Skating is an excellent workout. The Mayo Clinic claims that an hour of inline skating burns 548 to 818 calories, depending on the weight of the skater. Skating is also a quick, easy and inexpensive transportation option. Yet many new skaters are unsure which type of skates to choose. Both inline and quad skates have a number of advantages and disadvantages.
Inline skates were invented in the 1700s, but had only limited appeal. Quad skates were introduced in 1863. A clamp-on adjustable design, which attached wheels to the wearer’s shoes, was introduced around the same time. Although all-in-one quad skates with attached boots were available, the clamp-on design dominated the market through the 1960s. Due to improvements in materials and an explosion in skating’s popularity, boot-style quads were the norm through the 1970s.
In the 1980s, the inline skate design was updated with modern materials borrowed from the boot-style quad skates. By the 1990s, inline skates had taken over the market. The 21st century saw a resurgence in quad skate popularity, and today both types of skates are readily available.
With four wheels forming a box under the skater’s foot, quad skates provide a wide, stable platform for side-to-side balance. Inline skates have four or five wheels arranged in a straight line down the center of the foot. They provide balance from front to back and are easy for beginners to get moving. Quad skates are braked with a piece of rubber on the front known as a toe stop. Inline skates are braked with a heel stop at the back of the skate.
Quad Skate Types
The major differences between the various types of quad skates are the height and cut of the boot, the width and hardness of the wheels, the construction of the frame, and the type of toe stop. Recreational quad skates offer midrange performance in a variety of applications and are available with indoor or outdoor wheels. Speed skates offer exceptional maneuverability due to the low-cut boot and lack of padding. Roller derby skates are similar to speed skates, but are more heavily padded for protection. Specialty skates are available for artistic performances and jam skating.
Inline Skate Types
Like quad skates, inline skates are available in numerous designs that differ in construction. Recreational inline skates typically have four wheels. They offer comfort and durability along with moderate performance ability. Aggressive inline skates generally have smaller wheels and are designed for rugged performance including stunts and ramps. Speed skates usually add a fifth wheel for stability and are designed specifically for faster skating. Specialty skates are available for hockey, based on traditional ice hockey skate designs.
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