What to look out for when buying roller skates for adults

Schwarze RollschuhePretty much every adult in the western world has already ridden them at some point in his or her life – the roller skates. They are just an awesome combination of fun and fitness. We tried to gather the most important things you need to look out for when getting back into the roller skating habit.
You could see them in pretty much every 70s movie. The good old disco rollers. For many the 70s were the heydays of roller skating with roller discos and even the more aggressive roller derbys everywhere.

How to find the perfect roller skates

The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to use them for. If you want to use them for fun and fitness then you should go for full roller skates with integrated shoes. They come in many variations – plastic, canvas, vinyl, flat, high etc.
On the other hand, if you want to use your roller skates to get from A to B, you might want to consider getting attachable roller skates, that you fasten to your normal walking shoes. They allow you to move around quickly, but of course they are a lot less stable than full roller skates.

The shoe in the roller skates

A well fitting shoe is one of the most important things for good roller skates. The fit depends on a lot of factors – the material, the closing mechanism, the height of the shoes etc.
Generally speaking, you can say that plastic shoes are very hard to get to fit properly. The buckles don’t offer nearly as much ability to fine tune the fit as laces do, and the just have no give. If you know that you often have problem getting shoes to fit, then you should forgo plastic roller skates and instead choose softer vinyl, canvas, or leather skates.
In our reviews we always try to note any peculiarities with the fit of roller skates. They rarely fit the way you would expect from their official size number.

Things to watch out for when choosing roller skates

The wheels on roller skates get classified according to their hardness. Hard roles have the advantage that they don’t get abraded nearly as much as soft wheels and they don’t need as much force to roll. Their disadvantage is that they don’t stick to the ground as well as soft wheels.
Soft wheels stick well to the ground, but need more strength and get used up quicker.
Generally speaking hard wheels are better for long tours outside, while soft wheels are better for indoors or agile games like roller hockey.
Today pretty much all wheels are made from polyurethane. You very rarely see rubber wheels any more.
The next important component are the wheel bearings. The bearings for skates are classified according to the ABEC scale going 1,3,5 and 7. ABEC-1 bearings are the slowest and least precisely made bearings. They are well suited for children and people just getting started. Bearings in categories 3 and 5 are for intermediate riders and ABEC-7 bearings are especially important for people going on longer tours or just generally riding a lot. Bearings can be made from many materials. Today the best ones are made from titanium. They are quite expensive, but offer great quality, durability and the don’t rust.
Also important are the stoppers. If they are to soft, they get abraded very quickly, if the are to hard they don’t transfer force well. However as long as you make sure that they’re replaceable you’ll be fine. Just change them if they don’t suit you.
Also: Once you’ve found your perfect skates, don’t forget the safety equipment. Helmet, knee-, elbow-, and hand guards are a necessity. We had a look at safety equipment here.

Where to get roller skates

The optimal place to get roller skates would be a dedicated sports shop. However very few of them are still around, and even fewer carry a sufficient variety of roller skates to choose from. That means the easier way to get roller skates is through online shops.

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If this article wasn’t enough for you, you might want to check out this massive article about how to choose the perfect skates.