We know starting Derby can be Daunting, but trust me it is so worth it! We are Derby Girls and are more than happy to answer any of your questions... But Check out below to see some of our Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why don't you carry many skates under $200?
A: Basically these skates aren’t suitable for derby, the quality of materials simply don’t handle the stresses of derby. We do have some cheap skates around the $150-$250 mark but they will probably only last you a season or so, however skates less than this might only last you a couple of months. We skate aggressively in derby and your skates truly take a beating. However we do recommend skates around the $200-$400 mark (R3’s, Rebels, GT50’s, Spyders) for beginners as some beginners tend to um and ahh about committing to derby or turn their starter skates outdoors after the first season when they decide to upgrade to a better quality skate. Either way you are not putting a lot of money in the cupboard if you opt out of derby or you aren’t scratching up say, $600 worth of skates outdoors.
With cheaper skates you will find the manufacturer has cut costs on this that make the skates inappropriate for Derby- Non-adjustable toe stops, slow bearings, plastic wheels, plastic Trucks…etc. We have seen girls start on cheap $100 skates and within 3-4 weeks they have fallen apart and they have needed to upgrade, she may as well have kissed $100 away when she started and just bought quality skates to save her now sore feet.
So save your feet and your money in the long run and spend at least $200 and you will get a good run out of your starter skates. Or simply check out our ‘FreshMeat’ packages as they are Derby Quality packages designed by Derby Girls for Derby FreshMeat.
Q: I'm overwhelmed by the choices. What skates are the right skates for beginners?
There is no right answer for this. You need to factor in a couple of things.
1. How sure are you that you want to play roller derby?
- How psyched are you? You're about to become a rollergirl or rollerboy, but if you are unsure as to whether you want to do it, it would be unwise to buy the most expensive skates on the market. If you think you are going to be sticking it out for at least a whole season, it may be less cost effective for you to buy the cheapest skates. If you want to try it out and see, I suggest buying a low to mid priced skate. Remember you can always sell your skates if you decide it's not for you. People love to buy used gear and save a little money.
2. Do I have anything particular about my foot that needs attention?
- Wide Feet, narrow heels, Big Toe Knuckles, a lot of hair.... whatever it is, there's some important factors to what kind of skates to buy. Here are some general
Skates that lace down to the toe means you can adjust how narrow and how wide all the way down to the toe box. - Good for wide or narrow feet.
Skates that are made of leather may be easier to "break in" to your foot shape because man made materials don't do that as easily.
Although a lot of people are used to the "support" of artistic skates on your ankles, Skates with lower collars will give you less blisters on your ankles because when you skate derby you actually need a lot more mobility in your ankles than in other kinds of skating.
Aluminum Plates are heavier and more expensive than Nylon Plates but they do last longer. There is a lot of jumping in Roller Derby and that aluminum plates are stronger for that purpose. However most women don’t need something as heavy duty as an aluminium plate and will skate fine on a nylon plate. We recommend Aluminium plates for Heavier skaters, or Men. Guys simply seem to throw yourselves around on your skates and the plate certainly feels it.
Of course if you have other questions please feel free to email, facebook or call us… We love talking gear!
3.What is my price range?
- the answer to this question will really help you decide which skates are right for you. There are skates in every price point.
Another thing to note is, you will learn what you like and what you don't like. You will buy new skates and sell your old skates. You will be ok. Don't freak out.
Q: What size should I get?
- Quad Skates, unless noted, are in Mens US shoe sizing… Men you will generally just choose the size you wear every day. Women we recommend dropping down a size to a size and a half (if possible). This is simply a guide, to get your ideal size we suggest you try the skates on in store or upon ordering you send us the details on your foot size. To get this please stand on a piece of paper in bare feet, trace around your foot and measure at the longest and widest parts. Please don’t email a tracing unless we request it as scanners can change the scale of drawings.
However we do have an exchange option to if you receive the wrong size simply send them back with a foot tracing in the box and we will find the size for you. Note: Extra postage will be charged to you.
Q: What does synthetic/manmade materials vs. leather mean?
* Leather Outside with Leather Lining
Top quality boot and has the maximum amount of durability and lasts longer than other boots. This will be the best kind of boot in most situations. Once the leather breaks in and forms to your foot, this is the most comfortable type of boot. Example: Riedell 265
* Manmade Material Outside with Padded inside. This is a very comfortable boot as well as a very durable and affordable. However in most cases will last less time than a leather skate. Example: R3 or GT50
Q: What does ABEC mean?
- ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineering Council (boooooring) and it is a rating of how "fast" bearings are.
Basically the higher the number after ABEC-, the better the bearing is supposed to be. This does not mean how "fast" you can go, but rather think of it as... how much resistance the bearing will give you or the amount of effort you will put out when you decide to go fast. Bearings don't make you go fast. You make you go fast. But It feels like you are pushing as hard as you can but not going anywhere when you skate on abec 1 bearings, you skate effortlessly with abec 9 or Swiss bearings.
The scale goes ABEC-1, ABEC-3, ABEC-5, ABEC-7 and ABEC-9 then you have skate rated and swiss and ceramic. Bones Bearings are "Skate Rated" and are basically better than most of the bearings rated on the ABEC scale.
Q: What does the hardness number mean?
- The Hardness (or Durometer) of a wheel is measured on a scale of a number and then an A.
For example: 96A.
The lower the hardness or durometer, the "grippier" or softer and also the "slower" the wheel. The Higher the hardness or durometer the "faster" and "slicker" the wheel.
Q: That's awesome, but what does that really mean to me?
- Nothing really, everyone is different, skates differently and skates on different surfaces. So we recommend asking someone at your league of a similar build (weight) to you what they skate on or what they have tried.
But if worse comes to worst. Think about this:
Outdoor Wheels: usually very soft. Hardness 78a-85a
Softer the better for path riding (rocks, debri, sticks, cracks etc…) so 78a
A bit harder for the Ramp Riders you need some speed on the ramps so nothing worse than a really soft wheel that will yes absorb the vibrations or landings but will steal your speed at the same time. So 84-85a
Hybrid Wheels: the middle man… they work outdoors and indoors. Hardness 84a
Another one for the Ramp Riders or the outdoor court skaters. These will absorb some of the vibrations and small sticks, stones etc… So really suit the smooth outdoor environment. However these are also great pushers for Derby Girls! Use these mixed amongst your harder indoor wheels to offer a bit of grip around those slippery corners.
Indoor Wheels: Soft, Mid, Hard. Hardness 86a – 101a
Depending on your indoor surface to what hardness you will require.
A dirty wooden floor will usually require a softer wheel as dust can really slip things up. Concrete comes grippy, slippery and Gritty (very Grippy). Think of your weight when choosing these. Most Australian Leagues have only Wood or Concrete Surfaces however you will run into a mix of Wood, Concrete, Tile and Sport Court if you visit the USA.
In General a 60-70kg female will need a 90-94a wheel on a regular well maintained wooden basketball court. A man at around 90kg will usually prefer a 94-96a wheel. Also a Newer Skater will generally prefer a grippier wheel where as a more experienced skater, ex hockey player, artistic skater will prefer a slicker or harder wheel as they know how to control that friend to some, enemy to others called ‘Slide or Slip’. Either way if something doesn’t work for you it will most likely work for another and you will most likely end up buying, selling and trading wheels with other league members.
Q: What kind of quality Knee Pad do I need for Derby? Can I simply buy cheap ones because I’m only starting out so I’m not going to use them until I play, right?
A: Wrong, During Freshmeat is where we teach you how to skate so with this comes learning how to fall safely as well as stop and start. So you will be using your knee pads often. Your coach will generally teach you a range of falls from one knee falls, two knee falls, porn stars (four point falls) as well as 180 turns. All of which involve high impact to your knees and you will be requested to do these falls on purpose during drills and game play scenarios to ensure they are second nature when its game time. So yes a better quality knee pad straight up will serve you a whole lot of good and your Knees will thank you for it later.
Q: I have heard a lot of the girls mention Knee Gaskets, what do they do, do I really need them?
A: While they are not a requirement when playing derby we do recommend them. They are basically a padded slip for your knee that offers extra support to your knee by holding your knee pad in place and filling the holes/ air pockets provided when the padding in your knee pad resides or by the padding not fitting your knee correctly. They also offer extra support to your knee cap by reducing the movement when you fall when your knee pad potentially slips sideways taking your knee cap with it.
Q: What kind of mouthguard do I need for Derby?
A: A simple Boil and Bite will do fine for Freshies however there is a winner on the market (well according to us and our Veteran Skaters). The Protech Dent/SISU mouthguard, these mouthguards are a little more expensive ($22.95 single pack, $39.95 double pack) but they will allow you to Breathe easier, Drink and Talk Clearly with it in! It’s great and doesn’t need to be removed during training. I myself have walked out of training with it in, not until getting a strange look from my coach did I remember that I still had it in.