by Mel @troubleon8wheels
Disclaimer: Everything in this review is my opinion. I am one person, and my skate journey will have been different to yours. That means what I interpret as being a 'soft' or 'firm' feel in the boot, or 'medium' ankle support, someone with a different skate background may interpret quite differently.
We have been waiting a long time for roller skates to arrive, and we are still waiting for the majority of them.
This pandemic is causing all sorts of problems that no-one could have predicted or expected - just ask anyone trying to make something! Supplies dry up quickly as people panic buy, then it takes a little while for the shelves to be re-stocked. Even with everyday items like toilet paper - my local supermarket had to substitute usual brands for some different ones for a while when we first entered lockdown back in March. You can imagine that demand for roller skates has rocketed, while availability of supplies has plummeted. It's been an interesting time!
Anyway, usually at Roller Girl Gang, we would assess new roller skates *before* recommending them, but the pandemic has really altered how we need to operate. Now, we have purchased a bulk of unknown roller skates based on photographs and the trust of the brand. It is this pickiness that has led me to carefully curate where I'm investing Roller Girl Gang's finances, as the business is not at the point where I can afford to take a financial risk. I have tried on too many pairs of roller skates over the last few years that were quietly rejected due to poor quality, lack of useful features, poor value for money or just plain uncomfortable to risk buying a large quantity of roller skates that I don't love. I'm this picky because I still consider myself a teacher. It's my first love. At some point, we will be able to resume classes, workshops and events in some form and I cannot teach someone in roller skates they have purchased from Roller Girl Gang knowing that I have tried them, and dislike them. It is why the Rookie Artistics are so great. Great value for money, low break in time and you should expect them to last for a couple of years, as they are well built enough to allow you to learn to roller skate with some good technique. Plus there is usually a bit of money left in your budget for accessories so you can really style them up. Is there finally a cuter contender than the Rookies in this 'under £100' price bracket?
Initial thoughts of looking at the Rainbow Rider pictures back in August, were that the styling was a bit cheesy and 'retro'.
However, it is impossible to assess the component quality, such as the plate, the wheels, the vinyl and its comfort levels and toe stop, without having the skate in the flesh.
I have carefully avoided reading about and watching unboxing videos, so I have not been influenced by anyone else's opinion. I only know what I have read in the marketing material that was included with the photographs from the UK Moxi supplier (that all UK based skate shops use).
I understand from the price point of £99.95 that these are very much an entry-level roller skate to the Moxi family, and that they are factory built in China. Beach Bunny, Panther and Ivy skates are the same, so it will be interesting to see how they compare. It is clear that they are likely to be less sturdy than these skates, so I would think skate park use is not recommended at all. For that reason, I will not be providing Discoblox size information for the Rainbow Rider.
The box is a kaleidoscope of colours and retro styling! Moxi are known for being a colourful brand, and the box doesn't disappoint! I don't know about you, but the packaging of roller skates is actually fairly important, as I used to store all kinds of skate related bits in my skate box when I was starting out. Extra wheels, skate tools, sometimes even protective pads all needed a home and when you are starting out, it all has to be kept somewhere.
It is a slimmer box than other skates, presumably all designed to keep costs as low as possible. There is no Moxi keychain or skate tool in the box either - I wasn't expecting to find one - but that may be useful for you to know.
The vinyl: Two textures of vinyl! The main boot colour is a regular vinyl, though different from the vinyl of the Bunnies or even Rookie artistics. It has a sort of smoother finish, with a soft shine. The rainbow stripes in contrast are a really shiny vinyl - and match the laces. Cute extra details, such as the cloud cut out for the tongue finish the boot nicely. You'll be actually flying!
The wheels: Small (approx) 57mm x 32mm wheels make these good for starting out. A smaller wheel tends to mean you have more control, which is maybe a good thing as these are aimed at beginner roller skaters. It would also explain why roller dancers tend to choose a smaller wheel - for that precision - and speed skaters choose big wheels. The wheels do rotate, though loosening them a quarter turn would make them roll more freely. These are likely supplied with those starting on their roller skate journey in mind, with a cheap metal shield bearing (you can't clean these bearings). The lube within these bearings also is often quite thick, so you need to skate on them a bit to warm it up so it spreads. I have tightened wheels before for very anxious skaters at classes, to make them less 'rolly'. If they start like this, and you can loosen them as you feel you have more control, I think that is okay. The wheels are also plain primary colours, rather than containing glitter, as the Bunnies do.
The toe stop: rubber adjustable toe stop. It feels a little smooth compared to toe stops with a higher natural rubber content, but again, natural rubber is more expensive than silicone. I'll be testing the skates properly tomorrow at the Corn Exchange. I would also suggest that when you are starting out, you won't be skating as fast as you possibly can anyway, so wouldn't need to stop that suddenly on the toe stop.
The plate: Machined metal plate, but I don't actually have a Bunny to compare the plate thickness to. The plate is a standard mount as you would expect with the plate running most of the distance from heel to toe. A standard mount provides the most stability.
The skate colours: They are bright! No real need to accessorise to make them brighter!
How they fit and suggested sizing for UK customers: These skates have lots of reinforcing throughout the boot, around the vulnerable toe and in the heel to keep your foot from sliding. They feel very stiff. Easily as stiff as the Beach Bunny. Based on this, they are going to take a little while to soften and break in. This is where watching videos to find out how long that process takes would probably be useful! Having said that, the Rainbow Riders have a wider, rounded toe (compared to the Lolly), which I think is really important in this stiff material. When I was testing the Beach Bunnies, it took around 4 weeks of regular wear for them to soften up, at which point they became really comfortable. I've also tried on a fair few roller skates that used this similar type of stiff vinyl, but the toe box felt quite long and narrow. That just makes a wholly unpleasant skate experience.
The lining of the Rainbow Riders is comprised of sponge and a layer of plain fabric stitched onto the vinyl, where the Bunnies have a thicker foam and printed lining.
I wear a UK 6.5 and find that a Moxi 7 is a bit too small in all Moxi skates. I wear a Moxi 8 (1.5 sizes up) with Skater Socks, and usually pop in a thicker innersole. With this combination of padding underneath my feet, I can skate all day (14 hours is the record I had Lollies on for!) I can't imagine wearing stiff boots for this amount of time I would probably max out after a couple of hours. As I said in my disclaimer, my experience will affect how I interpret the feel of these boots. Having come from roller derby initially, and wearing low-cut skates, the Lollies initially felt restrictive! Compared to someone who has an ice skating background and is used to a very stiff boot, they would consider a Lolly skate to have no ankle support.
I imagine that I will wear these laced up to the first hook, and then loop them around the skate, rather than lace to the stop of the boot, as this allows me to have the ankle movement I enjoy.
As with the rest of the Moxi family, I would suggest you have size up one size from your UK shoe size, or 1.5 sizes if you are a half size.
Looking at the kingpins, I think the trucks will also be pretty tight, but I will add my opinion of the ride to this blog post once I have skated in them.
Verdict: These are a really pretty roller skate that will make a lot of people very happy! If you are new to roller skating, they are a very exciting looking skate for only £20 more than the classic black or white of the Rookie Artistic model. I would imagine they will last you for long enough to work out the kind of roller skating you want to pursue, before you purchase a skate set-up that will allow you to pursue the type of skating you want to specialise in. Of course, if you only want a roller disco skate or a roller skate to take on holiday (when we are allowed to travel!) to skate along seafronts, then they are perfect for that. As a beginner, you will fall over. It is the worry of many who invest in Lolly skates - how to protect the suede - because it does scuff. If you spend less on a roller skate, hopefully you will worry less about the inevitable fall. (Worrying about falling will actually make falling more likely, because your body is tense.) To me, a few scuffs on the toe of your skate is a good thing anyway - shows that you're learning. Now you just need to pick your colour!