or a Seba CJ skate and having to return it because of the fit is low.

ABEC Rating & Wheel Hardness

The short answer: Do not pay attention to the ABEC or wheel hardness metrics 

Skate bearings are kind of all the same nowadays. If you have a skate bearing, The way it functions and wears down has more to do with the material used and the way it is lubricated, then with the ABEC scale.

The ABEC scale is a way to measure the precision of the bearing. It was not however invented for inline skating but for machine equipment and it thus has no relevance for the performance of your bearing in your skate.

Wheel hardness is measured in the Shore scale, and it is usually somewhere between 85A and 92A on a scale from 1 (very soft) to 100 (hard)

While the Shore hardness is a true thing, it is not the only thing and should not be taken in to account when getting wheels because it is by far the most important factor.

Imagine a cyclist caring more of the Hardness scale of his rubber tire, then about the air tire pressure of how well his spokes are tightened. That would be weird right? You never hear cyclist talk about the hardness of the rubber tire. So neither should we.

In general if you buy a  200-250 euro's range skate, then the wheels and bearings are always very good, so do not worry about it 

 

Learn to skate

Our This Is Soul Academy is the biggest inline skate school in The Netherlands.

If you buy skates from our store, you can get a free skate lesson with that as well! If you buy online, then please ask about the lesson by emailing us with your order number and saying you would like to attend.

These lessons are always on Saturday morning at 10.30 - 12.00, starting at our store at the Amsterdam Overtoom 327.

If you already have a pair of skates you can also attend our beginners course on the Saturday mornings by just registering for them here:
https://www.thisissoul.com/collections/adult-group-inline-skate-lessons/products/cursus-veilig-skaten-voor-volwassenen-vondelpark

For skaters that already master a few braking techniques and want to move on to the next step, we have the advance courses every Wednesday at 18.30. Joining can be easily done by purchasing the lessons online:
https://www.thisissoul.com/collections/adult-group-inline-skate-lessons/products/advanced-course-volwassenen-vondelpark

Be sure to put on an old pair of jeans, protections and skate socks for all of our lessons.

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