This week's column:
What Skates to Buy for a Young Speed Skater?
Aug. 10, 2011
Hi, Bill: I have an 11-year-old son who is switching to inline skates after three years on quads, and I am not sure what kind of equipment he needs. What would you suggest in terms of wheels and bearings? Regards - Deepak from Bhopal.
Hi, Deepak: Good to hear that your son is updating to inline skates.
I don’t know if the Indian skate federation limits the size of wheels for young athletes. But in my book, the most important consideration is the length of the skate relative to the size of your son’s foot.
Under no circumstances should more than three-quarters of a wheel extend beyond the toe or heel of the boot. If it does, the skate will be cumbersome and hard to manage and this will make it more difficult for your son to develop proper technique.
Nowadays, skaters who are not on 100mm or larger wheels are likely to be out-rolled. So if your son’s foot is size 5 or larger, you should probably consider putting him on a short 4 x 100mm plate (frame). Such a frame should have a length of about 12 inches from the back to the front axles. Another option for young skaters who want major roll is a 3 x 110mm setup, particularly for road skating.
As for bearings, you don’t need anything fancy. We use the same bearings for track and road. These bearings have a shield on the outside and are open on the inside, making them easy to clean and lubricate.
At one stage a few years ago, everyone went mini-bearing crazy. But now most skaters have gone back to standard bearings with an ABEC 7 rating.
I would suggest you steer clear of Asian bearings, which I have found to be imprecise. On the other hand, I have never been let down by genuine Swiss or German-made ABEC 7 bearings.