What Size Plate should I order?

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So you've had your entry level derby skates now for a year or two (or three!) and if you bought one of the higher end packages chances are the boot is still good and now fits like a glove. No issue with the boot but you feel its time to move on to a better quality plate. Maybe its a fairly low-end Nylon plate, possibly starting to wear or heaven forbid - even break apart!

As you've probably noticed by now you can spend alot on just the plate, easily more than your fresh meat skates and really high end like more than your whole rookie package - LOL! Ok beyond cost, quality, lightness and kingpin angle (which we will discuss in other blog posts),  the most important consideration is the wheelbase measurement. This is the critical detail that determines the 'plate size' amongst all the manufacturers regardless of all other qualities of the plate. The wheelbase measurement is the distance from centre axle to centre axle (or centre of wheel to centre of wheel), measured at the side view of the skate (see picture). With North American manufacturers like Sure-Grip, Labeda, Dominion and Riedell this measurement is usually in increments of 1/4" for each plate size. European, Australian and Chinese made plates generaly use metric and will provide a measurement in CM or MM. In our Plate category listings we try to include the Imperial inches and metric equivalent so you can compare sizes across all the manufacturers a little easier.

So What Size Should I order?

how-to-measureMeasure from centre axle to centre axle at side of skate

  1. Measure your current skate wheelbase
  2. Does the skate fit you well ie. good snug fit not too loose?
  3. Does that wheelbase measurement align with your actual foot pressure points - centre of heel and centre of sole of your foot?
  4. If yes to 2. and 3. you should probably be ordering the same (or closest to) wheelbase for the new plate.
  5. Why? Because 1. it fits your foot physiology properly (your feet will thank you), and 2. You are used to skating on this size of plate already, meaning you have developed skills based on this critical piece of the puzzle and if you go changing it, it will affect things, which will take time to adjust to, which you may or may not want to invest in, or ultimately may be unhappy about :(
  6. However, if you want to try something different, feelling a litle adventurous and want to change your plate wheelbase size, here are 2 reasonable scenarios:

    A. GO a BIT SHORTER on the wheelbase IF you want more 'free lateral (side to side) movement'. This will become more accentuated as your speed increases so be careful what you wish for!
    - Why is this GOOD? Think of Boogie skating at the rink, this is how you get all those cool little tricks and moves that are so fluid. For Derby it will definitely assist in the Agility category!

    B. Go a BIT LONGER on the wheelbase IF you want less 'free lateral (side to side) movement', and more straight, stable skating, as in the case of long stretches of outdoor path skating. For Derby - Think Stability!


So in most cases order the wheelbase size that corresponds to your current skate and should correspond to your actual foot physiology, heel and sole pressure points. This will be the most reasonanble path going forward as you continue to build on skills developed thus far. If you want to try something a bit different, make a list of the pros and cons and see if that choice is really the right one for you :D

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