Different Types of Roller Skates

Many people tend to confuse roller skates with rollerblades, also known as inline skates. The most important and instantly noticeable difference between roller skates/quad skates/quads and rollerblades/inline skates is that quads have four wheels arranged in a 2 x 2 style — two wheels at the front and two at the back — while rollerblades have 2-5 wheels mounted linearly onto a frame. In this post, though, the focus is on roller skates. Here, you’ll learn at least 9 different types of roller skates and their intended purpose.

Learn more about the differences between rollerblades and roller skates. In that post, you’ll see what a rollerblade looks like and what a roller skate looks like for a crystal clear understanding of the differences (and similarities).

9 Kinds of Quad Skates

  1. Indoor Roller Skates/ Recreational Roller Skates
  2. Outdoor roller skates
  3. Speed roller skates
  4. Jam roller skates
  5. Artistic roller skates
  6. Rhythm roller skates
  7. Derby roller skates
  8. Quad hockey skates
  9. Aggressive roller skates

It’s now time to dive into what makes each of these roller skate types tick. Each of these kinds of quads shines at a specific thing and may not do other things very well.

It’s useful to learn what each particular skate type does excellently so you can pick up an appropriate quad skate when ready.

1. Indoor Roller Skates

Indoor roller skates are also referred to as recreational roller skates. Some people might even call them artistic roller skates, but in this post, I’ll treat artistic roller skates as a distinct skate type.

Indoor quads are pretty much the typical roller skate – they’re the traditional quad skate. Have you ever been at an indoor skating rink and saw people waltzing around the arena or just rolling around for fun? If yes, the skates you saw on the hard, smooth surface were definitely indoor roller skates /traditional skates/recreational skates.

Traditionally, roller skates are used indoors, but outdoor models are also available. For roller skating indoors, you need quads with the right wheels.

Skating Surface Quality Determines the Right Wheel Hardness

If the skating surface is hard, smooth, and sticky, go for hard wheels in the 94A-96A durometer range. Durometer is a measure of a wheel’s softness/hardness.

If the floor offers a medium level of grip, choose 90A-93A roller skate wheels. But if the floor is very hard and extremely sticky, choose the hardest roller skate wheels you can afford (97A-103A wheels).

What if the indoor surface is a polished concrete floor or a pretty slippery untreated wood floor? In that case, 86A-89A wheels.

84A-85A roller skate wheels are considered hybrid quad skate wheels and can be used both indoors and outdoors. If the indoor surface is extremely slippery, use 78A-80A wheels.

2. Outdoor Skates

Outdoor quad skates are similar to indoor roller skates in terms of skate design. But there’s one key difference between indoor quads and outdoor quads. Outdoor roller skates have larger, softer wheels than indoor roller skate wheels.

If you’ll be skating outdoors on concrete or asphalt, choose skates with 78A-80A wheels. Hybrid wheels in the 84-85A durometer range can also be used for outdoor roller skating, but only if the surface isn’t too rough.

As a rule of thumb for wheel durometer, use harder wheels on hard surfaces for speed and smoothness and softer wheels on rougher surfaces for grip and stability.

Learn how to choose good outdoor roller skate wheels here. For outdoor use, you need softer, larger wheels. How large? Generally, 65mm-70mm is considered to be the sweetest spot as far as wheel size or wheel diameter.

3. Speed Skates

If you do a simple search on Google or any other search engine for speed skates, the search engine almost always surfaces speed inline skates. That’s because inline speed skating is more mainstream and recognized compared to speed roller skating.

But speed roller skating is pretty popular, too, and that means speed quad skates are actually a thing. Speed roller skates — like speed rollerblades — look like regular shoes, but they’re mounted onto two skateboard-like trucks with a plate unlike rollerblading speed skates that sit on a metal frame/chassis.

In terms of boot design and mobility, speed roller skates are pretty much like Jam roller skates. The only real difference between jam skates and speed skates is that while jam quads have a toe plug, speed skates feature a toe stop. Perhaps that’s why lots of jam roller skaters have been gravitating toward roller speed skating over recent years.

Like speed rollerblades, speed roller skates have a really tight fit for maximum power transfer. Also, both types of skates focus on performance and speed rather than comfort and fun.

That’s why the boots in both skates offer little padding. It’s also why these inline boots feature a low-cuff design vs. a low-cut design for speed roller skates. In fact, the boot doesn’t rise past the ankle bone in the case of speed quads. This boot style helps optimize for speed and maneuverability or ankle articulation at speed.

And just like inline skates, speed quads are super light. That’s because they have lighter wheels, boots, and plates. Being extremely light makes speed roller skates the ideal boot for skating long distances with little foot fatigue. Speed quads are a suitable roller skate for marathons, time trials, and track speed skating.

Speed Roller Skates vs. Inline Speed Skates

Both roller skate speed skates and inline speed skates look almost like everyday shoes. Also, both have boots that are really light and a tight fit is preferred in both cases. They also have a low-cut design for maximum ankle articulation and maneuverability. What’s more, both skates focus on speed and performance (racing) rather than user comfort. However, speed inline skates don’t have a brake while speed quads have a toe stop. Additionally, speed roller skates sit on a plate with a 2 x 2 wheel arrangement while speed inline skates are supported by a lightweight aluminum or carbon frame with wheels arranged in a line.

Durometer and wheel size for speed roller skates? The recommended wheel size for speed quads is 65mm-70mm. That’s also the right wheel size for outdoor roller skate wheels. As for wheel durometer, it depends on the surface, but you need relatively hard wheels (90A-93A). Be sure to adjust wheel durometer to how slippery vs. hard and smooth the skating surface is.

4. Jam Roller Skates

Initially, jam roller skates looked like artistic roller skates in terms of design. Like artistic quads, earlier models came with a high-cut boot style. But this skate has been evolving over the years. Today, jam skates are pretty much speed skates without a toe stop. Instead of a toe stop, jam skates have a dance plug or a toe plug.

This boot’s design affords you tons of agility, and you do need enough agility and ankle mobility on the dance floor.

Jam skating grew out of the 1970s roller disco scene. This roller skating style combined elements of dance, gymnastics, and skating when it first emerged. But today’s jam skating style brings together the freshness of contemporary dance, artistic roller skating, and break dancing.

But unlike speed roller skaters and most other styles of quad skating, jam skating is all about the skater’s personal expression. These skaters are best-known for their smooth, free-flowing movements. Other names for jam roller skating include the following:

  • Shuffle skating
  • Hexing
  • Spot skating
  • Toe skating

A common boot design feature that differentiates jam skates from most quads is their closure. While you can see the laces on most skates, jam skates have a flap that covers the laces. The flap usually comes with a Velcro strap on one end that keeps it stuck on the boot.

5. Artistic Roller Skates (Think of them as Figure Skating Quads)

Artistic roller skates are pretty much like inline figure skates. To make artistic roller skates, skate designers find a boot resembling that used in ice figure skates and attach it to a super-strong sole plate that sits above 2 x 2 wheels.

Unlike jam skates and speed roller skates, artistic roller skates have a high-cut leather boot that offers lots of ankle support. As with figure skating on ice, artistic roller skating has you doing jumps, landings, and other footwork on the skating surface. That’s why the boot on this skate is the tallest among all roller skate types. The boot goes up past the ankle, and that enables it to provide you with good support and stability.

This roller skate boot looks like a figure skate on wheels. Actually, that’s what it is — a figure skate on four wheels, a pair at the front and another at the back.

Not surprisingly, artistic roller skates are used the same way ice figure skates are used. The only difference is that ice skates are used on the ice and glide on metal blades instead of rubber wheels.

With this type of roller skate, the following artistic performances are possible:

  • Single free skating
  • Pairs skating
  • Solo dancing
  • Pairs dancing
  • Precision skating
  • Show teams
  • Synchronized skating

Wheel Size and Durometer for Artistic Roller Skating Wheels

45mm wheels are pretty common on artistic roller skates. Also, 57mm-58mm roller skating wheels can be used on these quad skates. Basically, you need small, hard wheels that roll super smoothly on hard indoor surfaces.

As for wheel durometer rating, let the quality of your skating be your ultimate guide. If very smooth and slippery, stay in the 78A-80A. But if the surface is very hard and sticky, choose extremely hard wheels like 94A-103A.

6. Rhythm Quad Skates (for Both Support and Flex)

Both rhythm roller skates and jam skates are dance skates and you can use them for shuffle skating and slides on the rink. But if you look at these two skates, you can easily see that they’re different as far as boot design.

So, what’s the difference between a rhythm skate and a jam skate? While a jam skate features a low-cut style boot for maximum flexibility and maneuverability, a rhythm skate comes with a high-cut boot. The boot of a rhythm quad skate looks like that of an artistic roller skate and offers adequate support and stability. Despite this boot design similarity, a rhythm boot also allows for better flexibility and less restricted foot movement. Another similarity is that both jam skates and rhythm skates use a dance plug/toe plug instead of a toe stop as a braking system.

On the whole, a rhythm skate offers both ankle support and flexibility. And that makes rhythm roller skates some of the most versatile quad skates on the market today. It’s the kind of dance boot you need for when you need to take your skating art to a whole new level.

7. Roller Derby Roller Skates

Roller derby quads look pretty much like regular indoor roller skates. But they can help you win a roller derby competition. They’re designed with all the needs of roller derby players in mind. In roller derby, winning only happens if your team has stronger, faster, and more calculating players than the opposing team. And that’s where high-performance roller derby quads come into play.

Like jam and speed skates, roller derby quad skates have a low-profile boot that maximizes agility. I should even say that roller derby boots are the closest it gets to being a regular shoe. The cut on the collar of the boot brings to mind the cut you see on sneakers.

For roller derby, your feet need to stay in place rather than not moving all around inside the boot. That’s why these boots usually combine traditional lacing with Velcro straps. That closure system secures your feet so you can make quick, sure-footed strides that foster winning.

In terms of padding, derby skates offer more padding than you get with speed skates and jam skates. And in most cases, this skate offers injury-protection features. As for the control and stopping mechanism, it’s the usual toe stop brake.

8. Quad Hockey Skates

We’ve heard all kinds of disparaging remarks (actually insults) from those who play “real” hockey (ice hockey). But that’s not prevented inline hockey players and quad hockey players to enjoy the game.

quad hockey skate

Quad hockey skates have a shoe-like boot that comes with a long tongue for extra protection. The boot is somewhere between a low-cut and a high-cut style. Let’s call it a mid-high style boot. This boot powers quick, turny movements on the rink, pretty much like what you get with inline hockey skates.

The stopping mechanism is a regular toe stop. Quad hockey is to Latin America what inline hockey is to the United States.

9. Aggressive Roller Skates (for Roller Skating Tricks, Grinds,&Jumps)

There’s inline aggressive skating, and then there’s aggressive roller skating. In both cases, you need a skate whose boot is designed to take abuse. An inline aggro skate comes with a groove that lets you lock into rails and ledges, and the same goes for an aggressive quad skate.

Take a look below. That’s what an aggressive roller skate looks like. With this kind of a quad skate, you can jump and grind all you want at your local skate park or anywhere else you’re allowed to skate. This is the skate you need if you like doing tricks and skating different kinds of obstacles at parks or found obstacles on the streets.

aggressive roller skate
Aggressive roller skates haven’t been around for long. Like inline skates, they have a grinding block that let’s you lock into rails, ledges, & stuff