Rollerblade Wing 50
Rollerblade Wing 50 Women's Skates
By Kim Perkins
What do you want from a rec skate? You want loads of fun with no hassles: no pesky blisters or pressure points and no mechanical weirdness. And that's what you get with Rollerblade's Wing 50 skates, and at a very decent price.
The members of Team Estrogen (see box on the right) own some not-so-tiny tootsies (our shoe sizes range from 9-9.5 US). So we're used to making do with men's skates. But not so with the Wing 50s, which feature boots, cuffs and washable liners that are specifically designed for women's feet.
Did we notice the difference? Yes. The Wings fit all of us extremely well. None of us experienced pressure points or the dreaded loose heel, despite the fact that our feet, while about the same length, vary dramatically in width and arch height.
We also noticed that the Wings had a lovely front-to-back balance, which we guessed was partially due to the women's-specific cuff, which is lower than the men's.
Every beginner has to combat pronation, the sordid act of letting your ankles fall inward, ruining your balance and slowing you to a crawl when you're tired. Rollerblade helps out with this by positioning the Wings' aluminum frames slightly to the inside of the foot.
We all agreed that the frame placement felt pretty sweet and natural (much more natural than others we'd tested). But some advanced skaters might find the frame placement a bit overcorrected. (As with most rec skates, the frames cannot be adjusted side to side, though they can be moved forward and back.)
Some skates have to be trussed up tighter than Victorian corsets, but not the Wings. Even loose, they are easy to control and responsive.
Their closure system is strictly no-frills: a Velcro ankle strap, unwaxed round laces and a cuff buckle. We would have preferred Rollerblade's excellent TFS Micro-Closure lacing system found on higher-priced models. But thanks to the Wings' excellent fit, the simple closure setup did the job.
Wheels and Bearings
With the recent popularity of big wheels, it had been a while since anyone on Team Estrogen had rolled on 80s. But we quickly adapted to the Wings' Lite 80mm wheels. Coupled with the speedy SG7 bearings, we were partying like it was still 1999.
The 11.5-inch frames accept wheels as large as 84mm. But I would recommend sticking with 80s. The Wings weigh a gossamer 3 lbs, 2.4 oz out of the box, and I wouldn’t change anything that might add weight.
Rollerblade's ADJ (adjustable) brake
The Wings comes with Rollerblade's new adjustable brake, which can be manually lowered as the rubber pad wears down. We liked the adjustability and found the brake to be safe and responsive. But we would have liked to have been able to adjust the brake down without removing the skate. We were also bothered by a slight clanking noise made by the skate on setdown. (The noise seemed to be coming from the braking mechanism.)
Rough Pavement, Wet Conditions
We were surprised at how well the Wings handled rough pavement. We expected to feel every road bump due to the small wheels. But that wasn't the case. Even on a road that resembled a lava field, the ride was smoother than with our racing skates.
The sunny day didn't provide much wet pavement, but when we found some, the skates held on just fine.
We joked initially about the Wings' "girly" silver and lilac color scheme. But we had to admit, the colors complemented each of our outfits!
The Wing 50s provide just about everything you could ask for from a rec skate. They are comfortable, nimble, lightweight and easy to use. They lack some of the features of high-priced skates. But whether you're just learning to skate or have been rolling forever, you'll get fantastic fun for the money with these skates.
Team Estrogen tested various Rollerblade women's products on a sunny Sunday in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Composed of three former pro skaters, the team shares 51 years on wheels, six Athens to Atlanta trophies, and a gazillion Friday Night or Sunday morning group tours. (Read more Team Estrogen reviews in coming weeks on the Inline Planet.)