How to Choose Outdoor Skates and Wheels
Outdoor roller skates differ from indoor skates mainly due to the wheels. If you intend to skate outdoors, it is ideal to have softer, taller wheels. Most outdoor roller skaters prefer an inline skate, commonly known as a ‘rollerblade’. Quad skates, or ‘roller skates’, can be used outdoors with the proper setup, but "off the shelf" models don’t withstand the outdoors as well as inline skates due to the bigger footprint or surface area, as well as their wider, harder wheels. Inline skates were designed to withstand various outdoor terrains due to their softer wheels gripping rougher landscapes.
Inline skates also allow for more speed, and allow outdoor skaters to go faster. Outdoor skaters are subjected to varying terrains, and an outdoor skaters’ goal is usually to maximize speed, while eliminating the impact of the challenges associated with harsher outdoor environments. Quads or roller skates, are the preference of many indoor skaters: dance skaters, roller disco skaters, and Roller Derby skaters. Quads have a large footprint or surface area, making skating outside more difficult, but possible with the right equipment. Although ideal for most indoor skaters, one small piece of debris can make for a huge obstacle on quads, whereas inline skates are made to withstand the outdoors. Outdoor quad skates feature the classic quad roller skate design, with two wheels in front and two wheels in the back.
Inline skates normally have 3 5 wheels in a straight line. There is no ‘hard’ rule to selecting your outdoor skates. Some outdoor skaters prefer quad skates, however, quads are mainly used by and recommended for intermediate to advanced skaters. Quads are used by outdoor skaters that see a benefit in the larger footprint to travel through different types of outdoor surfaces with more stability and less speed, and it is a top choice for recreational skating of any kind. Gaining and maintaining high speed is quite more challenging on quads when compared to inline skates, but as with any skate, comfortability and personal preference is of the utmost importance. If you're going to skate outside, especially if you're going to be skating on concrete or other rough/hard surfaces, it is especially important you get some protection for your knees, elbows, wrists, and head.
We aren't saying you should go out skating looking like RoboCop or the Michelin Man, but some protection is advised. and if that's really the look you're going for, we do sell some awesome PhreakTape to help you keep it together. At the very least, you want knee and wrist protection because these areas are the most likely to get scraped up if you fall and we all will eventually fall. There are many types of pads and helmets on the market, and we have a few of our favorites below. Don't go cheap on your protective gear, you wan't something that is high quality and durable because it's important that the gear holds up in the event of a fall. The most important thing when choosing any pads or helmets is to get the right fit.
If your gear doesn't stay where it's supposed to, it can't protect you. Want it all?Build Your Own Safety Package!The measurements of skate wheels are specified by diameter and durometer. The diameter is basically going to be the height of the wheel. The diameter of inline wheels usually range between 68mm and 110mm while quad skate wheels range from 58mm to 65mm. The durometer scale measures the softness or hardness of a wheel.
The durometer is measured using a scale that typically ranges from approximately 74 softest to 106 hardest and is usually labeled with the letter “A”. Durometer is normally seen as the second measurement listed on a skate wheel, with both millimeter measurement and durometer, or hardness, of the wheel. For example, a skate with the label “76mm/78A” shows the diameter, in millimeters, first – in this case, the diameter is 76 millimeters. The second number displays the hardness – in this case, the hardness level is 78. In general, outdoor skate wheels are usually within the 74A to 84A range on the durometer scale. For comparison, indoor skates are, on average, in the 84A to 106A range.
Different types of outdoor skaters prefer different types of wheels. Recreational outdoor skaters may prefer a medium size, softer wheel. These wheels offer an improved grip with good control over speed and impact, as well as any vibrations they may incur. Speed skaters looking for inline wheels typically opt for a larger, semi harder wheel due to the increased roll. Since this type of skating is usually in a controlled indoor surface such as a rink, the need for grip and terrain control is not as important as the speed a harder wheel provides.
Aggressive skaters notoriously prefer small wheels, due to the increased maneuverability they need in order to maneuver quickly. Inline outdoor skaters typically prefer tall wheel diameters. A skate wheel’s diameter is equal to the height of the inline skate wheel, normally measured in millimeters. The taller the diameter of the wheel, the more quickly a skater will roll. An inline skater using a shorter wheel, compared to an inline skater with a taller wheel, will roll more slowly under the same conditions when the skaters’ wheel, skate, and skater are the same. One thing to keep in mind as an inline skater when choosing wheels is that smaller, shorter wheels require less effort when taking off.
However, once the skate is in motion, the larger, taller wheels move with more speed. Inline skates for outdoors are recommended for most skaters and we carry several top brands of inline skates including Rollerblade, TKO Mota, Atom, and SEBA. We also carry other brands like Luigino that are extremely high end and should only be considered by those skaters that are advanced and serious about speed.