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Roller Skates 101

How to Build A Fully Custom Roller Skate

How to Build A Fully Custom Roller Skate

You have come to the right place to have all your custom skate questions answered! Here is an overview of the components needed for a custom skate, an explanation of the different boot options, and what your options are for mounting a skate plate to your preferred boot or shoe.

Components Needed To Build A Roller Skate

Boots: The boot is the “shoe” part of the roller skate. Traditional skate boots come in either low-top or high-top, and we offer a variety of options you can purchase from our website. You can also use your favorite shoe rather than using a traditional skate boot. Some popular options are Converse high-top sneakers, Vans Sk8-Hi sneakers or Doc Marten boots.

Plates: The first step in building a roller skate is mounting the boot to a skate plate. We have many options for plates in different colors and materials to suit your style and skating needs. Nylon plates such as Sunlite plates are a lightweight skate option (ideal for skaters under 200lbs), and we also offer metal plates (aluminum, magnesium, etc.) which will last you a lifetime and are a great option for skaters over 250lbs.

Mounting Hardware: If you plan to mount your plate yourself, you will need mounting hardware. Look no further than Premium Quad Skate Plate Mounting Kit for all the hardware needed. This kit includes the following components:

  • 4 Long mounting bolts
  • 4 Short mounting bolts
  • 8 axle nuts
  • 8 flat washers
  • 8 mounting nuts

Wheels: roller skate wheels are indoor, outdoor or hybrid. 8 wheels are needed (4 per skate). What determines if a wheel is meant for indoor, outdoor or hybrid use is the “hardness” of the wheel. The hardness is indicated by a number followed by the letter “A” after it. "A" scales measure harnesses of Urethane Compound Wheels. The lower the number, the softer the wheel (more grip). The higher the number the harder the wheel (less grip). You will need a softer wheel (85A or under) for outdoor skating and a harder wheel (over 92A or over) for indoor skating. The hardness of a hybrid wheel will range in the middle, generally between 85A and 92A. Wheels also come in varying diameter sizes from 40mm to 70mm. The smaller the wheel diameter, the lower your center of gravity and the easier you can maneuver (ideal for rhythm and artistic skating). The larger the wheel diameter, the higher your center of gravity and the more traction you will have (ideal for skating over rough surfaces). For those wanting to add some flare to their skates we even have the option of our Light-Up quad wheels that glow as you roll.

Bearings: bearings go inside of the wheel hubs and are what makes the wheel roll! 16 are needed in total (2 per wheel). Bearing quality is important as the quality of the bearing determines how much “roll” the bearing has. Bearing sizing will either be 8mm or 7mm. The size of your bearings must match the size of the axle on your skate plate. For example: An 8mm axle will need an 8mm bearing. You can read more about bearings here.

Toe Stops/Plugs: toe stops will come in two sizes; 5/8” for an adjustable toe stop or 5/16” for fixed (non-adjustable) toe stop. Some plates have housing for adjustable toe stops and some plates have housing for fixed toe-stops, so make sure you order the correct toe stop for your plate. You will also want to refer to the toe stop stem length to ensure your toe stop won’t be too long or too short for you.Stem lengths generally range from 17-30mm.Jam plugs are another option. Jam plugs are very popular with advanced skaters who do jam skating or other styles of roller skating where toe stops can get in the way. They are very small and designed to simply plug the hole where a toe stop would normally go. If you do not plug the hole in your plate with a jam plug or toe stop it can cause a lot of damage on a rink floor. Jam plugs are available in two sizes, so if you are replacing an adjustable toe stop (5/8” size) or a fixed toe stop (5/16” size) make sure to choose the correct roller skate jam plug.

How To Build A Fully Custom Skate

First, you need a boot. You can use your own sneakers, slip-ons, combat boots or you can choose one of our boot options that are designed specifically for roller skates. We have high-top boots for those liking more structure and sturdiness in the ankle. We also have low-top boot options for those liking more ankle mobility and the fit and feel of a sneaker. If you would like to choose one of your own shoes you can send us a photo of the shoes you would like to use and we can let you know whether it would be possible to use for a skate build.

Some things to consider when choosing a shoe for a custom skate are the durability of the shoe, the insole, and the outsole of the shoe. You want to make sure to select a shoe that will provide you enough structure and support when pushing off and skating so that you do not get injured. Because holes will need to be drilled through the sole of your shoe, you either need a shoe with insoles that can be removed for mounting, or be able to add insoles into your shoes to cover the mounting bolts. You will also want to check the bottom of your shoes. Are they flat or curved? Ideally you will want shoes that are flat. If your shoes curve up at the toes, note that there will be a gap between the front of the plate and the toe area of the bottom of your shoe. When you step into them and apply weight, this gap should be negligible. Is the bottom of the shoe mostly smooth or textured? Soles that have a lot of texture may not be a good choice, as the bubbles or ridges could hinder the security of the mounted plates.

If you decide to mount your shoes/boots yourself, make sure you have all the components you need to build your own skates, including those listed above and a proper drill. A 3/16” or #9 drill bit should be used to drill the holes. There are many videos on Youtube which will give you step-by-step instructions on how to DIY your very own skates. This process can take years to perfect, so we highly recommend using a professional mounting service to ensure your skates are safe to skate on and you do not ruin any sneakers in the process if you drill the holes incorrectly. We offer a Custom Skate Mounting service that makes the process quick, simple, and painless.

All you need to do is send us your boots or sneakers and we will send them back mounted to a plate! You will start the process by selecting your plate here. Once your Custom Skate Mounting order is placed, we will send you an email with a shipping label so you can ship us your boots/sneakers to be mounted. Please note that we may request photos of your boots/shoes to ensure they are a good fit for mounting. For us to build you a complete roller skate, we will also need wheels, bearings and toe stops or jam plugs. There are 2 options for this.

  • If you already own these components or wish to purchase them from another retailer, you can simply add them to your package along with your boots/sneakers and we will assemble the skate for you
  • If you do not already own these components, simply add wheels, bearings and toe stops or jam plugs to your cart along with the Custom Skate Mounting service. If you need any assistance selecting components, our skate reps can help guide you.

Aluminum insoles are an optional addition to your custom shoe skates. We find them to be overkill unless you are planning to skate very aggressively. For this reason, we do not carry aluminum insoles. If you choose to purchase aluminum insoles from somewhere else, you can still use our custom skate mounting service. Just send the insoles along with your shoes and we can include them in your build for an additional cost.