A Guide to Roller Skates

Roller skates might seem simple enough at first glance, but dive a little deeper and you'll see a lot of variations and a lot of components that need to come together for a smooth and enjoyable skating experience. So, before we look at the different types of roller skates, let’s check out the basic components:

Roller skate anatomy at Extreme Skates

A Breakdown of Roller Skate Components:

  • Boot: The part of the skate that covers your foot and ankle. Boot uppers can be made of leather, suede, or man-made materials. The inside is padded for comfort. Boots can be high-top (for artistic skating) or low-top (for speed skating).
  • Plate: Mounted to the bottom of the boot, the plate is where everything else attaches. Plates can be metal (aluminum, magnesium) or nylon. Metal plates are more durable, while nylon plates are lighter. Components attached to the plate include trucks, axles, kingpins, cushions, and sometimes a grind block.
  • Bushings or Cushions: Roller skate cushions, also known as bushings, are small cylindrical pieces of urethane that fit over the kingpin on either side of the trucks. Despite their size, they play a crucial role: enabling you to turn left and right by allowing your axles and wheels to tilt.
  • Wheels: Available in different sizes and hardness levels, wheels vary based on your skating style. Outdoor wheels are softer, while indoor wheels are harder. Larger wheels provide more traction, while smaller wheels offer agility.
  • Bearings: Located inside the wheel hub, bearings allow the wheels to spin. Each wheel has 2 bearings, totalling 16 for a pair of skates. Bearings come in two sizes: 7mm and 8mm.
  • Toe Stops or Jam Plugs: Toe stops help slow down your skates and can be adjustable or fixed. Jam plugs are an alternative for styles like jam skating. Inline skates have a brake at the end of one boot instead of in the front of both boots.

Remember, each part plays a crucial role in the overall performance and comfort of your roller skates!

Types of Roller Skate Boot:

Boot shapes can play a huge part in the type of skating you want to do and the way you move when wearing them.

  • High-cut Boots: These provide enhanced ankle support with moderate flexibility.
  • Medium-cut Boots: Balancing flex and support, these are versatile for various skating styles.
  • Low-cut Boots: Ideal for roller derby, they offer maximum ankle movement but sacrifice support.

Different Types of Roller Skates:

There are a lot of roller skates out there, and everybody prefers their own style, but most skates can be filtered into a few categories for different purposes.

  • Lifestyle Skates: These are versatile skates suitable for various activities. They feature a traditional high-heel design, making them comfortable for casual skating and everyday use.
  • Park Skates: Designed specifically for skatepark use, these skates prioritize durability and maneuverability. They often have reinforced materials and responsive wheels for tricks and jumps.
  • Vintage Skates: With a mid-cut design reminiscent of retro sneakers, vintage skates offer a stylish and nostalgic look. They’re great for cruising around town or showing off your unique style.
  • Jam Skates: If you love dancing on wheels, jam skates are your go-to. They have a low-cut profile, allowing for fluid movements and spins. Perfect for grooving to music at roller discos or dance sessions.
  • Derby Skates: Built tough for roller derby competitions, these skates are rugged and durable. They provide stability, ankle support, and agility for intense gameplay on the track.
Roller skate types
Overall, what really matters is your style and comfort. Think about the type of skating you want to do and aim towards a skate that will let you do it. Things like wheels, toe stops, bushings, and even plates can all be customised as you go and progress.