Choosing plates whether it be for a first time set up or an upgrade is one of the most difficult choices for a skater to make as there are so many options available. It is useful to understand the make-up of a plate when considering what to buy:
There are a few key differences between the most popular plates available:
Nylon or Metal?
Most starter skates come with a nylon (plastic) plate so this is what most skaters are immediately familiar with. Nylon plates are cheap and lightweight, however they are easier to break and are prone to bending if the skater is larger or really 'digs in'. This will slow the skater down and inhibit movement.
Metal plates are more durable and are normally made of Aluminium, Titanium or Magnesium. Because the structure is more rigid, there is no 'flex' in the plate. Metal plates are better for the larger skater or those skaters that are more advanced and want more control over their movement.
Weight varies among metal plates so it is important to consider this when choosing a plate. A heavier plate provides better grounding and stability, whereas a lighter plate is great for agility and speed. The PowerDyne Arius or the Pilot Falcon are some of the lightest plates available.
Cushions sit on the King pin and come in different hardnesses, measured in durometer. A hard cushion provides little flex and is also good for heavier or stronger skaters. A softer durometer provides a faster response for turning, cushions also come in a conical shape for greater flexibility. These are normally placed closest to the kingpin nut with the wide end on the bottom.
Sizing and mounting
Plates are sized according to boot and foot size, most plate manufactures specify a set of recommendations dependant upon skating style. A longer plate provides extra stability but a smaller turning circle and less manoeuvrability. Shorter plates allow for quicker turning but can make some skaters feel less stable. Most skates are 'standard' mounted but there is an increasing trend for a 'short forward' mount. This places the plate further forward on the boot, with a smaller plate. When choosing a plate, always take a look at the manufacturers recommendations or give us a call to talk through the options.