Month: February 2024

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Specialized Equipment for Inline Speed Skating: Frames, Wheels, and Boots

Inline Speed Skating Gear

Inline speed skating is a high-speed racing sport that requires specialized equipment. This includes boots, frames, and wheels that are optimized for high speed and endurance.

The frame is a lightweight structure that holds the wheels. Its stiffness is an important factor in acceleration and turning performance. Frames may flex, but too much flex limits acceleration and top speed.

Frames

The frame is the component that holds the wheels and connects to the boots. The frames vary in size and material and can have a significant impact on the quality, stability, and performance of a skate. They can be rigid for maximum power transfer or flexible to optimize maneuverability.

The ideal frame length depends on foot size and wheel size. A shorter frame offers more maneuverability, but may not be as stable as a longer one. Frames can also be light or heavy, depending on the amount of flex and stiffness desired.

Most aggressive inline skates are mounted with the UFS (Universal Frame System) mounting standard. This means that the wheels are 165 mm apart. This allows for more control and maneuverability because the wheels are closer together. However, there are some frames that are designed to use a 195mm mount. This is mostly used in freeskating and speed skating. These can be difficult to find in stores but can be ordered online.

Wheels

The wheels are a crucial component to the skates. They can make the difference between feeling comfortable and unstable, between being fast and being slow. Wheels are categorized by their hardness (durometer) and quality, with higher quality wheels offering better road grip. They also may be characterized by the rebound of the rubber, which is important for some skating styles (but not all). This characteristic is often indicated by abbreviations like HR (high rebound), SHR (super high rebound) and HT (very high rebound).

The hardness of a wheel has a direct influence on its speed, since harder wheels have a smaller contact surface, which reduces friction. Moreover, harder wheels absorb vibrations much less efficiently than softer ones. Higher quality wheels are sometimes constructed with a double layer, with a softer strip of urethane beneath the outer one. This increases the rebound. Polyurethane does degrade over time, though, and even the best wheels lose their performance after a certain period of use.

Boots

The boots, or shoes as they are called by speed skaters, are the key component of the inline speed skating gear. The best boots are designed to be sleek and have a tight fit for efficient energy transfer. They are typically made of leather or carbon fiberglass composites and many of them will be heat moldable to give a custom feel.

The Bont Jet is the most popular inline speed skate boot for coaches and skaters all over the world. It’s an extremely lightweight boot with a unidirectional carbon base and a Durolite outer skin. It also uses Bont’s famous epoxy resin that is heat moldable. The padding is a harder neoprene that is a bit more aerodynamic than the soft padding on other speed boots.

The Vanilla Empire is a beautiful speed inline skate that features a carbon shell, a light frame, and 110mm wheels. It is heat moldable and fits like a glove. Please make sure to follow the Vanilla heat molding instructions carefully.

Shoes

Compared to recreational skates, inline speed boots (or race boots) are lower in height and have less padding. This helps to generate power by keeping the foot close to the wheels. These specialized shoes are also stiff, often requiring heat-molding to provide a snug fit and to minimize foot movement that can slow you down.

The upper part of the shoe is usually made from leather or carbon fiber composites, while the base, called a shell sole, is mainly glass or carbon. The shape of the shell sole and the material used determines the inline speed skater’s control, giving them the ability to “read” the road surface.

The Bont Jet Skates are a popular choice among speed skaters, offering the comfort of a cross-trainer with the performance of a high-end racing boot. Other excellent options include the Vanilla Empire skates, which are heat moldable and offer a lightweight frame with four 110mm wheels.

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