By Mel @troubleon8wheels
We are asked a lot to recommend a roller skate that will support a developing roller skater; this has been very difficult until now. Welcome, Crew skate.
In the shop, we tend to make suggestions based on what you are looking for, including budget, comfort, material and colour.
There is no such thing as 'the perfect roller skate' as we are all different and have different needs. The amount of support or flex required will vary from skater to skater. This is why I'm quite passionate about people doing their own research, trying to be mindful about any source that they may consider. It is important to take the background of anyone recommending a skate product into consideration. Do you skate in a similar way to this person? Do you have a similar body shape and level of experience? If so, you may have a similar level of enjoyment of any equipment they recommend.
In my opinion, the Riedell Crew skate aka a coloured 120 boot is an unsung hero of a roller boot. It is cut from coloured leather in a medium width fitting, which makes it instantly comfortable yet supportive. The shiny leather finish in ocean blue, turmeric yellow and crimson red are reminiscent of classic Dr Martens colours. There is also extra padding and shaped support inside the boot to hold the ankle firmly in place. The Sonar Zen wheels (85a) in medium hardness and 62 mm size are a great middle of the road wheel in exclusive colours that are only available as part of the Crew skate package.
If you have never skated on Sonar Zen Wheels, they are a go-everywhere wheel. Fine indoors, you won't slip on corners, and the 62 mm size means you can reach a fair pace if you want to. The size of the wheel outside also means there is enough depth to the urethane to allow shock absorption and be comfortable on slightly uneven surfaces. If I was heading on unknown paths, or trail skating, I would be happy with the wheels as they are, but I'm an experienced skater across many terrain types. Less experienced skaters may want to put an outdoor specific, soft wheel (78A) for maximum comfort.
The Crew skate is finished with matching laces and toe stop. It has a wood effect PVC sole and Powerdyne Thrust plate, to keep the weight and price down.
Boot: Supportive High Top Crew Boots with Leather Uppers and Dri-Lex™ lining
Plate: PowerDyne Thrust Nylon
Wheels: Sonar Zen 62mm/85A (colour matching)
Toe Stop: Adjustable (colour matching)
Sizes: All colourways available in US sizes 4–11 (Full only), Medium width
What about the Riedell Orbit? And how does the Crew compare to the Moxi Beach Bunny?
The Orbit skate seemed to be Riedells' alternative to the Beach Bunny from Moxi. The fit and shape were very similar, although we thought the Orbit felt a little wider than the Bunny. The thickness of the vinyl between the Orbit and Beach Bunny also meant it would break in more quickly, as the Orbit has more flexible vinyl. My experience of breaking in Moxi Beach Bunnies was a labour of love!
The Riedell Orbit skate is cheaper than the Riedell Crew skate, this is due to material differences. The Crew has a coloured leather upper and is the Riedell 120 boot. I also like that the Crew colours are less gendered than the Orbit.
The Riedell Crew skates say they are a medium width, but they definitely feel wider than the standard C width fitting of other Riedell skates. The 120 boot is a wider D width fitting, and it is noticeable that they are a smidge wider on the 120. The medium width seems to be a little subjective as plenty of skates are described as 'medium' but the Crew definitely feel different to, for example, the Moxi Beach Bunny.
There is a good amount of padding and support in the Crew skate.
The Crew skate is available in whole sizes only. These are US men's sizes. In the UK, we do not differentiate between men and women's shoe sizes. Usually you would wear one size larger than your UK shoe size. That's fine if you are a whole size, but what about if you are a half size? In a medium width fitting boot, we would recommend that you wear one and a half sizes larger. For example, a UK 5.5 would likely wear a US. 7. Sizing between brands is incredibly challenging, and why we recommend you book a fitting and try them on. Please also be aware, that your feet will likely swell a little as you warm up, so if you are skating for a while, skates that fit when your feet were cold, may be less comfortable once your feet warm up. (I'm not talking about skates with heat mouldable lining).
In my opinion, as a UK 6.5, although the US7 does fit, I would still prefer to wear the US 8 in the Crew skate.
When the crew skates arrived to the shop, we were excited! We already knew how they would fit, as it is the existing 120 boot, available in black, just in a different colour palette. I made all the shop gang try on the Beach Bunny and Crew skate back to back. We all agree the D width fitting of the Crew made it instantly comfortable. Although the Beach Bunny felt supportive when sat down, once stood up for a short while, brand new Beach Bunny roller skates did start to pinch. That didn't happen with the Crew roller skate. Hurray!
I took them to a Friday Night Social skate session. I wore the skates straight out-of-the-box, with no adjustments and it was great. When I am testing roller skates, this is how I always test them. I ask myself who has the manufacturer designed this skate, and who did they have in mind when this was created. Often people do not know what to adjust, of course, our main source of knowledge is the world wide web, but before you grab that skate tool and adjust everything suggested in that YouTube video, please give your roller skate a try without any adjustments. That way when you do adjust it, you will have something to compare it to. The only adjustment I felt I needed was to shorten the toe stop (or in fact swap it for a toe plug).
I think Riedell have absolutely nailed the starter roller skate market with this boot. This boot will last for years, so if you are unsure about the direction of your roller skating, it will allow for development in many directions.
Yes, you could even take it to the skatepark if you are starting out. However, we always recommend folks to upgrade to a quality metal plate, once you start hitting the coping. Learning to pump on a cheaper metal plate, or nylon plate is okay.
We are well aware that folks come to our shop when they are ready to upgrade. They're often surprised at the price of roller skates, but quickly realise that in order to own a quality product that will give you a quality experience, you will need to invest. In my opinion, putting a boot with wheels attached onto your feet and then trying to move, is always worth investment. It concerns me that many of the roller skates on the market today are little more than a toy. We purchase based on what we can afford, and in today's cost of living crisis, it is understandable that we are not able to invest in a quality roller skate, particularly when starting out. This is why we are continuing to work on making more roller skating more available, through hire skates and our Roll Forward Project (though that's in another blog post).
It is only after you've been roller skating for a short while, and those eight wheels are all you can think about, that you realise, investing in a good pair of roller skates is actually an investment in your physical and mental wellbeing.
My final verdict is that the Crew skate is well worth the money. Now you just need to decide which colour!
Have you skated in the 120 boot or Crew skate?