Looking to buy your first pair of skates for roller derby? Here’s an entry level skate you might want to check out; the Suregrip Rock GT-50.
This boot has pretty thick padding, which does make it comfortable, but also adds quite a bit of bulk compared to other skates, such as R3s, and ‘snazzy’ boots like Bonts and Wikko (the ones I’m hankering for next!). The fit tends to be suitable for normal to wide feet and are quite a tight fit. Blisters don’t seem to be a problem for most people who use these skates. The boots themselves are made out of synthetic leather, so not as pliable and soft as other boots in higher price brackets. They have a bit of ‘give’ but don’t mould to your feet or stretch as much as a real leather boot would. Pretty much all skates in this price bracket are synthetic leather so don’t be put off.
These skates have threaded top stops so you have the ability to upgrade them – which you will probably want to do once you start doing toe stop work. These toe stops were really good at staying in place (unlike the stoppers on the R3s) and are round so the orientation doesn’t matter.
Wheels and bearings
The standard wheels they come with are very hard which made learning the basics like plough stops pretty easy; they are equivalent to 95a hardness so it depends what sort of floor you normally skate on. Most people like to skate on something between 88a and 92a which have a bit more grip. The bearings are fine for beginners, you might want to change them when you start getting pretty good to something like Bones Reds.
These skates have fairly standard nylon plate, this has a bit of flex so heavier skaters especially may want to upgrade to a metal plate sooner.
Value for money
At £114.95 from skates.co.uk. It’s a reasonable entry level skate price and pretty good value for money. I wouldn’t want to go lower than these, or the Riedel R3s, as you’re stuck with non adjustable toe stops and skates that just aren’t suitable for roller derby. Most people who go with a lower-end skate end up replacing them within the first 6 months.
I’d recommend upgrading the cushions as this will make the biggest difference for the least money.You may also want to upgrade the wheels and toe stops at some point, and possibly the bearings too.
Views from a couple of our skaters:
Lauren, used for 13 months from 8 weeks into the beginners course:
“When you’re a beginner and don’t know what type of skate you need and all the fine tuning, they are a good skate to learn on, even if you learn that you need to change a few things. With new wheels and cushions they could last some years”.
Sarah, used as hire skates on the beginners course from week 1 to week 10:
“I found these skates really comfortable, I also tried the Riedell Volt skates but they were a thinner skate in general and didn’t fit my feet as well, the GT-50 skates were also more secure and sturdy on my feet. I went on to buy the Suregrip Rebel Avengers when I bought my own kit”.
Have a little more money to spend? I’d recommend going up a price bracket to get a really good plate with the Suregrip Rebel Avengers. This plate is metal and has a 45 degree truck which means it has better maneuverability. It also has grippier wheels, a leather boot and pretty good cushions too – and comes in a few bright colours !
Before you use them
Whether you buy the GT-50 or another skate, don’t forget to do the following checks as soon as you get them out the box:
- Check that the wheels are on securely.
- Check that the trucks are on securely (you’ll want to play around with how loose these are as it really affects the way you move).
- Put hockey tape or a snoot on the end of each boot to stop scuffs ruining the boot.
The Ruth Hurts