For more information about skating materials, please check out Skates HQ’s guides to top quality skating equipment including their reviews of children’s skates
Skates are basically comprised of the following parts: a boot, a frame, wheels, bearings, and brakes. The boot is the part worn on the skater’s foot. This is then sewn to the frame holding the wheels. Wheels are able to rotate as they go around an axle with the help of bearings. The brakes are also connected to the frame.
There are various kinds of skates, each used for a specific type of skating (inline hockey, aggressive skating, artistic inline skating, and speed skating). Each kind also differs in the material used for their parts.
Most skates have high boots. These offer a lot of support for the ankles, making it easier to skate, which is usually why beginners prefer this type. For advanced speed skaters, boots made of carbon fiber are more preferable. These allow for a higher level of support. The boots have a low cut to give the ankle room to flex.
Skating casually or recreationally can use softer boots for the sake of comfort. Harder boots are better for more disciplined use. The harder the boot is, the more control and protection the feet get from impact. Finally, skating downhill can benefit from boots which have been molded in heat. These follow the shape of the skater’s foot, giving more precision and control.
Boots are manufactured with padding that offers comfort and shock absorbency.
The common skates – those used for recreation – have frames made of high-grade plastic (polyurethane). The skates found in toy stores and department stores have lower quality, and are made of low-end types of plastic. Frames used for speed skating are either made of extruded aluminum, pressed aluminum, carbon fiber, or magnesium.
Generally, frames made from carbon fiber are costlier but offer better flexibility. This allows the user to enjoy a smoother ride. However, the transfer of power between the wheels and the legs can be compromised. Extruded aluminum frames, on the other hand, are very solid but are more expensive.
These days, virtually every skate wheel is comprised of polyurethane. This type of plastic is quite durable. Other forms of rubber or plastics are faster to be worn out and don’t roll as smoothly. The rule is: the larger the wheels, the higher the skating speed. Bigger wheels, however, require a lot more effort and energy for them to roll. This means that smaller wheels can give quicker acceleration, better maneuverability, and a much lower center of gravity.
During the earlier 2000s, there were substantial improvements in urethane compounds. These allowed skates to use tougher compounds for improved wheel longevity. These also paved the way for the lowest rolling resistance to date. Today, the profile and thickness of skate wheels vary depending on their application and use.
Heel Brakes / Toe Stops
Rubber brakes are connected to the frame’s heel. These let skaters stop at any point by lifting their skates’ toes. This forces a ground break. It is very important to learn how to use the brake, especially for beginners, downhill skaters, and during emergencies.
There are many parts that comprise skates. Each part is made of various materials, depending on the quality and type of skate. Each type corresponds to a different application, allowing various skaters to have a wide range of options available for their every need.