What is the Difference between Inline Skates and Rollerblades?

11 Aug.,2022


Getting started in inline skating was all fun until a bit of confusion set in! The thought of trying out this new hobby was exciting until I stumbled upon inline skates and rollerblades. What is the difference between inline skates and rollerblades? I wondered every day. So, I decided to carry out some research!

The main difference between Inline skates and Rollerblades is in the name. While Inline skates is the common name for all types of skates with wheels in a straight line, rollerblades are a specific type of inline skates produced by the Rollerblades skates brand.

As a complete beginner, it’s never easy to tell the difference. Sadly, even some intermediate skaters still can’t tell the difference.

The good news is, today, you’ll discover all there’s to know about rollerblades and inline skates in general.

So, without much ado, let’s get to it!

Inline Skates and Rollerblades

As I’ve already mentioned, inline skates and Rollerblades mean the same thing. Inline skates is a more general term referring to skates designed for outdoor use.

On the other hand, roller blades refer to a specific brand of inline skates produced by rollerblade skates manufacturers. 

Inline skates get this name from their unique wheel and frame design, where the wheels are attached to the frame in a straight line.

Inline skates have either five wheels, four wheels, or three, which vary in size.

In their article, buying guide for skate wheels, Inline skates blog reports a wide range of inline skate wheels based on the type of inline skate. 

The wheels are measured by diameter and stated in millimeters.

According to the report, aggressive inline skates wheels vary between 55 and 59 mm, inline hockey skates at 72-80 mm, recreational inline skates at 70-90 mm, fitness inline skates at 90-110, and inline racing skates at over 110 mm. 

If you want a high speed, wheels of over 85 mm would be a perfect fit. For an average speed, wheels of between 81 and 84 mm would work for you.

However, if you want to go slower, the 76-80 mm would be the real deal. For children, wheel sizes of 60-70 mm will serve them right.

From this explanation, you can already tell the different types of inline skates. Here’s a quick summary for you.

  • Aggressive inline skates – Are mainly used for artistic skating to perform tricks and jumps. These skates have a relatively small wheel size of 55-59 mm. Also, they’re best for street skating, skating over obstacles, or skating in skate parks.
  • Inline hockey skates – As the name suggests, these skates are worn mainly by hockey players and have a wheel size of 72 mm and 80 mm. Nonetheless, you can still use them to skate in a skate park for fun.
  • Inline recreation skates – These skates are designed for recreational skating in skate parks, sports courts, or street skating. They have a wheel diameter of 70-90 mm.
  • Inline fitness skates – Are commonly used for body fitness and recreational skating. They’re the most common inline skates and have a wheel diameter of 90-110 mm.
  • Inline racing skates – as the name suggests, these skates are used by speed skaters. They have a large wheel size of over 110 mm with hard wheels.

What are the Parts of an Inline Skate/Rollerblades?

Rollerblades and inline skates refer to the same thing. Below is a breakdown of the different parts of a rollerblade or inline skate. Let’s dive right in.

1. Wheels

Rollerblades can either have wheels, four wheels, or three wheels. Five and four wheels are ideal for beginners and intermediate inline skaters, while the experienced skaters will find three wheels a good fit. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

The wheels also vary in size. Some are small-sized, others are medium-sized, and others are wide.

The diameter determines what level of skater can use the wheels.

Stability decreases as the diameter increases.

Therefore, wide diameter wheels are best for experienced skaters.

If you’re just starting, the smaller or medium diameter would be a good fit.

Based on material composition, you can find two types of wheels—polyurethane (PU) and plastic (PVC).

Polyurethane is sturdier compared to plastic and has been used to make these wheels since 1973. Thus, for relatively rough terrains, you’d want to get the PU wheels.

To top it up, wheel hardness varies from one skate to another and is denoted by the alphabet “A” at the end.

Typical examples are; 80A, 76A, 74A, and 78A. Wheel hardness influences skate functionality since some rollerblades are more convenient on soft surfaces while others are built for tough terrains. 

For example, the 76A wheel is considered soft while the 74A is considered X-soft. These wheels are fast and comfortable on smooth and rough terrains.

Also, there are both 78A soft and hard wheels. The softer wheels are slower and are prone to wearing out on rough terrains. The best part is, they’re comfortable. 

On the other hand, the hard 78A wheels are fast. The only problem is, they’re not as comfortable as you’d want.

2. Braking System

The braking system is a plastic extension at the back wheel (either right or left) with a rubber material.

Most rollerblades have the brake attached to the right skate. However, you’ll not fail to find one with the brake on the left.  

This braking system is ideal for beginners. Some intermediate skaters still use it, though.

After several years of experience, it’s common to see experienced skaters get rid of it.

3. Frame

Inline skate frames are made from two types of materials—plastic and metal. Choosing the right frame goes a long way in helping with rollerblade longevity.

Metal frames are sturdy and can withstand uneven surfaces. They’re also a good fit for skaters with a high body mass.

4. Bearings

Rollerblade bearings are denoted using the ABEC scale and an odd number. Here’s what I mean; ABEC-1, ABEC-3, ABEC-5, ABEC-7, and ABEC-9.

This scale shows bearings precision. Whenever you see a high number, say ABEC-9, this should immediately tell you the bearing has higher accuracy.

This enhances performance and makes skating a breeze.

5. Air Ducts

Air ducts are tiny openings at the front end of a rollerblade and are fantastic for enhancing airflow in and out of the skates.

They let in air which reduces sweating on the feet and prevents the damping of insoles.

6. Safety Buckle

The safety buckle plays an important role in reinforcing the feet inside the rollerblades.  They also offer more stability and ensure the ankles are comfortable as one skates.

Now that you already know there’s no significant difference between inline skates and rollerblades let’s look into the Rollerblade inline skate brand. Shall we?

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Also, check these amazing socks for Rollerblading on Amazon

Rollerblade Inline Skates Brand

This is the most popular inline skates manufacturer in the world. Amazingly, every company member is a skater explaining why they’re after creating fantastic skates for skaters. 

Most importantly, the company is after changing the world through healthier people, stronger communities, less congestion, less pollution, more fun, and deeper interaction with human and physical life.

History of Rollerblades

In 1980, two Minnesota hockey players, rummaging through a sporting goods retailer, discovered a pair of inline skates and decided this would make for a perfect hockey training device during the off-season.

They refined the skate and began assembling the first Rollerblade® skates in the basement of their parents’ Minneapolis home.

It was that same year when they founded the company that would become Rollerblade®.

In the early ‘90s, international distribution was first realized with the establishment of several distributorship.

Also, in 1991 Nordica, a member of the Benetton Group, purchased a 50% stake in the company.

Source; Rollerblades About us page- Rollerblade History

Types of Roller Skates

Rollerblades are known for producing high-quality quad roller skates, Rollerblades, inline speed skates, and other rollerblading accessories.

1. Quad Roller Skates

These are the typical traditional four-wheel skates used by children and adult skaters.

You’ll find quad skates in low-top or high-top skate boots. Try one or two to find one that fits you and suits your preference.

These skates are also best for indoor skating.

2. Rollerblades

Rollerblades are the same as inline skates and can be used interchangeably.

The skates consist of a series of wheels in a straight line running from the toes to the heels.

Some have three wheels, others have four wheels, while others have five wheels. 

These skates are best for the outdoors, and there’s a wide variety of them, including; aggressive inline skates, inline hockey skates, inline speed skates, and fitness inline skates.

3. Inline Speed Skates

Inline skates have wider wheels and are used for professional speed skating. Like other inline skates, speed skates have three or four, or five wheels.

They’re lightweight and have a short, low cut for easy handling. These skates are best for more experienced skaters and professional speed skaters.

Final thoughts

What’s the difference between inline skates and rollerblades? This is often confused by most beginner and intermediate skaters.

There’s no significant difference between inline skates and rollerblades. However, the key difference is, while inline skates are the common name for all types of skates with wheels in a straight line, rollerblades are a specific type of inline skates produced by the Rollerblades skates brand.

I hope you’ll find this article helpful. Happy rollerblading!

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