There are two types of roller skates, the most popular are the street-type skates that have four wheels. But the other type is called in-line skates that are used for sports and other events. In this blog we look at in-line skates in detail, see how they are made and what materials they are made from.

The History of In-Line Skates

In-line skates came into fashion in the 1980s, but roller-skating dates back far earlier than that as we all know. The early forms of roller skates were made from wood, steel and plastic. Modern ones are made of lighter materials that are far stronger, such as polyurethane. These modern materials are more suited to what you would normally do with a roller skate and that includes rolling along. Modern plastics are used in a straight line so that an in-line skate can glide much like an ice skate does. This type of skate is sometimes referred to as a rollerblade although this is actually a trademark name.

Joseph Merlin

The inventor of the first roller skate was Joseph Merlin who came from Belgium, his demonstration in 1760 of moving along on a pair of skates on metal wheels took the world by storm. The first patented skate was in 1819 by an inventor from France. But it was James Plimpton who was an American inventor who developed the modern-day roller skate with a pair of wheels at the back and front. These new skates could move in curves which was a big advantage over the former models.

Innovations came thick and fast, such as protective leather boots, metal plates and movable parts, giving the skate more maneuverability. Plastic wheels eventually replaced the old metal, rubber or wooden variety and a rubber toe stop was included at the toe of the skate. It was ice-hockey that was responsible for helping design an in-line roller skate so that the players could train all year around and on different surfaces. A type of rollerblade skate was developed with steel frames and rubber wheels that came from a skateboard, a boot was riveted to the assembly.

The Development Though Hockey

It was hockey players that first used in-line roller skates as they could continue to play their favorite sport during the summer months and in places like gyms and car parks. Nordic skiers also saw this advantage and adopted the in-line skates into their training programs.

Rollerblade Incorporated was formed by Scott Olsen and he set about improving the in-line skate and made several patents on new designs. These improvements included the active braking technology which allowed for better control and faster speeds. The company today has a further two hundred patents waiting to go through for their in-line products.

In part two of this blog we look at the modern construction of in-line skates. The materials that are used and the way all of this is put together so millions of people can enjoy their favorite sport or pastime. We will be turning our attention to the actual constituent parts that modern roller skates are made from.