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, women, and children.
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.
- Rollerblade Macroblade 100 Fitness/Workout Skate
- Rollerblade Macroblade ABT Women’s Fitness Inline Skate
- K2 Skate Alexis 84 Boa Inline Skate
- K2 Skate Women’s Alexis 80 Inline Skates
- XinoSports Adjustable Inline Skates for Kids
- K2 Skate Girl’s Marlee Inline Skates
- Rollerblade Spitfire JR XT 2016 Kids Skate
- Roller Derby Girl’s Stinger 5.2 Adjustable Inline Skate
Here is a feature comparison of my 3 top rated inline skates for Men, Women and Kids. Then we’ll talk about how to choose the right pair for you in our buyers guide.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Best Inline Skates
Inline Skate Reviews
Okay, now that we’ve briefly looked at some good rollerblades, let’s talk about them in more detail. 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 Women’s Inline Skates
Rollerblade’s Macroblade line is great for those who are looking for more than a simple cruise skate. Unlike the K2 Alexis series, these skates are really meant for performance, rather that just recreation.
The aluminum frames are light and excel at energy transference, helping improve endurance.
Larger wheels (100mm diameter) with a high degree of hardness (85A) and quick SG9 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.
- Medium price
- High performance
- Fast skates
- There have been some sizing issues (this isn’t uncommon with roller skates).
Lastly, this skate has an upgraded form-fit liner that promises to be very comfortable. If your looking for the best rollerblades for women, I think the Macroblades are it!
This pair of women’s inline skates we’re going to review is easily the most advanced. The Macroblade ABTs are similar to the Alexis 80s we previously discussed, but the harder wheels are 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 which can be upgraded to 84mm, the other noticeable difference are the bearings. While many skates come with ABEC 3 or 5 —which are by no means slow—these come complete with SG5 bearings.
Combine those with hard 80mm wheels and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some serious speed.
- For those looking for speed, you’ve found it. These skates are quick
- Smooth ride, courtesy of the hard wheels
- Not very expensive, given the high quality
- Only one color available
Luckily Rollerbade equipped these skates with a mesh uppers for good ventilation and a high cuff for hard skating.
The K2 Kinetic 84 Inlines are a value option for roller blades and best for someone who has some experience with skating. 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 (84mm) and durometer, these wheels aren’t terribly fast. Add to that the ILQ 7 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 K2 F.I.T. series — and a good mid range speed. Ventilation is middling on this product, making it suitable for medium distances without sacrificing too much stiffness.
- Solid skate for a intermediate to beginner roller skater
- Affordable price
- Boa speed laces
- Comfortable liners, K2 softboot
- Nothing worth mentioning
While these skates are a good choice for a beginner/intermediate, they probably wouldn’t be the top choice for anyone with serious skating experience.
They are speedy without being too much for a relatively inexperienced roller skater to handle and probably best inline skates for streets with 80mm wheels designed to go over sidewalk cracks and bumps.
The wheels on this model have a hardness rating of 80A which gives you good grip without wearing out too fast on concrete. The bearings are ABEC 5 and the skates are fitted with K2’s well-known softboot liners.
The frames are aluminum along with composite materials providing plenty of ankle support.
- Great beginner to intermediate skate!
- Perfect for urban environments
- There aren’t really any but costing under a $100 they are entry level inline skates
They have high cuffs and come with a traditional lacing and strap closure system that ensures rider stability. A good choice for the skater looking for and bargain priced pair of inline skates.
Best Men’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 Trio’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 100mm, 90A wheels and ILQ 7 Pro bearings also deserve some credit.
- Comfortable, fast, and supportive—built for cross training
- Easy on-and-off lacing system
- These skates aren’t cheap! They retail for about $200, but you get what you pay for!
- Some people dislike the closure system
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 extreamly comfortable.
Our second inline skate is a 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 Elites are meant for beginners to intermediates; 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 lot 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.
- Super affordable--these inline skates can be found for under $150
- Cover all the basics without focusing too much on any given aspect
- Good entry level inline skate
- Wheels cannot be ugraded to larger size
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.
The second K2 men’s skates in our review are the Soto Inlines by K2. Unlike the Zetrablade above, these skates are made for a more advanced skater. They’re good inline skates for a combination of speed and distance skating.
These skates come with wheels of 100mm diameter. That probably makes these skates a little too fast for most beginners, but they’re a safe bet for intermediate/advanced roller skaters.
These are excellent for urban skating, the large wheels make them perfect for skating on sidewalks and roads that are rough and have cracks.
The wheels go over the imperfections much smoother than a smaller wheel.
The wheels are 90A in durometer, which is a middle ground. Hard enough that they won’t wear out too fast but soft enough for a good grip.
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 skate, you won’t be surprised to hear that they cost quite a bit more than the Zetrablades.
- Quick and stable inline skates
- Comfortable ride
- Lightweight model
- Can be expensive
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.
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.
- 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.
The frames are also composed of aluminum, rather than plastic composite. More standard children’s skate features include the adjustability and 70mm wheels. These would be my top pick for the best inline skates for kids.
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.
- Quality material
- Nice beginner skates
- Fabric of the skates can wear out with frequent use
You’ll be glad for the adjustability when you don’t have to spring for another pair of skates every year!
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.
- Slightly faster than other children’s models
- Highly supportive skates
- High value children’s skate without much (if any) additional cost
- Nothing worth mentioning
Additionally, they’re made with durable plastic materials that won’t break down over long periods of use. If you are looking for best rollerblades for kids, the Spitfires are it!
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.
- Quick, reliable skate for a small child
- Very inexpensive
- Issues with liners
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.
Inline Skates Comparison Table
|Inline Skate||For:||Wheels:||Frame:||Skill Level:||Rating|
|K2 Skate F.I.T. Boa Inline Skate||Men||84mm||Aluminum||Beginners||4.2 / 5.0|
|Rollerblade Zetrablade||Men||80mm||Aluminum||Beginner/Intermediate||4.4 / 5.0|
|K2 Skate Kinetic||Men||80mm||Composite||Intermediate||4.6 / 5.0|
|K2 Skate Vo2 90||Women||90mm||Aluminum||Intermediate||4.5 / 5.0|
|K2 Skate Kinetic 80||Women||80mm||Composite||Beginner/Intermediate||4.5 / 5.0|
|Rollerblade Macroblade Alu||Women||84mm||Aluminum||Beginner/Intermediate||4.0 / 5.0|
|Rollerblade MACROBLADE 90||Women||90mm||Composite||Intermediate to Advanced||4.1 / 5.0|
|XinoSports Adjustable||Girls||70mm||Aluminum||Beginners||4.6 / 5.0|
|K2 Skate Marlee||Girls||70mm||Composite||Beginners||4.9 / 5.0|
|Rollerblade Spitfire JR XT||Boys and Girls||72mm||Composite||Intermediate||4.5 / 5.0|
|Roller Derby Stinger 5.2||Girls||N/A||Composite||Beginners||4.6 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Inline Skates
- Wheel Hardness
- Wheel Shape
- Roller Skate vs Inline Skates
- Best Inline Skates Brands
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.
How a wheel performs depends mainly on three key variables: its size, hardness, and shape.
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.
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.
There are two types of brakes found on rollerblades: traditional and advanced braking (ABT).
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.
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 are. 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.
Roller Skates vs. Inline Skates
Originally made to strap on the bottom of your shoes they have progressed quite a bit to lightweight polyurethane wheels and meant for speed and comfort.
Roller skates have a “quad” wheel configuration with two wheels in the front of the skate and two in the rear.
While inline skates as the name suggests have 4-5 wheels in an “inline” configuration allowing the skater to go much faster and simulate the ice skating experience.
Rollerblades burst on the scene in the early 80’s and the name brand of inline skates like “Kleenex” is to tissues. They became immensely popular and you could see people “roller blading” everywhere and it quickly became a fad.
It has since faded in popularity, however they are still quite popular as a means of exercise and just having fun! If your interested in roller skates, see my recommended skates here.
Best Inline Skates Brands
Rollerblade – The innovator that started it all back in the 90’s when you could see inline skaters everywhere. In fact they became a “verb” people said rollerblading instead of inline skating. They still make the best skates out there.
K2 – Probably better known for their ski equipment, they relatively recently released a lineup of inline skates that compete with Rollerblades in quality and features.
Roller Derby – They started out making the standard roller skates, you know the ones that have the wheels with 2 in the front and 2 in the back. Well they took their manufacturing and created a solid lineup of inline skates that are second to none.
Well, that does it for this review! Hopefully you learned a thing or two about inline roller skates and was helpful for finding the best inline skates to fit your needs.
If you want to comment or recommend a pair of skates I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.