Well Choosing Your Aggressive Skate Frames (street, ramp, park…)
A bit of anatomy…
What is the UFS?
At the beginning of the 21st c. this invention revolutionized both aggressive and free skating: that's the Universal Frame System. It is the result from a will of frame standardization: from then on, frames have the same spacing between the fixing screws as well as the same width.
Born at the instigation of Salomon, the principle is both simple and ingenious and spread on the market in 2004. It consists in being able to set up any frame on any skate. You just have to unscrew your frame to change or turn it in case is it worn out.
From then on all the big brands of skating have UFS frames on their skates, it is a standard.
Don't panic, your skates have UFS frames for sure. If you do not like them, you can then change them.
What is the H-Block?
The H-Block is that part in the shape of a U under the frame on which you stall and grind. Why is it called like that? Simply because of the history of aggressive skating: At the very beginning of the practice, frames were made of metal. In order to grind, you would add a plastic block which had the shape of an H in-between the middle wheels…
Today, the H-Blocks make one with the frame, they are directly inserted into it. However there is a Ground Control frame the H-block of which you can change in order to go from flat to freestyle.
What is the groove on a frame?
Nothing to do with music, the groove is the part on the side of the H-block. It is the entrance for stalling. The better cut it is, the less difficulty you will have to grind. Grinds are those slides that you do on the H-block like the "royal", the "front" or the "full torque". It is an important part to look at when you choose a frame, as some skaters like to cut their grooves themselves by grinding while some others would rather stall easily with a new frame.
Which frame for which practice?
Today, aggressive frames are not as specialized in one discipline as before. You don't have to worry anymore about whether you do more park, ramp or street skating. Most of the time, the materials used today enable to have a pleasant gliding whatever the spot. Those big anxieties should be banned and you should concentrate on the style of frames you like best.
However there are small tips which are well-known by skaters: flat frames are more dedicated to park or ramp, while freestyle frames will be more suitable for walls and street skating. Freestyle frames are most of the time less solid but suit better a street skating practice thanks to the width of its H-Block.
The frames of big skating brands are not always the most suitable ones, Razors, Rem'z or even Rollerblade and TRS frames are not the best on the market. They are good to start with, but they quickly show a lack of resistance to shocks, not a good balance (often too much on the front) and above all they lack gliding. In these cases you have to change frames or opt for buying separately the boot and the frame.
Flat frames are the most common on the market and in mass-produced frames. You can skate either with a flat or an anti-rockered set-up. Having a flat set-up simply means having all the wheels touching the ground, i.e. 4 per frame if you stink at maths…
Flat frames are the oldest frames. Advantage: when you skate with a flat frame you are more precise than with freestyle plates. Precision in stalling remains essential to work on balance during grinding.
That kind of set-up mixes speed and handiness. The drawbacks are its weight and the lack of room to stall.
There is another possible set-up on that type of frames: anti-rockers. You replace the middle wheels with harder wheels. You get more room to stall but you lose in handiness, especially in bends. You have to get the hang of it. Some brands replace the anti-rockers with plastic blocks… Which comes to the same thing, although with less precision in the stalling than with anti-rockers.
Some skaters simply take off the middle wheels in order to skate with the less weight as possible. This may (potentially) weaken the frame.
That labeling particularly gathers frames with two wheels only. In that case, the whole frame serves as a H-Block. It is some kind of more advanced version of the flat frame with anti-rockers. The room won with the taking off of the middle wheels is used to curve the frame and get a very wide and pronounced groove. That kind of frames inevitably makes the stalling easier. However, according to the brands, grooves are more or less well cut. Some frames are thus difficult to handle.
The advantage of that kind of frames is, first of all, its weight, lighter than that of most flat frames. And they offer good stalling and switch up.
The main drawback remains the fragility. All of them do not break but they wear off faster than bulky flat frames. Given that there are only two wheels, these frames are also less easy to handle.
Which wheels to choose?
Wheels should be chosen according to the frame. All frames do not take the same wheel diameters. If since recently some Rollerblade have taken 72 mm, some models like the Kizer Fluid will take 59 mm max. Then you have to be careful as for your choice.
How to gain speed? The influence of the diameter
First of all, you have to know that the bigger the wheels the more speed you keep. As well, the more wheels, the faster and easy to handle the skate.
However, you will always gain more speed in less time with small wheel diameters. So here again, you have to choose how you want to skate.
Different set-ups are possible
It is very easy to skate with a flat set-up with some frames, like the Create Original, which can take 55 mm and leave enough room for stalling. With the Kizer Slimline, you can change the sizes between the middle and end wheels, so that you can have 2x58 mm with 2x54 mm or simply 4x56 mm. For freestyle frames, it is advised to take 60 mm if possible, which enables to get some speed in every situation despite the absence of middle wheels.
Bearings: Max ABEC 7!
Do not forget that for aggressive skating, you should not exceed ABEC 7 for bearings: higher they are too fragile. Above all, you have to ask if they are made for your practice or at least if they are shock resistant when you buy them. Think also that in case of wet grounds, you should clean your bearings to avoid them to rust or seize up.
How to choose your anti-rockers?
There are two kinds of anti-rockers: the first need bearings, the second don't. The first kind enables not to get stuck on a spot and to roll silently. They load down the skate because of extra bearings but are of better quality and better rolling than plastic anti-rockers.
The second kind of anti-rockers is the plastic kind. Ground Control brought them out first. They do not roll but still prevent from being stuck. With use, either they lose their shape or they get jammed. In any case, they quickly make a plastic noise when you skate. A little drawback then, even if you gain in weight.
You have now all the indications to choose your aggressive frame and to equip it. There is no "best" frame, they are all different and enable to glide more or less fast. You have to find your style and your gliding. Each skate set-up is unique, so take your time for your purchase.
Useful LinksBy Alfathor
Translated by Close Yr E's
Photos: rollerenligne.com and all rights reserved