Blade or Skate?
July 9, 2008 9:44 PM   Subscribe

What's the difference between roller blading and roller skating? I grew up blading (4 wheels inline), but possibly want to pick up the skating (4 quad style)- does it feel the same?

I grew up as a kid with roller blades in the height of its popularity in the 90s. Now as an adult I want to pick it up again, but am possibly exploring roller skates instead. Does it feel the same? Is turning more difficult? Will I have a problem going from roller blading to roller skating?

These would be used for skating on paved, cemented trails at parks.

I have never roller skated before and don't know anyone who has tried the two; either it's people 40 years old plus who have only roller skated, or around my age in the 20s who have only roller bladed. I'm totally comfortable with ice skating, if that helps.
posted by Jimmie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
roller skating is easier balance wise but may take sometime to adjust to turning (leaning works but stepping will allow you to turn sharper/tighter) and braking. I grew up roller skating a lot and have only dabbled in roller blades so personally I think roller skating is easier but it should be a short transition time. However, if you don't experience roller skating with a disco ball and cheesy music you are really missing out on a key part.
posted by estronaut at 10:16 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't skated in a long time, but as I recall I didn't feel the same precision as I have with blades. It's a bit more even so slightly less balance is required, but I felt it as harder to gain speed and to turn quickly as on my blades. Most of my skating experience was in rinks in the late 80s, so I don't know how that'd compare to paved cement. Still, it's basically the same action and it shouldn't take you much time to adjust.
posted by fishmasta at 10:17 PM on July 9, 2008


I grew up roller skating and switched to inline when they first came out. To me, the biggest differences between the two types are ankle stability, weight, maneuverability, and stopping.

Quad skates, or at least the quad skates of the vintage I grew up with, had/have laces and a leather upper of varying heights. I found it difficult to lace up quad skates tight enough to have enough ankle support especially on skates with shorter uppers. Quads are heavy; it was harder for me to lift my legs up much off the ground and I never really did learn how to do graceful crossovers until switching to inlines. The extra weight also factored into maneuverability but the width of the quad also was an issue: it was pretty easy to catch the edge of one set of wheels on the other skate, fall down and go boom.

I do prefer the ways quads have the brake in front, I never did get the hang of dragging my heel to stop using inlines and just took to doing sideways ice hockey stops (and wearing out many sets of wheels).
posted by jamaro at 10:59 PM on July 9, 2008


Roller blades (as with ice skates) hurt my ankles. Roller skates do not. ;)
posted by wierdo at 12:12 AM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Quads have better traction than blades, more surface on the track, which does equate to better control. Imagining roller derby on blades is imagining a dogpile of skaters.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:35 AM on July 10, 2008


Also, quads allow for finer turning than blades, since they're closer together, and share the load with greater surface area. The flexibility between the trucks and your ankle assists this too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:39 AM on July 10, 2008


OK ... I ices kate, inline skate, and have rollerskated ... and I have done hockey, speed, and distance skating fo 20 years ... I feel that I can offer a comment.

Inline skates 100% ... no 110% ... better ankle support, better control over your skates, faster, tighter turns with more control. IMHO safer and more fun ... If you are already a capable skater.

Not sure? go watch an inline hockey match. They are not as good as ice skates ... but I could never do the stuff I did on inlines on rollerskates.
posted by jannw at 2:30 AM on July 10, 2008


If you decide to go with quads, get yourself a hockey stick and puck/ball (could be a tennis ball even) and use that to practice with. It'll work wonders and help you keep your balance and control, and take your mind off the whole "learning" part of it. I've helped at least 3 ex-girlfriends learn how to rollerskate that way.

I grew up playing roller hockey, and have used both blades and skates. I prefer skates, for most of the reasons mentioned above ( better control, etc... ).
posted by zap rowsdower at 2:39 AM on July 10, 2008


One way to think of the difference is the scale between ice skates, rollar skates, and in-line skates, in that order, regarding how and when you crash and burn during a turn. If you are leaning hard during a turn:

Ice skate don't slip an inch sideways... until you're REALLY leaning into a hard turn, and then without warning, BAM, they're gone, absolutely zero traction as they skitter sideways out from underneath you, and you're gone with them.

Rollar skates slip very very little sideway, until you're moderately leaning, and then without warning, BAM, they're mostly gone - slipping sideways with very little traction - but you might be able to recover before you crash.

Rollar blades slip a little sideways, but the more you lean, the more the slip ramps up, so there isn't a BAM moment without warning - the amount that you are sliding sideways just increases in proportion to what you are doing. Eventually, they will skitter too, but you get plenty of warning since they ease into it.


The other big difference is stones and pebbles on the road - in-line skates have sharp wheels that just plow stones aside, whereas rollar skates have wide flat wheels that are designed to pitch you on your face whenever they meet a stone. :-)
(The wheel pushes the stone in front of it, grinding it along the road, which would be a great braking mechanism - if you knew it was about to happen before it strikes)

In summary, when I'm skating on a generic uncontrolled surface (ie roads or parks) I find in-line skates are safer to use. For a controlled surface (skate rink), or a difference style of skating, YMMV.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:19 AM on July 10, 2008



The other big difference is stones and pebbles on the road - in-line skates have sharp wheels that just plow stones aside, whereas rollar skates have wide flat wheels that are designed to pitch you on your face whenever they meet a stone.

If you use softer wheels on your quads, this becomes considerably less of an issue. Harder wheels for indoor skating, softer wheel for outdoor to absorb the bumps in the road. It is a bit of a pain to change your wheels depending on whether your skating on an inside rink, outdoor concrete rink, or the street, but that's why I have a couple pairs of skates.

I prefer quads over inline always, though I think it's really just a personal decision based on what feels right for what I do on skates. I was never comfortable skating inline.
posted by anthropoid at 6:57 AM on July 10, 2008


Roller skates (quads) are awesome. Blades are (early-1990s-neon-'radical') not. Outside rollerskating is even awesomer. Videographic evidence.
posted by zpousman at 7:43 AM on July 10, 2008


I have competed as a quad figure skater and an inline figure skater (yes, both of these things do exist! I wore these skates for inline free skating), and spent a ton of time skating outdoors on quads. (I was also an ice figure skater.)

"I found it difficult to lace up quad skates tight enough to have enough ankle support especially on skates with shorter uppers."

I think this means you need different skates, or to adjust the skates a bit. I have the classic "weak ankles", but it turned out that this doesn't give me a problem skating at all. Even with ice skates. I just had to have good boots with solid support, and particularly for my ice skates, I had to adjust the position of the blades to compensate for my pronating ankles. (This was not as big a deal with quads.) I later wore low-profile orthotics as well. If the boots aren't giving you support, it's not a quad vs. inline issue, IMHO -- it just means you need either better boots, or just different ones. (And we will not speak of rink rental skates. Feh! I don't know how anyone learns to skate in them.)

"Quads are heavy; it was harder for me to lift my legs up much off the ground and I never really did learn how to do graceful crossovers until switching to inlines."

:) I smile at this because quad figure skates tend to be intentionally heavy. I think it has something to do with momentum. There are other kinds of quads that are very light. (Speed skates, I think? I never skated speed, though. And nowadays speed skaters almost all use inlines.) I don't think the weight is a big deal once you get used to it. And it's a good workout for the quads (the muscles, not the skates). Graceful crossovers can be done on both kinds; I find it easier on quads than on standard inlines because quads have trucks that allow you to lean and skate a graceful curve instead of having to step extra quickly to fake a curve. Inlines don't have this. They make up for it by rockering the inlines, but it is not the same thing.

"...the width of the quad also was an issue: it was pretty easy to catch the edge of one set of wheels on the other skate, fall down and go boom."

Yeah, everyone's done this at least once. But it's not that common once you get comfortable on the quads and the muscle memory knows where to put your feet. It can still happen once in a while even then...

(About stones on the road) "If you use softer wheels on your quads, this becomes considerably less of an issue. Harder wheels for indoor skating, softer wheel for outdoor to absorb the bumps in the road. It is a bit of a pain to change your wheels depending on whether your skating on an inside rink, outdoor concrete rink, or the street, but that's why I have a couple pairs of skates."

Exactly. People always say quads aren't safe because of rocks and pebbles, and this mystifies me. I used to skate outdoors daily, no helmet, no pads, frequently downhill. (I lived on a hill in Seattle, and to get anywhere on skates I would have to skate down that hill. Or walk it, but that was much less fun.) There was gravel in various places, but I rarely bit it unless I hit a big patch of the stuff.

My outdoor quads have Sure-Grip Jogger plates (I am not sure they make them any more. When I see them at thrift stores, I buy them to give my friends.) which are solid, solid, solid. (I broke the plate -- not a Jogger -- on my first pair of outdoor quads, while, um, landing a jump -- so I only skate on quality plates now.)

I also have wide, soft wheels (I used to use vintage 1980 style Krypto skateboard wheels, wide and fat and bright yellow). This kind of wheel absorbs all kinds of rough pavement and eats rocks for breakfast. The tradeoff is that it slows you down slightly, but I haven't found it to be a problem. That rough terrain doesn't slow them down much probably compensates for a loss of speed due to the size and softness of the wheels. They go way fast.

Like anthropoid, I have multiple pairs of skates for outdoor skating, indoor skating (quad), indoor skating (inline figure skates), so I don't have to change wheels much.

Personally, since you are skating outdoors, and just trail skating, you could stick with inlines if that is what you like. They are fine for that. But quads are way fun once you get past the transition period.

Incidentally, people tend to think inlines are a new thing. They are not. They are actually old technology. The original roller skates were inline, because the inventors were trying to mimic ice skates. But the inline design was not as well-suited for doing turns, dances, figures, etc. Basically, they don't really have "edges" in the sense that ice skates do. So finally someone (I think his name was Plimpton, IIRC) invented the truck system that modern quads have. This allows you to skate an "edge" by putting pressure on the skate plate with your foot, to the inside or the outside, which then makes the wheels form a curve, and off you go on the nice curved edge. This was an advance in skating technology, and this is why for nearly 100 years inline skates were almost extinct.

Unfortunately the inline fad almost killed quad skates in turn, which is stupid because quads work a lot better for a lot of things. Hopefully we are settling down now to a situation where quads are used for things they are good for, and inlines for the things they are good for.

Incidentally, having figure skated on inlines... give me quads for that any day. Even though I was able to translate much of my ice technique to inlines quickly, inlines never felt as stable or as well-suited to free skating moves as either quads or ice skates. It always felt like a kludge. Spinning on quads kind of sucks, though.
posted by litlnemo at 2:21 PM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and specifically to answer the question -- "does it feel the same?" I would say -- in the broader sense, yes. It's all just skating. Roller, ice, inline -- the basic motions and feel are the same. In the more specific sense, no. (I get tireder skating ice and inline than skating quad, perhaps because the nice wide plate on quads makes it easier to rest the leg muscles while coasting.) Especially at the beginning, while you're adjusting. Once you've adjusted it will feel pretty similar, I think.
posted by litlnemo at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2008


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