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Types of Quad Roller Skates
by Dave VanBelleghem

Think all quad skates are created equal? Not so. There are several different types, each designed for a particular skating style.

Metal Strap-On Skates

The first is one that everyone over the age of 40 will remember. The strap on skates. These were typically made of a metal plate with leather straps to bind them over your shoes. They could be adjusted in length by loosening and tightening the center screw with a "Skate Key" wrench. They had steel wheels.

Strap Ons

Plastic Strap-On Skates

Some earlier skates were made from wood. As the use of plastic became more widespread in society it became commonplace for plastic strap ons to be made, often with a caricature of a comic book or cartoon character on the front.

Plastic Strap Ons

Of course these types of skates could not be considered anything but toys. Many skaters got their start on strap ons though.

Artistic Roller Skates

These next quad skates are the most well known type. The "Artistic" or "Rollerdance" skate. Note the high cuff around the ankle. When laced up it gives the skater good control for doing spins and jumps. Also notice the fairly high heel to keep one on your toes for more maneuverability. The wheelbase length is fairly short, with the front axles under the ball of the foot and the rear axles under the middle of the heel. These balance points allow for fancy dance movements.

Artisic Boots

Speed Skating Quads

Becoming more well known today are the speed quads. They have a very low cut boot, either just over the ankle bone or just under it, like a sneaker. The heels are very low, less than a half inch. In the last few years rollerdancers and "jam skaters" have taken to wearing speed boots because of the freedom of movement they provide. They're also much more comfortable for skating long distances in than the high cuff artistic boots.

Low Cut Speed Boots
Low cut speed boots

Ankle High Speed Boots
Ankle high speed boots

Speed boot photos courtesy Doctor Sk8

Sneaker Skates

These next skates first made their appearance back in the 70's and 80's and are selling like crazy today. Originally called "Jogger Skates" they're usually referred to today as "Sneaker Skates". They're simply a pair of running shoes mounted on quad plates. While not up to snuff for competitive skating the better made models are fine for fitness skating or shuffling around the roller disco.

Sneaker Skates

Hockey Quad Skates

A sport that's not too well known in North America but is popular in Europe is Quad Hockey, sometimes called Hardball Hockey. It is played with a stick resembling a field hockey stick and a hard wooden ball. The skates are hockey boots mounted on a quad plate.

Quad Hockey Skates

Aggressive Quad Skates

Aggressive roller skating on quads is making a comeback. It originated in the 70's when skateboarders skated in empty bowl shaped swimming pools. Some were also rollerskaters and decided to try their skates out in the pools. Nowadays the skating is done mostly in skateparks and vert ramps. Rollergirl.ca is about the only North American company selling aggressive quads at the moment. HawaiiSurf.com sell them in Europe. Aggressive quads use wider than normal trucks for greater stability when landing and to allow for "grinding moves". They typically have a "grinding block" attachment on the bottom for sliding along rails and curbs.

Aggressive Quad Skates

Quad Skates for Jumping Tricks

If you go to France or Senegal you will be sure to see Street quad skaters. They do all sorts of tricks and jumps and often go racing through traffic. Check the videos. For these skates they often use basketball shoes mounted on their plates with an aluminum "sole plate" sandwiched between to stiffen the bottom of the shoe for better response and control. The front axles are mounted under the base of the big toe for stability over rough surfaces and for greater transfer of power when jumping. The rear axles are placed under the ankle joint for greater maneuverability .

Jump Quad Skates

All Terrain Quad Skates

There are a couple more types of very specialized quad roller skates. One is the all terrain or "Mountain Skate". These feature wide trucks and very large tractor style wheels (around 4 inches in diameter). They are used for skating over practically anything that is in your path. Mike Vail is one of the few practitioners of this sport.

Mountain Skates

Photo courtesy RollerGirl.ca

Circus Trick Skates

One last type of quad skate with a very specialized purpose is used by circus skaters who do spins on a small platform 20 to 30 feet in the air, often with a female skater hanging around their neck. These skates have an extremely short wheelbase with the rear axle under the heel and the front axle under the arch of the foot. The short wheelbase allows for a very tight turning radius when doing spins and also allows the skater to stand up on the balls of their feet if they start to lose their balance. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a picture of these type of skates. If I do I will definitely post it here.

Copyright © Dave VanBelleghem

More Articles by Rollerskater Dave

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