While beginners and professionals may both prefer the rink, many regular skaters prefer to set the streets on fire with their skating skills. While the basics of skating are the same, the challenge quotient is enhanced by the fact that neither are typical streets designed for skating, nor are potholes and pedestrians particularly forgiving.
Hence, along with a decent amount of skill, one needs roller skates for street skating ie skates that can negotiate the peculiarities of roads and pavements with greater ease. These would include excellent outdoor wheels, great stoppage and decent balance.
Sadly, not every top-of-the-line skate manages to tick these criteria. To help you rock the streets while keeping yourself and fellow citizens safe, I’ve compiled a list of the best street skates, along with some do’s and don’ts of street skating.
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Best Roller Skates For Street Skating I Like
Riedell R3 Zen Outdoor Quad Roller Skates – Roller Derby Skate
The first contender to clear our street skating checklist is the Riedell R3, courtesy of its excellent 85A outdoor wheels. As most users noted, these wheels are thin without being prone to excessive wear and tear, making them perfect even for the occasional cracked road. Equally important is the presence of ABEC-5 bearings in the wheels. Along with PowerDyne plates, these ensure optimal balance without bogging down the feet with undue weight.
The shoes are equally remarkable, though some found the fittings to be slightly off target. When adjusted for derby sizes though, we found that the purple and black shoes proved to be the ideal means of keeping one’s feet snug while on the road. Available in a huge number of sizes, these feature-packed skates are enough for even the most intensive skating session.
Rollerblade Men’s Swindler RB Street Skate
Meant for intermediate skaters seeking advanced features on a quality TRS frame, this Rollerblade offering comes with 90A wheels that can handle both muddy roads as well as concrete surfaces. Combined with SG-5 bearings and an excellent plate, they ensure excellent weight distribution even if they feel somewhat heavy initially. Equally remarkably, these features are built to last, ensuring that even when subjected to gruelling skating sessions on uneven roads, the skates outshine the competition.
Above the plate, the shoes put comfort first with decent lining and traditional laces. A few users had problems with the tongue of the shoe, but realised that this was limited to some rare cases. Overall, the shoe, the frame and the wheels complement each other well enough for this Rollerblade to be a true street skating champ.
Riedell Dart 2 Tone Ombre Quad Roller Speed Skate
Our second Riedell contender offers an equally sturdy set of wheels, this time with an aluminium plate. Though the largest sizes do not offer aluminium, most users with average foot size found that the aluminium plate was the biggest differentiator. It not only provided stability, but also kept the product from sustaining damage. With standard ABEC-5 bearings, this translates into a great combination of versatility and durability.
Adding to this versatility quotient are the dual tone shoes. Barring the isolated case of poor fitting, these shoes proved their worth for most users, regardless of whether they sought comfort, low weight or both. The stoppers too are praiseworthy, making these great even for the adventurous beginner who wants a taste of street skating. All in all, these features make our second Riedell challenger worthy of consideration by both the beginner and the street skating veteran given their combination of advanced features and simple design.
Some Street Skating Safety Tips You Should Know
Despite having the best street skating gear and skills to boot, you may still end up in an unfortunate mishap if you’re not careful. As I mentioned above, streets were not designed for skating and most of your fellow travellers will have very little understanding or sympathy for skating. To ensure that you don’t run afoul of the law or do harm to yourself or anyone nearby, keep the following in mind –
Bent knees, feet wide apart
Bent knees, feet wide apart – Balance is the most important part of skating and on roads, these acquire even greater importance. This is because pedestrians, dogs and cars will often bend rules or otherwise prove a nuisance, forcing you to manoeuvre quickly. Bending your knees gives you greater flexibility while keeping your feet wide apart ensures better balance and weight distribution.
Peripheral vision alert
Peripheral vision alert – Whether you’re on a quiet country by-lane or a busy city street, you can never know when a bike or taxi would appear in your path. For this reason, it is necessary to keep your eyes peeled to the road, not only the one in front of you but also the ones branching out from it.
Toe-stops are vital
Toe-stops are vital – Stopping at a moment’s notice usually requires a combination of skill and good stoppers. Many advanced skating shoes don’t have the necessary stoppers because it is assumed that they would be used in the rink or in some closed space. Such shoes, when used on roads, are an invitation to disaster. Hence, it is always advisable to go in for quality skates that have great stoppers, even if they lack some advanced features.
Signal turns and respect traffic rules
Signal turns and respect traffic rules – While you’re not in a vehicle, you are moving at a fast pace and this can confuse drivers and cyclists. To avoid confusion, you should follow the driving rules regarding turning, stopping at red lights, etc, even where these are not mandatory for skaters. Further, while turning abruptly, you should stand tall and point in the direction you wish to go to.
Have a route plan, and a Plan B
Have a route plan, and a Plan B – Unless you are a tourist, chances are you will have some idea of what the traffic bottlenecks of a place are. Avoid these at all times, choosing instead routes that are less congested. On the other hand, do not choose routes that tend to be deserted as this can have implications for your safety. Above all, be ready to compromise your routes and distances should any unanticipated eventuality (like a storm or a roadblock) arise.
Be visible – Unlike cars or bicycles that have fluorescent panels and indicators, your skates may not have anything that allows a driver to differentiate you from the scenery. To increase your chances of being seen well before the driver reaches your position, wear bright clothes and if needed, fluorescent panels or blinking lights when skating at dawn, dusk or night.
Whether driven by the thrill of going outside the rink or the necessity of doing so, remember that street skating can be both highly rewarding and also somewhat riskier than skating in a rink. That said, the roller skates for street skating mentioned above would remove a good many of the risks involved.
The remaining, as I’ve outlined in the second half of this short write-up, need to be minimised using your own sense of self-preservation and the rules of the road. Combining them with proper skating skill and experience, you should be able to enjoy the myriad street skating adventures minus the risks involved.