Inline skating is something I tried when I was a kid, not taking it very far, I’ll admit, but it was something I enjoyed. I recently got back into skating in a big way, getting a couple of pairs of skates and really enjoying myself.
While I won’t get into fitness skating in this post, I will go into it soon, as well as other disciplines such as inline and ice speed skating, marathons, free-skating and roller-derby.
As with most extreme sports of this nature, there are many ways to set-up your skates for different styles or environments. Wheel sizes, number of wheels, frame shapes and more can all impact the way you skate greatly.
Rather than get into all of the different combinations and their pros and cons, I just want to get into what I feel is the future of the sport and inline skating in general. The larger your wheels, the faster you go. Powerblading is all about that notion. It takes the larger wheels of freeskating (80mm+) and combines them with the tough, rugged aggressive skates and frames that can take a lot of punishment. These skates typically have wheel sizes ranging from 55mm to 60mm with 65mm becoming steadily more common.
I think powerblading will remain a separate entity from aggressive due to the fact that aggressive skating is so grind focused, and 4 80mm wheels will make grinding extremely difficult due to the middle wheels rubbing the grind surface and sticking.
Most likely, powerblading will become an interchangeable term with free-skating. They will be similar skates but with some small differences in toughness / lightness and wheel size.
As far as aggressive goes, I think anti-rocker (two big outside wheels combined with two small plastic grind wheels) will become even more the go-to set up for most skaters. What I think will change about this set-up will be the wheel sizes. I think at least 60mm will be the minimum for this set-up soon and it’ll only increase from there to 65 and beyond. Whether you can get up to 80mm and still be able to grind comfortably is an interesting question and something the pros and experts will tell us at some point. There will come a point where the wheels just get too big to be beneficial. We’re around that point in speed and fitness skating right now with the 110mm wheels I would guess.
Freestyle set-ups work very similarly to anti-rocker ones in that they have the two wheels front and back and a grind space, albeit without the extra grinding help from anti-rocker wheels. That set-up style should also evolve to the big wheels.
Flat on the other hand is interesting. Riding flat in some ways you lose in terms of speed (smaller wheels), comfort and ease of grinding (wheels sticking), but you do gain control through having your feet lower to the ground. To me I don’t see the trade-off being worth-it for 90% of skaters. Plus, where I live the pavements and other surfaces aren’t smooth at all, and where you have bumpy surfaces, larger wheels offer far more comfort and speed.
I’m excited to see where aggressive skating goes. I don’t think powerblading is the future of aggressive inline, but I do think that a happy medium between these two styles of skates is probably where things are heading.