What is Inline Skates?
Inline skates are a type of roller skate which is used for inline skating. Just like quad skates, which have 2 front & 2 rear wheels, inline skates typically also have 2 to 5 wheels arranged in a straight & single line. They have a rubber “stop” or “brake” block attached to the rear of one or occasionally both of the skates so that a skater can easily slow down or stop by bending back on the foot with the brake skate.
A skate consists of a boot, worn on the foot, the boot is attached with a sturdy frame, which holds the wheels in place. Ball bearings allow the wheels to rotate freely around an axle. And, finally, the rubber brake which typically attaches to the frame of the right foot.
Normally for most skating purpose, a high boot is used, which doesn’t only provides more ankle support but also easier to skate in, particularly for the beginners. Speed skaters mostly use a carbon fiber boot which gives greater support with a lower cut allowing higher ankle flexion. But, for the recreational skating, a soft boot is used for better comfort, however, many other disciplines prefer a bit harder boot, just to protect the foot against impact or for better control of the skate. Furthermore, the boot may also have shock-absorbent padding for extra comfort.
For recreation, skates use frames built out of high-grade polyurethane (plastic). Speed skate frames are usually built out of carbon fiber as well as extruded aluminum which is a bit more expensive but more solid. These carbon frames are more flexible which makes the ride smoother. Normally, carbon fiber frames weigh about 160–180 grams. But, recently high-end carbon fiber frames with a special monocoque construction have been introduced, which offer the same level of stiffness as aluminum frames & weighing only around 130 grams.
The ball bearing is an important part. These bearings allow the wheels to rotate freely & smoothly. These are usually rated on the ABEC scale, a measure of the manufactured precision tolerance, ranging from 1 to 9 in odd numbers. Where 1 indicates the worst & 9 indicates the best.
Wheels are almost universally made of polyurethane (a kind of durable plastic). Most other plastics & rubber wear down too quickly or they have too much rolling resistance. Generally, with a bigger wheel, skate is better & faster. However, these large wheels take much more energy to start rolling. On the other hand, smaller wheels allow faster acceleration, maneuverability & a lower center of gravity.
On all skating boots, a hard rubber brake attached to the heel of the frame which allows the skater to stop by lifting the toes of the skate, forcing the brake onto the ground. To learn how to use the heel brake is very important especially for beginners, as it is the easiest way to stop in emergencies & to control speed on downhills.