Indoor vs. Outdoor Roller Skates: What’s the Difference?

Indoor vs. Outdoor Roller Skates: What’s the Difference?

If you’re tired of paying the rental fees (or sticking your feet into someone else’s sweat stench) at the skate rink, purchasing your own roller skates is a great way to save money and up your skate game. With your own set of wheels, you can practice whenever you want, wherever you want. But before you make the jump and purchase your own set of indoor or outdoor roller skates, there are a few main differences between indoor and outdoor roller skates that you might want to consider.


1. Wheel Hardness

The primary difference between the two styles of skates are the wheels. The hardness of a wheel can generally be determined by the number — the larger the number, the harder the wheel. Indoor rink skates have a wheel hardness between 88A to 103A. The harder material is great for the flat, smooth surface of the rink where you’re rarely going to run into obstacles like rocks or cracks. Outdoor roller skates for adults, on the other hand, should not have a hardness above 90A. The rougher terrain you encounter when skating outside requires more absorption of shock, so having a wheel that has more give ensures better grip and reduces your risk of slipping.


2. Wheel Size

In addition to hardness, the wheel’s size also makes a big difference in the way it interacts with the surface on which you’re skating. Smaller wheels — around 55mm to 60mm — are ideal for indoor skating. Less surface area means shorter roll time. In other words, it takes less time for the wheel to make one complete rotation. Why is this important? It allows you to make quick maneuvers and split-second turns when you’re among other skaters in the rink. If you’re roller skating outside, street roller skates with wheels between 60mm and 70mm are the best choice. The longer roll time means less maneuverability but better absorption for rough, uneven surfaces like concrete or asphalt.


3. Plate Placement

While plate placement is not an essential difference, it is a convenient one. The skate plate, or the plate that attaches the wheels to the boot, may be mounted farther forward on an outdoor skate than an indoor one. This unique placement shifts more weight onto the toe so it doesn’t lift when encountering rocks or other small obstacles. This is not a standardized rule for all outdoor skates, but it may be something to look for if you do decide to buy outdoor skates for yourself. 


So, in summary, what is the difference between indoor and outdoor roller skates? 


The difference between indoor and outdoor roller skates is the hardness and size of the wheels as well as the placement of the plate that attached the wheels to the boot. Indoor quad roller skates have harder and thinner wheels with a plate that is positioned further toward the heel. Outdoor quad roller skates have softer and wider wheels and a plate that is positioned closer to the toe.


Because the primary difference between indoor and outdoor roller skates is the wheels, it’s easy to simply switch out your wheels depending on the type of skating you’re doing. However, if you find that you enjoy both style, it may be worth the extra cost to invest in two separate pairs of skates. While a standard skate boot works fine for outdoor use periodically, roller skates that are manufactured for outdoor use generally feature more rugged, durable materials and higher boots for support and protection.


Knowing the difference between the two types of skates will help tremendously in making your purchase choice. Whether you’re sticking to a multipurpose skate and changing out the wheels, or you’ve decided to purchase a second pair of skates, you can be sure you’re making the right choice with your newfound knowledge of roller skate design.



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