Rollerskates vs. Rollerblades, what’s the difference? Quite a few performance and design aspects distinguish rollerskates from rollerblades. In this post, I describe the differences between rollerskating and rollerblading as well as the differences between rollerskates (quads) and rollerblades (inline skates).
Now, to understand the key differences between rollerskates and rollerblades, it’s crucial to grasp what each skate type is and what it does. So, what’s a rollerskate? And what’s a rollerblade? What do rollerskates do better? And what do inline skates do better?
Hopefully, what you learn here will help you easily decide which skate type would work best for you and your skating needs.
What’s a Rollerskate?
A rollerskate is basically a boot mounted on two skateboard-like trucks that support a set of four wheels. These boots look like the typical shoe — quadskates are like wheeled regular shoes. These boots have smooth wheels that roll under trucks that work pretty much like skateboard trucks.
But what came first, skateboards or quads? Quadskates emerged on the outdoor scene years before the first skateboards did. In fact, skateboard technology borrowed one critical fundamental idea from quadskates — the trucks. The earliest skateboards ever put together relied on trucks obtained from old, broken rollerskates.
On a quadskate, the wheels are arranged in a rectangular configuration, two wheels on the front and two wheels on the back. In other words, the wheels come set in a 2 X 2 design.
What’s a Rollerblade?
A rollerblade is also, technically, a rollerskate. Also called an inline skate, a rollerblade is a type of skate comprising a boot with lots of ankle support. And as it is with a rollerskate, an inline skate’s boot sits and rolls on multiple wheels.
But the wheels aren’t positioned the way they’re on a quadskate. On a rollerblade, the wheels (typically 4 wheels) stay in a straight line under a frame made out of either metal or plastic. The wheels in this arrangement line up one after the other, like 1,2,3…
Rollerblades feature 2-5 wheels on each skate. But the vast majority of inline skates on the market today are like quads in the sense that they have 4 wheels. Three-wheeled rollerblades are referred to as triskates.
How’s a Rollerskate Different Than a Rollerblade?
Quite a few differences exist between a rollerblade and a quadskate. And because I can’t list out all the differences in a single paragraph, I’ll cover each distinction in a separate subsection. So, let’s go.
1.Wheel Arrangement, Number, and Attachment
One main difference between a rollerskate and a rollerblade is that a rollerskate always comes with 4 wheels as opposed to 4, 6, 8, or even 10 wheels on a pair of rollerblades.
But the number of wheels on each skate type isn’t the only noticeable difference. The wheels on a quadskate are organized into a sort of rectangular shape. In contrast, the wheels on an inline skate stand one beside the other, forming a straight line under the frame.
In terms of how the wheels connect to the boot, rollerskates have two skateboard-like trucks each of which supports two wheels. In the case of rollerblades, the wheels don’t roll under trucks. Instead, a metal or plastic frame that runs parallel to the boot itself houses the wheels.
Look at the pictures below to learn how the wheels on quadskates are aligned vs. how the wheels are arranged on rollerblades.
2.Boot Type and Flexibility
Boot type is another distinguishing aspect. With rollerskates, the boot looks like the upper of a regular shoe. And while this boot provides enough support to the ankle, it’s not super stiff and flexes quite a bit which promotes ability appreciably.
That means that quadskates can be quite comfortable. But that doesn’t mean rollerblades are less comfortable. That said, you can expect recreational rollerskates to be a tad comfortable than roller derby rollerskates.
In comparison, the boot of a rollerblade comes a little rigid and super supportive. You need tons of support when rolling over stubborn gravel or pebbles and when jumping over obstacles on the roadway or sidewalk.
The same goes for when pulling off complex rollerblading tricks/stunts. And that’s why inline boots provide lots of ankle support.
What about comfort? It matters what type of rollerblade you’re talking about. In general, recreational rollerblades are comfier than speed inline skates.
From the former, you want to squeeze out comfort and support while from the latter, you’re more interested in performance. However, that doesn’t mean that rollerblading boots are uncomfortable or cause blisters.
3.Skate Speed; What Skate is Faster?
Rollerblades have larger wheels than rollerskates. And because inline skates have larger wheels, they’re remarkably faster. That’s why they’re the better bet for speed skating.
Inline skates are also preferable over quadskates for when you’re planning on burning a little body fat through long-distance skating.
Quadskates can be pretty fast, too. But since quads’ wheels are significantly smaller than rollerblade wheels, they’re just not as fast.
Quads have a wheel height that hovers around the 68mm-110mm range vs. a diameter range of 58mm-65mm for rollerblade wheels. And that brings us to my next difference between quads and blades….
4.Where the Skate is Used (the Skate’s Purpose)
Typically, people get into quads for indoor skating, like in a roller rink. Have you ever watched folks roller dancing around an arena on wheels? If you’d cared to look, you’d have noticed they wore quadskates rather than inline skates.
Another place you get to see quadskates is a roller rink when players are doing a roller derby scrimmage. Quads are also used for playing roller hockey, also known as quad skate roller hockey. Even though you can use quads for skating outdoors, the place where they shine most is indoors.
In contrast, most people use inline skates mostly for outdoor skating. Indoor use still happens like in rinks during rink hockey/inline skate roller hockey. But interest in rink hockey has been waning since 2013.
These days, few people (read men) rollerblade apart from teenage girls. And that’s sad because inline skating was initially intended to be something guys did when the winter ice skating season ended. In fact, rollerblading works pretty much the same way ice skating as far as technique and skating form.
5.Skate Stability and Agility
Right out of the box, rollerskates are somewhat more stable than rollerblades. I measure stability here in terms of how easy/hard it is to balance on the skate.
If you’ve never skated before, you’d probably find it easier to stand and balance on quadskates than on inline skates. Also, quads feel more stable when you’re skating slowly on a less challenging such as a smooth surface (think high-quality asphalt).
But take care as quadskates are always trying to roll backward or forward without warning. You might end up taking a sudden fall, which believe me won’t be much fun.
Also, quadskates aren’t as great as inline skates when it comes to rolling over obstacles such as small rocks. It’s easier to knock your noggin onto the pavement if you trip on a pebble while on quads than while blading.
Since quadskates sit on trucks, they’re noticeably more agile than rollerblades. You lean to one side and turn your skates similar to how you turn a skateboard. As a result, you get more maneuverability out of a rollerskate than you would from an inline skate.
Also, making sharp turns feels much easier with quads than with rollerblades. That’s why quadskates are the better choice for roller dancing.
Wondering what the best roller dancing skates are? Click the link I’ve highlighted in blue and dive into that post. You might find a dance skate you might like in case you’re planning on getting into that skating discipline.
As for inline skates, the frame to which the wheels attach doesn’t flex much, unlike the trucks on quads. For that reason, blades are just a little harder to maneuver.
I’m saying rollerblades are less nimble than quads. And that’s why people prefer to indoor-skate or roller dance on rollerskates rather than inline skates.
6.The Braking System and Ease of Stopping
Ah, stopping. You need to stop at some point, even when you’ve been flying around at speeds hovering around 15mph.
Stopping quads seems to be a little easier than inline skates. Quads feature a braking system on the front, and the brake looks like a knob. To stop a rollerskate, drag your toe a certain way and that’s it. I’ll explain how to stop a rollerskate and a rollerblade in a future post.
In contrast, the braking system for an inline skate is located on the back. Usually, beginner rollerblades come with brakes, but you won’t see brakes on speed skates/performance skates.
Stopping inline skates isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but there’s a bit of a learning curve. But once you master blading and can travel insanely fast while still retaining tons of control, you can even remove the brake.
What’s Easier Between Rollerskating and Rollerblading?
It generally takes the same amount of dedication to learn getting comfortable in each type of skate. Quads are lighter, more flexible, and nimbler than inline skates. Plus, balancing on quads feels less challenging, at least initially.
But both types of skates are pretty easy to learn. You should be able to rollerskate or rollerblade forward in one hour tops. And if you’re adamant enough, you might learn skating backward on either skate type in about 3-4 hours.
Rollerblades Are Heavier and their Frames Flex Less
Rollerblades are heavier and have wheels arranged centrally under a frame rather than side-by-side. Additionally, the frame of this skate sucks at flexing. Now, the extra weight of rollerblades becomes part of the overall workout. Also, turning and stopping feels a little more difficult. All these reasons combined can make skating on rollerblades feel harder than skating on quads.
So, stop wondering, “Should I get rollerblades or rollerskates?” You can start with either skate type. The degree of your commitment makes a huge difference as to how soon you’ll perfect skating on either skate type.
If you’re an outdoor soul and have never skated, start with any of these rollerblades for beginners. What if you’d rather jam or dance indoors? Buy quads/ rollerskates instead.
Have wide feet and have been wondering if there’s a pair of rollerskates that’s wide enough for your flat feet? Here’s a post that might point you in the right direction: Best rollerskates for wide feet.
And if you’re a girl or adult but can’t decide what the best inline skates for women are, follow this link. What if you’ve been meaning to gift your little lovely tike a good pair of kids skates? Here are a few decent rollerblades for kids.
Can You Lose Weight by Rollerblading or Rollerskating?
Yes, you can lose weight either rollerskating or rollerblading. But how many calories can you lose rollerblading? And how many calories can you burn quadskating? I’ll let science answer that question.
Studies find that rollerskating for 60 minutes per session can help a person who weighs 143 lbs burn 330 calories. And if that person puts in a little more effort and rollerskates at 10 mph for 60 minutes, they could lose up to 600 calories.
Rollerskating is a great path to better living because it amounts to a complete aerobic workout. Every muscle of the body gets busy as you roll down sidewalks and roadways. That’s why the American Heart Association recommends rollerskating as a good aerobic fitness sport.
According to Harvard Health, rollerblading burns almost as many calories as does running. It’s a great way to build your core strength. If a 125-pound person rolls around for half an hour, they’ll burn 210 calories vs. 240 calories they’d burn running 12-minute miles for 30 minutes.
Rollerblading vs. Rollerskating: Final Word
Both rollerskating and rollerblading are fun-filled activities. But while they’re similar in some ways, there are a few differences. Rollerskating involves rolling around on four wheels arranged side-by-side under a pair of skateboard-like trucks while inline skating has you rolling on 4, 6, 8, or 10 wheels attached to a frame.
Typically, rollerskates are for indoor skating even though you can use them outdoors if you like. Quads have smaller wheels than inline skates, which is why inline skates are the more practical option for outdoor skating. If you’d like to check out a few good outdoor rollerblades, read this post: Best Rollerblades for Outdoors.
Rollerskating can feel easier to a complete beginner because the four wheels placed side-by-side translate into quite a bit of stability. But while inline skates may not feel super-stable when you skate on them initially, riding them starts feeling easier and more exciting as you improve your skating ability.
But in the end, both skates are pretty easy to learn. And a complete neophyte should easily roll forward in an hour or so.
Oh, and remember to wear adequate protection. But do you need a helmet rollerskating? Yes, you do.
Wear a certified rollerskating helmet, and here’s how to measure your head for a helmet if you’ve not learned how to do that yet.
And don’t forget to strap on decent knee pads for rollerskating alongside good elbow pads and wrist guards.