Urban vs Fitness Inline Skates

What’s are urban inline skates and how do they differ from fitness skates? In urban vs fitness inline skates, Bujie, a member of the skatingmagic team, will answer that question, highlighting all the differences between the two skate types. I’ll now let Bujie take over and share what he knows with you.

Also read: How to choose beginner-friendly rollerblades (we have a how-to tutorial on picking entry-level skates there, too)

I’m Bujie (see picture below, that’s me riding my 4x110mm freeride/urban skates), a 25 year-old dude who’s been rollerblading over the past 16 years. I mostly do freeride (mostly bombing hills, the steeper and smoother, the better for me), long-distance skating, and a bit of freestyle. I’m the carefree kid you see doing all kinds of quick jumps and stunts in all kinds of places around the city. And I sometimes get in trouble with the police for skating where they say I shouldn’t. It’s tough being a skater sometimes, but skating is life and life must be lived.

Bujie of skatingmagic bombing a hill in Nyandarua county Kenya. The dude is skating 4 wheel freeride or urban skates
This is me Bujie bombing a beautiful hill somewhere in the highlands of Kenya

Urban vs Fitness Inline Skates: Summary

Urban inline skates and fitness inline skates vary significantly in design and functionality. Urban skates feature hard boots with removable liners, elliptical wheels, and a short frame for agility, while fitness skates have soft boots with non-removable liners, softer wheels, and a longer frame for stability. Also, urban skates offer better power transfer and customization options, making them suitable for freeride and stunts, while fitness skates prioritize comfort and cardio workouts. Choosing the right skate type depends on your skating style and preferences.

What Are Urban Skates?

3 wheel urban inline skates
Three wheel urban skates. the frame is 10.2″ long or 259mm long, which is pretty short compared to the 4 wheelers above

I’m a big believer in the adage “don’t tell, show.” So below is what urban skates look like. They’re mostly hard boot-style skates, and it does seem like manufacturers have extended longevity in mind when making them. The best urban skates aka freeride skates, can last you years with all sorts of tough use being thrown at them on a consistent basis.

4x110mm urban inline skates
These are urban skates, but they have speed skate-length frames because Bujie does tons of downhill riding. These are 332mm long, but Bujie turns on them like a dream!

Characteristics of Urban Inline Skates

  • They’re mostly hard boots.
  • The liner is often removable.
  • The wheels are typically hard, usually with a durometer rating of 85A to 92A.
  • The wheels are mostly elliptical for optimal performance, but some skaters prefer round profile wheels.
  • The best options offer forward flex, a design feature that keeps you in the natural skate position without trying too hard.
  • They normally have shock pads around the heel for impact dampening.
  • Most come with an optional, but it’s not common for urban inline skaters to attach the brake pad.
  • Wheel size: urban inline skate wheels often have 80mm-84mm wheels, but when used for transportation and long-distance inline skating, it’s common to see 3x110mm, 3x100mm, 4×110mm, and even 3x125mm wheel configurations.
  • The frame is often relatively short for better agility and maneuverability. A shorter wheelbase comes in footy when it comes to making really quick sharp turns when dodging potential mishaps. 243mm frames are typical, but some such as long-distance freeride/urban skates can have pretty long frames.
  • The frames are quite sturdy and mostly made of aluminum or carbon in high-end skates. And the best part? You can swap out the frames, liners, and even the boot itself any time you are ready to have a different ride experience or quality.
  • Many are affordable, but the finest ones can cost a pretty penny.
  • They offer plenty of ankle support since they have high-cut boots.
  • Power transfer: Urban skates offer way better power transfer compared to fitness skates because they have a stiffer plastic or carbon fiber/fiberglass boot versus a soft, less supportive boot for fitness skates.

What Are Fitness Inline Skates?

K2 fitness skates picture

Urban skates are fitness skates to the extent they help you get a beneficial cardio workout. It’s hard to be a regular skater of any kind and not see your body get more fit. But while urban skates are fitness skates, fitness skates aren’t urban skates.

Characteristics of Fitness Inline Skates

  • They’re mostly soft boots.
  • The liners in the vast majority of fitness skates aren’t removable, which makes cleaning more of a hassle than in the case of urban skates.
  • It’s not possible to upgrade the frames, liners, or boots. You have no choice but to stick with the skate you get until they fall apart or you’re ready to up your play level with a sturdier boot such as an urban skate.
  • The best ones can last quite a while, but they’re not as long lasting as urban skates.
  • All fitness skates have a brake pad on the right skate. And most skaters who use this type tend to leave the pad attached to the heel skate.
  • The wheels are typically soft, usually from 78A to 85A in terms of hardness rating.
  • In terms of wheel size, the typical fitness skate has a 4×90mm, a 4x80mm setup, a 3x100m, 4x100mm, 4×110, or a 3×110 wheel setup.
  • The frames are relatively long though not as long as speed skates. Longer frames offer you better stability, particularly when coupled with smaller inline skate wheels.
  • They prioritize foot comfort and also offer a decent level of ankle support. However, they’re not the bet for jumping around or doing any kind of high-impact stunts. Ankle support isn’t as good as the level of support you get from their tank-like urban skating counterparts.

Final Thought

Fitness skates have a softer exterior, cheaper, less durable, and less supportive compared to fitness skates.

Aside from that, they’re a tad harder to clean because they often have integrated liners. Plus, you can’t swap out the main parts such as frames, liners, and boots for better-quality ones.

If you want a skate designed to roll you around the neighborhood or for riding longer distances to break a sweat for fitness reasons while keeping every session nice and comfy, get fitness skates.

And if you want a skate that does everything a fitness skate can do and much more besides, an urban skate would probably serve you better.

If you’re not sure what to pick, get a good beginner-friendly urban skate with upgradeable parts and you’re set for the next few years. Fun fact: we’re always looking for a new skate to buy, so there’s that.