Skate Tip: Don’t let the end of summer stop you from having fun!

Summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, and it won’t be long before the seasons change and we’re gearing up for cooler weather. For many outdoor skaters, that means our window of opportunity of starting to close.

Whether you are cruising around the park, hitting the boardwalk, or just rolling with your kids down the street, there’s no easier or more fun way to have fun, enjoy time with family and friends, and stay in shape. And you don’t have to give that up just because summer is gone.

Did you know that you can turn an outdoor skate into a perfect rink skate by simply changing out the wheels?

If you enjoy skating and don’t want to let the weather keep you sidelined, adding a set of indoor wheels will get you rolling right along!

I’ve included links to our three most popular indoor wheels:

Happy Skating!

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Five Things to Know Before You Purchase Roller Skates

Roller skates can seem a bit complicated when you start looking over the manufacturer specifications, sales brochures, and reviews, but they don’t have to be. If you know the terms and what each component does, then choosing your next pair of skates can be a simple process. There are five basic elements that make up a pair of roller skates. Everything else is just cosmetics, design, and performance.

This article covers the basics, but has been written to help you select the roller skates that fit you best. When you are ready for more advanced terms or specifics about a component, just click any one of the article titles below, and it will take you to a more in depth explanation of that component.

If you have any questions that aren’t covered here, or you need any additional help or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us (link to contact form / person).

The Basics:
Whether you are a first time skater, an old pro returning to the newer technologies available, or parents looking to surprise someone with a new pair of skates, this guide will help you get off to a good start. Don’t let the descriptions get you confused. Every pair of roller skates is just wheels that strap on your feet. The details are a bit more involved, but that’s all explained later. There is also a link to each component that explains it in more detail.

  1. Wheels
  2. Bearings
  3. Trucks
  4. Chassis or Plates
  5. Boots

That is everything that makes a pair of roller skates. So, let’s take a look at each of these five components, and have a quick overview of what each does. This way you’ll know not only what components you’re looking at, but also what is and is not likely to be in your price range. We’re going to take this from the ground up, just like the list above, so take notes or bookmark (link) this page so you can come back to it.

Step One: Wheels
Wheels are basically about durometer (hardness) and shape (size). Hard wheels are faster and typically for indoor skating. Soft wheels are slower and usually for outdoor skating or indoor beginners. Shape basically means size. Narrow small wheels are easier to steer, and are best for beginners or skaters who make lots of fancy turns. Wider wheels are more difficult to control, but offer more surface area and are great for stability in high speed turns.

Step Two: Bearings
Wheel bearings put the roll in your skates. High performance bearings will roll longer, making them ‘feel’ faster. In scientific terms, less energy (push) is required to go farther. Additionally they last longer and offer a higher degree of safety due to their reduced chance of mechanical failure.

Step Three: Trucks
The truck on a roller skate is the ‘T’ shaped piece that bolts onto the plate. It is also the most complex part of the skate. The wheels are attached to it, and when leaning left or right, the truck twists in that direction to accommodate the turn. Single action trucks have only one cushion (shock absorber) and typically sit at a 45 degree angle. They are best for speed skating. Double action trucks are usually at a 10 degree angle, and have two cushions. They are easier to control, and are the most common type (most people skate on these).

Skate trucks are made from either aluminum or a composite of nylon and fiberglass. In most cases aluminum is more expensive, and generally lighter and stronger than nylon.

Step Four: Plates
Plates are what everything except the wheels and wheel bearings attaches to. They are basically just a piece of metal for everything to attach to. The boots go on the top, with the trucks on the bottom, and the wheels and bearings attached to the trucks. The most noticeable difference in plate designs is whether they have a stop (the big rubber brake).

Like skate trucks, plates are also made from either aluminum or nylon and fiberglass, with aluminum typically being the better material.

Step Five: Boots
Boot is essentially the ‘shoe’. It is the part that actually goes on your feet. The material of the boot will be leather or synthetic (vinyl). Leather is more comfortable and durable, while vinyl will cost less. Tall boots will generally be for more traditional or artistic skating styles, while low boots will be for speed or track skating.

In summary, there are many different roller skates to choose from. The one that is best for you will be a combination of your skill level, design preferences, and of course budget. By knowing what each piece does, you’ll be better prepared to select a combination suited to your own personal needs. Have fun, and don’t forget to

Chassis, Plates, and Holding It All Together

This is probably the least difficult part of the entire skate assembly to describe. The roller skate plates are a piece of metal or nylon and fiberglass that the boot attaches to on the top and everything else attaches to on the bottom. Outside of that, there are only a few differences, which we will discuss below.

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First, the construction material should be considered. Nylon and fiberglass are the most common material, but also cost less. Aluminum is the most expensive material, but also the lightest and strongest.

Second, the stops are either there, or they aren’t. This basically means you have a big rubber brake, or you don’t have a big rubber brake. There are only really two kinds of brakes.

  • The non-adjustable bell style stoppers are somewhat old school, and they require weekly tightening at a minimum. While these are also the least expensive sort of stops, they are also guaranteed to loosen up, and can cause you to get hurt if you don’t pay attention.
  • The adjustable stoppers, which are the newer type. These don’t usually shake loose from vibration like the non-adjustable stops do.  As a result they are relatively low maintenance. The only thing you really need to do with these is just adjust the height to a setting you are comfortable with.

Obviously if there are not stops, then you don’t have to worry about these issues. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is stopping – or landing if you already started skating and are only just now reading this.

Also, some roller skate plates are adjustable, and in some cases, there are even different theories and schools of thought as to how the plates are set up. For example, some speed skaters will get plates that are actually smaller than the standard size for a particular boot, but this is in the lands of expert theory, and best left to our specialists.

However you decide to skate, consider that there is a wealth of information and option available to you. We are here to help with every step along the way, making sure you don’t fall. If you do, we’ll catch you. Just send us an email. It’s what we do.

Roller Skate Nation Photo Contest Winners

Roller Skate Nation recently hosted a photo contest on Facebook and Google+. Check out some of our best submissions and feel free to comment. Thanks to all those that participated!

1st Place 
Tiffany Howard

CAPTION: Pacesetters My daughter, a munchin in The Wiz Skate Show 2013!!!

Runner-Ups
Lusea Griffiths

Sarah Hexapus Deathriage

Martina Cordova

Lindsay Wright Brian

Keep On Trucking While You Skate

The Basics Of Roller Skate Trucks

Potentially the most complicated part of your roller skates is where it all comes together: the truck. The wheels attach to the truck, and the truck attaches to the plate. Any problem with the truck is a serious problem, so they not only need to be maintained well, but also should be visually inspected before every skate session. Any sign of unusual wear or damage should be immediately inspected by a professional, and you should not skate on it until a professional has cleared the skates as safe. This is of course true for all roller skate components, but it is especially true for roller skate trucks.

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It is essentially a bolt that holds the wheels in place, allowing slight turns as you lean left or right while skating. If you think of roller skate trucks in car terms, they would be the suspension onto which your car wheels attach. Just like with a car, firm suspension is best for racing, while soft suspension is best for luxury and comfort.

Like plates they can be made of a nylon and fiberglass composite, or of lighter and more durable aluminum. As concerns the overall skate, the truck is the element that offers the widest range of options as concerns shocks, twists, and overall absorption. Even experienced skaters are encouraged to discuss the various differences in performance with an expert before purchasing, as subtle changes can make a big difference both in terms of feel and performance.

Most importantly, consider the quality of your materials and the overall function of this part before looking into fashion considerations. While it is ok to be more fashionable on other parts of your skates, this is one part you really want to make sure is of the highest quality. It controls the main parts of your ride, and has a larger impact on the overall feel of skating than any single other part.

If you need advice on what to try out, and more importantly what to look for when trying out different trucks, just ask one of our experts. We can help you choose a set of trucks that is best suited to your particular style of skating, and make sure you know what the different adjustments will do in terms of changing the feel of your skate.

As always, keep on trucking, and don’t forget to keep sending us your article ideas!

Bearings – What They Are and What They Aren’t

There is a great misconception amongst people that wheel bearings in skates have an impact on how fast you can go. This is simply not true. How fast you skate is entirely dependent on your ability as a skater. Good bearings provide a smooth ride, resulting in more roll. This can make it easier or more difficult to skate fast, but the overall speed potential is not increased.

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Why then the misconception, even amongst some experts? Well, new bearings give a smooth and effortless roll. Since people normally skate performance across the same terrain, such as a roller skating rink, they aren’t able to accurately assess overall performance, and believe that the roll a good set of wheel bearings provides equates to more speed.

In simple terms, it is not unlike pushing a shopping cart across the smooth floor of a grocery store. With the exception of the grocery cart I always seem to end up with, all four wheels will glide smoothly across the hard surfaces of the store floors. This changes once you leave the store. At that point considerably more effort is required to push the cart, and the rough sidewalk or street surfaces don’t allow the wheels to roll very far. The only real factor in cart distance at this point is how hard you push.

That is the key phrase – how hard you push. All things being equal, a skater who has less weight, or who can push harder (or both) will be the one to go faster, even if their bearings are not as good. Of course, a skater with better bearings with win the roll contest simply because there is less resistance to their push, and they will roll farther – just not necessarily faster.

Now that you understand the basic concept of bearings, the next question is whether the quality of bearings is important or not, and if so, why. As with all things, quality is in fact an important consideration, but only if you are someone who really skates. If you don’t, then the extra money spent on good bearings is wasted. This is because all bearings are basically the same when they are new. The only real difference in good bearings is that they don’t compress with frequent use. In simple terms, the higher quality your bearings are, the stronger the metal is, and the longer they will last.

For regular skaters, the bearings will need to be replaced every six months to one year anyway, so it is important to consider how often you will skate, coupled with the type of skating you intend to enjoy before selecting your bearings. Hopefully this has helped to clear things up on bearings, and as ever, contact us with any questions.

Understanding What Makes a Wheel

 The Basics Of Roller Skate Wheels

Durometer (hardness): How hard your wheels are is kind of like comparing hard shoes to soft shoes. One is simply softer, and therefore has more give, as well as slightly more grip. For example, you would not want to go hiking in dress shoes or high heels, as they are generally a very ‘hard’ shoe, but they’re great for smooth areas, like city streets. Alternatively, some hiking boots would be fantastic for mountain climbing, but are a little much to be running around the city in. The same applies to skate wheels.

roller skate wheels

Shape (size): In simple terms, the shape of wheels ranges from narrow to wide. There are also specialty wheels available, but they should only be considered once you have determined the type of skating you will be doing.

  • Narrow roller skate wheels give the greatest maneuverability, making them ideal for beginners. They are also used for outdoor skating, artistic skating, and also many rhythm skaters.
  • Wide wheels are used for speed skating, track skating, and most sets of jam skates. This is because the more surface area the wheels have, the greater the amount of traction and grip they provide.
  • Specialty wheels are also available for all types of roller skating. Once you have decided the type of skating you intend to do, you will be able to narrow your focus to that type of wheel, and then select the specialty wheel type that best suits you.

Wheel materials are generally colored urethane. The color of the wheels is dependent on the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Different hardness materials produce specific hues, but the actual color has no impact on performance. Therefore, if you are fond of pink, black, green, yellow, or sparkles, this is one area where you can make a fashion statement without impacting cost or performance.

If you’re a specialty skater, and need wheels that have extra grip, you can purchase POLY BD wheels. They offer a unique blend of shock absorption and hardness, and were designed specifically for high end jam, speed, and track skating. They are easy to differentiate from other wheel types due to the

So keep in mind that wheels are your ride. Bad wheels for the surfaces you plan to skate on will result in a poor experience, while good wheels will make a big difference in both feel and performance. As ever, should you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us. That’s why we’re here.

Boots, Shoes, and Being Fashionable While You Skate

Fashion and skating are not something everyone considers. Many people who skate only do so part time, and are not aware of the many options available in skate fashion. To be sure, everyone has seen the neon colored wheels, or colorful trucks, and even colored boots, but did you know that there is an entire world of roller skate fashion when it comes to the uppers?

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Skate uppers (the boot, or shoe) can be as different and varied as any shoe store in the world offers. In fact, if you have an idea for a particular style of boot, it exists. If it doesn’t exist, no problem, there are experts who can custom make any style of boot or shoe you desire. With that in mind, you can actually get the style skates you want. If you want several styles, you can also do that. There are just a few things to consider when looking over the basics of boots.

First, your own personal preference of leather or synthetic material (vinyl) needs to be considered. While leather is more comfortable and durable, it does require care, and is more expensive. Vinyl is less expensive, but if you only plan to wear your skates occasionally, or just for fashion purposes (pumpkin skates for Halloween, as an example), then vinyl might be just fine for you. Likewise, if you are considering your first skate purchase, and just want to get a feel for it, then vinyl might also be a good choice.

Second is the actual style. Some prefer a boot cut, while others will prefer more of a shoe style. It really depends on your own personal preference more than anything else, though there are slight advantages certain styles provide if you are into speed or other specialty types of skating. There is also the consideration of laces or straps for securing your skates. Laces take longer to secure, but they provide a much more snug fit.

Third, and probably most important, is the actual comfort. If you won’t be comfortable, then you probably aren’t going to skate much. If you don’t skate much, then what is the point of having skates? So get something comfortable.

Think of it like this – the average video game is about $50, and most people who play games will buy at least six per year. At that rate you could get one really nice pair of skates each year. Since you don’t wear them every day, they’ll last a long time if you take care of them. Besides, it’s hard to put a price on looking good.

Before we go, there are also hard plastic skates that are not unlike ski boots, but they are usually the sort of thing children wear. They haven’t been discussed in this article for that reason. If you would like to learn more about this type of skate, just send us a quick email and we’ll take care of you.

Infographic- History of Roller Skating

Roller Skate Nation’s Infographic on the history of Roller Skating!

Check it out now…
http://www.rollerskatenation.com/the-history-of-roller-skates_a/362.htm

Derby Your Way To Health!

When Regina Frazer put on her first pair of derby skates, little did she know that she would one day be on Cnn.com for all the world to see. Yet that is exactly what has happened!

Regina joined the Fairbanks Rollergirls in 2009 to give her something to do in the harsh Alaskan climate.Soon Regina was better known by her derby name, saBOBtage. She was well loved by her teammates and soon held leadership positions on her team. In 2011, she was voted to be co-captain of the team. It was then that she decided that to be a good example, she needed to be an athletic leader as well.

When Regina Frazer started the team she weighed 260 pounds and could barely skate 25 laps. Through both roller derby and a complete overhaul of her diet, she has gone from a size 22 to an 8. She can also easily skate 100 laps! So, one might say that it is completely possible to derby your way to health!