For some reason I don’t understand, people like to associate roller skates with snotty pippi-looking brats chewing gum and skating through pedestrian zones in hot pants. To be “admired” in, among other things, the moderately successful US cinema film Roller Girl from 2009 and the videos of the German one-hit wonder Rollergirl (“Dear Jessie”). One of many clich├ęs that will only play a subordinate role (just kidding) in the following.

Inline skates overtook roller skates a while ago. Almost one million Germans aged 14 and over regularly slipped into inline skates or roller skates in 2021. That was the result of a survey by Statista. In addition, there are probably at least as many children. The vast majority of newbie skaters opt for inline skates, which are basically the summer version of ice skates. That was my observation. Why actually? Quad skates, as roller skates are also called, seem at first glance to be much less prone to tilting and more stable. Like on a skateboard, the wheels are mounted in pairs on axles. As a result, the standing area is significantly wider than with inline skates, where the wheels are arranged “in a line”, i.e. one behind the other. It is probably the herd instinct that plays an important role in the decision to inline skates. In addition, the selection is significantly larger. But roller skates are currently celebrating a remarkable comeback. More and more children, but also adults are discovering the stylish quads and cruising through everyday life with them.

The wheels are the crucial elements on roller skates. And there are a few rules of thumb to follow. Basically, small and light skaters should use narrow and softer wheels. They are considered to be particularly agile and can be better controlled. But the top speed is not quite as high. The heavier and taller roller skaters are, the wider and, above all, harder the wheels should be. This also applies to inline skating, by the way. In Germany, the hardness of the urethane wheels is indicated using the so-called A scale. In theory, this ranges from 1A (very soft) to 105 A (very hard). As a rule of thumb, if you are looking for softer wheels, you should look in the 85A to 88A range. Hard (and slightly more aggressive) wheels are between 89A and 92A. Softer wheels are much more comfortable to ride, but they wear out a little faster than their harder buddies.

The most important accessories and spare parts are of course the castors. They are available in every conceivable color. They are usually available in sets of 4. Important: The ball bearings are not always included in the scope of delivery. Not everyone can strap on their roller skates right outside their front door and start driving. If you want to transport the quads safely and have your hands free, you should think about a boot bag or special carrying straps. The latter is particularly useful for short distances. The bag is the better choice for longer trips.

As with cycling and scooter riding, the safety helmet is also mandatory for roller skating. Instead of a sporty racing bike helmet, it is better to go for the casual nutshell look (e.g. from SkullCap). Beginners and newcomers to roller skating are also well advised to protect their knees, elbows and wrists with appropriate pads. They are usually available as a set (e.g. from SkateWiz). Last tip: In the unlikely event that screws or wheels loosen, clever roller skaters have a handy multi-tool with the most important wrenches and Allen keys with them on every tour.

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