I recently finally destroyed my last pair of inline skates (rollerblades) and had to throw them in the bin. It’s been some 7 years since I bought my last pair so I wasn’t too bothered, but I was surprised and shocked that there was so little information available about buying skates for people like me.
And by people like me, I figure I must be a fairly common demographic. Wanting to get fit, move quickly and be able to manoevre in the parks. Comfortable enough to wear for long distance. But, you’re not going to see me in a skate park, 6′ up in the air. I’m too old for that stuff and don’t bounce like I used to when I was 16, right.
The last pair of skates I had were the K2 VO2 Max. They were sold to me as a skate designed for what I was looking for, and initially did not disappoint. Over the years though I came to see them as a bit of a blunt weapon and this was a bit frustrating. By blunt weapon I mean that they felt a bit soggy on my feet, and slow to turn and manoevre.
So when I wore them out I went back to the fantastic Slick Willies in Gloucester Road, Kensington (where I bought the last pair) and tried on everything in the shop. And I had a few observations which I thought might be useful to others in the same predicament.
First, the K2 boots are just as good as they were before and haven’t changed. So comfortable, right out the box, and easy to put on. I think if I were buying a first pair of fitness skates again, they would be the best choice by far. If you feel that way then go for it – just make sure you spend enough notes to get a good pair – it’s worth it. The K2 Mach 90 has all the things you would want. Decent quality and decent bearings (they make you glide faster).
Then I put on the Seba GT. This is a bit harder and stiffer and slightly less comfortable, although what reviews are out there suggest that they get comfortable very quickly with use. Immediately, the K2s felt like a blunt instrument and the Seba felt incisive and faster. And the K2s went back into the box after a while and I almost immediately decided against them.
As a point of comparison I then moved to the Powerslide Hardcore Evo. Now this is a whole different skate – twice the price, half the weight and with smaller wheels. And damn was it uncomfortable. It felt slightly more precise again, but the discomfort wasn’t worth it for me.
By the way for novice skaters like me, the wheel size determines the length of the frame that the wheels sit on. And this determines how agile the shoe is. The K2 and Seba GT have 90mm and the Powerslide had 80mm which makes it faster to turn, but slower at speed. Bigger wheels have less friction and therefore make you faster.
And again for comparison, I went for the Seba FR-1, which is a Freeride skate. Jumping around town and down stairs. Not really me, but I wanted to try it anyhow. Immediately far less comfortable as it’s a completely plastic shell – to protect the boot from the crazies.
What then struck me was that the Seba GT occupies a unique part of the market segment. It’s soft enough and quick enough to appeal to me, but sharper and more interesting than the K2 skates. One thing to note is that the Seba skates don’t have a rear brake, so you have to learn to brake with your skates (there are several ways, T-stop or hockey stop etc.).
And having bought them now, and skated on them I feel the same way as I did in the shop. So if you feel the same way I do, the Seba GT might just be a very decent purchase.