By Steve Kopitz
You may have noticed a new trend in the world of inline skating and Rollerblading where skaters are using a skate that looks like a mix between a regular inline skate and an aggressive skate. This type of skating is referred to as urban skating and the skates used are referred to as urban skates. This type of skating has gained popularity in the city settings hence the name “urban skating”. Urban skating uses an aggressive skate style boot with a shorter length fitness style frame. What this design does is allow urban skaters the ability to skate with ample control in a busy urban environment but still get speed when necessary for traveling to and fro or while skating for fitness. There are many brands that have started making urban skates but the most popular have to be K2 and Rollerblade urban skates. K2 and Rollerblade are by far the top contenders in the skate market and offer great urban skating offerings.
Here we are going to go over the general make up and composition of urban skates including an intricate look at the boots, frames, wheels, bearings, brakes and more. We will also go over choosing the best urban skate for your skating style and how to use the Inlineskates.com site to help you find the skate you are looking for. So, let’s get started!
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When shopping for a set of urban skates it is the type of skating you are going to be doing, for how often and where you’re skating that will help in determining the best skates for you. To choose a certain pair of skates you must first answer some questions honestly about your skating ability and aspirations of what you wish to do with the skates.
How often are you going to be skating?
Think of how many times a week you are going to get out skating and for how many hours you will be skating. Someone skating every other weekend for an hour is going to have different needs than someone skating to and from work 45 minutes each day. But you not only need to think of how often you are going to be skating when you immediately get your new urban skates but how often do you wish to be skating in a couple months?
The Impact: Someone skating more often will want an urban skate with a bit more support and may benefit from larger wheels and smoother bearings. If only skating sporadically for short times a skater may benefit from a softer boot skate that will offer more short term comfort over long term support. If you think you will be in your skates more often than not you may want to look at a higher end skate which will offer a bit more support and higher end features.
Where are you going to be skating?
The environment and terrain on which you skate on most often can have an impact on what urban skate you choose. There are going to be advantages to choosing one skate over another based on the terrain you will be skating on. The skater using their urban skates to skate around their local park over a long track and occasionally skating in the city is going to benefit from different skate features than the person using their skates daily in a busy city setting dodging people, objects and everything else. Below we categorized urban skaters to three separate types based on the skating that they do.
♦ 90%+ City: This is going to be the skater using their skates as a mode of transportation going to and from work or school and mostly in an urban environment where control is key. This skater may benefit from a smaller wheel like an 80 or 84mm as this will give them more control while still offering decent speed. Note that you can downgrade wheels to a smaller size at a later date on all skates.
♦ 50/50 Park – City: If using your urban skates half the time in the local park for fitness and exercise and half the time in the city you will need to do some additional digging to determine the skate best for you. Think of how busy your city skating is and how busy your park skating is versus how important speed is to you and how important control is. For most skaters in this range an 84mm wheeled skate tends to work well offering a great mixture of speed, control and stability.
♦ 90%+ Park: If you find yourself at your local park skating for fitness more often than not you will definitely benefit from a larger wheeled skate which will also offer a more elongated frame. The larger wheels and longer frame will give you a smoother roll over long distances while giving ample speed. The cornering will be sacrificed a bit with the longer frame but will still offer the ability to be used in an urban city setting especially once you hone your skating and can control the skates better.
Deciding where your current skating ability is and where you wish to be in the next 3 months, 6 months to as far as a year or two down the road is key in selecting an urban skate. As urban skates are made to withstand nearly anything they will not need to be replaced as often meaning the skate you purchase will be your skate for awhile. So, if you are a beginner to intermediate skater but you wish to push your skating to the next level and skate harder and more often you may want to purchase a higher end skate to grow your skating into. Keep in mind that you can always downsize wheels and bearings to get a slower roll from your skates and upgrade at a later time.
Urban inline skates offer many upgrades and unique designs in the parts and pieces of the skates. Here we will go over the individual parts that make up an urban skate and how each of these impacts the skates as a whole.
Boots and Liners
The boots of urban skates almost resemble the inline skate boots of the 90’s with an outer built with hard plastic. But these are definitely not the boots of the 90’s! Urban skate boots offer an outer made up of hard plastic to ensure great support and protection for urban skating. The durable boot will withstand getting bumped and banged around whether hitting a curb or sliding and grinding on objects. The inner liner of urban skates will offer a thick and comfortable padding to make long skate sessions comfortable while offering protection in the form of shock absorption. When shopping urban skates be sure to pay special attention to the boots durability and also to the inner liner. Look for specialized liners meant to offer more comfort like Rollerblades 5 Star liner found in their urban rollerblades which will five ample support and actually mold around the skaters foot shape.
The frames on urban skates need to be lightweight and will need to withstand any abuse the skater throws their way. This is why you will notice urban skate frames are made up of aluminum offering a thick, durable and lightweight design. The frames on urban skates are typically going to offer the shortest length possible that will fit the wheel size so that you have increased control and ability to corner. With a shorter length frame the skates are easier to maneuver as you will be dealing with a smaller wheelbase giving the skates a shorter turning radius. You will want to ensure the skate's frames that you are looking at will offer the ability to fit the wheel size you want. A lot of urban skates will offer the maximum wheel size of 80mm but some go up to 90 or 100mm so be sure to take a look at this if wheel size is important to you.
The wheels on urban skates are going to be relatively small compared to the wheels on most modern fitness and recreation skates. The wheel size on urban skates is a bit smaller to offer better control in tight cornering areas. While skating in an urban city setting it is going to be best to have the most control possible. Most urban skates will offer wheels that are 80mm which will give you a great mixture of both control and speed. Some urban skates will offer wheel sizes between 90-100mm which will take away a bit of control but offer more speed. When shopping skates and looking at wheel size just think of your personal skating style including where you will be skating and the type of distance you will be covering. If you are skating Chicago daily during the busier times a smaller wheel may work best as you will have ample control. If you are skating at your local park on a long path and only occasionally go into the urban environment a larger wheeled skate may be best.
There are three main categories when it comes to the bearings you are going to find in a set of urban skates. The bearings will either be recreational grade, performance or high performance. All of these bearings are going to be efficient and will offer great speed and smooth rolling but the overall speed will be determined by the grade and bearing rating. Choosing a bearing grade can be as easy as knowing your personal skating ability. If you are a great skater looking to push boundaries and go as fast as possible clearly you are going to want a higher grade bearing. If you are a beginner to intermediate skater, a recreational or performance bearing will be able to help you keep your skating under control as you learn and push to the next level. Keep in mind that bearings can be replaced so if you outgrow your current selection it is easy and quick to replace and upgrade.
You will notice many of the urban skates here at Inlineskates.com are not pictured with brakes and although they are not pictured, most all urban skates do come with brakes. As more urban skaters skate without using the brakes attached to the skates, companies including Rollerblade and K2 have opted to simply include the brakes in the box with the skates. The brakes will come in the box and will offer easy to follow instructions on how to install the brakes. If you have any issues with installing the brakes on your new urban skates please contact our customer service and we will be glad to help!
Cuffs and Closure Systems
The cuffs and closure systems on urban skates are going to follow the design of the skate's boots offering a thick and durable finish for maximum durability. The cuffs will offer a thick plastic material and the buckle closure systems will offer durable easy to tighten closures that cannot be easily broken when impacted. Some urban skates will offer a beefier traditional buckle while others will offer an indestructible Velcro closure. On top of having a durable top closure most urban skates will offer a powerstrap that goes through the middle of the skate to offer urban skaters the most support while skating.
When shopping urban skates you will notice a range of refinements on the left hand side of the page. These refinements will range from brand, size, color, skill range and will even offer technical features including wheel size and bearing grade. Choosing a feature within one of these refinements will refresh the results and skates you are shown to only include skates with the features you
selected. You can also choose multiple refinements, simply wait for the page to refresh from your first selection and then make your next selection. So if you only wanted to shop Rollerblade brand urban skates in a size 10; first select Rollerblade from the brand refinement and the page will refresh showing only Rollerblade brand urban skates at which point you can select size 10 from the size refinement and the page will refresh to show both your selections.
As you can see there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a new pair of urban skates but if you go into the purchase with the knowledge learned here you will be just fine. Keep in mind all that you have learned about the mechanics of the skates from the wheels and bearings to the brakes, boots and frames. Also remember to be real honest about where, how often and what your skating aspirations are for your new urban skates. And as always if you have any further questions at all please contact our customer service and we will gladly help!
Now you know all about urban skates! For more information about urban inline skating and free skating activities please view our Free Skating and Urban Skating Article!