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Fitting & Purchasing Skates

This page is intended to give you some information on skates and other optional equipment.

If It is your first time skating in any way, it may be a good idea to rent a pair of skates the first time that you try in-line skating.  This will be an inexpensive way of deciding whether or not you like it.  But remember, not everyone was good at it the first time they put on a pair of skates.

However, owning your own skates from day one can be a better idea.  With a good in-store fitting service, your skates will fit snugly and comfortably, giving you the best possible control and enjoyment so that you progress quickly.  An old pair of worn rental skates may not give you a good indication of what skates should really feel like.  Additionally, the purchase of skates will be motivation to use them and get into the best shape that you have been in a long time.  After paying for 5 or 6 six rentals, you could have afforded to buy an inexpensive pair of blades.

There are several different types of blades on the market, but the most popular fall into the large range of what are called recreational skates.  This type is designed for all-round performance and ease of use.  Fitness skates, which are generally faster and designed for greater stability at higher speeds, are usually slightly more expensive and require more maintenance.

There are also specialized skates designed for specific activities.  Skates for hockey, racing, and aggressive skating employ materials and features that enable them to perform well in their particular discipline.  Each style offers a different level of performance and, as in most things, become very expensive when specialization is involved.

With all skates in general, you get what you pay for.  Buying cheap skates is not recommended.  What you save on the front end will cost you later in performance and enjoyment.  If you are buying your first skates, look at those in the mid-price range.  Even if you are on a budget,  spend as much as you can afford with the idea that you will upgrade later.  Adults should expect to pay $120.00 and upward.  With children, the quality is less important because of the fact that they will outgrow them quickly, but they should still enjoy the benefit of a smooth glide.  With children expect to pay $60.00 or more.

Before you even try on a skate, spin the wheels with your hand.  They should move silently and freely.  If they grind or stick, the bearings and wheels are likely of poor quality.  This will reduce your speed and enjoyment by restricting your glide.  Performance also depends on how well the shell flexes and the quality of the bearings in the wheels.  Your local supplier should be able to suggest the appropriate type of skate for you.

Comfort is the priority when purchasing skates.  They shouldn't feel like slippers, but feet should be comfortable with no pressure.  The fit should be snug throughout.  Toes should not be pushed against the end of the shell, and they should be able to wiggle.  The heel should be cradled firmly, but comfortably.  The skater should be able to flex their knees and ankles forward when standing in the skates.

Most good skates are adjustable so that the fit is as perfect as possible.  Before purchasing the skates, make sure that they can be adjusted easily while on your feet.

In-line skates are available in a wide range of outlets, from traditional skate stores and ski stores, to bicycle and mountain bicycle stores as well as in general sport stores.  You'll even find them in some large toyshops.  Inevitably, the best skates and the best advice will be found in the specialist retail outlets, where the staff will be specially trained to advise and fit skates.

The correct selection and fitting of in-line skates is a serious business, so it is worth seeking out a specialist store.