Urban Inline Skates Buying Guide
Kansas City Urban Skating (Kansas City, MO) Meetup
So, you've graduated from being a beginner skater and are ready to level up your skills with new tricks and terrain. Whereas novice skaters are still learning how to manage speed, turns, and braking, experienced skaters, can easily cover long distances and start, stop, and turn without hesitation.
Most skaters who continue to advance their skating ability will eventually want more than recreational inline skates can offer. However, if jumps and park tricks aren't your cup of tea, urban inline skates are a great alternative to get you the speed you need.
What's the Difference Between Urban Inline Skates and Recreational Skates?
The major difference between recreational rollerblades and urban skates is the skate's features. Also known as street skates, urban skates are a hybrid of recreational and aggressive skates. Urban skates have a shorter frame for more maneuverability that can hug tight corns and make quick turns.
The boot design of urban skates is similar to aggressive skates, designed to withstand greater impact and general wear and tear. However, unlike aggressive, urban skates have wheels and bearings that resemble beginner inline skates, making them comfortable for long-term wear.
Who are Urban Inline Skates Good For?
If you plan to bob and weave through traffic and pedestrians, you better be able to stop, start, and turn on a dime. Urban skating is perfect for sidewalks and streets and is a fun alternative to traditional commuting.
Urban inline skates are best suited for advanced skaters who have aggressive skate experience but can also be an option for intermediate skaters who want higher speeds than a recreational skate can provide.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Urban Inline Skates:
Unlike beginner skates, urban skates require different components, which can often be purchased and built separately. As a result, urban skates allow buyers to purchase out-the-box skates or build their own, enabling skaters to customize their skating experience.
Here are a few different factors worth considering:
Urban Inline Skate Wheels
Wheels are a great way to customize your inline skates; wheel size, wheel quality, wheel hardness, and the total number of wheels can dramatically change how your skate performs. For example, if you want to increase control to corner tight turns, smaller wheels that are approximately 80mm are a great option. However, if you're looking to maximize speed, larger wheels that are 90-100mm in diameter will get you the speed you need.
In addition, moderately hard wheels with 85A wheel durometer are often most post popular with street skates, offering a balance of control and speed. Softer wheels provide greater shock absorption but are slower to accelerate, while harder wheels have less maneuverability and control.
It's important to note that the more speed you're able to produce, the less control you'll have, which is crucial for skating in urban environments.
Shop Inline Skate Wheels by Size
Urban Skate Frames
Unlike other forms of inline skating, urban skates are notable for their shorter skate frames. Shorter skate frames enable urban skates to maneuver more efficiently, which is essential for navigating all of the hazards of city commuting.
Urban skates often use a strong frame made out of aluminum or composite materials that have a more lightweight design and are more durable than plastic frames. Also, additional customizations exist, including H-block frames for grinding rails.
However, because urban skate frames are shorter, they're typically designed for smaller wheel sizes. Therefore, if a larger wheel size is an important component in your skating, you'll want to pay special attention to urban skate frames that can accommodate your preferred wheel size.
For urban skating, comfort is key, and skate liners are an essential component to maximize comfort and performance. Skate liners fit almost like a sock within the skate boot to better fit and improve power transfer for greater speed. Also, the removable liner is easy to swap out when they get too worn, which helps extend the life of your urban skate.
Urban Skate Boots
Inline skate boots come in three main styles: softshell skates, hardshell skates, and skeletal skates. Although different styles serve different types of skating, what's most important is fit. The feet should be snug but not cramped within the boot. An urban skate boot that's too tight will be painful to wear over time, while a boot that's too loose can be more challenging to control and compromise the safety of the foot and ankle.
Softshell boots feature more flexible material that allows for superb control. Wearers have much more control over their technique because the softshell boot enables you to apply pressure and bend your foot more. However, soft hell boots may cause injury if used for hard impact jumps.
Hardshell boots can take a hard impact, making them great for cross-training. However, it's important to note that because hardshell skates feature stiff boots made of hard plastic, they offer less control than softshell boots.
Skeletal skates offer a hybrid option between softshell and hardshell skates. Rather than having the skate boot be one contiguous piece, skeletal skates use a mix of hard and soft materials to wrap around the skate liner to create a custom fit.
This boot is accommodating for skaters who like to skate across different mediums so that they have the flexibility to swap out their skate liner to street skate one day and get some air the next. In addition, some skeletal skates will allow skaters to use their shoes to dial up the customization features as a bonus.
Selecting a closure system can offer different types of support, whether you need more stability in the foot or ankle. Often, skates combine one or more closure systems to create a comfortable, customized fit.
Here are different types of systems worth considering:
Standard Lacing System
Old school lacing is still around for a good reason – it works! It may not look as sexy as quick-lace systems but provides support where needed. In addition, standard lacing systems are often combined with other systems to get the best of both worlds: support and accessibility.
Ratchet buckles borrowed from ski boot technology became a breakthrough for inline skates. Ratchet buckles are faster and easier to get on and pair well with other closure systems. If you notice that you're having difficulty tightening your strap-on inline skates, consider shortening the end of the strap so that it feeds into the buckle more easily.
Power straps are an accessible, kid-friendly closure system that gets people into their skates quickly. The hook and loop straps are practical by themselves or in combination with other closure types.
Power-Assisted (Quick-Lace) System
It is hard to imagine a system that is faster to use than power-assisted laces. Quick-lace systems only require a very short pull of a very durable cable, and then you're done.
The boa system is a variation on the power-assist concept, but the cable is pushed through a dial. Boa systems are similarly quick to put on. The dial makes it exceptionally easy to tighten the boot and make a highly personal, custom feel.
Using protective gear is particularly important for urban skaters. Although all types of inline skating present hazards, urban skating should be approached with increased caution. You're much more likely to encounter vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists while city skating than traditional trail or park skating.
For this reason, we highly recommend purchasing a proper full coverage skate helmet to prevent head injuries. In addition, elbow pads, wrist guards, padded shorts, and knee pads are also highly recommended to minimize bumps and bruises.
Frequently Asked Questions:
You've got questions, and we've got answers! Here are some commonly asked questions by people looking to purchase their first pair of skates.
For more information on how to buy skates, read our Inline Skate Buying Guide.
Q) How Do I Choose Rollerblades?
A) For many, the best inline skates are a matter of personal preference. There are so many different ways to customize your skate, including wheels, frame materials, boots, and more.
If you're still unsure about how to choose the best inline skates for you, we recommend visiting one of our stores to speak with a member of our team to discuss the best options for you.
Q) Should You Buy Inline Skates a Size Big?
A) No. As standard practice, skates should have a snug fit but not feel cramped within an inline skate boot. An urban skate boot that's too tight will be painful to wear over time, while a boot that's too loose can be more challenging to control and compromise the safety of the foot and ankle.
Consider skates with adjustable sizing if you're worried about children growing out of their skates too fast.
Q) How Do You Know What Size Inline Skates to Buy?
A) Typically, you should aim for an inline skate that matches the size of your regular street shoes. However, it's important to note that different manufacturers may offer dramatically different comfort and fit, even if they're the same size. For this reason, we always recommend trying on skates in-store before making a purchase.
Q) Are Inline Skates Only Used in Urban Settings?
A) Inline skates certainly don't have to be used only in urban skatings. Although urban skates are most practical in the city, you may choose a different skate type that better accommodates your environment. For example, fitness skates may be more applicable for indoor rinks or paved trails in place of city skating.
Hit the Streets!
Transform your daily commute into a fun, refreshing activity with urban skates. Inline skating can help improve your physical fitness while breaking up the monotony of traditional commuting methods.
Ready to purchase your first pair? Check out our selection of urban skates to get started!