The size you need will probably be at least a half size different than your shoe size.
For example, your Bont boot size will be one whole size smaller than your shoe size. On the other hand, your Luigino size will likely be one size bigger.
To ensure proper sizing, measure your feet in millimeters and use the sizing chart of your boot maker. (Here are the size charts for Bont and Luigino.)
2. Don't get hung up on frames.
Most of them work fine. Just make sure the ones you buy fit your boots.
There are basically two kinds of frames: two bolt and and three bolt.
Two bolt frames fit boots with two mounting blocks. Usually, the bolts are 7.5 inches, or 195mm, apart.
Less common, are two-point frames with 6.5 inches, or 165mm, between bolts. This spacing was standard during the bygone 5-wheel days. Today, it is often found on 4x90mm or 3x110mm skates.
Three-bolt frames are what you use on Bont's popular three-point skates. But look out. Bont now has two different kinds of three-point frames. The old frames fit the standard three-point skates. The new "3PF" frames fit any 2-point boots with 195mm spacing and Bont's new three-point 195 boots.
3. Splurge on wheels.
Most speed skate packages come with mediocre wheels. But if you pay a little more, you can upgrade. And this is usually a good idea. High quality wheels make for an all-around better skating experience.
Among the current crop of premium wheels are: Atom Matrix, Atom IQ, Bont G4, Matter G13, and MPC Road War Turbo.
4. Don’t waste your money on training wheels.
Instead, buy an extra set (or two) of wheels to handle the specific skating surfaces and conditions you face: indoor skating, rain, rough roads, etc.
5. Put your boots back in the oven if you develop hot spots.
A fresh heat-molding may fix your problem.
On the other hand, if your heels are sliding around in your boots, heat-molding probably won't help. Your boots are simply getting old and sloppy.
Stuffing them with insoles may help temporarily. But save your pennies. You're overdue for new skates.
[Quick guide to heat-molding: Take everything off your skates — wheels, frames, laces. Put your boots in a paper grocery bag. Heat in the oven for 25 min at 220 degrees (F). Put them on your feet (don’t burn yourself). Lace them up. And let them cool.]
Adam Bradley has been matching skates with skaters for more than 10 years as the owner of Adam’s Inline online skate shop. A veteran outdoor racer, he is the manager and sponsor of the Adam’s Inline racing team. A Minnesota native, he lives with his wife, Meg, in Minneapolis, where he has shop hours three evenings a week.