Hi, Bill: I am a longtime skater, but I've never really moved past fitness skates. My wheel size has slowly been creeping up (currently I’m on setup with two 90mm and two 100mm wheels), but I've avoided real lower-cuff speedskates up until now. I'd like to make the jump to a full 4x100mm low-cuff skate. But this is a bit of an intimidating leap. What advice do you have for skaters who want to move from serious fitness to amateur speed skating? Unfortunately, like so many skaters, I don't have access to a real skating shop within a day's drive, so I have to purchase everything off of the internet. In addition to general advice, do you have any specific recommendations for a first set of skates with a lower cuff and 100mm wheels? - Bill from the USA.
Hi, Bill: You’re already on a mixed setup of 90 and 100mm wheels. So moving up to a4x100mm setup should not be intimidating at all.
These days, most young skaters are on 100s or 3x110mm setups, at least in countries where there are no restrictions on wheel size for children. So I would say that unless you have small feet — less than a U.S. men’s size 7, let's say — you should be able to handle a 4x100mm setup with no problem.
You might also consider one of the popular 110-100-110-110mm setups. The 100mm wheel in the second slot positions this setup closer to the ground, which improves their stability.
It wouldn't be fair for me to recommend a particular skate brand. I work for X-Tech which recently entered the U.S. market (the U.S. reps are Dan Heid and Jimmy Larson). So I have a bias. But the field is thick these days with companies who make quality speed boots.
You're liable to enjoy skating on bigger wheels. They quiet down the road noise and make for a more comfortable ride. And if you learn how to handle them, you will enjoy better roll.
To do that, you need to pay attention to technique and ensure you properly transfer your body weight over your support leg. The secret is to make the wheels work for you, not the other way around.
One word of caution: Speed boots can be hard on your ankles and feet. So invest in a pair of Ezeefit ankle booties … and wear them. They can help ease the transition and save you from blisters and hot spots.