Which Inline Skates Are Best for Skating on the Road?

A woman putting on inline skates by the roadside.
Image Credit: Martin Mark Soerensen/iStock/Getty Images

When inline skating on the road, you share the space with automobiles and bicycles. You must also follow the same rules and be able to navigate around obstacles such as potholes and uneven pavement safely. Having the right skating equipment can help you remain nimble while ensuring you don't wear out your skates too quickly.


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The Right Style

Choosing the right skate style helps skate on the road longer without needing to replace your equipment. The best styles for road skating typically are the aggressive or speed skates, depending on how much time you spend on the roads. Aggressive skates give you more agility because they use smaller wheels, but the speed skates provide extra comfort and last longer -- they're designed for people who skate over long distances. Recreational and hockey skates typically work best on smoother surfaces such as sidewalks.


The Right Wheels

Although any wheel works on the road, soft ones wear out too quickly and hard ones give you a bumpy ride. Find the best durometer, or measure of hardness, to fit your skating style. Aggressive skaters usually prefer firmer wheels, perhaps 85A durometers. For more speed outdoors, try an 82A durometer, which is a bit softer. The size matters as well -- wheels that are too large can affect your turning ability, and those that are too small won't let you gain enough speed to keep up with the flow of traffic. The best size varies, depending on your personal preference and the skate style you like. Wheels for aggressive skates tend to be smaller, while speed skates need larger wheels. However, both work with a range of sizes. Skate wheels use the metric system, so start with a mid-range size for either style, such as 100 millimeters for speed skates and 60 to 70 millimeters for aggressive skates.


The Right Boot

Because you plan to spend a significant amount of time in the skates, find ones with comfortable linings that give your feet the right support. The best skates for the road have reinforced buckles that won't break or open if you bump into something with them. The best skates also have a powerstrap across the middle of the skate for extra support during sudden direction changes. Vented skates offer more airflow to cool your feet, but if you're rough on the skates, the best option is the more durable unvented skates.


Safety First

The best inline skates must match your style. In urban settings where you're surrounded by traffic, aggressive skates might be better, while speed skates might work best in rural areas. In either setting, obey all road rules as if you were on a bicycle by staying to the right of the lanes, signalling your turns with arm motions and moving only when cars can, such as when stop lights are green. Wear protective gear, such as helmets and elbow pads, and choose brightly colored clothing to make it easier for motorists to see you. People driving cars might not pay as much attention to you as they should, so always watch them closely as you skate so you can get out of their way quickly if necessary.


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