Types of Inline Skates: Choosing Your Best Option

K2 Skates - Couple skating

In case you haven’t heard, inline skating is back. No longer relegated to the back of the garage or a corner of the closet, people are strapping on their skates and heading down the sidewalk. Why? That’s easy - it’s more fun than running and easier than cycling.

So, you should join the people who are skating, either for the first time or the first time in a while. But even if you weren’t paying attention for a few decades, inline skating has continued to grow and is more diverse than ever. This is great news because there are more options than ever so you’ll be sure to find the perfect skate for you once you understand what you’re looking for.


By far the most popular type of inline skate, recreational skates offer balanced performance that works for almost everyone. So, it makes sense that they’d be our best sellers. But that versatility can make them hard to describe because that essential versatility can come in a number of different ways.

Luckily you can identify recreational skates by looking for a few key features. The most obvious of which will be the wheels. Generally speaking, recreational skates will have smaller wheels than what you’d see on a performance skate, but larger than what you’d see on an aggressive skate. Pair that with a generally more upright riding position, and these skates help beginning riders by providing easier control, but even more experienced skaters will appreciate the quick acceleration these skates can provide. Prime examples of Recreational skates would be the K2 F.I.T. or Rollerblade Macroblade series.

Rollerblade inline skates urban


Urban skates offer much of the same versatility you’ll find in recreational skates, just for a slightly different environment. While Recreational Skates are built for wide-open bike paths or exercise trails, Urban Skates are right at home on busy sidewalks and city streets. So, while they have the same upright riding position as Recreational Skates, they’ll often have smaller wheels for better control and acceleration. Many Urban Skates, such as the K2 Uptown Inline Skate, will be styled to look more like sneakers or freestyle-friendly Aggressive Skates.

Rollerblade Maxxum Edge 125 Inline Skate Couple


At first glance, these look an awful lot like the Recreational Skates. But there’s one big, and we do mean big, difference- the wheels.

While Recreational Skates focus on agility and control, Performance (sometimes called Race Skates) is focused on speed. As such they invariably have wheels over 100mm, allowing you to skate faster and helping to smooth out rough terrain. Oftentimes they’ll also have harder durometer ratings, allowing the skate to roll more efficiently.

The other telltale sign of a Performance Skate is the non-traditional wheel setup. Some Performance skates, like the K2 V02 S 100 Boa®, use wheels of different sizes on the same frame. This cants you forward, providing a more speed-oriented stance. Or they’ll use only three wheels like the Rollerblade Endurance Elite 110 Inline Skate. This way you get the benefit of massive 125mm wheels while cutting weight by more than 25%.

Rollerblade NJ Pro Inline Skate


If “inline skate” makes you think of soul skaters and sick tricks, you’re looking for Aggressive Skates. At home at your local skate park, Aggressive Skates can also be used to bring some freestyle fun to anywhere you’re allowed to skate. Some models like the Rollerblade NJ Pro have specially notched frames for grinding on rails and ledges, and in fact, they’ll often be sold without the middle two wheels installed for even more creative flexibility.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to picking out a skate. Stuff like bearings, frames, and closure systems all have an effect on how you’re skating experience will feel. But if you can narrow down your options by picking one of these categories, you’ll have an easier time finding what you need. Of course, if you still need help, Peter Glenn is always here to help.