If you start skating with us, we can lend you skates, pads and a helmet, so you can get started straight away. However, when you catch the Derby bug, you’ll want to get yourself kitted out with your own gear. The list of things you need can be daunting, so this little article is designed to help.
To start your Derby career, here’s what you will need:
- Wrist Guards
- Knee Pads
- Elbow Pads
- Mouth Guard (gum shield)
Lets start with your biggest expense…skates, what to look for where to get them and which ones to buy.
Most girls favour Riedell skates mainly because they are the most easily available and therefore cheaper and easier to buy replacement parts for.
The best value and most common starter skates are Riedell R3s. These appear to take a serious bashing before dying. Riedell Minx, She-Devils, Vixens and Wickeds are all great skates but its probably best to be certain you want to commit to derby before spending that sort of cash.
If however, your rich Uncle Ivor just popped his clogs, custom skates such as Bonts are a great way to guarantee you get what you need from your skates………..at a cost.
If you have the budget, aim for a skate with a metal plate (this is the bit that runs along the base of the boot that everything else bolts on to) they are much stronger and last longer than plastic plates. Check out second hand skates if cash is tight, ebay, Facebook and your leagues forums are great places to find these. Contact your league to see if they have any special deals with local retailers. Also, some skate shops do a 10% discount for derby leagues.
Skates can become pricey once you start upgrading the wheels, more on this later…
This one is topic of hot debate. For starter gear, the Anarchy and Fox pads are good, but are only basic and will need to be replaced once you start bouting.
The most common pads are 187‘s Force III’s and Smith Scabs although we also like Protec Drop ins. All of these pads come in at around the same price bracket of £50-£90 of your English pounds, depending on your size and bartering skills.
If you have knee problems, or are concerned at all about the strength of your knees, then we highly recommend you consider spending more on your knee pads, as you only get one pair of knees.
As above really, but you can get away with your basic ones much longer because they don’t take as much flak.
Most of our skaters use SFR or 187 wrist guards and they work very well.
You’ll need to mould your mouthguard using hot water, to fit it to the shape of your mouth and teeth. Learning to speak with them in, is just one more skill you’ll learn when you’re training. Be prepared to deal with your own drool (and often that of others!)
Just remember to keep yours clean by dousing it in mouthwash from time to time!
Basic models are fine when starting but the fit is crucial, a badly fitted helmet can actually do more harm than good. Make sure you get the right size and play around with the padding and straps till it feels right then get someone else to check the fit.
Once you’ve been skating long enough to figure out what kind of skater you are, and what you like to do on the track, you might be ready to upgrade your wheels, bearings or plates to give you more performance. Here’s a very brief run-down on the options – future articles will describe these in detail…
There are so many variables to consider when choosing wheels: the floor, your skate style, your budget and personal preferences. The best way to figure out what will work best for you is to check out what other girls are using and ask if you can do a lap or two on them (most girls won’t mind).
Wheels come in different widths (38mm, 42mm) and heights (62mm, 58mm) and can have cores made from nylon or aluminium. Wheel hardness is given an A-rating such as 88A, 92A, 95A and so on. The lower the number, the softer the wheel. Softer wheels are grippier, but harder wheels give you more speed.
Some skaters have harder wheels on the right edge of each foot, and slightly softer ones on the left side, to give you a bit extra grip and underpush for your crossovers.
Narrower/shorter wheels give you more agility at the expense of stability. It’s up to you to work out if the trade-off is worth it, based on your skating style.
Each wheel is mounted on its axle via two bearings, which are small, circular pieces of hardware, that form the contact point between the wheel and the axle, so their properties influence how easily the wheel will spin.
Some bearing manufacturers state an ABEC rating, from 1 to 9. In theory, the higher the number the “quicker” the bearing will spin, although side-to-side movement is not taken into account. The bearings that come with the basic R3 skates are ABEC 5.
Many companies do not show the ABEC rating, such as Bones Bearings, which makes bearings specifically for skateboarding, often marketed as “Skate Rated”. The original Swiss Bones bearings are well-liked among derby skaters, as are the Bones Reds.
The plates are the part of the skate that attach the wheels to the boot. It’s made up of a flat plate structure, with a truck and axle assembly, which can be adjusted for different skating requirements.
Nylon plates are lighter, but not as strong as aluminium or other metal plates, so the trade-off here is between weight/agility and strength/stability. Metal plates come in different weights, so it’s worth doing a bit of homework before you choose a price point.
Most skate shops will fit plates for you, which is pretty awesome, as it’s a long and intensive job. If you’re brave enough to try it yourself, make sure you do the proper research and have the right tools.
Our Favourite Suppliers
Into the Nitemare are a roller derby store in Falkirk. They sell skates, protective gear, clothing and accessories. All their products are available to order online, and you can also catch them at our bouts, to browse their products in the flesh. They do free delivery and have some great offers on their Facebook page from time to time! Go Like!
Everglides are a great online shop that sell most basic quad skates, accessories and protective gear, with free next day delivery.
Skate Attack are a skater-run skate gear shop based in Enfield. They ship next day on most items and have a good range of gear in stock.
Billy’s Skate Shop have a great selection of wheels, and they do free delivery too.