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Best Off-Road Skates Of (July, 2020)
Below, I have everything neatly curated to help you choose precisely which pair of skates is right for you and how much you’ll be spending for it and why. So without any further ado, let us roll into it (pun intended).
What are off-road skates?
If I were to very simply describe them to you, I’d say they are roller blades (but with significantly bigger wheels) that are built to roll over very uneven, unforgiving surfaces. Straightforward enough? Okay, let us dwell a little more deep now.
Offroad skating can be thought of as many things. Some take it to skate over dirt tracks on mountains and some literally take them to the woods with high-end carbon poles to navigate across the wilderness. The world is the canvas and these skates can be thought of as brushes for you to draw (or explore with) since they almost take you anywhere.
Off road rollerblades are equipped with slightly more than the usual skates. They go by many names such as mountain skates, trail skates or even the dirt rollerblades. All imply their one strong suit: ability to get you over A to B, regardless of the terrain in between.
So let’s see what makes them special.
Size of wheels
A kid would describe a pair of off road skates as ‘big wheel roller blades’ or something along those lines. And the size is indeed the most distinct part of it. It is what makes the offroad skates good at what they are. Anything above 100mm is ideal for rolling over uneven pavements. True offroad roller blades come fitted with wheels that are 150mm in size – all with a purpose.
“The bigger the wheel, the more effortlessly it will roll over rough surfaces”
Now let us talk about efficiency. For the uninitiated, it simply means the power, precisely how much of it, converted to the overall movement. High-efficiency skates will convert most of the power exerted to forward motion. That is what you want.
A bigger wheel is generally more efficient since it has more points of contact, and that is also the reason why all terrain roller skates come with big wheels.
Bigger wheels also result in greater speeds. It is a little hard to manoeuvre though since the added height of the big wheels doesn’t aid in stability much. But you get top-speed instead of it – not acceleration.
Number of wheels
A common topic of debate in the inline skating community is the number of wheels. Now I’ll tell you which is better and why, mainly from an off road skates standpoint.
The most common setup you’ll find in inline skates is the 4 wheel configuration. It is the most beginner-friendly and found in almost every store that sells sports equipment. If you’re just starting out, 4 wheels are perfect.
Three wheels are generally found in more expensive skates aimed at experienced skaters, where the less number of wheels can result in larger wheels with an overall shorter frame.
A more extreme version of the inline skate would be the offroad skates, where the two wheels setup is common – to reduce the weight of the extra third wheel (or fourth wheel) and make the frame even more rigid. The simple philosophy is fewer wheels equal less weight.
So how does it exactly compare? How does this affect the way you skate? Let’s see.
“The more wheels you have the easier it becomes to skate”
More wheels generally mean smaller wheels (since you can’t fit many big wheels in the same area as many small wheels). So, more wheels equal accommodation of smaller wheels. (given the same frame).
Also, more wheels mean more points of contact. And the force you exert is to move forward is translated through these contacts. So more wheels, more the efficiency. It also means you’d have more grip since more surface comes in contact to the ground, aiding in manoeuvrability, which is an added bonus.
Is 3 wheels a good option?
Now let us talk about 3 wheels. Since we have already established that 4 small wheels in inline skates (which is how they usually come) is ideal for beginners, it is time to compare it to 3!
The reason why I love 3 wheels on an inline skate is it makes possible the inclusion of big wheels but in the same wheelbase/ frame.
In other words, you get bigger wheels (and all its benefits) without having a longer skate (and without all its downsides)
Larger the wheel, the greater the speed.
Shorter the frame, more the maneuverability .
Since the wheelbase will be pretty much the same, it will not hurt the manoeuvrability that much but you get that added speed bonus.
Where it does hurt is the overall stability. You see, bigger wheels will result in you standing higher from the ground than usual, and the higher you are, the less stable you get.
So it is safe to say, 3 wheels are ideal for experienced skaters who want to go fast and seek adventure.
And what about 2 wheels?!
If we choose to omit one more wheel, we get an off road roller skates like the Next Edge 150 – two 150 mm wheels on either end of the frames.
These huge wheels are especially great for handling the rough terrain. Not only that, the frame now becomes shorter and lighter because of the omission of the third wheel. Shorter so more manoeuvrability. Lighter so better speed and control.
What if I want to race?
Now race skates have 4 wheels, but very big ones – unlike the ones seen in the beginners model. The logic here would be to increase the point of contact to maximize the efficiency (thus more wheels) but also have large ones (to increase the speed).
This results in a very large wheelbase which results in a little less manoeuvrability. But we won’t be talking much about racing since you’re here for the off-road blades.
Lily need to make a graphic here just as the previous image
Maybe a photo of regular 4 wheels, race 4 wheels, 2 wheels, 3 wheels
More number of wheels =
more weight, more grip, more maneuverability, more point of contact, bigger wheels
Less speed, less weight.
True all terrain skates come fitted with heavy-duty frames that are designed to take a lot of abuse. The powerslide SUV series in particular feature aircraft aluminium in their frames that makes it excellent for off-roading.
The gravel, dirt and water should not come in the way of your adventures, so these skates often have rustproof sealed bearings that add to the longevity.
And about the length, as we discussed in detail earlier: Longer the frame better the stability but lesser the maneuverability. So ideally, you’d want my skates to have no-so-long frames since long ones make it difficult to turn and do crossovers with.
Difference between outdoor skates and offroad skates
I think this is the most important question you need to ask yourself: Are you looking for outdoor inline skates or an offroad roller blades? Let me tell you exactly how they differ from each and which one is apt for you.
Picture these two use scenarios in your head:
Scenario 1: You plan to buy a fresh pair of inline skates and you wanna skate not only in the skating rink or in the skatepark but also on the street as well – the road is what interests you.
Maybe you want to get from one part of town to another. Street skating is your jam, and I totally get that! Or what if you wanna commute through your vast campus on a daily basis.
All this would be on rough roads and uneven pavements. You can not get the super-smooth surfaces (like in a skatepark) on the street. Out there, it is rough, both literally & figuratively.
For this purpose, you’d want outdoor rollerblades.
Scenario 2: Commuting across the town is not what you’re into. You have your car (or bike) for that. Let’s say you’re an adventurous lad who seeks fun in the wilderness – out in the woods, or perhaps down a mountain trail.
This is where you’d want actual heavy duty all terrain rollerblades. They are the extreme versions of the regular rollerblade that makes them fitted to go over dirt, obstacles and uneven surfaces.
They are a little costly (since they feature high-end components) and are aimed for experienced skaters. True off road inline skates are for the advanced and for the initiated. They stand very high and require a lot more balance.
If you’re a beginner, you’d want to go with the regular outdoor skates. Nonetheless, let us talk about their key differences below.
What makes the off road skates stand out?
The main difference is in the wheels because wheels are what makes off road skates what they are. As we discussed earlier, bigger the wheels, better it becomes for off-roading.
How big of a difference are we talking about?
Let me tell you a small story that will get the point across.
The first-ever inline skates I purchased featured 4 small wheels (it was a recreational rollerblades) and it was an excellent buy. But then I took it outside for a spin, on the street… and it was a disaster. TRUE STORY!
Why was it a disaster? Yeah, you guessed it – small wheels.
My new pair of blades sported 80mm wheels and I quickly realised it was not going to cut it.
Months later when I was no more a beginner in the inline skates game, I decided to buy a high tier outdoor blades meant for cruising – the GT black 110 from powerslide.
These had 110mm wheels, significantly bigger my previous wheels and it showed! Now I could effortlessly roll over uneven pavements with minimal vibrations. Commuting got a lot easier, although it required from me a little more experience..
So in short, the following is the wheel sizes and their respective use cases.
Now let us look at the materials used.
The usual outdoor rollerblades sport PU (polyurethane) wheels which is seen in most skates and skateboards. It is a great material of choice since it offers more resistance to wear and tear than traditional rubber.
Speaking of rubber, that is what is used in the off-road counterparts!
But why a seemingly inferior material choice? Well, you see in the true off-road inline skates, like the Powerslide NEXT RENEGADE 125, come with actual tires. They are inflatable tubeless offroad tires with treads. The offroad profile itself is an indicator of how serious they are when it comes to off-roading capabilities.
So I believe now you know what the differences are between outdoor rollerblades and off road inline skates. Both are sort of regular looking blades but with big wheels. Although I think I forgot to talk about another kind (or breed I should say) of off-road rollerblades:
The Nordic skates: The king of all off-road skates!
These are the true all-terrain beasts, sporting giant 200mm offroad profile tires for outstanding traction, attached at either end of a machined aluminium frame. These make high-end racing blades look like children’s toys.
They can be thought of as a different version of cross country skiing where people would often grab their carbon poles (like in actual skiing) and travel long distances. These are skates for actual hardcore enthusiasts who take the off-road stuff seriously.
These usually cost around 500 dollars since they come with actual inflatable rubber tires instead of small polyurethane wheels (seen in more affordable recreational blades).
The powerslide nordic rollerblades come with all the bells and whistles, including 3 point mount frames for superior stability. They are also equipped with advanced brakes such as the calf brake and cuff brake. Also, the boot features memory padding that slowly adapts to your feet so It fits snugger each time you wear it.
The three nordic iterations being sold by Powerslide: The XC Trainer, Grave Digger and the XC Skeleton. We will go through the three in detail below.