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Roller Skates: specifications, types
The general style of skating that inline skates were originally designed for. This parameter determines many design features.
— Fitness (rest). This category includes the simplest models designed for relatively leisurely movement on sidewalks, park paths and other similar places and not designed to perform complex tricks. It is this category that you should pay attention to those who buy their first roller skates (or the first roller skates for a child); fitness models are also suitable for those who are not prone to extreme sports and intend to use roller skates exclusively for walking. Equipment of this class is characterized by medium-sized wheels, bearings with low speed characteristics (so that an inexperienced user does not accelerate to dangerous speeds), the presence of a brake (see below), as well as fairly simple and inexpensive materials — strong enough for safe use for its intended purpose, but generally not very reliable. The latter, however, is not a disadvantage: thanks to this design, fitness rollers themselves are inexpensive, and high loads do not arise on them during normal use.
— Active (stunt). This kind of roller skates can also be called slalom models — their main purpose is to “curly” ride on a flat surface, for example, “snake” between obstacles lined up in a row. Usually, such models do not have brakes, are equipped with fairly “fast” bearings, as well as medi...um-sized wheels that practically do not protrude beyond the front and back of the boot (this is one of the most obvious external differences from the fitness rollers described above). In addition, stunt rollers have very tight foot support in order to ensure high precision of movements — however, the downside of this feature is a low degree of comfort, which requires very precise sizing. The situation is aggravated by the fact that adjustable boots (see "Type of boot") are practically not used in this category. In light of all this, it is worth purchasing such rollers specifically only if you have some driving experience and for their intended use; for a novice rider, they are theoretically suitable, but less comfortable than models in the fitness category.
— Active (aggressive driving). Roller skates of this type are designed for acrobatic riding with jumping over obstacles, sliding along curbs and railings and other extreme tricks. They have a suitably reinforced construction with a solid boot made of solid material, but this is not the only or even the most striking feature of this class. "Aggressive" rollers are distinguished primarily by small diameter wheels; in some models they are so covered by the frame that they are practically invisible and at first glance the frame can be confused with the blade of an ordinary skate. Like all specialized varieties, this type of roller is poorly suited for non-primary applications; in this case, this is due to the fact that small wheels do not “work out” bumps well during normal driving, without tricks. Therefore, even for simple movement on such rollers on asphalt, certain skills are needed.
— Running. As the name suggests, this type of inline skate is designed for running—more specifically, for moving on flat surfaces at high speed. Distinctive features of running equipment are a long frame that protrudes noticeably beyond the boot and sometimes has numerous wheels (5, for example), as well as the large size of the wheels themselves and, of course, the high speed characteristics of the bearings. Cross-country rollers require the possession of a special riding technique and are generally quite difficult to manage; therefore, usually, they belong to the category of professional equipment and are not suitable for novice users in principle.
— Off-road. Roller skates designed specifically for moving on uneven surfaces. They are similar to "aggressive" (see above) in the sense that they were not originally designed for driving on smooth asphalt and other similar surfaces; however, the fundamental difference is that off-road skates are not designed for jumping, but for comfortable overcoming bumps. The key features of such models are large wheels, the size of which can be even larger than that of the cross-country ones described above; in addition, the frame can be supplemented with shock absorbers (this is usually found in rollers with paired wheels, see below). All this allows you to comfortably ride on uneven tiles, lawns overgrown with grass, etc.
Note that some sources may highlight other types of videos; however, in most cases they do not have fundamental differences from the categories described above, and with some reservations they can be included in one of these categories.
Features of the design of a regular roller skate boot.
— Fixed size. Boots of the simplest design, having one size and not requiring adjustment in length. In addition to the obvious disadvantage in the form of the impossibility of adjusting in size, this design also has an advantage — it is considered more durable and reliable than adjustable, and if properly selected, it sits “tighter” on the foot, which makes such boots more suitable for performing various tricks. In general, rollers with a fixed size are suitable either for an adult user whose leg is no longer growing, or for a child, if we are talking about a pair for one season.
— Adjustable size. Boots that allow you to adjust the size in a certain range — usually within 3 – 5 sizes, for example 36 – 39 or 28 – 32. The advantages of this option are obvious: it allows you to optimally adjust the boot to your foot size, one pair of rollers can be used by different people in turn, and for skates bought for a growing child, an adjustable size is just a salvation: without it, rollers would have to be changed every year. On the other hand, adjustment complicates the design of the boot and reduces its strength, therefore, in professional models (“aggressive”, running, etc.), such a design has not received wide popularity.
The sizes in which roller skates are available (more specifically, the boots that the skates are equipped with). This parameter is given for standard shoe sizes. In this case, the enumeration of sizes — for example, " 39, 40, 41 " — means that the rollers are available in several modifications with a fixed size (see "Shoe type"); and a hyphenated entry, like "39 – 41", corresponds to one shoe with an adjustable size (see ibid.).
Note that formal compliance with the size of the foot does not necessarily mean that the rollers will suit a particular user. Firstly, human legs have individual outlines, and a model that is normal in length may turn out to be, for example, cramped in the rise. Secondly, some manufacturers can be quite free with sizes, especially when it comes to low-cost models. Therefore, when choosing, it is recommended not to rely on the claimed figures, but to check the convenience of the boot "live" (or at least clarify how the claimed sizes correspond to the actual ones), especially for children's videos.
Now the following sizes of rollers are on the market : _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 46, 47.
The set determines the complete set of roller skates — in addition to the rollers themselves, it may include various accessories, primarily protective devices.
— With protection. In this case, only protection for the limbs is meant: knee pads, elbow pads, gloves (the specific set may be different in different cases). This option can be useful if you already have a helmet or want to select it separately. At the same time, such equipment is relatively rare — many manufacturers see no reason to supply protection without a helmet.
— Protection and helmet. Sets that include both certain limb protection devices (see above) and a helmet to protect the head. A helmet is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a rollerblader: if a fall on an unprotected arm or leg is most often fraught with abrasions and scratches, then the consequences of head injuries can be much more serious. Therefore, in most kits, supplemented with protective equipment, a helmet is provided.
Note that protection will be useful for any skater, but it is especially relevant for two categories — beginners who acquire basic riding skills, and professionals who deal with complex movements and high speeds. At the same time, the "rollers+equipment" sets, usually, belong to the primary category and are designed for children. This is due to the fact that professional equipment is easier to purchase separately..., choosing specific items for your preferences and needs, rather than relying on the manufacturer's decision. But for a beginner, on the contrary, it is easier to immediately acquire everything necessary for a safe ride.
The way the wheels are placed on the frame of the rollers.
— In one line. Such rollers, also called single-row ones, are somewhat similar to traditional skates — only instead of a blade, each shoe has a frame in which the wheels are fixed, one after the other. This option is by far the most popular — it is considered suitable for creating videos for any style of skating (see above) and allows for almost any number of wheels (from two or more). At the same time, the ride itself is not too difficult and accessible even to beginners. The main disadvantage of single-row rollers is poor lateral stability; however, this drawback is very conditional and may turn out to be critical only for the smallest riders, and its reverse side is good manoeuvrability and suitability for high speeds.
— In pairs. Roller skates equipped with 4 wheels mounted in pairs, in the form of a rectangle (similar, for example, to car wheels). Also referred to as "two-row", or "quads". The most obvious advantage of this option is its excellent lateral stability, which significantly reduces the likelihood of falls compared to wheels installed in one line, and makes it easier to perform “dance” numbers on roller skates. On the other hand, this style of skating is popular mainly in the West, but it has not received distribution in Ukraine and Russia, as a result of which “quads” are rarely found in the CIS markets.
<...br> — Rear wheels in pairs. A kind of compromise between the single and double row rollers described above. This design, usually, provides a conventional single-row frame, however, twin wheels are installed on the rear axle instead of one conventional one. Thanks to this, the rollers are noticeably superior to the two-row models in terms of manoeuvrability, and the single-row ones in lateral stability. However, in general, they are considered a "training" option — for those who would like to learn how to ride single-row rollers, but for one reason or another cannot immediately start with them. Also note that in many of these models it may be possible to install wheels in one line.
Number of wheels
The total number of wheels provided in the design of roller skates (more precisely, each individual skate from a pair). The most popular option is 4 wheels, it is considered optimal for almost all riding styles (see above), therefore it has become the most widespread. Deviations from this value are found mainly among running rollers — they can have fewer or more wheels.
In general, this parameter is more of a reference than practically significant, and the number of wheels itself has almost no effect on the characteristics of the rollers. Note that in models with paired rear wheels (see Wheel Arrangement), this rear pair counts as two wheels.
Rigidity of wheels supplied with roller skates.
The higher the number given in this parameter, the harder materials are used in the construction of the wheels and the stiffer they are. Hard wheels “more willingly” roll on different surfaces, it is easier to accelerate on them, they allow you to more accurately feel the surface under your feet and do not wear out as quickly as soft ones; on the other hand, these wheels have less traction, are more prone to vibrations and bumps, and require extra care when cornering. Therefore, wheels with high rigidity ( 83A and above) are typical mainly for professional models, and soft options are recommended for beginner skaters.
Note that most modern rollers allow the replacement of wheels; this procedure is mandatory from time to time, since the wheels tend to wear out, however, if necessary, you can also change a kit that is quite suitable for riding — for a harder one, or vice versa, a softer one.
At the same time, an experienced person buying new rollers can pre-select the desired wheel stiffness among those on the market: 78A, 80A, 81A, 82A, 83A, 84A, 85A, 86A, 88A,...90A, 94A
The diameter of the wheels supplied as standard with roller skates.
This parameter is usually selected by the manufacturer based on the style of riding for which the rollers are intended (see above). The general rule is this: the larger the diameter, the more “high-speed” the wheels are considered and the less sensitive they are when hitting bumps. Wheels with a diameter of about 76 – 82 mm are considered universal, these are the sizes that are found in most fitness videos and stunt models (see "Riding style"). In running equipment, this size can be noticeably larger — this is done in order to ensure a fast and smooth ride. But on the "aggressive" models, the wheels, on the contrary, are small — with this driving style, it is critical to feel all the bumps under the rollers.
Availability of the shining wheels in a complete set of delivery of rollers. The lighting system used in such models works by rotating the wheels — due to this, when the wheels are moving, they are illuminated with multi-colored flashes.
This feature is found mainly in entry-level models designed for children. Its purpose is twofold: in addition to the fact that the backlight gives the rollers an original appearance, it also makes the rider more visible — which can be useful, for example, when driving in the courtyard of a multi-storey building, through which cars periodically pass.
Class of bearings installed in roller skates.
There are several standards by which this parameter can be designated. The most popular is ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee), and the ILQ (InLine Qualified) designation is also common. In both cases, the bearing class is expressed by a number after the abbreviation: ABEC 1, ABEC 3, ABEC 5, ABEC 7, ABEC 9 or ILQ 5, ILQ 7, ILQ 9. The higher this figure, the higher the accuracy with which the bearing is made, the higher the quality (and, accordingly, the more expensive it is). The meaning of specific numbers in both standards is actually the same. So, class 1 and 3 bearings are typical mainly for entry-level children's models, and they are used not so much to reduce cost, but in the light of the fact that it simply does not make sense to install better parts in such rollers. Class 5 is considered quite sufficient for mid-level fitness rollers and inexpensive tricks (see "Riding style"), and higher values are typical mainly for professional equipment.
Separately, we note that the class of bearings is not related to their speed characteristics — it is only about the overall build quality. But what this moment noticeably affects is the...service life: precise fitting of parts helps to reduce their wear and increase the durability of bearings.
The type of boot provided in the design of roller skates.
— Soft. Such boots are similar in design to high sports shoes made of soft materials, reinforced where necessary with hard materials (most often plastic). Such shoes comfortably and tightly “sit” on the foot, provide good ventilation, and are light in weight. Of its practical shortcomings, one can only note a slightly lower strength than that of hard boots — however, this moment can become noticeable only in difficult driving modes, with an abundance of loads (primarily side loads). In addition, the soft part of the boot is not always removable, which can complicate its cleaning (but, again, these difficulties are not serious). In light of all this, soft boots are very popular in all types and price categories of modern skates — except that in " aggressive " models (see "Skating style") they usually have a soft part only on top and at first glance do not differ much from hard ones.
— Hard. Boot made entirely of solid materials and equipped with a soft insert for comfortable placement of the foot inside. Historically, this is the first type of roller skate boot, but today it is much less common than the soft variety. This is due to a number of inconveniences: hard shoes are less ventilated, weigh more, and also require increased attention to the choice — the slightest mismatch in the shape of the...foot can cause serious discomfort. However, these moments are combined in this case with high strength and resistance to lateral loads. Therefore, rigid boots are still used in some models of inline skates — both for fitness and for trick riding (see "Skating style").
The main material used in the construction of the boot. Note that this material is not the only one: soft varieties of shoes (see “Shoe type”) are necessarily complemented by a rigid frame, hard ones, on the contrary, with a soft tab. However, the properties of the boot depend primarily on the base material.
— Nylon. Soft material used in roller skates with the appropriate type of boot. This material is very popular in sports shoes in general and roller skates in particular: it is inexpensive, durable enough, can be of any colour, and there are many varieties of nylon on the market, including with rather advanced characteristics (in fact, the quality of the material, usually, is directly related to the price category of the videos). Thanks to all this, nylon is today, in fact, the main material for soft boots of all levels, from the simplest to the professional.
— Leatherette. Material that imitates the appearance of genuine leather. Like nylon, it is used for soft boots and has many varieties that vary in quality. However, for a number of reasons, the use of leatherette is typical mainly for fairly advanced skates, including running models, and the quality of this material is quite consistent with the class of equipment.
— Microfibre. Another option found in soft varieties of boots. Microfibre is based on polymer synthetic threads of extremely small thickness, due to which this material has a number of use...ful features. In particular, it retains heat well and at the same time provides moisture removal, allowing the skin to "breathe", while it dries quickly, is easy to clean and wash. At the same time, microfibre is not cheap. As a result of all this, in commercials, it is, in fact, a professional sports material and is found in models of the appropriate level (and even then quite rarely).
— Plastic. This material is in fact the same material for solid roller boots as nylon is for soft ones. It is characterized by a combination of low cost with an abundance of colours and good durability characteristics, and is also available in many grades, among which you can choose an option for almost any occasion — from inexpensive children's skates to durable professional models. And the fact that plastic shoes are rare is not due to the characteristics of plastic, but to the low prevalence of hard shoes in general.
— Carbon fiber. Material based on elongated carbon fiber filaments. It is used in hard boots and is considered very advanced: at a lower weight than plastic, carbon fiber has an extremely high strength, comparable to the characteristics of steel. At the same time, in roller skates, even professional ones, such strength is rarely required, and boots made of this material are not cheap. Therefore, carbon fiber is not widely used.
The material from which the frame of roller skates is made is the structural element on which the wheels are directly attached.
The general trends among frame materials are as follows. Plastic structures dampen vibrations and shocks better; metal due to rigidity, on the one hand, create some discomfort, on the other hand, they are more elastic and better suited for pushes and jumps. The use of metal for the frame is considered an indicator of a fairly high class of rollers, although the real need for such material is far from always present.
However, in addition to this, each type of material has its own specific features:
— Plastic. Inexpensive material, typical mainly for simple skates designed for pleasure riding (in other words, models for recreation, see "Skating Style"). It is generally strong enough for this application, however, more difficult tasks can cause problems — not only because of the possible breakage of the plastic frame, but also because of the low elasticity, poorly suited for jumping.
— CFRP. It is also "carbon" — a composite material that combines plastic with carbon fiber. This option is considered extremely advanced due to the fact that the frames are no less durable than metal ones, while they compare favorably with elasticity and the absence of permanent deformations even under heavy loads. The main disadvantage of this option is the high cost.
— Steel. The main advantage of steel is its hi...gh strength, besides, it is somewhat cheaper than alloys based on aluminium and magnesium. At the same time, this material is heavy and relatively easily deformed under load. Therefore, in modern roller skates, such frames are practically not found.
— Aluminium. In this case, usually, we are not talking about pure aluminium, but about various alloys based on it (excluding duralumin — see below about it). In general, this material is considered more advanced than plastic — in particular, with a fairly low weight, it has good strength. And the aluminium frames look quite attractive. At the same time, there are many varieties of this material, differing in characteristics and price; at the same time, the most affordable ones tend to bend under fairly small loads, and durable and resistant, usually, are not cheap.
— Dural alloy. In this case, a high-quality variety of aluminium alloy with copper and some other additives is meant. Dural combines low weight with excellent strength characteristics, and also does not deform even under fairly heavy loads; on the other hand, it is quite expensive. For these reasons, the main area of application for this material is high-end inline skates, primarily for cross-country use (see "Skating style").
— Magnesium alloy. Magnesium-based alloys are for the most part very similar to the duralumin described above: they have high strength characteristics (although this indicator can vary significantly depending on the composition) and low weight, however, they are not cheap, and therefore are installed mainly in top-level models.
The presence of a removable frame in the design of roller skates.
The main meaning of this feature lies in the ease of repair: if the frame breaks, it is enough to replace only it without changing the entire skate with the boot. In addition, if desired, you can change completely serviceable frames for others — for example, more durable and resilient. Of course, for this you need to find a suitable option for the size of the mounts, but for this size there is a single UFS standard, which is gradually becoming more and more popular. Also, the removable frame makes it easier to clean and wash soft boots (see "Boot type").
The main disadvantage of such rollers is the tendency of the fasteners to loosen during use. However, it is quite simple to protect yourself from the troubles associated with this — just check and, if necessary, tighten the mounting bolts before each trip.
The presence of a brake in the design of roller skates.
Note that the design features and application of this device depend on the location of the wheels in the rollers (see above). So, in today's most popular single-row models, the brake is installed at the rear of the frame, behind the wheels. It looks like a characteristic ridge that contacts the ground with a fairly slight backward deflection of the foot, thus providing easy, fast and safe braking. The presence of such equipment in such videos is considered almost mandatory for novice users. In turn, in two-row models, a similar protrusion is placed in the front, and its purpose is not only and not so much to slow down the movement, but to provide the opportunity to safely stand on the toe — for example, when performing a dance movement.
In both cases, the brakes are consumables: from contact with asphalt, they wear out and require periodic replacement.
The presence of blades for ice in the delivery set of roller skates.
This feature allows you to use roller skates for skating on ice: the blades are put in place of the frame, actually turning roller skates into "regular" ice skates. Accordingly, this feature, by definition, implies the presence of a removable frame (see above); however, some models with such a frame that are not equipped with blades may allow them to be purchased separately.
The method of fixing the leg, provided in the design of roller skates.
— Buckle. The term "clip" is also used; and the word "buckle" comes from the English "buckle", denoting a fastener with a buckle. Actually, the buckle of a special design is one of the components of such a latch. A strap (most often rubber or plastic) with special notches is threaded into this buckle; while the clip is unfastened, the strap can move freely, and when fastened, it is fixed, holding the leg as well. At the same time, the combination of the special design of the clasp with the mentioned notches on the strap provides a secure hold, and the buckle is unfastened quite easily.
— Velcro. Strap-style fastener held in place with a classic Velcro closure. The action of Velcro is based on the use of small hooks on one half of the fastener, which cling to the felt backing on the second half. Such clasps are extremely easy to use: the halves “stick” to each other without much effort on the part of the user (hence the name), and to unfasten it is enough to pull the edge of the strap up, gradually disengaging the halves. Thanks to this, Velcro can be used without problems even by children who have just reached the age sufficient for rollerblading. On the other hand, such clamps are considered less reliable than buckles, and are practically not used on their own.
— Lacing. Classic lacing, similar to that...used in regular shoes. Note that this type of fixation can be used in both soft and hard boots (see "Boot type") — in the latter case, the laces tighten the halves of the boot in the upper part, pressing it to the instep of the foot. Regardless of the type of boot, this fixation is very effective, as it covers a large area and provides a good contact density. Of its shortcomings, one can note poor suitability for the smallest rollers, which may have difficulty with a strong tightening of the laces.
Note that rollers with one type of fixation are quite rare — usually, certain combinations are used.
Heel strap type
Type of heel strap provided in the design of roller skates; more precisely, the type of fastener provided on such a belt.
A calcaneal belt is a belt that covers the leg at the level of the ankle joint (that is, between the instep of the foot and the lower leg). Such a latch is usually located at an angle of approximately 45° to the horizontal; its purpose is to press the user's heel, providing the necessary density of contact between the sole and the leg (hence the name). The main types of fasteners used for heel straps are buckle and Velcro; their features are described in detail above, in the paragraph “Leg fixation” (in fact, this belt also belongs to the system of such fixation).
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