Buying Guide for Race Skates
By Steve Kopitz
Race Skates may not be a classic-looking inline skate but their design and function helps ensure the skater who places their feet inside has what they need to get to high speeds and truly challenge others when racing.
How does a Race Skate differ from a traditional Inline Skate? This guide will break down some of the components of a Race Skate so you can make an informed decision on your next purchase.
The design of a Race Skate Boot will have a much lower profile than your standard Inline Skate. A Race Skate will almost look like a flashy shoe atop an Inline Skate frame. The reason for the low-cuff (race-cuff) design is so you can articulate your ankle in order to get a full stride.
The Low-Cuff also allows for a double-stride so you can push your ankle outwards and then stride inwards as well ensuring that you reach and maintain higher speeds.
Here are a few ways that Closure Systems will differ on Race Skates.
• Boa lacing is similar to quick lace systems but instead of a pull and tighten system, the Boa lace is fed through a dial. The dial on the top of the skate will easily tighten or loosen the inline skates with a simple turn of the knob.
• Traditional Lacing is a standard lace similar to other inline skates or shoes. They are often accompanied with a Ratchet Buckle or a series of straps.
• Asymmetrical Lacing is when the laces are on the outer side of the boot. This allows for more material on the inside for better energy transfer.
• Ratchet Buckle(s) are usually paired with laces and are designed to keep the foot tight and secure.
• Velcro/Power Straps work in the same tone as the Ratchet Buckle and there are some Race Skates designs that have multiple straps over laces to help keep them secure so they won’t loosen up.
The interior of the boot is not really designed for comfort. That doesn’t mean they aren’t comfortable, it just means that they are designed for functionality and energy transfer.
Many Race Skate Boots are Heat Moldable meaning the liners are removed and heated by a skate shop professional and then placed on your feet. As it cools, the liner material contours to your foot and begins to re-harden. This process creates a custom-fit to your feet ensuring the best fit. This helps with energy transfer.
A Race Skate boot is designed to fit very close to your foot to cut down on wind resistance.
The frames on Race Skates are going to be made with super light materials such as aluminum or a carbon-aluminum mix and cut-out in order to reduce the weight as much as possible. Along with a light frame, you’ll want to make sure that it is very stiff.
Why is the stiffness of a frame important?
It all has to do with energy transfer. When you push out with your legs the energy created is reduced the more flexible the frame is. The flex in the frame allows energy to escape as it moves from the boot, to the frame, to the wheels, to the ground. A stiffer frame has less flex and movement, reducing the amount of energy that is lost when energy is moved to the wheels. This makes the skating more efficient so you can maintain your high speeds.
Race Skate wheels are big in diameter. Where the average inline skate wheel comes in around 78-84mm, a Race Skate wheel is going to be at 110mm.
The reason for big wheels has to do with longer rotations on the wheels which helps to maintain high speeds.
Not all wheels on a Race Skate may be the same. It is quite common to have the middle or second wheel in the line to be smaller. For instance, from front to back, the wheel sizes might be 110mm-100mm-110mm-110mm. This lowers the height of the skate and uses the wheels to their full potential. A lot of the pressure in your foot will be in the ball of your foot so instead of pushing on a 110mm wheel (the second wheel), you’ll be pressing down on a more efficient 100mm wheel.
Simply put, Race Skates are meant to go fast, really fast. They are superlight with most of the weight being in the wheels. These are not skates for beginners. The low cuff can cause serious injury to ankles if you don’t know what you’re doing.
How fast can you go on Race Skates? Marathons are often skated in an hour, so you can get to at least 26/mph.