Folks taking up skating as a hobby often do so either as a fitness regime or for speed skating, often in competitions. Speed skating, as the name suggests, demands huge bursts of speed and the endurance required to complete the races. However, such circuits are often of medium size and do not raise the demands of endurance or long-distance skating.
On the other hand, they do demand careful calibration of feet, wheels, frame and boot. Any miscalculation can lead to anything ranging from a sore foot to severe accidents and injuries. For this reason, we shall explain how to choose the best speed roller skates by going through the three main parts of the skate – wheels, frame and boot – separately.
Boots are what hold your feet in place as you race past your opponents, and as with any other shoes, they are the single biggest reason folks get sores on their feet.
When choosing your boot, decide –
- Velcro or not – Velcro straps detract from the beauty of the traditional lace design but ensure you can manage your feet better during a race. They often allow for quick unstrapping and re-strapping of the feet during short breaks as well. But some traditional races might demand lace-only boots. So decide accordingly.
- Boot size – The rule of thumb is to go for one size larger than what you normally wear. This applies to both men and women. Women should ideally go for one size smaller than men’s sizes if the sizes are specified only in the latter’s.
- Boot weight – Leather boots, while being hardy and looking good, can be heavier than some of the other products in the market. Again, they are also costlier. So if you can carry a heavy boot and are willing to make the investment, go for a genuine leather boot. Otherwise, choose from among the many good quality faux leather or non-leather alternates available.
- Toe space – Conventional wisdom says that there should be a small amount of space in front of the toes. This does not apply to skating shoes. Here, your toes must be snug with the front of the shoe.
When deciding on wheels, consider that –
- Indoors or outdoors – Your local speed skating club would decide whether the speed skating takes place indoors in a rink or outdoors on pavements. Usually, large races and competitions are held indoors in special rinks. If that is your situation, choose hard indoor wheels that have a rating of 105A or higher.
- Diameter – Folks with smaller frames, especially children, need to go in for smaller wheels. These may range from the now rare 80mm to the more common 90mm wheels. Adults in their prime should go for 100mm or higher wheels as these give the best results at high speeds.
- Bearings – ABEC-5 is the standard that you should look out for when deciding which skate to buy. While the layman may find it difficult to verify the quality of bearings, this certification ensures that the bearings stay put during the stress and strain of high-speed races.
When deciding which frame to go for, consider –
- PVC or metal – There was a time when PVC frames were considered decidedly inferior to their metal counterparts. However, improvements in design have ensured that this is no longer the case. However, PVC parts tend to be lighter than metal ones, including aluminium. If you are going for the professional circuit, it is still better to go with a metal frame. If you’re more into local races though, a PVC one will do just fine.
- Toe stops – All skates these days contain toe stops, but their quality varies. When moving at high speed during speed skating, you need to be confident that you can stop at a moment’s notice. For this purpose, adequately large toe stops that you can manage your weight and skill, are required.