While roller skates have become somewhat less popular since disco died out, they are still a great form of exercise, transportation and fun. If you’re interested in buying a pair of inline skates, you’ve come to the right place!
In this review, we’ll teach you about inline roller skates, piece by piece, and then review some of the best inline skates for men’s, women’s, and children’s skates.
Remember to always use the proper protective equipment and make sure to buy the right skates for the kind of roller skating you want to do.
Here is a feature overview of my top 3 picks for Men, Women and Children. Then we’ll talk about how to choose the best pair for you, along with full reviews of our favorite skates and a buyers guide.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Best Inline Skates
Table Of Contents
Roller Skate Reviews
Okay, now that we’ve talked about what makes a good roller skate, let’s discuss a few models. We’ll discuss a variety of men’s, women’s, and children’s roller skates, their pros and cons, and any cool features they might have.
Best Men’s Inline Skates
The first men’s skates in our review are the F.I.T. Pro 84 Inlines by K2. Unlike the Zetrablade 80s below, these skates are made for a slightly more advanced rider. They’re good inline skates for a combination of moderate speed and distance riding.
Another key difference is the high amount of ventilation available from these skates. On the one hand, that makes them better for longer rides and aerobic workouts.
On the other, ventilation compromises the stiffness of the skates, and to some extent reduces their efficiency. Not to worry though; if you’re not an aggressive rider, you probably won’t notice.
The wheels that come with this complete boot are 80A in durometer, which is soft, but not too soft. If you’re skating primarily outdoors, you might want to buy some harder wheels.
As implied, these skates fit wheels of 84mm diameter. That probably makes these skates a little too fast for most beginners, but they’re a safe bet for intermediate roller skaters.
Their aluminum frames provide a lot of support while still being lightweight. There are probably the best inline skates for fitness.
These being much nicer inline skates, you won’t be surprised to hear that they cost quite a bit more than the Zetrablades.
If you’re not an experienced roller skater, it’s probably not worth it to you to pay for the extra features and performance of a skate like this. But if you have some experience, you might really have a lot more fun on these inlines.
- Quick and stable inline skates
- Comfortable ride
- Lightweight model
- Can be expensive
Our second inline skate is a very basic and affordable model. Zetrablade skates are made by Rollerblade, which, if you didn’t know, is a brand of inline skates, not a general term (kind of like Xerox is to copy machines).
Zetrablade 80s are really meant for beginners; they come with very middle-of-the-road wheels (80mm diameter and 82A durometer), high cuffs made of plastic, and SG 5 bearings that are smooth, but not necessarily fast.
The Monocoque composite frames are made of plastic that has a bit of torque, which somewhat reduces the efficiency of energy transfer during skating.
These skates are good for people who want to learn the basics of roller skating, but I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone with a decent amount of inline experience.
Being generalist themselves, these skates are mainly meant for people who don’t want to specialize in terms of skating styles–at least, not for the moment. They’re good for recreation, but you won’t be landing any tricks or winning any races in them. I think these are the best inline skates for beginners.
- Super affordable–these inline skates can be found for $80 to $100
- Cover all the basics without focusing too much on any given aspect
- Good learning skate
- Not a very high-quality skate (what can you really expect at this kind of price, though?)
To a lesser extent than the Zetrablades 80s, the K2 Kinetic 80 Inlines are a value-based option for roller skates. The plastic boot and Tec Composite frame are designed to absorb shocks and vibrations from the road.
The frames are built directly into the boot to help further eliminate shocks produced by the pavement.
The wheels are on the softer side at 80A. At this size (80mm) and durometer, these wheels aren’t terribly fast. Add to that the ABEC 5 bearings that come with this skate and you’ve got a solid mid-speed roller skate.
They’re great for fitness and recreational skating, made more comfortable by the relative softness of the wheels and the flexibility of the shell. Comfort is the focus of this skate, and a priority for K2.
These skates are of a more moderate speed than the Zestrablades and the K2 Pros—somewhere in the middle of the two. Ventilation is middling on this product, making it suitable for medium distances without sacrificing too much stiffness.
While these skates might be okay for a beginner, they probably wouldn’t be the top choice for anyone with serious skating experience.
- Solid skate for a novice to beginner roller skater
- Affordable price, not much more than Zestrablades
- Comfortable liners, K2 softboot
- Nothing worth mentioning
Best Women’s Inline Skates
These skates are ideal for a medium skilled rider looking for a fitness-inspired roller skating regiment. They’re good for long distance riding and are also very fast. Ventilation is high on this model, making it better suited to long, aerobic rides.
The Vortech Ventilation system in these skates pushes out old air while sucking in new, cool air—perfect for a training skate meant for longer rides. In my opinion the K2 Vo2’s are the best inline skates for outdoors.
The high speed of this model is due in part to its highly rigid structure that helps you get the most power out of each push. The 90mm, 83A wheels and ILQ 9 Pro bearings also deserve some credit.
Despite being built for speed, these skates are highly supportive, with a high cuff height and speed lacing closure system. As always, K2 has made sure that these skates are highly comfortable.
- Comfortable, fast, and supportive—built for cross training
- Easy on-and-off lacing system
- These skates aren’t cheap! They retail for over $200, but you get what you pay for!
- Some people dislike the closure system
These inline skates are simply the women’s version of the K2 Kinetic 80s mentioned detailed above. Like the men’s version, they’re suitable for beginners to intermediate skaters and mainly meant for recreation.
They are moderately speedy without being too much for a relatively inexperienced roller skater to handle and probably best inline skates for streets.
Again, the wheels on this model are 80mm in diameter with a hardness rating of 80A. The bearings are ABEC 5s and the skates are fitted with K2’s well-known softboot liners.
The boot and frames are plastic, made of F.B.I. composite material. One thing I didn’t mention about the men’s models is that these skates are highly supportive and stiff.
They have high cuffs and come with a speed lacing and strap closure system that ensures rider stability.
- Great beginner skate!
- Very good price—perfect for someone who just wants to get their feet wet without making a huge financial commitment
- There aren’t really any. Just know that these aren’t fancy skates and don’t expect too much!
Rollerblade’s Macroblade line is great for those who are looking for more than a simple cruise skate. Unlike the K2 Kinetics, these skates are really meant for performance, rather that just recreation. The aluminum frames are light and excel at energy transference, helping improve endurance.
Slightly larger wheels (84mm diameter) with a high degree of hardness (85A) and quick ABEC 7 bearings further the speed and endurance advantages conferred by the lightweight frame. The skates are closed with a traditional lacing mechanism, similar to a boot.
These skates are best for riders with some experience under their belt who are interested in skating as a method of exercise or distance.
However, if you’re new to roller skating, but fairly confident in your athletic ability, they might be fine for you. They have medium ventilation that helps make longer rides a bit cooler and dryer.
Lastly, this skate has an upgraded form-fit liner that promises to be very comfortable.
- Medium price
- High performance
- Fast skates
- There have been some sizing issues (this isn’t uncommon with roller skates). For the best results, try on a pair in person if possible, otherwise make sure you can return them.
The last women’s skate we’re going to review is easily the most advanced. The Macroblade 90s are similar to the Macroblade 80s we previously discussed, but they are built to handle larger wheels, and are therefor faster and more suitable to advanced riders and racers.
Those intent on using their roller skates for training purposes will definitely like these skates, but inexperienced skaters might find them more than a little intimidating.
Aside from the size of the wheels that can fit on these skates, the other noticeable difference is the bearings. While the Macroblade 84s came equipped with ABEC 7s—which are by no means slow—these come complete with ABEC 9 bearings.
Combine those with hard 90mm wheels and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some serious speed.
One consequence of increasing speed without a similar upgrade to ventilation is that the skates can lose some breathability. As such, your feet might not stay dry or cool too long in these things.
- For those looking for speed, you’ve found it. These skates are quick
- Smooth ride, courtesy of the large wheels
- Not very expensive, given the high quality
- Could do with a bit more ventilation
Best Kids Inline Skates
The first thing you’ll notice about these skates is the front wheels light up. The idea here is that illuminating front wheels make it safer for a child to skate at night (not that it makes night skating totally safe…).
If you dig deeper into the specs of these skates, however, you’ll discover a surprisingly impressive quality of gear. For starters, they come with ABEC 7 bearings, which is pretty surprising, given that they’re meant for children.
The frames are also composed of aluminum, rather than plastic composite. More standard children’s skate features include the adjustability and 70mm wheels.
- Blinking light on wheel functions as a safety feature
- Lightweight skates
- Very quick bearings
- Honestly, these bearings might be a bit intimidating for a child. I’m not sure, though. I suppose it depends on the child.
These skates are meant for young girls learning how to roller skate. The priorities with kids are a little different than adults. Rather than a focus on speed or power, children’s skates are usually praised for their safety and ease of use.
In that case, you really can’t go wrong with K2 Marlees; they’re stiff and supportive in terms of cuff design and use K2’s signature softboot technology, which allows your child to skate for hours on end without becoming uncomfortable.
The wheels on these skates are 70mm in diameter, and relatively soft at 80A. Since they’re made for children, the closure system on these roller skates is a combination of laces and Velcro.
ABEC 3 bearings will keep a child moving at a decent pace without risking them picking up too much speed.
Relative to other children’s skates, the Marlees are made from high quality materials. They’re also adjustable, which is great since children’s feet are still growing.
You’ll be glad for the adjustability when you don’t have to spring for another pair of skates every year!
- Quality material
- Nice beginner skates
- Fabric of the skates can wear out with frequent use
It’s hard to think of a more highly regarded children’s skate than the Spitfires. They’re the best selling children’s skates in the country.
These skates are designed with a lower center of gravity in mind and come in boys and girls models. The main difference between the boys’ and girls’ model is the color scheme, so don’t worry about that too much.
The Spitfires are designed to allow ease of access, so your child can pop them on or off on their own or with a little help. This helps kids become independent and explore roller skating on their own terms.
These roller skates are super supportive: They have high cuffs, a combination of lace, strap and buckle closure system, and come with SG 3 bearings. Rollerblade Spitfires can adjust up to four sizes, so they’ll be with your child for a while.
Additionally, they’re made with durable plastic materials that won’t break down over long periods of use.
- Slightly faster than other children’s models
- Highly supportive skates
- High value children’s skate without much (if any) additional cost
- Nothing worth mentioning
These adjustable children’s (really girls’) skates are the most affordable of any in this review. Unlike other adjustable models, the Stingers only have two settings: small, which fits sizes 12-2, and medium, which fits sizes 2 to 5.
The Stingers have all the hallmarks of a child’s skate: high cuffs, plastic composition, adjustability, and relatively small, soft wheels.
One somewhat surprising feature of these skates, however, is that they come with ABEC 5 bearings, which while not especially fast, might be a little challenging for a smaller child.
One of the major detractions from this skate is that the liner doesn’t expand with the skate, meaning that when the skate is on its smallest setting, the liner can bunch up and cause some discomfort to the roller skater.
Other than that, most feedback is strongly positive.
- Quick, reliable skate for a small child
- Very inexpensive
- Issues with liners
Buyers Guide For Inline Roller Skates
Today, most wheels are made from polyurethane. This is a marked departure from the past, when they were often made from plastic. The new wheels are much more durable and offer a smoother ride.
Like skates in general, wheels are designed for specific types of use. There are wheels built purely for speed, wheels built for rapid acceleration, and wheels built for stabilization, and everything in between.
A wheel’s size is largely responsible for determining the speed of the skates. The largest skating wheels are 100mm in diameter, while the smallest are around 57mm.
Larger wheels are faster, and are therefore more commonly found on racing skates. Smaller wheels, on the other hand, offer greater latitude in accelerating and decelerating.
Also called “durometer–determines how forgiving the wheels will be on rough surfaces. It also plays a role in predicting the accelerative ability of a given wheel. The durometer is indicated by a number from 0 to 100, followed by the letter “A.”
In general, softer wheels are for indoor use, like roller rinks and indoor hockey arenas. If you’re going to be skating outside, you want to go with something harder (around 82A).
Softer wheels have a tendency to wear down faster than harder wheels, especially if taken onto rough surfaces. They also offer smoother rides.
Is the final characteristic of a wheel that you really want to watch out for. While all wheels are round, roller skating wheels have different profiles that are more suitable to certain activities.
A lot of this has to do with the amount of surface area that is exposed to the ground in different wheel designs. Toying with the amount of surface area changes how much friction and stability a given wheel can provide.
Here are some general descriptions of different wheel types:
Recreational Wheels: Tend to be larger than other types of non-racing wheels. They are typically in the 70mm to 90mm range. Naturally, the larger the wheel, the faster the speed, so recreational skaters using a wheel on the larger end of this spectrum should be comfortable going fast.
For general skating purposes (assuming you’re going to be riding indoor and outdoor), a durometer of 78A is ideal. This isn’t too hard or too soft, and will provide a nice balance of grip and speed.
Recreational Wheels: Wheel profiles should be wide, but not square-lipped (have a perfectly square profile) like aggressive wheels. This way, there is still a large amount of wheel touching the ground but room to turn reasonably quickly if needed.
Hockey Wheels: Are elongated and narrow, but not to the extent of racing wheels. These wheels are shaped to offer as much contact with the ground as possible, regardless of the angle of the skate. Therefore, they promote a high level of mobility for the skater.
They’re typically sized around 72mm to 80mm and have a durometer rating of 72A.
Speed Skating Wheels: Are large in diameter and small in width. They are the most pointed of any wheel type, and built with the intent that they will almost always contact the ground at an angle.
Their design also helps limit the amount of wheel touching the ground at any given time, thereby decreasing resistance and further increasing speed. Racing wheels tend to be on the harder side of the spectrum–close to 100A.
Aggressive Wheels: Are those that are used for doing tricks and skating…aggressively–the kind of roller skating that would make an old man chase you off his property. These wheels have “square” profiles, which means that their sides come perpendicular to the ground.
This is done to increase stability at the expense of turning ability and speed. These wheels tend to be hard–usually above 88A–because they’re used to skate in such a harsh manner on a variety of surfaces; softer wheels would break up under such conditions.
Bearings are the things most responsible for the speed of your wheels’ rotation. They rest inside the wheel wells and actually spin around the axes, taking the wheels with them.
Every wheel requires two bearings: one on each side. That means that you’ll need to buy 16 in total if you’re stocking up for the first time.
Buying bearings is actually a pretty straightforward task; the only thing you really have to think about is how much speed you want.
Most bearings rely on the ABEC system: a scale from 1 to 9 that denotes the speed of rotation of the bearings in question.
Just remember, the ABEC rating of your bearings is far from the only thing that determines how fast you’ll skate, so don’t expect it to make all the difference in the world.
Traditional brakes are little more than a rubber stopper attached behind the roller skate. Advanced braking is similar, but uses an “arm” to facilitate braking.
These kinds of brakes are primarily found on beginner skates, as they are designed to help novice skaters gain confidence with braking.
Note: not all skates have brakes. This might be something that concerns you if you’re not an experienced roller skater.
Brakes, when they are available, typically come attached to the back of the right roller skate. To engage the brake, all you have to do is tilt your right foot back hard enough to drag the brake on the ground and slow yourself down.
Certain types of skates won’t come with brakes: racers, aggressive skates, and hockey skates among them. The reason for this is that the brake might get in the way of the rider.
One method of stopping without brakes is to drag your dominant foot in a perpendicular manner behind your lead foot.
The frames are go around the wheels and hold them in place. The frame can be thought of as the intermediary between the force generated by your body and the ground.
As your legs and arms pump, the force is transmitted through your frames to the ground, where it makes your wheels rotate. Therefore, the stiffer your frames are, the less energy will be wasted in the transfer of energy.
Other characteristics of importance are durability and weight. All three of them are in large part determined by the material of which your frames are composed.
There are three materials commonly used for frames: aluminum, plastic, and carbon.
- Plastic Frames: Are mostly for beginners. They are cheap to make and have the lowest durability and stiffness of any material used to make frames. When under pressure, they can twist, which causes the rider to lose some of the energy they generated and makes them the least efficient choice. Additionally, they are the heaviest material on our short list.
- Aluminum Frames: On the other hand, provide much more stiffness. They are more efficient and stronger, while also being lighter than plastic frames. Because aluminum is also a cheap material, they often aren’t too much more expensive than plastic frames. They are, however, more often found on intermediate roller skates that are usually more expensive.
- Carbon Frames: Are really the best out there. They’re super efficient, lightweight and strong. Unfortunately, they are usually more expensive as a result.
In the same vein, cuffs are another section of the skate that comes under high pressure from power generation. As a result, having a high quality cuff is essential both to speed generation and support.
Cuffs come in high, low, and “no-cuff” variations. High cuffs go up about as high as typical long socks–around the mid-calf area.
These are the most common type and are usually found on beginner or intermediate skates because they offer the most support. There is, naturally, an inverse relationship between the amount of support and flexibility offered by a pair of cuffs.
For that reason, racing skates tend to favor shorter cuffs that allow skaters to take sharper turns. Cuffs will also vary based on the gender of the roller skater. Men’s cuffs tend to extend slightly higher up the calf than women’s cuffs.
Cuffs are made of either plastic or carbon. Carbon cuffs are usually only found on the most expensive and advanced skates. This shouldn’t be taken as a detraction from plastic cuffs–they’re fine, in general, and frankly far cheaper than carbon.
Liners are sort of the unsung heroes of the inline skate experience. They’re not fun to talk about, but they can make or break the act of riding a pair of skates. If your liners don’t fit well, you’re gonna have a bad time!
There’s not really a way to describe which liners will feel best to each individual rider. The best thing you can do is go to a store and try them on for yourself! Here’s a quick description of the main types of liners you’ll encounter:
- Foam Liners: These are the most common form of liners. They’re made of a foam material that conforms to the foot and the weight of the rider. They have no special features, but will generally be suitable for beginners to the sport.
- Memory Fit Liners: These liners use memory foam to get a better fit around the contours of the rider’s foot. When they aren’t in use, these liners reset a little bit. Over time, however, they will gradually form to fit your feet. These are nicer than traditional foam liners, and thus more expensive.
- Heat Molding Liners: For those who are truly serious about inline skating, there are heat-molding liners that can be permanently shaped to fit a rider’s feet.
Well, that does it for this review! Hopefully you learned a thing or two about inline roller skates and can make a good decision about the ones you want to buy.