Choosing your speed skates
Numerous parameters to take into account
Before reading this article, if you are a complete beginner and do not know the name of a single skate part, we would advise you to read our article on the anatomy of a skate.
What is my use?
According to whether you use skates for speed skating only or for long-distance skating sometimes, you will choose a skate that is more or less close to the foot.
The more you will keep your skates on, the more your feet will swell and need comfort. For a fitness/speed mixed use you should turn towards softer and more tolerant skates.
For pure speed skating and competition, favor rigidity for more performance.
What is my frequency of use? What is my budget?
The first standard price for a speed skating pair is around 350€ and it can quickly exceed 1.000€ for a made-to-measure pair.
No need to buy a 1.000€ skate for occasional use (1 to 3 times a month) or if you are not at ease on your skates. Standard models around 350€-500€ can meet your needs. Obviously there is no counter-indication if you want to spoil yourself!
Indicative price: 400 to 500€
If you are a regular user (1 to 2 times a week) you can opt for a standard model or a customized skate with separate parts.
Indicative price: 500 to 900€
For intensive use (3 times a week and more), choose the parts of your skate yourself with a standard boot, or offer yourself a made-to-measure pair!
Indicative price: 900 to 1400€
These values are submitted for information purposes only, nothing prevents the beginner from buying himself a high end pair of skates.
Am I led to evolve in my practice?
The purchase of a speed skating pair is quite an investment, probably more than a fitness pair.
If you are a beginner but you are sure to practice regularly or intensively, directly invest in a good pair that you will not need to change after a couple of months.
What type of skater am I?
Your size, your power and your technique are important factors that should be taken into consideration.
High and long frames will not disturb a tall skater with great extension as much as a smaller skater with more frequency, it is proportional.
A heavy built or powerful skater will more likely opt for more rigid boots and more solid, thicker frames.
Which brand to choose?
Here again there is no universal truth. According to the shape of your foot, you will turn toward this or that brand. Some skaters will feel very well in Powerslide skates, some others in Rollerblades or Cado-Motus, Bonts, etc.
Take your time to try several pairs of different manufacturers in order to be sure to find the right match.
Which size should I take?
In speed skating more than in any other discipline, it is essential to have the perfect boot size. Thus you must go and try them in a shop.
Indeed, if your foot is too loose in the boot, this will lead to friction and, in the end, to wounds.
Do not rely on your town or casual shoe size as it will only serve as an indication. Indeed, the shape and the size you will take depend on brands and models. Watchword: TRY!
When you put the skate on, your foot should be in contact with the sides once the boot tightened. A little room at the front of the foot is tolerated provided that the foot does not slip frontwards when you move.
You should not feel loose at all, nor have any pressure point when you stand.
In order to be sure you feel good in the pair that you have chosen, keep it on for 20 minutes.
Which interaxial spacing (mounting): 165 or 195 mm?
Without hesitation, choose the 195 mm which is now much more common. It will enable you, in case of problem or if you want to evolve, to set up other frames on your boot.
Avoid less common spacings such as 190, which are not very progressive.
Which type of frame and which wheel diameter?
80 mm, 84 mm and 90 mm 5-wheel frames have almost disappeared from the market. Now, most skaters use frames equipped with wheels from 100 to 110 mm.
For example you can find on the market:
- 3x100 and 1x84 or 90 mm (but less and less) designed for small skaters and slight women
- 4x100 mm still very common for women and in open races
- 4x104 or 4x105 mm in open races or Marathons
- 3x110 and 1x100 mm in open races or Marathons
- 4x110 mm in open races or Marathons, for powerful skaters or skaters with good leg extension.
The 4x110 mm will not suit all builds. It is more destined for tall and/or powerful skaters. Have a look at Yann Guyader's article for more information.
For more information about the choice of speed-skating frames, you can read the article of Yann Guyader
You will hear anything and everything on skate bearings. Marketing does a pretty good job in telling you that you need ABEC 7, 9 and more. The ABEC standard is obsolete. It is better to know the brand, which is a safer guaranty of quality.
From ABEC 5 on, you will find good products for speed skating. As for the brand, you can count on brands such as SKF, Bont, Bones, Twincam…
For speed skating, favor semi-open bearings greased or with gel as it offers less resistance to friction.
Standard or molded? The choice of boots
You have several types of shoes (or boots) on the market: the standard and the molded ones.
The standard shoes
The standard shoes are mass produced. They are made with universal molds that are meant to adapt to the maximum feet. They are less expansive but you lack precision.
For a few years, manufacturers have also offered thermoformable models that you just need to heat for them to adjust better to your feet.
For occasional use, a standard model is perfect. At worst, you can improve the comfort with neoprene ankle guards.
For regular use, provided that you have a limited budget, you can choose a thermoformable shoe that will adjust to your foot a bit better.
Made-to-measure shoes (custom boots) are destined to regular or intensive use. They are hand-crafted in France or abroad according to the chosen manufacturer.
You have to wait at least two months between the moment of the taking of the prints and the delivery. Molded shoes generally show more precision, reactivity and rigidity.
Someone with the necessary budget or who just wants to enjoy themselves can purchase molded boots, whatever their skating level, but you should be aware that the gain in comfort is not extraordinary. It is mainly boots that are close to the foot and cut for performance.
We have browsed the main points to be checked during the purchase of a speed skating pair. If you have questions, do not hesitate to post them on the forum!
Translated by Close Yr E's