By Mel @troubleon8wheels
At the moment, we are getting asked this question a lot. A LOT ALOT! That means you, dear Gangsters are inspiring people all around you in your every day lives, to get wheely shoes on their feet! How amazing is that! As the saying goes "More people skate, when they see more people skating."
What a bewildering choice of skates on the market though?
Everything from £50-ish to £500 and probably more, so what do you get? Are those cheap skates, actually cheap skates? In our opinion, pretty much the answer is yes.
Lots of people tell us that they just want a cheap pair to decide if they like roller skating or not.
We would argue that you're not going to get a particularly good representation of what roller skating is actually like in poorly built skates, so you would likely be put off!
To answer this question fully, I'm just going to roll back a few years, to those nostalgic times, when we actually had classes on the regular. (Cue dreamy music).
People would come to the Fundamentals course in any old skate they had found in their cupboard / on eBay / their sister had, and that was fine. If they didn't have their own, they could borrow ours.
Times are different now, with any pre-loved skates worth having being snapped up quickly, and not at all for rock-bottom prices.
By the way, we have a large stock of Rookie Artistic roller skates as our hire skates, because we like them that much. We feel they represent great value for money, are durable and we can skate in them. The most important thing to us (as skate instructors) is: can we skate in that skate? If we try skates and we can't skate in them because they are uncomfortable or badly built, then we just don't stock the skates.
The following reviews and opinions are held by members of the instructor team at Roller Girl Gang. We are truly independent - none of us are sponsored by any roller skate company to endorse their products. We always aim to test everything before we sell it (notable exception are the Moonlight Roller Skates, but we are playing our Pandemic Pass for those.)
We would always say buy the best you can afford.
Riedell R3 Roller Derby Skates £59.99 - half price!
These white leather skates are built by Riedell, and are considered the entry-level roller derby skate. This particular model comes styled with hot pink laces and matching wheels, that are suitable for indoor skating. These wheels are fairly wide, which is great if you are starting out as the will provide you with more stability. If your space is a flat tennis court, basketball court or similar, the wheels would be totally fine.
The style of boot is low cut, like speed skates, some jam skates and many roller derby skates. It is simply a matter of preference whether you like the ankle support or not. These boots do not have a heel, as the derby style of skating requires you to hold your body fairly low and really push through your whole foot to change speed as quickly as possible.
Cons: None at this price, except so few sizes available!
Availability: These are in stock now, but only in a few selected sizes, mostly small and large. They are US sizes, so we suggest you get one size up. Eg. If you are a UK 9, you would get a US 10.
Rookie Artistic Roller Skates - £79.99
These are the cheapest regular price skates we choose to stock. Available in simple black or white vinyl, we love that they are vegan friendly, are well padded and available in sizes from UK 3 - UK 12. We also feel that there is money left in your budget to accessorize.
Rookie accessories are very wallet friendly. Their coloured toe stops are only £7.99 and their coloured wheels only £9.99 for 4! Rookie artistic roller skates have an adjustable toe stop (although it's got a metric thread - so you may want to check that a toe stop fits before buying) and aluminium plates. If you are wanting a strong plate - great. You can swap out the wheels for pretty much any other wheel too, and it will fit. We know plenty of people who have changed the wheels and added a slide block and happily use these at the skate park.
Cons: Not all toe stops fit the thread - be careful as you may cross-thread and damage the thread. The wheels are okay. They are designed to be a recreational / leisure roller skate, so come with a mid-hardness wheel, which is okay for everything but not really the master of anywhere. If you do a lot of outdoor roller skating, you will be more comfortable with a much softer wheel, and if you do a lot of indoor skating, you would gain more precision with a harder wheel. Once you invest in extra wheels though, you have got them forever, as long as you look after them. The aluminium plate is not the lightest one available, although the wieght of the skate isn't too bad, as the wheels are small.
FYI - The Rookie Classic Burgundy Suede skates have been discontinued.
Availability: Rookie Artistic roller skates are readily available online from most UK skate shops. At the time of writing, we are still waiting for the Black in all sizes to land in the UK. We had hoped the delivery would be in December, however it has been delayed. We are now hoping it will be January. We are not taking pre-orders for Rookie Artistic roller skates, but will let our website members know first when new stock arrives.
Moxi Rainbow Rider - £99.95
The 'entry-level' Moxi roller skate, with its retro styling and cute detailing, it is full of colour, where the Rookie definitely isn't! Available in three colourways - mostly black, pink or yellow - these skates are like Marmite - love 'em or hate 'em!
Everything about these skates is super cute, from the little rainbow detail, coloured wheels and toe stop to the cloud shaped tongue, plus, you are getting yourself a pair of Moxi roller skates. They are absolutely perfect if you want to 'give it a try and you're not sure'. The footbed is wide and pretty well padded and comfortable and there is a decent amount of support in the ankle. These are super cute skates that have already had that extra £20 you'd spend on making your Rookie Artistics cute and colourful. We know you don't need to, but the Rainbow Riders have the 5/8" Imperial adjustable toe stops, meaning they are 100% compatible with extra cute toe stops, such as the Grindstone Heartstoppers. Once you have skates, your family and friends never need to worry about what to get you ever again. All the accessories!
Every time we look at them, we smile! Also, they do pass the skateability test. Some of our instructor team came to test them out when they first arrived into the UK, and everyone felt happy to recommend them to a pal who is thinking about taking up roller skating. Or perhaps as a generous gift.
Cons: A very stiff boot, so expect some break in time. Also, Moxi have warned that they are absolutely NOT designed for use in the skatepark - they have not been tested in the skatepark. They do not provide the responsiveness that you need, as the components are not the best quality at this price point, so we would wholeheartedly agree. Sizing is complicated. Our general rule is that you wear one size larger in Moxi than your UK size, unless you are a half size, when we suggest you go up 1.5 sizes. In our experience of skate fitting, this works.
Availability: Moxi Rainbow Riders are readily available in the UK from most skate shops. If you really want to buy from us, but the size and colour are showing as out of stock, just drop us a message and ask about re-stocking. We will happily check for you!
Luna skates - £149.99 (due to Brexit, and an increase in the shipping cost, we may need to increase the price, although we sincerely hope not. We will know in the next few weeks once our shipment leaves Germany.)
We couldn't believe the quality of these skates for the price! Luna have done something pretty special with their roller skate design. For a very small business (this is their only product), they have carefully designed a high top artistic style boot, with some gorgeous details. From the little 'Luna' moon logo that is detailed in different shades, depending on the boot colour, to the eyelets and hooks being also slightly different colours - they are almost pearly on the Moon Rose, but more gunmetal grey on the Mint Flash, and black on the White Princess - Luna have made their skates look good. The functionality is also a joy. They have the coveted Allen Key toe stop too, on a powder coated aluminium plate. Once you have this little feature that stops your toe stop from unscrewing itself, you'll look for it on plates, and reject those that don't have it. The cheapest plate that has this feature that we stock is the Reactor Fuse plate that is over £100 on its own, so you can see why we are impressed with Luna.
We also like the shape of the wheels, and that they are suitable for outdoor skating. They are large, with curved edges for cruising and soft. Clear and glittery, they are also really cute! You will likely want a different set of wheels for suited for indoor use, and we know plenty of people who are shredding skate parks with them. Just add the slide block and off you go! We also like that the size is pretty accurate for our UK customers.
Cons: All the styles are either leather or suede, leaving vegan pals out. They are a 'medium' cut in the skate world, but in the shoe world, that means they are narrow-ish. They have stayed fairly true to the artistic aesthetic (which is a snug fitting boot), while updating the boot for leisure use. Size is a con too though, as there is no UK size 7 equivalent! EU40 = UK 6.5 and EU 41 = UK 7.5. We aren't quite sure why Luna's size guide is like this, so we always suggest that you use the cm measurement to find your size. Use the inside shoe size.
There have been so many great reviews about these skates, that we are fairly certain our next shipment will sell out quickly. We have decided not to offer pre-orders, but instead to let our website members know that new products are available, and sometimes offer member discounts. In the case of a limited supply of roller skates, we will be offering these to our members first. We are proud to be the only stockist for Luna in the UK, and plan to have stock more readily available to everyone in the future. However, the manufacturing side needs to catch up a little first.
Moxi Beach Bunny Roller Skates £199.95 / Ivy Jungle Skates £199.95 / Panther Skates £234.95
We will treat these as the same for the purposes of comparison, as the build is the same across these models, it is simply that the black suede finish of the Panther skates is more expensive than the vinyl of the Beach Bunny / Ivy Jungles.
These used to be the entry level skates to the Moxi Roller Skate family, and EstroJen does a great video comparing them all.
They are a firm skate with a wide footbed, compared to the Luna or Moxi Lolly, however, you should expect to wear them a little bit each day to break them in. It took me around a month of wearing them a couple of times a week, for the vinyl to mould to my feet a little and then they were great. The aluminium plate looks to be a slightly better quality version of the plate on the Rookie Artistics, and the wheels are small enough to be manouverable, but soft enough to roll comfortably outdoors. Moxi is a brand built by skaters, so we do expect a good standard from them! The toe stop is adjustable and at the standard 5/8" Imperial, it can be upgraded for a lot of other toe stops or jam plugs. If you enjoy roller dance, you may want to consider this boot, as it will support your ankle well. You put a lot of stress on your ankles, as a lot of roller dancers spend time on fewer than 8 wheels.
Style wise, the lining of all these skates is carefully thought out and made of a material that the pattern doesn't rub off or fade particularly easily. We also like that the laces and wheels match, and that they come with a matching vinyl toe guard, so you can protect your boot from those scuffs.
Cons: The tongue is a very grippy kind of rubbery foam, so when you first put them on, your sock can kind of grip and the tongue ends up pushed down. This is easily solved, as you simply need to loosen the laces a bit more and pull the tongue hard so that it sits in the right place. The initial stiffness can also cause the tongue to dig in a bit. Again, this is solved by not lacing right to the top of the boot, so you have some movement in the ankle. It will break in though, just persevere.
Availability: At the time of writing, Beach Bunnies are once again readily available in the UK. However the Ivy Jungle and Panthers are not, so if you decide to pre-order these, be prepared to wait, and we cannot even advise you how long. All Moxi orders in the UK go to the same supplier (all skate shops use the same suppliers). The main supplier then holds all the orders in a master queue and assigns skates as they become available to the next order in the queue. As a skate shop, we are not told our queue positions, so we simply ask that if you decide to order these, you are patient.
Moonlight Roller Skates - £239.95
At the time of writing, our delivery of Moonlight Roller Skates has not yet arrived. Once it is here, we will be able to make a full review and comparison.
Availability: We initially had stock available for pre-order, however unavoidable delays with the manufacture, shipping and customs around the world has set us back months, so pre-orders were closed, as we simply didn't know when our skates would arrive. They are close now, and there is *some* stock that has not been pre-ordered. As always, our valued website members will find out first. Members - you will find the information in the 'Breaking News' forum, and you can choose to 'follow' this forum so that you receive email notifications about new arrivals.
Moxi Lolly Roller Skates - £299.95
To be perfectly honest, we wouldn't advise someone who is only thinking about roller skating to spend almost £300, as we really feel you need to be passionate about this activity to see the value in these skates. You should also know where you can use them and probably how you are going to use them. The Moxi Lolly was the first roller skate released by Moxi, and it is truly a joy. Instantly comfortable, when you put this on, you can feel the difference in quality to cheaper pairs of skates, and suddenly moves that were a little elusive become straightforward and extra satisfying due to the higher quality of components used. There have been many instances when a customer has put on Moxi Lolly skates and their face lights up as they glide around the Corn Exchange exclaiming "I didn't know I could skate like this!" When we say that roller skating is not just for children, it's because of these roller skates. We feel that these are definitely adult roller skates, as you really want to know your feet have stopped growing before investing in a pair.
The styling and detail is stunning, and the range of colours from hand dyed suede is really lovely too. The suede is really hard wearing too, and more than a few people have used suede dye to give their pastel coloured Moxi skates a new lease of life. At some point, you will probably want another set of wheels for indoor skating, although the Moxi outdoor wheels are arguably the best and most comfortable available for outdoor trail skating. They bounce over so many unforgiving cracks and bumps, even in the UK.
Cons: So minor, but it's annoying that the tongue slips to the side while you're skating. It's also really hard to read the faint print on the inside of the boot telling you the size detail! People regularly get confused between the boot size and the plate size. (They are different). The boot size is stamped on the boot. The plate size is stamped on the plate.
Availability: At the time of writing, the wait time for Moxi Lolly skates is very hard to predict, but we are advising 10-12 weeks minimum. We know that Riedell, who manufacture Moxi Lolly roller skates in the USA, have paused orders - we cannot order custom Moxi Lolly or Jack Boots at the moment. We also know that skates are being trickled out as they are being made in colour batches. We hope that we will get shipments of a few hundred pairs at a time to the UK, however, that is not always the case. Certainly, the pandemic has affected all parts of the supply chain in ways that we could have never known or predicted. Only order these skates if you are prepared to wait! If you are not, then we suggest you check the IN STOCK listing at the point we announce we have a Moxi Lolly delivery, although, you guessed it, our dear website members will get to know first. Actually, if we have unassigned skates in a delivery, they are offered to customers who have pre-ordered, but who's chosed size/colour combination has not been delivered. They have the opportunity to swap first, as we think that's fair.
Custom build shoe skates - £200+
There have been a lot of enquiries about shoe skate builds recently, and we can assure you that it is not a particularly cheap option, unless you have most of the components already.
We only work with brand new shoes. (However used skate boots are fine. ) Shoes are different to mount compared to purpose made skate boots, the rubbery sole often has a tread which makes drilling a hole in the correct place really hard! (but not impossible). It's also important that the shoe is slightly too big, as the aluminium inner sole will take up space and make the shoe feel smaller.
When you are choosing your shoe, we also suggest that you look for a shoe with added ankle support.
The total cost will depend on:
The cost of your shoe.
The plate you select - our most affordable plate is the colourful Sunlite plate £69.95
The wheels you choose - most outdoor wheels are £27.95 for 4. You will need 8 wheels.
The bearings you choose - basic bearings are £16
The toe stop you choose - we have a simple black Powerdyne toe stop that is £6 per pair
Our build fee - this includes the aluminium innersole £60
Availability: some parts are hard to get hold of, so we always suggest that you ask. You also need to be aware that when we build skates, there is a small chance of cosmetic damage to the plate or shoe, although every effort is taken to minimise this. Please also enquire how busy we are, as during busy times, it may take up to 4 weeks before we are able to mount your shoes, so they may need to be booked in.
This completes the comparison of roller skates that could be considered as 'entry level' although this is very budget dependent. We choose not to stock any roller skate that uses a bolt-on style of toe stop, as we simply feel these do not offer enough skill progression room for the user. To put it another way, the user is likely to outgrow the skate relatively quickly and then be frustrated that parts of the skate are not compatible with other things. We know that cheaper skates are sometimes made so that wheels are not interchangeable with any wheel on the market, as the plate is deliberately low, or the axle fairly short.
Each of the skates here has it's own separate 'first impressions' type review, with the exception of the Moonlight roller skates.
Should you read reviews to support your decision, please be aware that every reviewer will bring their own experience into play. For example, as an ex-roller derby player, I initially found Lolly skates to feel restrictive, however the same skate to someone from an artistic background would find no support in them at all. Your roller skate set-up will become as unique as you are, eventually. Until then, just start, imperfectly.
Happy shopping and we hope that you find your dream skates.
These talented ladies take the most amazing photos!
Rookie and Luna - Carla Mundy Photography
Ivy Jungle, Lolly and Shoe skate build - Katie McMillan for Alt Wedding Co.