Updated: Aug 25
by Mel @troubleon8wheels
This blog post has taken a very long time to write, as (you know me) I do like to make sure I have researched thoroughly, as it's important to respect the hours of research and development these small businesses have already put into creating their product. I've also struggled with writer's block, and the well, who even reads these anyway pesky thoughts. Actually, if even one person finds my perspective useful at all, it has served it's purpose!
My background as a park skater I have written blog posts about before, so I'll summarise here. I'm not the most confident of park skaters, and am easily put off by movement in my peripheral vision. I'm a little scarred by seeing some pretty nasty accidents in skate park settings so I give myself permission to make very slow progress. I also struggle to find the time to head to the skate park - we all know practise makes progress - another reason mine is slow. Having said that I started heading to the skate park in 2014, and have dabbled ever since. I'm happy that I now have found my flow in this space, confident in what I can do and what I would like to do.
Everybody's journey is different, but I do think the background of whoever is giving their opinion is important.
Photo by Carla Mundy
Today I'm considering the differences between Discoblox sliders and Wildbones Sliders.
If you are interested in looking at CIB sliders or the Chaya sliders too, please see Sam @Flammers10 comparison for DogDags Magazine, a couple of years ago.
A note about the terminology: for a long time, I called sliders 'grind blocks'. I have since learned, that grinding is particular movement done using trucks. Wide trucks are available to fit many roller skate plates, although fitting these is often fiddly and I won't be covering that in this blog post. Sliding is a particular movement that can be achieved by fitting a block in the space under the plate, to allow the skater to move in a different way in the skate park, and can create more flow. Nothing about skate park skating is effortless though! Any time you see someone flowing around a park, know that they have put hundreds of hours into this discipline, and taken many a slam.
Slide blocks are not necessary to start park skating either. If you are starting out, in my opinion, it is far more important to learn the skate park fundamentals of pumping and being comfortable with falling and rolling backwards up a slope - the first time you feel your wheels going up behind you is pretty disconcerting. Arguably, even more important than any skills is to ensure your skate park etiquette is top notch! Having a good experience in the skate park requires all of its users to respect each other when using the space. Taking turns, understanding how the space works and how different riders use the space is incredibly important. If you have ever been to the skate park and quietly cursed other users for not taking their turn, snaking you or standing in a space and having a chat when other people are waiting to ride, you know what I mean. We are all keen that roller skaters are known for being good skate park citizens, and it will take every member of the community to achieve this goal.
Once you have mastered the skate park fundamentals, and you know park skating is on the to-skate list, then by all means invest in blocks and wheels and tailor your set up to your passion!
Roller Girl Gang have been proud supporters and stockists of Discoblox for years, and were the first in the UK to stock these blocks. We have seen Disco continue to improve and remodel his blox to address various fitting issues, which makes Hugh a dream supplier to work with. As well as the original Discoblox model, he has introduced the Lowrider model for plates with a radius kingpin, Iceblox for Arius plates and the Outlaw and Bandit models with extra metal in the sliding surface for superior slide and extra 'ching'. He has also changed the thickness of the mounting bar, finding earlier models not strong enough, and supplies hard cushions with every pair of blox.
Choosing the correct size and style
There are extensive size charts on each listing, but a little knowledge about your kingpin and measuring the distance between them will really help you. Discoblox sizing does not match plate size or boot size!
Discoblox are easy to fit to roller skates yourself - you simply need a tool to remove the kingpin nut, then follow the instructions on the box to replace everything on the kingpin. Make sure you swap out your lower cushions for the Discoblox cushions though, as the harder cushion will help to protect your kingpin.
Discoblox sit under your roller skate plate and fill part of the gap between your plate and the ground. It is important for some types of plate to get the correct model of Discoblox. Depending on the kingpin angle, you may also need to bend the mounting bar to fit.
I have click adjust kingpin nuts on the Reactor Neo plate, but I can confidently say I have never counted how many clicks I prefer to have, so instead I skate gently, to make sure I have tightened the nut to my preferred position before trying out new things. #cautious
Are Discoblox easy to use?
Adding anything to your skate will make them heavier, so be prepared to need a little adjustment time. The Regular and Lowrider styles add the least amount of weight though, compared to the Outlaw and Bandit styles, which are significantly heavier. If you have been touching the coping without a slideblock, you'll know that you can use your front wheels to balance on the coping, pretty much as long as you like, once you have mastered throwing your hips forward at the appropriate time. Putting a slideblock in the way prevents this hanging, and you will also need to re-learn a balance point to perform a plate stall that is slightly further back, under the arch of your foot.
Discoblox have the associated #CopingMechanism - a nice play on words to support the physical effort of using the coping in a different way, and also the mental turmoil we sometimes put ourselves through, particularly learning to drop in. I'm going to suggest that if you are teetering at the top of the transition for 20 minutes, deciding will I / won't I, please don't drop in. I once had a piece of advice (I think Legs from the Moxi Skate Team) said to make sure you can ride the whole ramp from the bottom and touch the coping with your foot. If you are a slightly anxious skater, you can calm your wild thoughts, by reminding yourself that you have in fact skated the entire ramp, and that you are definitely ready to drop in.
Placing your foot on the coping with a slide block is most certainly a different experience than without it. That moment without a block when you feel your back foot bouncing over the coping goes. Accidents can of course still happen, you still need to be vigilant in a skate park, but you may feel more confident to skate because you have a #CopingMechanism. It worked for me. I dropped in a whole bunch of ramps that I felt were out of reach before. They weren't, I had put up mental barriers, but it helped.
Sliding with Discoblox is something I have not mastered. I'd one day love to jump and slide a rail, but put a rail higher than ankle height in front of me and I turn into a quivering wreck! The feeling of sliding is so alien to me that the moment my foot slips, the rest of my body turns to jelly. I've done workshops with Nick the Medic and Roller Travis Reynolds at Moxi Skate Camp, which were mind-blowing and I *did* manage the tiniest of slides. It is my own discomfort with the environment - feeling in people's way and not good enough that have hugely hampered my progress. Two years on, I have made my peace with my progress and the space.
Verdict about Discoblox
They are easy to fit, don't get in the way of the wheels and help you feel more confident about tackling challenging environments, as well as allow you to use your skates in a different way when you're ready. There is some additional weight and you need to make sure you get the correct size and style.
During the pandemic, I got in touch with Wildman at Wildbones to see if we could stock these. Having seen Lex @bruized (part of the RGG skate team when we had one) effortlessly slide around huge bowls in her Wildbones, I felt it was worth investigating.
The construction of Wildbones is different to Discoblox, and it took me a little while to understand how these sliders work. If you were an early Wildbones customer, I'm afraid I sent you all the component parts and you would have built them yourself! We now send them assembled according to your needs. Thanks to Tania at Wildbones who was incredibly helpful and patient in helping me to understand their product.
Choosing the correct size hanger and bone
Wildbones use a metal hanger that a sliding bone is mounted to using skateboard hardware. I love how gnarly they look!
You need to measure both the distance between the kingpins to determine the hanger size, and the distance between the wheels to determine the bone size. We will then assemble your Wildbones to fit your skate set up.
How do Wildbones fit?
The hanger is wide, and once the bones are added, they sit between the wheels. This is why you need to measure the space between your wheels in order to decide the bone size you need. This also means that if you like to swap your wheels, you can really only swap wheels to others of a different durometer (hardness) you can't swap the wheel size. I tried this recently, when a friend wanted to try out the Moxi Fundae (58mm) wheels, and I swapped them for her Radar Energy (62mm) wheels. The front wheels had just enough clearance to rotate, but the back ones didn't. They touched the bone and it would not have been safe to skate, so I had a nice time cheering her on until we switched back.
I did feel that the width of the hanger made stalling easier, although it could also be that I felt more confident or that I have a little more experience now in skate parks. However, I felt so confident with the plate stall, that I even tried to start my journey to backside stall, and sliiiiiiding! My first attempts were very stacatto bumps across the coping, but I went sideways!
The hanger is heavy, which makes the Wildbones slider a significant addition to your skates. It means you'll have really strong legs though right?
Still shot taken from Go Pro
Wide trucks + Wildbones
Should you upgrade your trucks to wide trucks, you can also upgrade the Bone for one size larger, giving you an even wider and more stable base for longer slides. Simply remove the smaller Bones and bolt the new ones in.
Verdict about Wildbones: They are easy to fit, you just need a skate tool to remove your kingpin nut. The width of them makes stalling and sliding easier in my opinion, and they look really freakin' cool! An important feature is that because of their width, wheel swapping your extensive wheel collection will not be possible without removing them, unless you put your largest wheels on and measured the space to make sure all your wheels fit.
Whatever you choose to support your drop-ins, stalls and slides, I'm sure you will make it work. Discoblox and Wildbones are both fabulous companies run by passionate individuals here to make roller skating more fun.
Please remember that these opinions are my own, and my roller skate journey has likely taken a different path to your own. Roller Girl Gang and it's staff are not sponsored by any company, we are truly independent.