When comparison shopping the roller skates we offer with other sites be sure you are getting what you pay for. Some skates look identical on other sites but may use slower bearings or a cheaper plate. They may take a basic skate and add colored laces and call it a different name only to charge you more. Our pledge is honesty and no sales gimmics. We are not a skating rink who happens to sell skates online. We take pride in the fact that we are solely focused on providing the best place online to comparison shop roller skates. We believe that to be the POW! advantage.
The correct size is obviously the starting point when purchasing a new pair of skates. A skate should fit your foot like a pair of shoes, so you should allow between 1/4" and 1/2", depending on whether your foot is still growing. If you are a woman, make sure you pay special attention to the sizes that are available in each model. Some of the skates come in men's or ladies sizes, but some are only available in men's skate. You may need to go down one size if you have to purchase a men's. Also, talk to one of our helpful salespeople about whether a model tends to run a little large or small. If purchasing a custom package, you may want to order a boot only, so it can be returned if you need a different size. Also, be sure your new skates fit before you go skating on them. We do not accept returns on used skates. You will find this policy to be an industry standard no matter where you buy your skates.
Durometer refers to the hardness of a skate wheel. Typically, a soft wheel is grippy but slow, and a firm wheel is fast but slick. A low durometer represents a softer wheel, and a high durometer represents a firmer one. When skating outdoors, you should always try to use a wheel with a durometer of 88A or less. Most recreational, indoor wheels have a durometer of 95A which gives them a good roll, but they have less traction in tight turns. An indoor wheel with a durometer of 94A or less is considered to have "grip." An indoor wheel of 95A or higher is considered to be "firm."
ABEC ratings explained. The term "ABEC" stands for the Annular Bearing Engineers' Committee, and this committee determines standards for the Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association. Most bearings are given an ABEC rating to determine their heat tolerance, rotating accuracy, and other measurements. Basically, the higher the number, the better the bearing should be, but this is not a universal truth. Some companies, like Powell-Bones, sell bearings that are not rated. Yet, Powell-Bones manufactures some of the highest quality bearings available. Using the ABEC system when determining which bearing to purchase is a good starting point, but you should always be willing to talk to a sales associate about which bearing is the best for you.
When comparing the different skates pictured in this catalog be sure to look at the individual components. The boots, chassis, wheels, and bearings all work together in the performance of a pair of skates.
Boots: First determine whether you want a high-top or low-cut boot. This should be the easiest decision. Then determine what type of material you would like. Traditionally, leather has been the best material you could use to manufacture boots, but some of them are now made with a micro-fiber material which may be more durable than leather. If you are still growing, you may wish to go with a less expensive material, for you'll probably grow out of your skates before you wear them out.
Chassis: The chassis or plates are what make your skates work. They are typically made with aluminum or some form of plastic or nylon. One material is not necessarily better than the other. They are both very strong, and some of the high-end aluminum plates are actually lighter than their plastic counterparts. You should determine whether the type of skating you do works best with a single-action or double-action truck. Single-action means that the truck, the part of the skate that holds the wheels, has only one cushion, and they are at a 45 degree angle. They allow you to be closer to the floor and give you a feeling of stability when cornering at high speeds. Double-action means that each truck has two cushions and they are at a 10 degree angle. Double-action trucks allow for quicker turns, and make your skates feel much more responsive. Double-action trucks are the most common.
Wheels: When choosing a wheel, you should first determine whether you want a speed-type wheel, wide profile, or an artistic-type wheel, narrow profile. Speed wheels give you more stability and traction when cornering at high speeds, and artistic wheels allow you to make more responsive turns. Also, determine what durometer, or hardness, you desire in your wheels.
Bearings: On ABEC rated bearings, the higher the number, the better the bearing. Keep in mind that one company's ABEC-5 is not always the same as another company's ABEC-5. Also, there are some companies that don't use an ABEC rating on any of their bearings. If you want a good bearing, buy an ABEC-3, and if you want the best bearing, buy Bones Swiss.
Special Thanks to Southeastern Skate Supply for the use of this text. All images used on this page © Planet On Wheels.