Inline skates are used for a variety of reasons across the globe: Fitness, racing, recreation, roller hockey – you name it! But some of us are a little more adventurous. A smooth, even surface in a skatepark might not be thrilling enough, and the off-road tracks and dirt paths might be more of your thing.
If you’re into all-terrain rollerblades like me, then this article on “the best offroad roller blades” on the market might interest you! We will look at your next potential purchase and a few alternatives. We will also discuss what makes an off road inline skates different from regular blades..
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: the ability to get you over A to B, regardless of the terrain in between.
So let’s see what makes them special.
Size of the wheel
A kid would describe a pair of off road skates as ‘big wheel rollerblades’ 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 maneuver, 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, four 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 with the ground, aiding in maneuverability, 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 because 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 maneuverability 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 maneuverability. Lighter so better speed and control.
What if I want to race?
Now race skates have four wheels, but very big ones, unlike those 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 huge wheelbase, which results in a little less maneuverability. But we won’t be talking much about racing since you’re here for the off-road blades.
Lily needs 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 make 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, the better the stability but the 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 offroad roller blades? Let me tell you exactly how they differ from each and which one is apt for you.
Picture these two use cases 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 at 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, the 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 than 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 are the wheel sizes and their respective use cases.
70-100mm for recreation/rinks
100-130 for outdoor/racing
< 130 for pure off roading
Now let us look at the materials used.
The usual outdoor rollerblades sport PU (polyurethane) wheels which are 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.
These are the best inline skates for rough roads
Actual off-road stuff from Powerslide
Stuff that can be used as off-road
Can you use roller skates outside?
It is not recommended to use both rollerblades and skate outside as most of them are designed to be used recreationally inside rinks and skate parks. You need to purchase specific skates for outdoor use.
Why can’t I use my inline skates outdoors?
Most skates are not designed to roll over rough pavements effortlessly – the main reason being the size & hardness of the wheels. Skates with smaller wheels can’t be used outdoors.
Are roller blades or skates better for outside?
Definitely rollerblades (inline) instead of rollerskates (quad) since they have come with much bigger wheels, longer wheelbase, and are generally lighter than their quad counterparts.
Are Powerslide skates good?
They excel at designing industry-standard skates for specific niches. Their off-road lineup has recently been updated with newer models making their inventory far more superior & diverse than most brands.
Can you Rollerblade on dirt?
The short answer is no. Even if you somehow manage to do it, the action will prove detrimental to your skates and the bearings specifically. A very tedious cleaning process will be required if you don’t mess things up completely.
Can you roller skate on grass?
The short answer is yes. In fact, most beginners try to skate on grass first to get used to rolling, stopping & balancing. Grass offers a surface with resistance that lets you roll slowly & safely.
Can you roller skate on sidewalks?
If your skates are equipped with wheels that allow it, then yes. Most skates come with small wheels that are more suited for smooth surfaces, like in a rink. If you purchase inline skates with big wheels, like the ones listed above, then a big YES.
Can you use aggressive skates on the street?
It is not recommended. Aggressive skates have very small wheels when compared to the average recreational skates, due to which they won’t roll over uneven pavements and surfaces on the street.