What’s the best skate for beginners?

Posted by Kirsten Slade on

We get asked this question a lot and the answer really differs from person to person. Whether you pop into the shop to buy your skates in person, or we’re fitting you from afar, we typically ask a few questions that help us find the best beginner skate for you.

Moxi Beach Bunny roller skates in pink lemonade color used as an example of a good beginner roller skate.

What sort of skating do you want to do? Where do you want to skate? Casual cruising with the family at a local trail or paved playground area? Jam skating sessions with friends? Roller Derby? Skate park? Artistic skating classes?

Are your feet wide? Narrow? Do you have high arches? Some brands are better for wider feet, some for narrow. The stiffer ankles on some skates may feel supportive to some, and constrictive to others. 

By taking the time to learn a little about you and your skating goals, we’re able to help you find the skates that best meet your needs.

What makes a skate suitable for beginners? 

The least expensive skates in this category will have synthetic boots - they should feel comfortable right out of the box and will have padding to help with this. The toe stops are likely to be fixed, not adjustable.

The next step up is a skate with an adjustable toe stop. Skaters will often adjust the height of their stops, depending on what sort of skating they are doing and where. It’s nice to be able to raise the toe stop’s height when skating indoors or practising dance moves, and lower it again for an outdoor trail skating session. That said, we carry dance stops (often called “plugs”) and lower profile toe stops that you can swap in and out on skates that come with fixed toe stops.

Entry level skates will come with either a nylon or cast aluminium plate - the latter will be a little heavier than alloy plates on more expensive skates. The wheels are usually suitable for skating outdoors - these will be softer and make rolling on uneven surfaces easier. Indoors, these may feel slow and ‘sticky’ but a beginner just learning to balance, this can be to your advantage. Once you’re more comfortable, you can pick up some indoor wheels, and it’s easy enough to swap them out for your softer outdoor wheels - we’ll show you how! Bearings will likely be of the sealed type, so other than giving them a wipe, ongoing maintenance will be minimal.

Let’s talk budget!

We know that even the most enthusiastic beginner probably isn’t on a ‘forever skate’ budget. You want a decent skate that will get you rolling, with quality components that won’t get in the way of your progress. Our entry-level skates start at just under $160. We’ve carefully researched the brands we stock. There are skates you can buy for less, but if we’re not stocking them, it’s for a reason (or two, or more).

If you have serious skate park aspirations, we’re not likely to recommend the same skate we’d recommend to someone who wants to cruise the footpath with the family. And if you have previous skating experience - even if that experience was a couple of decades ago - you might quickly outgrow a ‘beginner skate’.

If you have a strict budget and your goals are roller derby or the skate-park - we might even recommend sourcing second-hand skates, and have helped customers determine their correct size, offered guidance on what to look for, and helped skaters replace worn parts on otherwise sturdy skates that have plenty of life left in them.

A word on online reviews: Consider the source! 

We’ve seen great skates get 1-star reviews by influencers or folks who are clearly new to the sport for things like wheels with ‘bad bearings that don’t roll’ or a ‘split plate’ or ‘wheels that are so hard, I felt every bump on the trail’. 

New or freshly lubricated bearings do roll slower. After you’ve cruised around a bit, the lube warms up, thins out and disperses evenly. The ‘split plate’ another ‘reviewer’ roundly criticized was actually a design feature on that specific skate. Indoor wheels are hard. You will feel every bump. For a smooth roll outdoors, get softer wheels and save those hard ones for the rink.

We’ll discuss some specific skates for beginners in an upcoming post, but in the meantime, take some time to think through the questions we’ve asked! Make the most of your budget and get your start in skates that fit you comfortably and are suitable for your local skate spots.