by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
We've answered alot of questions about the Danza and Arius plates this year.
For the purposes of this blog I'm going to refer to the Danza plate as a high quality artistic roller skate plate. Other brands include Komplex and Roll Line.
I recently went live on YouTube to compare metal roller skate plates and you can find the video below. Also in the video are the following plates Pilot Falcon F-1, Powerdyne Neo, Powerdyne Pro and Avanti Aluminium.
I have skated on most of these plates so can share my experience. Please be aware that my experience of these plates is affected by my height and weight, the speed I am travelling, what I am doing on my roller skates as well as what I combine these plates with. Adding a boot, wheels and swapping cushions will affect how the plates feel.
The biggest challenge I have when describing roller skate plate action is the 'responsiveness'. If you imagine pushing your weight into either the inside or outside edge of the boot, the cushions will squash, allowing the trucks to move. The action is how much the trucks move, while the responsiveness is how well your shift in weight translates into this action.
Generally, the greater the angle of the kingpin, the greater the responsiveness, however, the less stable the skater will feel. It is often recommended that more experienced skaters use plates with a higher kingpin angle. I would say if you are looking for greater response, which will result in quicker and tighter turns (once you learn to control the plate) get it sooner rather than later and you won't know the difference. Different plates can feel very different.
The Arius plate has cushions, however unlike any other plate, it has no kingpins. Adjustment to the truck action is done by cushion alone, rather than by cushion and tightness of the kingpin.
Limitations of this plate - beware that not all wheels will fit on this plate. The Arius has short axles, so is more suited to high level skating that demands a specific wheel with slim or deep hub - particularly roller dance or roller derby. Wheels of all diameters will fit on the plate, it is the shape of the back of the wheel that will determine if it is compatible. The back bearing should be flush with the outer wheel hub, not recessed in any way. If you find this is an issue, you slide a couple of washers onto the axle, just make sure there is room on the other end to secure the axle nut properly! For this reason, I suggest the Arius is best suited to skaters who have the luxury of enjoying a specific set-up, rather than needing their plate to be able to fit most of their wheel collection!
The Danza Skill plate is pretty. Ooooooh so pretty! The neochrome finish is a very inviting reason to own this plate, but is it actually functional? Well, the 20 degree angle of the kingpins does have a good degree of response that I certainly enjoy. It takes me a long time to get used to new equipment; I like to thoroughly test products before writing about them. I haven't swapped cushions from the stock cushions it comes with, but have now skated a fair bit on these plates and while I have a short mount (all my skates do), I very much enjoy what I'm able to do with them. I feel more control with my turns and spins and am able even to heel block. Of course, my experience level has continued to grow, so maybe I would feel more confident to perform some of these skills anyway...
The main consideration with artistic manufacturers is the bearing size. Most take a 7mm bearing, and have a metric thread on the toe stop. This means if you have other skates with an 8mm axle, you will not be able to simply swap wheels without additionally swapping bearings. Yes, you can get a bearing sleeve when you go from 7mm to 8mm axle, but the other way doesn't work. Again, like the Arius, I would suggest these plates are best suited for skaters looking to have a specific set-up.
Availability of these plates: Arius is more readily available than the Danza.
My choice of wheel at the moment is the Ghibli wheel by Komplex. What a stunning wheel! But that is for another blog post!