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A Guide to Small Skates on the Market

by Amy Ryan

Advice for Buying Small Skates

There are lots of small skates on the market, but its difficult to find skates that are of high quality in small sizes. When thinking of skates you need to worry about durability and design as well as cost. Another factor to consider in children's skates is that children's feet grow, so the cost of replacing skates can be high. Some companies have come up with skates to deal with this problem like the Roces STL Jr. that adjusts among four sizes. In buying small skates, you may also want to consider used skates from stores like Play-It-Again Sports. Many other children are also outgrowing their skates. I once picked up a pair of Bauer skates for $30 at a used sporting good store. (They originally retailed for $189)

When looking at skates, be sure you examine the durability of the skate, flimspy buckles or thin liners will break and render the skates unusable. Remember that buying a more expensive skate can save you money in the long run, if you don't have to replace broken parts.

One problem with small skates, is that they come with low quality wheels and bearings. if you buy new wheels, bearings, or a hopup kit the skates will be a much faster and more enjoyable for the child (or yourself, if you have small feet like I do.) Until recently, finding a 4-wheeled small skate was very difficult. Recently, vendors have been adding the 4th wheel at the sacrifice of wheel size. You should check to make sure the skates will hold larger wheels (as a rule of thumb, the skates should hold atleast 70mm wheels)

Here's a guide to the 1995 line of smaller skates:

Roces STL Jr. (St. Louis Junior)
Sizes: 12 (fits 12-3), 4 (fits 4-7)
Boot: Monocoque, vented stitched foam liner
Closure: Buckle/Lace
Frame: Uni-tech (one piece boot/chassis design)
Braking system: traditional heel
Spacers: Nylon
Wheels: 70mm 85A, Aero wheels
Bearings: ABEC 1 (personally I thought they were slow)
Price: $100
Advantages: Adjustable Size for growing feet, will accomodate up to 72mm wheels.
Disadvantages: the bearings are slow, the skates are hard to find anyway other than mailorder.
Rating: ****

Roces FCO Jr. (Rome Junior)
Sizes: 1-5, whole sizes only
Boot: Two piece polyrethane, stitched foam liner
Closure: Buckle/Lace
Frame: Composite
Braking System: Traditional Heel
Spacers: Nylon
Wheels: 64mm, 85A Aero
Bearings: ABEC-1 (I think they are much slower)
Price: $90
Advantages: Durable boot, comfortable, good liner, will accomdate up to 72mm wheels.
Disadvantages: Wheels that come with skates are too small for practical skating.
Rating: ****

Roces Lil Street
Sizes: 1-5
Boot: Two piece polyrethane, stitched foam liner
Closure: Buckle/Lace
Frame: Composite with plastic grind plate
Braking System: Traditional Heel
Spacers: Nylon
Wheels: 70mm, 85A Aero
Bearings: ABEC-1 (I think they are much slower)
Price: $145
Advantages: Durable boot, comfortable, good liner, will accomdate up to 72mm wheels.
Disadvantages: I've yet to find a store that can actually get any of these in once they are ordered. FCO Jr's can be upgraded to be like this skate.
Rating: ***

Rollerblade Bravoblade Jr.
Sizes: Children's 19.5-23.5
Boot: Two piece polyethelene, polyurethane cuff, vented.
Closure: Two buckle
Frame: Glass Reinforced Nylon
Braking System: Active Brake Technology (ABT)
Spacers: Nylon
Wheels: 64mm, 85A
Bearings: Rollerblade (Semi-precision)
Price: $79
Advantages: Durable Frame, skates should last over time
Disadvantages: Comes with small wheels and slow bearings, the prototype model that I saw only allowed the brake to be on the right foot (this may have changed), two buckles don't allow enough adjustment for comfortable and proper fit. Accomodates only upto 70mm wheels
Rating: ***

Rollerblade Microblades
Sizes: 10-11, 12-13, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Boot: Two piece polyurethane
Closure: buckle/lace
Frame: Glass reinforced nylon
Braking System: Graduated Brake Design
Spacers: Nylon
Wheels: 64mm, 88A wheels
Bearings: Rollerblade semiprecision
Price: $79
Advantages: Can be found very easily in most stores
Disadvantages: Buckle broke when I tried these skates on in the store. slow bearings, hard, small wheels. Doesn't accomodate very big wheels. Chassis looks like it could easily brake.
Ratings: **

Oxygen Ne01 Jr
Sizes: European 18-24.5
Boot: Monocoque, vented
Closure: Single Buckle
Frame: Nylon
Braking Sytem: traditional heel
Spacers: nylon
Wheels: Oxygen 64mm, 85A
Bearings: precision
Price: $99.95
Disadvantages: Weird brake, single buckle doesn't allow for comfortable adjustment. Hard to fit a skate with only one buckle.
Rating: ***

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