If you are new to skating, you may not know the difference between inline vs quad skates.
In 2021, approximately 11.3 million people in the US donned a pair of skates, resembling a high level of interest in inline and quad skates.
Quad skates, also known as roller skates, come as two pairs of wheels placed in front of each other to form a wide base.
While inline skates, also known as rollerblades, have four wheels (sometimes three), located in a straight line under the boot.
Inline and quad skates not only look different but are also used for different sporting activities and require different techniques to master.
In this article, we will outline all the key differences between inline and quad skates, to help inform you and also guide you as to which skate type is most suited for your skating needs.
No matter what your skating level is, a lot of fun can be had when inline or quad skating. Read on to learn more!
What Are Inline Skates?
Inline skates and rollerblades are terms used interchangeably, but both refer to skates that have three or four wheels in a line on the bottom of a skate boot. The location of the wheels is fixed to the central frame under the boot.
Inline skates are perfect for those who love aggressive urban skating or fitness skating because of their streamlined design.
Beginner inline skates tend to have brakes located at the rear of the skate to enable greater speed control.
Intermediate or elite-level inline skates won’t contain brakes. If you progress to this level, you develop stopping techniques using the grinds to swiftly come to halt.
The streamlined design of inline skates is also ideal for speedsters who want to develop fast straight speed.
While this is a benefit in terms of aerodynamics, it means skaters incur a greater risk of falling if they encounter debris or are skating on rough surfaces.
The reduced surface area of inline skates makes it more challenging to control speed and get balance.
Inline skate boots typically have plastic casings that are designed to support your ankles. As the skates are designed for speed, you’ll need extra ankle protection to improve overall skate stability.
What Is Quad Skates?
Quad roller skates refer to the original four-wheel roller skates with two wheels located at the front and two at the back.
The broader base of quad skates is particularly appealing for beginners who prefer the wider track to achieve a better balance.
The added stability of the quad design is ideal for kids and beginners who don’t want to fall over every few seconds. Traditionally designed quad skates include a brake located at the toe, which allows for quick and easy speed control.
Quad skates tend to be preferred by those who enjoy indoor rink skating or artistic skating. Some quad skates are designed for speed skating, but this is less common.
Maneuverability is straightforward on quad skates through the use of your body weight. Leaning right and left will allow you easily get moving.
Quad skates are available in hundreds of different styles and price points. Whether it be retro skates, funky leather skates, cool sports skates, or sneaker-style skates, there are designs suitable for all.
Quad skates are often designed for fashion purposes rather than sporting purposes. Don’t expect to quad skates to outgun inline skates in a sprint finish, but they will likely rank higher in trendiness.
Which One To Choose – Quad Or Inline?
If you’ve never owned a pair of skates before and are clueless as to which type to purchase, there aren’t too many barriers to purchasing either type.
Beginners will often opt for quad skates to start with due to the extra stability and control provided by the wider base and brakes. That said, starting with a beginner model of inline skates is also possible if you know that you want to learn the technique for inline skates.
If your motivation as a beginner is to minimize risk, quad skates are a better choice.
Quad skates have reduced ankle and joint stress. This limits the risk of getting a major ankle injury.
Quad skates are also more amendable to indoor skating rinks compared to inline skates. Indoor rinks are safer premises compared to street skating, you’ll likely have access to safety gear if you want it.
Quad skates have harder wheels which achieve a smooth roll on indoor surfaces and help you easily achieve manageable straight-line speed. For new starters, achieving straight-line speed quickly is a priority and it is easier to do this with quad skates.
The brake mechanism in quad skates is also easier to manage for beginners compared to the heel brake of inline skates.
Although most recommend beginners start with quad skates, the choice is completely personal as to whether you opt for quad or inline skates as a beginner.
Inline Skates Vs Quad Skates: Considerations When Selecting New Skates
Below we explore various considerations which will impact whether you choose inline or quad skates.
Both skate types work well with young children. As you don’t want to be tendering to your child after they’ve fallen over for the tenth time in ten minutes, prioritizing stability is a sensible choice. In that sense, quad skates may be a better first choice.
Depending on your child’s enthusiasm for skating, inline skates can also be a great option as it allows them to improve their speed and range of movements.
Confident teenagers and older children will prefer inline skates over quad skates. Inline skates generate faster speeds and are more fun to play with.
If your child is interested to try tricks and stunts down a skate part, inline skates are the best choice.
It may take a little time to master the technique, but once they nail it they’ll be down the skate park for hours.
Level Of Experience
As discussed, quad skaters are the preferred choice for beginners due to their extra stability and easy toe brake system.
However, beginners should still try inline skates early on to see which they prefer, as the choice is very personal.
The best way to do this is to go to a local skating rink and spend 30 minutes skating with inline skates and quad skates, then you can compare the levels of comfort, stability, and speed.
The type of skate is less important for expert skaters who will have likely perfected the art of inline skating or quad skating on a specific surface.
Understanding the skating style, tricks, and movements will be notable consideration for expert skaters.
The style of skating you wish to participate in is a key determining factor for whether you need to buy inline skates or quad skates.
Below we outline a few skating styles and the corresponding type of skates worn.
Roller Derby – this popular contact sport is played as two teams of fifteen. The sport is played indoors with players wearing quad roller skates.
Speed roller skating – involves athletes racing around a track. Due to the focus on maximizing speed, participants wear inline skates.
Artistic roller skating – is the non-ice equivalent of figure skating. This skating style typically uses quad roller skates with high-top skate boots for extra ankle protection. Inline skates are also a popular choice for artistic roller skating.
Roller hockey – Roller hockey can be played with quad skates or inline skates. As the sport requires specific movements, most brands offer a roller hockey skate.
Jam skating – jam skating is a less-known sport on wheels, and is a cross between gymnastics, breakdancing, and dancing. Jam skaters will typically wear quad slates with low-top skate boots.
Rhythm and shuffle skating – this skating style encourages more freestyle dance movements. Participants also use quad roller skates but use skates with high-top boots.
Although quad and inline skating may seem very similar, the techniques required and various skating styles will take different levels of time to learn. In many ways, they are two very different disciplines.
Depending on your skating experience, environment, practice intensity, and skating style, the time it will take for you to master the technique is variable.
Generally, quad skates are a better choice to start with. Quad skates will allow you to progress faster and then become more confident in handling inline skates.
Once you make the transition to inline skates having become confident using quad skates, you should become comfortable with the different techniques within four sessions. The main challenge of inline skates is establishing balance, control, and braking.
Buying quality inline or quad roller skates should not break the bank. There are many quality brands available, with most offering affordable to premium range models.
The only time to justify a very expensive pair of skates is if you are elite level and skate daily.
Generally, there is a minimal difference in price between inline and quad skates, so price should not be a barrier for either option.
Complete beginners should rent skates at a rink before committing to a purchase.
Once you’ve tried to skate for an hour or so and have fallen on your bum a hundred times, you may not want to pursue the sport. Better to have not already bought a pair of skates before that moment.
How To Choose Inline Skates
Selecting inline skates can be a tricky endeavor if you’ve never done it before. Knowing the inline skating style is a big variant that one should be aware of before purchasing.
The main types of inline skating include recreational, aggressive inline skates, speed, fitness, artistic, freestyle, and hockey.
Comfort is a pivotal factor. You want to wear inline skates that securely wrap and protect your feet while not causing blisters.
Another key choice is soft or hard boots. Soft boot inline skates are very accessible in the market and are lighter in weight. Hard boots are preferred by heavier folk who want extra support. Ideally, try on both boot styles and see which you prefer.
Decide whether you want brakes or no brakes. Beginners should have brakes as it provides extra reassurance that you can control speed. Experienced inline skaters will likely consider brakes unnecessary.
Finally, the fit is also key. Leading brands have subtle fit styles some of which you will prefer over others. For example, tighter versus looser fits, and narrower versus wider fits. The best practice is to try on the same size in various brands to compare.
How to Choose Quad Skates
You should go through a similar list of criteria when selecting the best quad skates. Quad skates are typically the choice for fitness, recreational, roller derby, hockey, or disco skating.
Quad skates were the older sibling to inline skates, so are revered by many for their classic appeal.
Some factors to consider when selecting quad roller skates include:
Quad skate wheels come in two pairs to provide extra stability for skaters. Wheels are available in hard or soft materials, with the durometer rating (0-100A) used to measure the hardness.
Quad roller skates are typically used for indoor activities and due to the smoothness of indoor surfaces, harder wheels (durometer nearer to 100A) are preferred.
Harder wheels also have long-lasting durability. Softer wheels are more absorbing and have better grip. They are also better when performing tricks or skating at speed.
Size – Selecting the right size for quad skates is not a perfect science. Depending on the model, the best fit may resemble your regular shoe size or may be up to two sizes larger. The trick is to try on different models in different sizes the work out the perfect size of quad skates.
Other components to look into are boot softness, trucks, plates, and toe stops.
Popular Inline Skate Brands
Below we highlight some of the most popular inline skating brands for you to check out.
Rollerblade is the first inline skating company to achieve worldwide skate distribution. The firm currently has distributors in 22 countries. The brand is largely credited with bringing inline skating to the masses.
SEBA is a more recent brand launched only in 2005. The company focuses on high-performing skates that have top-level control. The company specializes in freeride and freestyle inline skates.
Powerslide is very active on social media and regularly put out great content. Since its launch in 1997, the brand invested in research and development to improve the quality of the skates.
Recently, they released the trinity mount which provides a lower gravity center for skaters and also improves stability.
Other leading inline skate brands in Bauer, K2, Roces, and USD. Each provides certain specialisms and a quality range of inline skates.
Popular Roller Skate Brands
The quad roller skate market is much older, tracing back over 100 years. With the re-emergence of skating as a trendy activity, the leading brands have upped their game recently. Some of best-known brands to check out are listed below:
Roller Derby is known for producing high-quality quad skates. Founded in 1936 by Oscar Seltzer, the skates are highly sought-after and often purchased for playing roller derby sport.
Riedell Shoes. Inc specializes in roller, figure, speed, and inline skates. The brand was established in 1974.
Other brands include Moxi Roller skates, C7, Antik, Crazy, and Vanilla. Increasingly, brands compete in the fashion stakes, with all sorts of funky designs available to purchase.
Which Skates Are Better For Outdoor Skating?
Inline skating is the preferred choice for outdoor skating compared to quads.
Inline skates can go faster and are typically fitted with softer wheels that allow for versatility on many different outdoor surfaces.
Inline skates vary from recreational, fitness, and aggressive skates which each contain design modifications to specialize in each respective skating style.
Which Skating Type Is Most Similar to Ice Skating?
Inline skating is more similar to ice skating compared to quad skating. The mechanics and locomotion of the movements are very similar.
The significant difference is the surface, as ice skating has minimal friction.
Hopefully, you now have a sense of the similarities and differences between inline and quad skating.
Although both activities use wheels underneath a boot, they should be viewed as two different disciplines which require different techniques to master.
Quad skates are generally recommended for beginners, but we recommend you explore both skate styles to decide upon your preferences.
There is a huge range of sporting activities to try for both inline and quad skates, and both skate types will encourage you to exercise, burn calories, and have fun. Go grab yourself a pair of skates and get moving!
Hey there, my name is Tommy and I have to admit that rollerblading and roller skating are in my blood. I have been skating since I was seven years old and I have tried many different roller skates during my skating career.
I hope my knowledge and passion for rollerblading and skating comes across and that you’ll find the product reviews insightful.