Roller skate plates, the essential part of the skates which includes the base plate and the attached toe stop and trucks, are available in different materials and forms. Besides this, most important is that the plates fit the boots. But which size meshs with which size of boots? This is more complex, as it seems to be at first glance.
“Has to be flush with the tip and the heel of the boot.”
This would be the most simple answer. Too simple.
Skating with traditional roller skates (“quad skates”) can be regarded as continous balancing act, both in longitudinal, and – because of the flexible trucks – lateral direction. This results in a rough location of the trucks under the rotation and load points, in front under the ball of the foot and in back in a vertical line under the ankle. Whether size 1 or size 15, the required space for trucks and stem for the toe stop is the same. “Flush” mounting would tend to result in a too long distance between front and back axles. With good cause the relevant indication of measurements is the distance beween the mid of the axles, and not the lenght of the plate.
Variations originate from the diversity of type of boots, plates, and of course the intended use.
“Length runs” — not only for ships. Traditionally the axles are mounted a bit ahead of the mid of the ball, and in the back behind the ankle, to provide most stability.
Hint: In any rate a proper solution.
A shorter distance between the axles allows to corner more sharply. This is used by skaters, who want more turny skates. For example for activities, which need quick moves and strides in a small space. The distance between the axles for a “Sport Mount” is 3/8 inches (10 mm) shorter, than in the conservative mount. The axles are located directly under the ball and the ankle of the foot.
Hint: First choice for roller dancing, style skating and advanced skaters.
Currently some skaters swear by “short forward” mounting. The plates are not only 3/8-6/8 inches (10-20 mm) shorter than traditionally, but also mounted very forward. This isn’t new. Speed skaters have discovered 50 years ago that this mounting location provides very efficient push. The front axles are located under the joint of the big toe. This demands also a more compact, lower stance.
Hint: Definitely an option for speed skaters and roller derby girls.
The list below provides a recomendation for appropiate axle distances for US men shoe sizes (“Boot Size”). In each case for conservative (“Standard Plate”) and sporty (“Short Plate”) distance.
This fits perfect for me. In US size 9-9.5 (EU 42) my plates are 6.3-6.5 inches (160-165 mm) between the axles, so 3/8 inches (10 mm) shorter than “conservative”. For speed skating my plates are 156 mm, very short and forward mounted.
Conservative, sporty or short forward are only three basic options for mounting plates. In detail the best mounting depends also on type of plate, shape of boot, intended use and individual skating style.