This inline skate buying guide is aimed at new and beginner skaters who may not be sure what skate to choose and why. There are so many different skate models and manufacturers out there, and there is so much technical and marketing hype that buying new skates can be a confusing experience.

What type of skating?

Perhaps the most common type of skating is recreational skating. If you’re not sure what type of skating you’re going to be doing, I would suggest start out by trying recreational skates – these are probably the most common skates and are generally good all-rounders. All the other types of skating are specialised disciplines, and the skates used will be optimised for those disciplines. A good pair of recreational skates will give loads of skating pleasure, and still allow you to at least try out some of the other disciplines once your skating has improved.

It’s probably best to get a pair of skates with a heelbrake, as this is the most powerful and practical way to stop for beginners and intermediates. Later on in your skating career you may well decide to abandon the heel brake, and that’s fine too. Starting skating without one, though, will be more limiting.

Fit and Comfort

Most important of all, the skates must fit well and be comfortable. Don’t necessarily expect to match skate size and shoe size – the only way to be sure is to try the skates on, and preferably several different sizes.

Budget

Spend more rather than less where possible – below £100 you’re very likely to get uncomfortable skates that don’t work well. Good skates can be resold much more easily, and will help you to enjoy your skating. Poor quality skates will quickly convince most people that skating is not for them.

Where to buy

Go to a proper specialised skate shop, not a sports shop or catalogue. That way you’ll be sure to be able to try on quality skates. My philosophy is to buy properly and buy once.

Here is a list of rollerblade and skate shops in London.