Which is Better?
I recently had a friend ask me what I liked more: inline skates or roller skates. Inline skates (which many refer to as Rollerblades, even though that is one inline skate company) tend to have 3-4 thinner wheels right down the middle of the skate. Conversely, quad skates have 4, wide wheels, and bring images of the “brownie” skates people may remember renting at the roller rink. For me, it’s a more complex question based on the type of skating I’m doing.
All My Skates
I currently own three, yes, three, pairs of skates, each of which I love for what they bring to the table:
Factors to Consider
My decision on which skates to use when depends on the following key factors:
Roller Derby Skates: Roller Derby and Indoor Surfaces
I bought my roller derby skates specifically for that purpose. Quad skates are required, and, like most people recommend for derby, they have a shorter boot, fit well, and have harder wheels. Since we’re indoors on a polished concrete floor, the harder wheels make it easier to move fast, switch directions, and stop in a number of different ways. I bought Sure-Grip Rebel Avengers and later swapped out my wheels for Sure-Grip Zombie Wheels.
When at a roller rink, my roller derby skates are the hands-down choice. When indoors on a flat, consistent surface, I practice derby related skills, like plow stops, t-stops, crossovers, and transitions. In roller derby, we do a lot of “edge work,” which means using the insides and outsides of your wheels to start, stop, or turn. At the rink, these same skills enable me to dodge unpredictable children and stop at a moment’s notice.
Outside Roller Skates: Uneven Surfaces
My outside roller skates are basically my starter roller derby skates (Reidell Dart Ombre) with softer, outdoor wheels (Moxi Outdoor Roller Skate Wheels). They enable me to practice derby skills outside while also giving me a little extra cushion for skating on harder, sometimes less well maintained, surfaces. Whether it’s a skate park or a tennis court, these give me the feel of my derby skates with more cushion to make a rougher, yet fairly consistent surface, manageable.
I have also used these skates when I am skating at an outside event where starting and stopping happens a lot. At an event like Minneapolis Open Streets, where they encourage people to walk, bike or skate, made my outdoor roller skates the right choice. Since this involved starting and stopping frequently, and then skating a short distance to the next location, these were the winners. I also wore these around my office on Halloween since there were multiple terrain changes, and I wasn't trying to go fast.
When it comes to trail skating, I have used my outdoor roller skates in the past. Now that I’ve acquired my inline skates for this purpose, I may occasionally use my outdoor roller skates for cross training purposes, but not for most of my distance skating.
Inline Skates: Distance and Speed
While training to do an inline half marathon, I discovered that skating on my outdoor quad skates for a mile or more was less than ideal. Skating on 3-4 narrower wheels, rather than four, fat softer wheels, enables me to go more quickly with far less resistance from the surface. For skating further, and faster, inline skates are the way to go. Mine are K2 Alexis Pro Inline Skates. Since trail skating and skating longer distances involves going in one direction, going a long way, navigating a few terrain changes, inline skates are a better choice. At this point, I am used to moving on roller skates, so I’m currently not as agile on inline skates. As I continue to train more, and occasionally skate on inline skates at the roller rink, I’m sure my agility will continue to improve.
What Do You Think?
Are you a fan of inline skates, roller skates, or both? Share your insights in the comments.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, health advocate, & skating nerd.