Since I’ve been sharing about igniting my old passion for roller skating lately, and the obsession that has taken over my headspace in the most exciting way in the last few weeks, I’ve been spending A LOT of my free time researching skates and wheels… and well, buying way too many pairs of skates to satiate my need to get rolling, yet none of them have arrived yet!
Though I am no expert or pro by any means, I have been skating since I was a kid and am no beginner, yet since I grew up skating on Chicago skates and never thinking about my wheels or plates or toe stops unless they broke, which was never, I’m definitely new to the world of roller skates available now, which is pretty incredible actually. There are so many adorable styles and different boots and wheels to try out and I can’t wait to get rolling in all of my new skates to compare and contrast the differences in the styles and mechanics and do a full review of all of them once I spend a little time skating in them.
And since I’ve had a handful of people reach out on Instagram asking me about what kind of skates to buy and what I’ve bought, I thought now was a good time to break down the specs of each and why I bought them and talk about the Chicago skates as well, since they’re the brand I’m most familiar with skating on.
But a few things first…
If you’re a beginner GET PADDED! They have tons of options for knee, elbow, wrist and head protection because you will fall on skates! Even as a pretty advanced skater, I just ordered a pair of wrist guards because I’m not interested in ending up in a cast, okay? Good. Just wanted to get that out of the way 🙂
Roller Skate Sizing…
Skate sizing is TRICKY. MOST skates are made in US men’s sizes so you have to size down… For example, I wear a US Woman’s 9 in shoes and I wear an 8 in roller skates mostly (according to my foot measurements and all the new brands I bought, 8 was still my size). However, in men’s Vans, I wear a 7. So in regular shoes sizes I have to size down 2 from men’s to women’s but in skates I only size down 1 size – but I also have wide feet. I think if you have narrow feet you may be able to size down 2 sizes as long as your toes aren’t crammed in the toe box. I really wish skates came in half sizes because honestly the 8’s still feel a little roomy inside, but if I go to a 7 they’re way too small.
* SIDE NOTE: A friend gave me her skates when I was in high school and they were too small on me and this was a catch-22 because I had WAY MORE CONTROL in the skates but my feet were constantly killing me. So now I opt for comfort, but if you’re unsure, it’s best to go to a local skate shop to actually try the skates on… Also, make sure you check each skate’s sizing because they’re all a little different and measure your foot by standing on a measuring tape or ruler.
* Moonlight rollers run wide
* Moxi Skates run narrow
* My Chicago skates are an 8 and are a little roomy inside, but if I size down, they’d be way too small. So, thicker socks is that answer.
Okay… there’s a lot to unpack with roller skate wheels but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible – with my amateur knowledge.
MOST skates come with a hybrid wheel that say you can skate indoor or outdoor on. They’re usually in the 57mm-59mm and 80-85a category which means they’re smaller wheels that are on the harder side – but not too hard.
The higher the A number, the harder the wheel, the more they’re used for hard slick surfaces like roller rinks and skate parks… however 80-85a is considered both indoor and outdoor… but generally a better outdoor wheel (for streets/sidewalks, etc.) is 78a – because they’re softer and a better slick surface (outdoor or indoor) wheel is 92a.
The lower the A number, the softer the wheel (78a) which means they’re better for outdoor surfaces that have bumps and cracks and debris you might roll over and these wheels go over them in a way that allows you not to feel the bumps. They absorb the terrain instead of your feet so it’s a smoother ride.
There are three general roller skate wheels sizes 57-59mm, 62mm and 65mm – 57 is the smallest, 65 is the biggest.
Larger wheels make you feel more grounded, especially if they’re soft (78a or lower) because they’re sticky or gummy and take up more ground space because they’re larger. They’re also a little heavier and bulkier to skate on making it harder to do dance moves or jam or rhythm skate (for me anyway).
A NOTE ON BUYING WHEELS: Do your research and know what you’re looking for and what you like as far as size and hardness. Wheels usually come in sets of 4, so make sure to order two (or two different colors if you want!) to make sure you have 8 wheels. ALSO, you’ll need bearings and wheels don’t come with bearings. You can use the bearings already on your skates, but it’s a bit easier to buy new (and better) bearings for other sets of wheels so you can pop them on and off quickly and easily if going from indoor to outdoor skating. Roller bones and Reds are considered the standard/best – * make sure you get a pack of 16 or two packs of 8. Each wheel needs two bearings.
ALSO NOTE: Some skates can’t handle a larger wheel than a 57-59mm so if you’re looking to upgrade a skate boot you already have or are going to purchase, make sure it can handle a larger wheel if that’s what you want. (For instance, the Moxi Panthers, which are adorable and less expensive than the Lolly’s apparently cannot handle a larger wheel.)
A Quick Bearings Reference Guide…
ABEC 5 bearings are cheaper than ABEC 7. ABEC 5 bearings allow for lesser friction while ABEC 7 bearings almost give the skater a ‘frictionless’ cruise. ABEC 7 bearings are manufactured with stricter tolerance and are more precise than ABEC 5 bearings.
So let’s start with the skates I already have…
Chicago Roller Skates 800 Series…
- Aluminum plates
- Strategically designed for gliding and is also a popular choice for all-around rink and social skating
- Features a controlled high top boot for optimum safety, leather uppers and padded tongue
- High quality and super long laces – they don’t specify but I think they’re 86″
- Wheels are urethane and don’t give specifics, but I did research and even though they claim to be a “rink skate” I think they’re standard 58mm 82a – totally fine for indoor and outdoor semi-slick surfaces – the only thing I don’t like about these wheels is that they have a flat edge and I’m used to skating on a rounded edge, which is just a preference, but makes it easier for me to do spins and turns.
- Semi-precision bearings keep you rolling smooth and fast – also not specific with the bearings (which makes me think they’re not that great, however, I’ve never had an issue with them) I think they’re ABEC 3’s
I grew up on Chicago Skates or this style of skate, which is basically designed like a figure skate but with 4 wheels instead of a blade for ice skating (I also have ice skates that look like this but I haven’t ice skated in years). I learned how to skate on metal wheels way back in the early 80s and then grew up skating on whatever skates I had. I never had an issue with a toe stop (we referred to them just as “stoppers” when I was a kid) falling out or a wheel falling off, nor did I ever wash my wheels or oil my bearings or tighten or loosen my trucks, all of this I’ve learned just recently while researching skates. Basically, I had skates, I put them on, laced them up and went outside to skate. If I had a loose wheel I’d tighten it with my “skate key” that came with my skates, which they now call a skate tool or a crab tool (and most skates come with these still).
At $62-$120 (depending on manufacturer or size, I can’t tell) Chicago Premium 800 skates are one of the most affordable options available right now. They have an even less expensive version (with hot pink wheels) but I think they’re lesser quality and come with plastic wheels instead of urethane, which is just yuck, for lack of better word, lol, so I’d go with the premium since the price difference isn’t that much between the two.
The boot is very stiff and takes a while to break in, but is very supportive. I have the most issue with the back of the boot rubbing my lower calf/leg but after a few wears and with a thicker sock, this goes away, and the tongue, which always slides to the side while I’m skating.
NOW… these may not be the trendiest skates at the moment, but they’re not bad skates at all. In fact, I’d say they’re pretty good, although I haven’t been able to compare them yet to the others below, but if you’re a beginner or just wanting to get back into skating and want to buy a reasonably priced skate that does the job, these will be just fine for you. You can always change out the wheels and bearings for a different ride.
Moxi Lolly’s Outdoor Complete…
- Powerdyne Nylon Thrust Plate
- Off Set Toe Stop and Stabilizing Foot Plate
- ABEC 5 Carbon Steel Bearings
- Wheels: 62mm – Hardness: 78A Moxi Gummy Outdoor Wheels (not recommended for indoor or skate parks but better for streets and boardwalks, etc.)
Okay… so as I’ve stated in my last few posts, these Moxi Lolly outdoor roller skates were the first skates I went looking for and researching when on a mission to buy a new pair of skates. They come in a rainbow of really pretty (real) suede colors and are made in the USA, which I’m guessing is part of the reason why they’re so expensive. Also, their partner brand is Reidell, a longtime skate manufacturer I remember as a kid as being the “expensive” skates we couldn’t afford.
Moxi Lolly’s are REALLY trendy at the moment, and it’s easy to see why… they’re super cute and are a quality skate! At $349, they’re one of the most expensive ready to wear skates out there excluding custom builds.
The Moxi suede boots are much more narrow than other skates and have less padding and support (based on the reviews), and with my bad ankle and wider feet, I’m worried these won’t be the right fit for me, BUT I wanted to try them anyway to compare them with the other two and though I was out of luck until I found out that Fritzy’s skate shop in San Diego received a huge inventory shipment and dropped them in a ton of colors on Monday and LUCKILY I snagged this pretty pink pair (called Strawberry) before they were all sold out of my size. They still have a few more sizes (mostly larger sizes) left in a few of the colors, but otherwise, they sold out fast!
They also have a nylon thrust plate, which I’ve never tried, and is supposed to be lighter than the aluminum I’m used to skating on, as well as larger 62mm wheels at 78a for outdoor street and lifestyle skating. I have a feeling I’ll be getting these first (like tomorrow EEK!) even though they’re the last pair I ordered, but the first pair I wanted. Oh the irony 🙂
- 100% genuine suede upper, Tongue stabilizer, 82″ laces
- Adjustable PU toe stop
- Custom printed padded lining, Cushioned insole
- Painted aluminum-alloy eyelets, ABEC-7 bearings (best bearings on all skates here)
- Aluminum-alloy plate (plate weight is approximately 1 lb.)
- 58mm 82A urethane wheels with internal hub
These beauties, called the Moon Boot were the first roller skates I ordered a few weeks ago after doing a bunch of research and learning that the Moxi’s weren’t available anywhere – I bought the grey Mirrorballs, but they have other REALLY COOL color options that you should definitely check out! There are tons of reviews and all of them are really good. The only issue anyone has really had with them are the wheels not being great for outdoor street use – which makes sense because they’re 82a, better for a slicker surface, in my opinion, but we’ll see. If so, I’ll save them for indoors and skate parks or tennis courts… but what I love is that they’re made for a wider foot, have ample padding and ankle support and have tongue stabilizer loop to keep it from slipping to the side which IS SO ANNOYING and has happened my entire life with skates and is still happening with my Chicago’s. None of the other skates have this and I honestly don’t know why, but I might have to DIY one in my other skates because I think it’s pretty important.
I am just as excited to get these as I am the Moxi’s. I think they’re so pretty and I’ve purchased other wheels (energy radar wheels in 57mm 78a) in case I want to wear them out in the street and these BONT wheels in 62mm 78a just to compare the size difference.
BTFL Roller Skates…
- Very soft leather boot – BTFL guarantees high quality, no plastic on the upper shoe.
- Chassis with hight adjustable stoppers – The chassis consists of a mixture of plastic chassis (to minimize weight) and aluminum axles for high load
- Wheels: 61 x 38mm / High Rebound 80A (the bigger wheel just a little harder than the 78a) and I’m super excited about how round these wheels are!
- Bearings: ABEC-7 Carbon Steel (like the moon boots)
- A comfortable Roller Skates for Rink, Artistic, Rythmic Dancing and of course everyday use.
- Easy to lace and comfortable fit combined with a stylish design.
- Our BTFL roller skates were designed in Germany for the European market. Their sizing shows the women’s size and men’s size next to each other, making it easier to order
Of all the skates I kept seeing, these cute BTFL roller skates had the least amount of buzz about them yet the specs on them are quite good! They have similar leather boots like Moxi with similar wheels and even better bearings and I could barely find any reviews on them! Maybe because they’re German made and have only just recently become available in the states? I’m not sure, but of the three I just bought, at $189, these are the least expensive but on paper, just as quality.
I can’t wait to try all of these skates out and the new wheels I bought as well to really get a feel for which skate is best for what atmosphere and style skating I like to do, which is pretty basic really with a little rhythm and dance intertwined.
What I love about all of these brands I just purchased is that they’re all owned by WOMEN!
There are a few other brands to mention like Impala and Candi Girl, C7s, Sure Grip, Chaya and so many more, and Moxi has a few less expensive lines as well like the Jungle and the Beach Bunny but I was looking for a particular style of skate and these brands fit the bill. I’m not sure if I’ll keep all of them, it’s going to depend on the fit of the boot, but I’ll do a full review on all of them and compare them as well. I’m really excited about ALL OF THEM to be honest, and it’s funny that I’ll probably get the pink Moxi’s first, and they were the last ones I purchased and luckily got in before they sold out.
Well, I hope this helped in any way or inspired you to get back on your old skates or learn to skate! You can find tons of info on youtube from the pretty huge roller skating community that has formed in the last few years, which is pretty amazing, if you ask me 🙂
DO let me know if I’ve missed anything or gotten anything wrong so I can update it and if you have any questions, DM me on Instagram or comment here!