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Updated 2023 - I'm starting out - which roller skates should I buy?

Updated: Mar 7

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."


Roller skates are highly specialised equipment to carry out sporting activity. They allow the wearer to alter their way of moving. We need to stop expecting to find a product that will be comfortable, long lasting and excellent for a small amount of money.




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.


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. (Update Jan 2023 - these have been out of stock for over 12 months!) 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 super uncomfortable or so badly built we think they are little more than a toy, then we just don't stock the skates.


The following reviews and opinions are held by our staff 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 recommend it.


Consider the value a great pair of roller skate will bring you - they will unlock new skills, friends and mental wellbeing. They will likely transform your confidence so you will look back at yourself in 5 years time and not recognise the person you were.

We would always say buy the best you can afford.

 

Read on for our mini reviews of the different roller skates we carry. We do not aim to review every roller skate in existence - the boom within the industry has made this impossible. We also buy everything we review - companies do not send us product for free! We appreciate the support of the skate community who recognise our investment and buy from us. Without this support, we cannot continue to do this work.

 

Rookie Artistic Roller Skate - currently unavailable


Due to the lack of availability of these roller skates - we haven't seen black ones since August 2021 - and the high volume of enquiries - we have archived this product for now.

 

Rookie Rosa Roller Skate £59.99


We are currently offering this roller skate to our Roll Forward Project skate group in Bradford. This project has been partly funded by Sport England.



Rookie Rosa is pictured above - black vinyl roller skate with an embroidered rose design on the outer quarter of the boot.

Women are able to access high quality roller skate coaching for free. Even better, women who meet the eligibility criteria are able to earn themselves a free pair of roller skates!

We carry a small stock of these skates in our Corn Exchange shop in sizes UK4 - 8 inclusive.


Pros: This roller skate is suitable for getting started and fine to use both indoors and outdoors on smooth, flat surfaces. It is affordable. This roller skate is intended for light recreational use.


Cons: Should you be looking to upgrade the wheels, be sure to select wheels the same size. (up to 58mm). Larger wheels will not fit. It does not offer a fully articulated plate, so some movements will be more challenging. However, if you are starting out, you wouldn't know anyway!


Only available to buy in store.

 

Rio Roller Signature - Black and Grey - £109.99


It's taken us a long time to decide on a replacement for the Rookie Artistic roller skate, as we have waited and waited, hoping they will be back in stock.


In searching for a model we can wholeheartedly recommend, we are looking for:

  • good availability in the UK, so we can re-stock quickly

  • a price point around £100

  • good size availability, as most roller skates marketed for women are only available up to UK8. We want to stock up to UK12.

  • a unisex colour choice

  • properly articulated roller skate plate

  • adjustable toe stop

It seems with the Rio Signature roller skate we have finally found this. (When the Rookie Artistic was available, the Signature skate was more expensive, however with increases of prices across all parts of our lives, we feel certain that any new Rookie Artistic model would return at a higher price point.)


The robust nylon plate offers fully articulated parts and this skate also features a rubber adjustable toe stop. While the design is not quite as plain as we would like, the simple embroidery will blend in with any accessorising, and the neutral colourway will make any coloured laces really 'pop'.


The skate upper is synthetic - a sort of reinforced canvas, rather than a shiny vinyl, so it has a slightly matt appearance. The wheels are also suitable for recreation - use them anywhere that is smooth and flat - indoors or out. The ankle offers fairly rigid support if fully laced to the top. Some skaters may prefer to retain some ankle movement by lacing only partially.


The footbed is generous, so we recommend you get your regular shoe size, no need to go up a size.


Pros: Affordable roller skate for the features it offers.


Cons: Does not offer arch support - additional innersole may be required, particularly if you are skating for a while.



Availability: We are able to re-stock these in just a couple of days. Please pop a pre-order through our website if your size is out of stock.

 

Riedell R3 Roller Derby Skates £129.99 - black only



These vinyl skates are built by Riedell, and are considered an 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.




Availability: These are available in the UK now. 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.


 

Luna skates - £169.99 (2023 price may change)


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.




Availability:

We will be looking to re-stock Luna skates in 2023. Please be aware the price may increase - unfortunately this is out of our hands.


 

Riedell Orbit Roller Skates £179.95

Built using the Riedell 111 vinyl skate as the model, these offer a great starter roller skate.

The colourful skates are designed to bring you - and anyone looking at you - joy!

Our favourite is the turquoise and purple colourway, named Ultraviolet, which we aim to keep in stock in our shop. The other colourways are Lagoon - mostly a bright blue - and Orchid - a bright pink.



The vinyl is thinner than the Moxi Beach Bunny roller skate, so offers a faster break in time. Width wise, it also feels slightly more generous. Vinyl does soften over time, so expect them to mould around your foot with wear. The Sonar Zen wheels feel softer than their 85A (to us anyway), and are available in Orbit-only colourways to match the skates. We love that these are ready-personalised skates, already accessorised. No need to worry about matching laces, toe stop and wheels - the Orbit already has them!


We feel the Orbit offers a sensible amount of support for skaters starting out or upgrading from their very first 'I'll-just-try-rollerskating-before-properly-committing' skates. They are firm without being restrictive.


Pros: vegan friendly, ready-to-roll in beginner friendly spaces.

Cons: Not a lot of padding in the skate for comfort. You'll have to pay more for this!



Availability: These are usually in stock in the UK and can be at our shop in just a few days.

 

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.


Sizing: Feedback from our customers is they prefer these boots to be on the larger than smaller side. If you are a UK half size, we recommend going up 1.5 sizes to wear your Beach Bunny size, and many of our customers prefer 2 sizes larger.



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.

 

Slades - Walk/Roll Clip on Skate - £249.95

The technology of these skates is amazing. Flaneurz, based in France, have patented a clip on base, ideal for commuters. They are quite tricky initially to clip on and off, which we actually find reassuring! We know the wheels won't be dropping off, due to the mechanism.


We also like that Slades are available in Black or White only, AND in all sizes. Commonly, white skates stop around UK8, but Slades have created white trainers in sizes right to UK12.

The wheels are mid-hardness 85A, designed for most surfaces.



Our biggest challenge was finding the slightly different balance point between flat trainer skates and heeled skates. We found the solution was to pop in a raised heel innersole. Easy peasy!

The trainer feels like a padded trainer. It doesn't offer the same support as a skate boot. In fact, it can't as otherwise it would be pretty poor as a shoe. The sole needs to flex as you are walking - skate boots have no such requirement.


Size: We suggest you order your regular size. If you have the option of a half size (UK6.5) you may want to order half a size smaller, as we have found these are on the generous side. Generous is great for trainers, but we want softer shoes to fit more snugly when we skate.


Pros: Quick and easy getting ready for skating, once you have mastered the click action to clip in. Take your skates anywhere! And take them off if you get to terrain you don't want to skate on.


Cons: Can take a minute to find your balance if switching between heeled / flat skates.



Availability: You can pre-order Slades from us - we place orders monthly.

 



Moonlight Roller Skates - £249.95


The fine suede and the curve under the heel, as well as the light padding within the boot around the ankle, make this instantly comfortable. The wider toe box, also means that those people with wider feet can find an artistic style of boot that they don't have to size up to wear. You can also read our full review of Moonlight Skates here.


Folks regularly compare these suede skates with other suede skates for levels of support and comfort. Moonlight is lightly padded around the ankle. We feel it falls in the middle of Moxi Lolly and WIFA Street Suede.

Moxi Lolly - very light ankle support

Moonlight - light ankle support

WIFA Street Suede - medium ankle support

WIFA Street Xtreme - very firm ankle support


Size guidance: Moonlight use men's US sizes, however due to the different cut of the footbed, you many not wear the same size as other brands who use men's US sizing. We suggest that you size up one size from your usual UK size, for example a UK 5 would usually fit a US 6. If you are a half size, we would also recommend sizing up. For example, a size UK 5.5 would size up to US 6.


Availability: We are continuing to work to get a regular supply of Moonlight roller skates established. For now, keep an eye on our RGG shop IG @rgg.skateshop





 

Riedell Crew Roller Skates - £259.95


We were very excited to hear about the launch of these skates. This is the leather 120 model given a colour makeover and Riedell have chosen bright, less traditionally gendered colours that we love! We also think they are reminiscent of Doc Marten colours, which appeals to our 90s alt-kid persona!


This is a very similar boot to the Orbit - where that offers vinyl, the Crew offers leather and more padding. Impossible to tell from the outside, you have to put this on to feel the memory foam padding around the ankle area.


We trust that Riedell - one of the longest established roller skate manufacturers in the world - know what they are doing, and can source the parts. In testing this boot out at classes, we also know just how great it feels.


The wheels are colour matched Sonar Zen 85A, as the Orbit, and at 62mm, offer that flexibility. The durometer (hardness) makes them suitable for most spaces and the size allows the user the freedom to explore their skating before specialising.


The Crew skate just has a timeless appeal!



Availability: The UK stock is relatively good and we can have these in store in just a few days.

 

Moxi Lolly Roller Skates - £349.95



To be perfectly honest, we wouldn't advise someone who is only thinking about roller skating to spend almost £350, 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: We only have a few pairs in our Corn Exchange shop as we simply can't keep all the choice in stock due to the range of colours and sizes. Usually it will only be a couple of extra days to get skates shipped to our shop from the UK warehouse.

 

RGG Custom Build Skates from £230 - £700+


We've been creating custom roller skates for a few years now - we take the parts you ask us to take and then build them together to make something bespoke for you.


In the last couple of years, we have been quietly building our own skate collection. We have taken the skate components and built roller skates for anyone. Our skates are inspired by things around us - everything from food to moods!




The beauty of our custom collection is the peace of mind knowing if they don't fit, they can be returned, because we chose the parts. We also apply a little discount as we decided on the components rather than you. If you are lucky enough to LOVE one of our builds then you get exactly what you want at an even better price!


We mostly use WIFA Street Suede boots in our builds. We love that they are made mostly in Europe, are available in a range of sizes and colours and offer medium support for the ankle (compared to other suede roller skates).


The price is affected by our choice of plate and wheels - good quality metal plates are significantly more expensive than nylon ones, however we expect them to last many years with care.


Pros: Get a little slice of our skate love knowing you are skating in one-of-a-kind boots! Plus, you can feel really great to know you are supporting a small business.


Cons: When we have built your dream skate, but not in your size!


 

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 £70



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.



Photo credits:

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.



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7 comentários


Fantastic article! In my opinion, Moxi roller skates are next level since they are well-made, distinctive, and have a nice form. I also adore Moxi boots because I can use them inside. Here is my sneaker: candy clicker

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Anna Hansen
Anna Hansen
12 de dez. de 2023

Moxi Beach Bunnies are NOT wide at all. Not sure where you are getting that information. They are quite narrow and very painful if you actually have wide feet.

Another option in a similar price point with a wider foot bed is the Sure Grip Boardwalk. It's still not technically a wide size, but the suede can be stretched with boot stretchers from Amazon to get a little more room.

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Tina Lilith
Tina Lilith
25 de mai. de 2023

Great article! From my experience Moxi roller skates are next level skates, they are very unique and have a good shape, also i love the boots from moxi which i can wear them inside.

Here is where i buy my roller skates.😍

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Whatever your country or your place of residence, I help you spiritually to solve your worries of any kind: To bring back your wife or your Husband who divorced you, The fertility problems of men or women based on traditional roots, To get someone to love you madly, To act spiritually on someone's life. Prevent or cause a divorce immediately. The healing of diseases of all kinds based on plants and spiritual medicinal barks. I am the Spiritual Marabout Babalola Agogoicha. My website https://maraboutagogoicha.com/ Email support@maraboutagogoicha.com WhatsAp +22996222048

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Mercè A. Marsal
Mercè A. Marsal
04 de jul. de 2021

Hi! I’m interested in Luna’s and I’m just wondering why they won’t be EU37 in other colors? I was interested in Mint Flash in that size. Thank you!

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