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inline skates have come a long way, don'tcha think?

MikeB's picture

I was reading a fellow skaters blog looking for input on a pair of Bont Semi-Race skates possibly to replace his Powerslide C4s.  That got me to thinking (dangerous, I know, but I couldn't control the urge).  What can you remember about your first pair of skates?  How do they compare to what you use now?  What would your dream upgrade skate be and why?

Maybe the year isn't something I'm eager to divulge, but I can certainly remember my first pair and I was ecstatic to get them.  They may have come from Sears - that parts a little foggy - but they were steel 4x4s and shined like an Airstream Travel Trailer.  They attached to the bottom of your sneakers with two claws, one at the heel and another at the toe.  Each section had to be torqued down very tightly with the skate key, otherwise you'd lose a skate mid-stride.  That was never pleasant.  Since the wheels were steel the traction was lacking to put it mildly.  Going around a sidewalk corner was like trying to fight to maintain an edge on an icy slope at Telluride.  And becoming adept at stepping over cracks and sidewalk seams was a must.  Those little 25mm steel wheels got so chewed up by concrete that the ride could rattle your teeth no matter what the rpm.  And now we have: 110mm wheels of varying softness, heat moldable boots, and so much more.......simply amazing.

Who's next?  Fill us in won't you?


andrewinnc's picture

My first pair of skates.

About 14 years ago, I purchased a pair of California Pro inlines so I could skate with my daughter who was 6 at the time. They were of the plastic variety, the kind that remind me of ski boots. High up on the leg and no ankle movement. It didn't take long skating some sessions at the local rink, to see that I wanted something more. Seeing the younger set on the speed skates with 5 bigger wheels(80mm) seemed so much better, and faster. So began my foray into speed skates. My first pair of speed skates were Millers, they were low on the ankle and much lighter than the "ski" boots. I like to think of these as my first pair of skates. Now I am back on 4 wheels (100mm) using a pair of Simmons that I used to look at with envy so many years ago. They are not the customs, but have been molded to fit my feet and have a very good feel. Skates, like so many other things, have come a long way through the years. I don't know where the wheel size is gonna stop.
timv's picture

First skates

> About 14 years ago, I purchased a pair of California Pro inlines

Hey, that's what I started on too, and they were pretty good to me all things considered. I got into wheel and bearing and axle replacements pretty quickly but put a lot of good miles on them.

I guess I've had five pairs of skates total now in the most generous count, but really only used three seriously--each a significant improvement on the one before.

MikeB's picture

okay - now I feel old!

I wish decent outdoor urethane wheels were around 'back in the day.' That would have been nice. I was really miffed when Big Wheels became all the rage - I was too old for those and they looked so cool.
timv's picture

No older than we do, believe me

Don't get the wrong impression, Mike. I was well into my 30s when I got those skates, so don't go thinking that you're the only creaky old dude here. And I know that Andy has a couple of grown kids so he's more or less my age too.

Those were my first inline skates and my first rollerskates of any sort, but in fact my first *skates* were a pair of hockey ice skates (CCM if memory serves) that for some reason I absolutely had to have for Christmas when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I guess having the Greensboro Generals minor league hockey team in town might have had something to do with it. I skated a lot in them, and then inherited my older brother's hockey skates and skated a lot in them when I'd outgrown that first pair.

It just took me a while to discover skating on wheels; or maybe I wasn't that motivated, knowing how much smoother and faster ice skating was, in the pre-urethane-wheel days particularly.


eebee's picture

you're never too old for cool wheels!

There, I said it all in the title :-)

Besides, when you get to 40 (not sure of your age) you realize none of that really matters anyway!


MikeB's picture

you're as young as you feel

I hear ya eebee, I totally hear ya.

And 40 is the new 30, and 30 is the new 20, and........you get the idea.

Does that work for dogs too? In human years my Darby would be 28 but maybe he should be considered 21?  hmmmmmmmm ;-)

roadskater's picture

Steel Wheels, Ultra, Roces, RB, K2, Verducci, Mogema, Powerslide

If I get time I'll come back to this and add more notes.

New skates may not make you faster but sometimes being in love with your new skates will make you faster (than you would have been had you not been in love with your new skates). I remember the fun of getting the next level up and of getting funky skates. I skated on the Enduros with just 2 wheels on when I noticed the wheels were very hot and wearing like mad! That was when I gave up on the idea of skating on them with one wheel in the center. Never skated a six-wheel frame but I think a 6x80 or 6x84 setup would be fun to try sometime, though it appears 100mm or higher is a sweet spot for many. I'd like to try 5x90 or 4x90 also.

Here's what I remember skating on...

  • Old used metal skates with leather straps found in the attic or basement. Unsafe at any speed. No wonder laws were written against these! Too bad the laws have been so slow to change.
  • Rental quad indoor skates in the age of disco
  • Rental Ice Figure Skates (disco era) and Hockey Skates (Ohno era)
  • First inline skates bought at Target for $40 (perhaps those California Pro skates? Earth tones, chattering wheels.)
  • UltraWheels with 76mm wheels maybe but upgraded to 80mm wheels (nice skates, solid, comfortable!)
  • RollerBlade E2s (?) exoskeletal system (mostly hype but removable cuffs and some other neat mod options) 4x80mm (heavy but good solid skates with a nice ride due to carbon frame)
  • K2 Flight 76s with 80mm wheels on (nice solid comfortable skates! first T2T and A2A on these, maybe second one too)
  • Roces Enduro 3 wheels each side (timv and I hacked to get 100mm wheels on; fun to play with; only bad scooter wheels available at the time)
  • RollerBlade Coyote 3 pneumatic tires each side; fun; great brake; invited danger and seemed like tires wearing out would be a problem
  • Roces CDG Paris first five-wheel aluminum frame pair but semi-low hardshell clunky boots and low-tech frame design; 5x80mm. Put MANY miles on these puppies.
  • Verducci V-Tek with 5x80mm Shockwave then K2 3x100+84 165mm mount frame, wonderful skates. MANY MANY miles.
  • Mogema R1 boots, good for comfort when I needed it, but not as nimble or solid as V-Teks; flawed sliding mount system broke down
  • Powerslide C4 boots with Millennium 3x100+84 165mm mount frame (so far very solid and comfortable as a stock item, with no molding required so far; my ankles thank you, especially my left!)
Skateylove y'all...roadskater
MikeB's picture

Roadskater inline skate segment on History Channel?

From steel to 2008 speed. That covers an amazing array of skates and I'd certainly tune in to a History Channel segment, even if it was in HD. That is awesome stuff to me - rental quads in the age of disco; ultrawheels; love it. Closing my eyes I can just about hear the interview on "NPR". Thanks!

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