Inline skates, or rollerblades as they’re also commonly referred to, are a unique form of skates that were popularized back in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Rollerblades were one of the first name brands available, revolutionizing the dying sport of roller skating by moving the wheels of the skate into a single line, drawing on a similar design as ice skates, making the skate much more maneuverable, fast, responsive, and exciting for new generations of kids and adults alike.
The first inline skates were invented back in the 1700s to specifically mimic ice skates and allow athletes to continue training and building skills in warm weather when there was no ice available. That is still one of their main purposes today, although many people use them for fun and an efficient and environmentally friendly means of transportation.
Today, there are dozens of brands of inline skates to choose from, so to help you find the perfect pair, Car Bibles is bringing you this informative and educational review and buying guide that will show you exactly what to look for in a high-quality, reliable, and durable inline skate.
The Best Inline Skates
Our no-contest pick for the best choice when it comes to quality, performance, durability, and price has to be the Bladerunner Advantage Pro XT Men’s Adult Fitness Inline Skate by Rollerblade, the brand that started it all. This company knows skates and this particular model is a great choice for new or novice skaters since it offers the perfect combination of comfort, stability, and control. It’s constructed from a shatter-resistant, super-strong composite frame that’s specifically designed to lower your center of gravity and improve your balance.
It’s got a generously padded comfortable inner liner that’s made to cradle your feet, reduce foot fatigue, and minimize blisters so that you can skate longer and farther. It’s easy, but strong closure system is designed to provide all-important ankle and foot support. These skates feature 80mm PU wheels with smooth rolling ABEC 7 bearings that allow you to achieve moderate, controllable speeds with little effort. Our only beef with these awesome skates is that they’re a little on the pricey side and size options are somewhat limited.
- Rugged, sleek composite frame
- Four 80mm PU wheels with ABEC 7 bearings
- Supportive, well-padded inner liner
- Easy and snug closure system
- Brand Rollerblade
- Model Bladerunner Advantage Pro XT
- Weight 7.19 pounds
Super comfortable and supportive
Provide a lower center of gravity for improved balance
Easy to control and stop
Limited size options
Roll slightly slower than some models
For our more budget-conscious consumers, consider the K2 Skate Men’s Kinetic 80 Inline Skate. This is a well-made, durable inline skate with a price point that will make you smile. The frame is constructed from super rugged composite FBI that provides stability and absorbs vibrations from the road efficiently to give you a comfortable and safe skate. High-performance 80mm wheels on ABEC 5 bearings give beginner and intermediate skaters a quick, but safe skating experience.
These inline skates feature a traditional lace-up system that gives the boot a classic style. A buckle closure at the top gives quick and secure ankle stabilization. Add to that a specially designed stability cuff and you get just the right combination of flexibility and support. This skate is offered in full and half sizes, but only one color option.
- Composite FBI frame provides stability
- Traditional lacing gives a classic look
- 80mm wheels on ABEC 5 bearings
- Stability cuff for flexibility and support
- Brand K2
- Model Kinetic 80
Lots of size options
A good amount of road grip
No other color options
Slower than many other models, so not for advanced skaters
Traditional lacing can be difficult to make fit just right
If you’re looking for an unparalleled, high-end inline skate, check out the Epic Skates 125mm Engage 3-Wheel Inline Speed Skates. These uniquely designed inline skates feature large 125mm/82A wheels with a glass-filled plastic core that is quickly becoming very popular with seasoned skaters. These wheels are specifically designed to be able to tackle a wide variety of terrains with ease and agility. They’re supported by reliable and smooth pre-spun ABEC 7 bearings that allow you to achieve moderate to quick speeds with ease.
The frame of these innovatively designed inline skates is made from 195mm mounted, aircraft-grade, CNC, gold polished aluminum that is both super durable and lightweight. The comfort liner provides breathable cushioning that lets you skate comfortably for hours, while the two-buckle closure system gives just the right amount of lower and upper ankle support. Two drawbacks with this skate are its high price and the limited full-size only options.
- 125mm/82A glass-filled plastic core wheels
- Lightweight aircraft-grade polished aluminum frame
- Pre-spun ABEC 7 bearings
- Dual upper buckle closure system for support
- Brand Epic Skates
- Weight 8 pounds
Quick and smooth rolling
Large wheels can easily traverse rougher terrains
Fashion-forward and sleek design that will get noticed
Very limited size and color options
Wheel size takes some practice to get used to
The Rollerblade Zetrablade Elite Men’s Adult Fitness Inline Skate is a top-notch, high-performance skate that is ideal for learned beginners or intermediate skaters. It features the perfect combination between roll and grip thanks to the 80mm/82A wheels and SG5 bearings. The upper is constructed from engineered breathable and flexible mesh that provides 360-degree wrap support and allows for intuitive and natural foot function.
Super strong buckle closure gives reliable ankle support while the 45-degree strap and lace system anchors your heels for minimum lift and maximum support. An extra padded liner gives the perfect amount of cushion. Unfortunately, sizes are super limited on this skate and the price is higher than some other options on our list.
- Monocoque composite Frame
- 80mm/82A wheels with SG5 bearings
- 360-degree wrap mesh support
- Strong ankle buckle with 45-degree strap and lace closure system
- Brand Rollerblade
- Model Zetrablade Elite
Super comfortable and flexible foot support
High-quality wheels and bearings handle a variety of different terrains
Good combination of roll and grip
Not suitable for advanced skaters
Limited size options
When it comes to a solidly performing, moderately priced inline skate, the Liku Black Professional Inline Skates are not to be ignored. The one-piece integrated shell and frame housing is solid and provides ultimate foot stability and support. The lining of the shell is constructed from breathable and washable memory EVA cotton that conforms comfortably to your foot to give support and cushion for long treks.
The wheel sizes on this skate vary from 72-76mm depending on what size boot you order. They all have a 90A rating that can support up to 496 pounds. Secure and convenient buckle closures fasten securely and quickly to provide strong foot and ankle support and lateral stability. One issue with this skate is that the brake assembly tends to be difficult to attach to the skate and there is some concern about long-term durability of the skates themselves.
- EVA memory cotton lining is breathable and removable
- Single-unit shell design for lateral stability
- 72-76mm/90A wheels
- Weight capacity of 496 pounds
- Brand Liku
- Model LKRSR01
Very stable for novice skaters
Liner is fully washable
Brake assembly can be difficult to attach
Slow rolling, so not great for advanced skaters
Concern over long-term durability of the skates
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When it comes to inline skates, there can be large discrepancies in quality, performance, and stability between brands. This is usually due to several factors that we will examine in more depth in the following buying guide.
As you can see from our product reviews, there’s a lot more to selecting the perfect pair of inline skates that just budget considerations. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skill level will also play a large part in your selection. Advanced skaters don’t usually want to get a skate that grips the road and doesn’t allow them to go too fast. Likewise, novice skaters need a skate that allows for more forgiving, grippy handling, and stability for the feet.
Do You Need an Inline Skate?
Inline skates are an excellent option for hockey players and figure skaters who want to still be able to train and practice in the off-seasons. They’re great for furthering skill development as well, since they can handle several different types of terrain, unlike ice skates.
Inline skates are a really fun way to get kids outdoors exercising and enjoying nature instead of just sitting inside all day on electronic devices or in front of the TV. With the proper safety equipment, kids love inline skating for the freedom it gives them, and it’s a quick and active way to get to school or a friend’s house.
Inline skates are also an excellent option for people who want to commute to and from school or work. They allow you to get there quickly, but because they’re fixed to your feet, you have more control over them than if you commute on a longboard or skateboard. They’re also much less bulky and expensive than commuter scooters, so it’s easier to take them places, like on tight elevators, buses, or trains.
- Inline skates are an affordable and fun activity that won’t break the bank and can be done in a wide variety of places.
- Inline skating is an environmentally friendly and efficient way to get places quickly
- Inline skates are compact and lightweight enough to be easily taken almost anywhere.
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Different Kinds of Inline Skates
Several different types of inline skates cater to the different needs and skill levels of various users. Making sure you choose the one that suits you best is key to creating an enjoyable and skill-developing experience that you’ll want to do day after day.
Fitness Inline Skates
This type of inline skate is great for intermediate and advanced skaters who are looking to get the most durability and functionality out of their inline skates. They come in a wide range of styles and designs with different wheel sizes and configurations.
Mainly, this type of skate is designed to go a little faster and farther than the standard recreational or beginner skates. They’re built with the idea that people will be using them almost daily, so they need to be able to withstand some serious wear and tear.
Performance Inline Skates
Performance inline skates are designed for racers and very advanced skaters. They usually feature a very stiff boot design that provides a low center of gravity and a lot of lateral stability. Bearings and wheels on this type of skate are usually loose and super fast so you can tear up the track or the street as quickly as you can manage.
This type of inline skate tends to be less comfortable due to the rigidity of the boot and the fact that they’re designed to be used on quick and short courses, not for long, leisurely sightseeing tours. They’re also super sleek and aerodynamically designed so that they create the least amount of drag and the greatest amount of speed.
Recreation Inline Skates
Recreational inline skates are the most popular type of inline skates. They’re perfect for beginner and intermediate skaters that don’t want to go at breakneck speeds or use their skates every single day.
This type of inline skate is designed strictly with comfort and control in mind. The boot is usually molded to provide for lateral stability but is more flexible than a racing skate so that you can travel longer distances. They often have fun designs, lots of extra forgiving padding in the liners, and wheels and bearings that grip the road to keep you from going too fast and losing control when you’re just starting.
Urban Inline Skates
Urban inline skates are the newest type of skate and they are specifically designed with a short, nimble frame, and often larger wheels that are ideal for cruising around city streets, crowded sidewalks, and jumping low curbs and grates.
The boot design is sleek and aggressive looking and is sort of a hybrid between a recreational skate and a performance skate, combining both comfort and stability to give a smooth and forgiving ride.
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What to Consider When Buying Inline Skates
One of the primary considerations for many people who are looking to purchase a new pair of inline skates is often cost. Not always a direct correlation with quality, but the price of inline skates is usually a pretty solid indicator of whether a pair of skates has been manufactured with top-of-the-line construction materials or if they’re made with more budget-friendly, less durable components. If you’re just getting started with inline skating, picking up a pair of low-budget inline skates may seem like a great idea, but what you save in cash, you often sacrifice in quality, comfort, and performance, which can cause you to enjoy inline skating a lot less than if you had a high-quality, comfortable, and responsive skate to practice in. Try not to let the cost of the skate be your only deciding factor.
The next consideration when choosing an inline skate is what your primary goal for getting inline skates is. As mentioned above, the different types are designed for different purposes and functions. Don’t get a racing skate if you’re going to primarily use them for recreation.
Another thing to consider is the history and reputation of the company that manufactures the inline skates you’re looking at. A well-known and respected manufacturer will almost certainly make a higher-end, better quality skate, and they’ll back that product up with a solid warranty for added peace of mind.
The Most Important Features of Inline Skates
No matter which type of inline skate is right for you, there are certain universal features that you should look for to help guarantee you get a rugged, dependable, and high-performance skate that will last you a long time and be enjoyable to use.
The frame of your inline skate is where you generate your power from. The stiffer the frame, the more direct the transfer of energy is from your legs to the skate itself. The frames of inline skates are usually constructed from aluminum, plastic, or carbon. These materials can vary greatly in rigidity, weight, and durability.
Aluminum frames are lightweight and relatively stiff, providing a ton of lateral support for your feet. They’re super durable and are dent-, impact-, and rust-resistant to give you a long-wearing skate. They’re often found on intermediate level skates.
Plastic frames are rugged and inexpensive to manufacture. They’re usually found in beginner level skates. They offer support without being too stiff, but the trade-off is that they’re the heavier of the three materials, which increases the overall weight of the skate and drag on your hips, knees, and ankles.
Carbon frames are the lightest and most durable of all the inline skate frames. With that comes an increased price point, however. That means carbon frames are usually only used on advanced level skates that require high-performance output.
Wheels and Bearings
Unlike inline skate frames which are made from different materials, inline skate wheels are almost strictly made from polyurethane nowadays. These wheels are much more rugged and durable than the plastic wheels that were manufactured years ago. That being said, they do come with different levels of hardness and in different sizes. Softer wheels offer more road grip and traction, but harder wheels offer a smoother and faster skating experience. The larger the wheel, the faster it tends to go as well. However, smaller wheels accelerate more quickly and are easier to maneuver.
Another thing to consider when it comes to inline skate wheels is the number of them on your skate. Some aggressive inline skates have as few as two wheels, while some racing or downhill skates can have as many as five or six. Generally, the more wheels, the greater the stability at higher speeds.
The bearings of the wheel determine how smooth your ride will be and how fast your skate will go. Bearings with less friction allow you to reach higher speeds.
Liners and Cuffs
A proper and high-quality liner and the cuff is key to giving your feet the comfort and support they need during skating. There are four types of liners:
- Standard liners are made from a foam material and offer basic padding and comfort without any special features.
- Auto-Fit liners usually incorporate gel pads that contour to your feet and provide more comfortable and personalized support than standard liners.
- Memory Fit liners are similar to auto-fit, but they take the personalization and contouring factor a step further by giving the most conformation to your feet over time.
- Heat moldable liners are professionally heated then placed on your feet to give you an exact contoured cast that later re-hardens. These are used in very high-end advanced inline skates.
Cuffs are used to provide a good amount of ankle support that will also help you generate more power during pushing off. They’re made from either plastic or carbon. Plastic cuffs are usually higher and found on recreational skates because they’re responsive and durable. Carbon cuffs are low and provide more support and response for high-performance skaters.
The best closure system is more of a personal preference than a hard and fast rule when it comes to good inline skates. Originally, the only way to cinch your skates snugly to your feet was by standard lacing. In recent years, other methods have been added to provide more stability, control, and comfort. These include ratcheted buckles, power-assisted quick laces, dialed boa closures, and Velcro straps. You might have to try a few varying closure systems to see what you like and don’t like about each one.
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Best Inline Skates FAQ:
Do you still have some unanswered questions regarding which inline skates you should choose? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with comprehensive answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding inline skates.
Q: What are the best inline skates for the outdoors?
If you’re a newer skater, the best inline skates for outdoor use will have softer, larger wheels that provide a grippy, but easy roll over varied terrains, bumps, and rocks. This will limit your chances of falling and injuries.
Q: What are the best inline skates for beginners?
Recreational inline skates are the best for novice skaters. They’re comfortable, stable, and durable with a top speed that is easier to manage than that of a racing or performance skate. They’re also more moderately priced.
Q: What are the best aggressive inline skates?
The best aggressive inline skates usually have a boot and liner that is one-piece and provides a glove-like fit that still gives excellent support and comfort. K2 makes a great aggressive inline skate, as does CJ Wellsmore.
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Our Top Pick
Well, after reading through our entire buying guide, it’s probably easy to see why we chose the Bladerunner Advantage Pro XT Men’s Adult Fitness Inline Skate It’s constructed from a shatter-resistant, super-strong composite frame that’s specifically designed to lower your center of gravity and improve your balance. It also has good quality padding, bearings, and wheels that are very forgiving for newer skaters.
Whether you decide to go with the Bladerunner Advantage Pro XT Men’s Adult Fitness Inline Skate, the K2 Skate Men’s Kinetic 80 Inline Skate, or one of our other highly recommended inline skate models, inline skating is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature, build your stamina, and improve your balance and reaction times. Let us know in the comments what our favorite aspects of inline skating are or if you’ve got a stellar spot to go skating, we want to hear that too.
- Inline Skates – Wikipedia