This post is about equipment for figures on roller skates. It focuses on skates for circle figures (the big ones), not loops (the small ones)—many roller skaters have separate skates for figures and loops. Roller skates have five components that you can select. I’ll organize this post from the top down.
Roller skaters like stiff boots for figures. Boot stiffness is often rated by a number, with higher numbers representing stiffer boots.
Skaters Oasis bases both of its figure packages (above) around the Risport RF3 Pro boot, which has a stiffness of 60.
Edea designed the Suono boot specifically for figures. Its stiffness is 70.
The difference between roller boots and ice boots is that roller boots have flat soles, while ice boots have curved soles. Roller boots match the flat plate they’re attached to, and ice boots follow walking boots in curving up at the toe. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them for roller skating, though. The toe may bend down when you screw the plate on, or you can stick a wedge in to fill the gap.
The plate is the bit that screws to the bottom of the boot to hold the wheels. The most obvious feature of a plate designed for figures is the complete absence of a toe stop. There’s not even a place to put one if you want to! For loops, skaters often use a figure plate that is one to two sizes smaller.
Roll-line makes three plates for figures:
Hudor makes two plates for figures:
Every plate comes with a default set of cushions. There are lots of different options and opinions. Cushions probably deserve their own post.
Figures wheels feel very slick! Someday I’ll add a post about durometer readings; for now it suffices to say that unlike inline and recreational quad wheels, which are measured by “A” values (e.g., 98A), figures wheels are graded on the “D” durometer scale. On both scales, a higher number means a harder wheel.
The wheels below come in different colors, but that’s not just for style. The different colors represent different amounts of grip. If you skate on a slick floor, you’ll want a wheel with more grip. But if your floor is “tight” (i.e., skates grip it well), you’ll want slicker wheels. Some people use softer wheels in the front inside position to avoid slipping on their takeoffs. These are called “push wheels.”
Bearings go in the middle of the wheels. They’re what controls the spin. You can roll better on good ones than on bad ones. ABEC is the standard classification scheme. Higher numbers (e.g., ABEC-9) are better than lower ones (e.g., ABEC-1). But that system is really designed for machine shops, not roller skates. There are many other factors. Skates US has a page of bearing information.
The following posts from www.SkateDebate.com discuss equipment for figures. There may be more by the time you read this.