September 13, 2016

Ordering Online, What We Need to Know!

You're looking to start Roller Derby and you've been told you need gear. Look no further, we can help you out.

To start off you need to know you will need a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, mouth guard, and of course Quad Roller Skates! Not to worry, we have all of these things bundled together in our new skater packages and it's simple to get you setup.

To size your gear right we need you to do some measuring and then email us those measurements.

So first, we need you to measure the circumference of your:

  • wrists (at the joint)
  • elbows (at the joint)
  • knees (at the joint) and
  • head (about one inch above your eyebrows)

Once you have done this, we will need to determine the size and shape of your feet to fit you for skates. Follow the instructions in our helpful Buying Skates Online tutorial.

Now collect all of this information together and send it in an email to info@nerdskates.com. Once we have your measurements we can email you back and let you know colour availability and what the best fit of skates for your feet are.

Finally you can then purchase the package you want on our website. It's just that easy!

Thanks for reading and we'll be watching for your email!

March 28, 2015

Outdoor Wheels!

Days are getting longer, birdies are chasing each other and roller skaters are cheering for street sweepers. Must be spring! 

Concrete sidewalks, asphalt bike paths and outdoor hockey rinks are great places to get skating.

A good set of toe guards and some outdoor wheels are a must for pathway skating. Outdoor wheels are softer than indoor skate wheels, often with a larger diameter and a thicker layer of urethane. This helps absorb the vibration from irregular surfaces like asphalt and makes it easier to roll over cracks or small debris. 

Radar Flyer

Featuring the same shark hub design as the popular Radar Bullet, the Flyer has a 66 x 38mm profile, giving it a nice thick layer of urethane in 78a hardness with good roll on a strong stiff hub. This is a high performance outdoor wheel.

Radar Energy

With a smaller 62 x 32mm profile 78a hardness urethane on an internal hub, the Energy is a nice smooth ride and comes in lovely translucent colours.

Cross-Over Wheels

The Radar Villain and the Reckless Envy come in an 84a hardness that makes them adaptable to both indoor and outdoor use. If you're skating lots of rough pathways you might prefer a softer wheel.

Sonar Zen

We like these wheels for kids skates. The hubless design and narrower profile makes them easy to fit under smaller sized skates. 85a hardness. Check out our outdoor wheel add-on to the Dart!

Bearings

It's always a good idea to get bearings when you get wheels and save yourself the hassle of switching them. We like the Bones Reds If you put old bearings in your wheels, make sure that they are well oiled and running smoothly as seized bearings are both slow and potentially unsafe. 

It's a good idea to take a minute at the end of your outdoor skate session to wipe off any dust and mud from your skates. This will help prevent your bearings from getting dirty or rusted out and keep your skates in good shape.

October 11, 2014

So you want to play Roller Derby? Mouth guards save your teeth!

So you want to play Roller Derby? Awesome! You will need;

  • A sense of humour
  • The determination to get up when you fall down
  • Willingness to meet new people and make friends

We can't pack those things up for sale, but we can help you with a basic starter package that includes; skates, a helmet, a mouth guard, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards.

 

Mouth guards are required for Roller Derby. They prevent dental injuries from accidental blows or impacts to the face and jaw. 

Basic boil & bite mouth guards are the most inexpensive solution. Follow the directions on the package to fit and mold your new mouth guard.

Sisu mouth guards are the preferred choice of roller derby players. The material is thinner and denser, making it far easier to talk, drink and breathe while wearing your mouth guard. Follow the directions on the package to fit and mold the mouth guard.

Keep it clean! Resist the temptation to take your mouth guard out and put it in your helmet or your elbow pads. You don't want to put it back in your mouth after it has rolled across the same floor as everyone's wheels. Rinsing your mouth guard out after every practice will help keep it clean. You can also brush it with non bleaching toothpaste. 

Braces? The Sisu guard will fit over braces, but you want to ask your dental professional for help to mold and fit your guard so it won't get stuck in the hardware.

Now don't go taking it out to yell at people on the track, because you will feel like an ass when you're sitting in the penalty box for an illegal procedure.

October 10, 2014

So you want to play Roller Derby? Get a helmet!

So you want to play Roller Derby? Awesome! You will need;

  • A sense of humour
  • The determination to get up when you fall down
  • Willingness to meet new people and make friends

We can't pack those things up for sale, but we can help you with a basic starter package that includes; skates, a helmet, a mouth guard, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards.

 

Brains are important! No helmet can protect you from all impacts, but to get the best protection, choose a helmet that fits you well and is safety certified.

 

How to Fit a Helmet

A properly fitting helmet:

  • sits level on your head just above your eyebrows, roughly at the center of your forehead. 
  • with straps undone, you can nod your head forward without it rolling off
  • doesn't shift or roll around your head

 

Wear Your Helmet Correctly

If you wear your helmet too far back on your head, the front of your skull is not protected. When your helmet is worn level on your head, just above your eyebrows, it protects your nose if you fall on your face. Stay smart, stay pretty, protect your face!

 

Certification

A certified helmet is one that has been scientifically tested to meet standards for impact reduction. A certified helmet will have a sticker inside the helmet that tells you what certification test it passed. All the helmets we sell are dual certified for single and multiple impacts.

 

CPSC - This is single impact certification. Most bike helmets are made to this certification. Helmets of this type are designed to be discarded after one major impact.

 

ASTM - This is multi impact certification for skate helmets. Helmets of this type are designed to take multiple smaller impacts.

 

EN1078 - European helmet certification standard

AS/NZS2063 - Australian and New Zealand helmet certification

 

When to replace your helmet

Helmet manufacturers recommend that you replace your helmet every few years, or if you can see signs of wear and tear. If you ever have a serious impact to the head that requires medical attention, your helmet could have become damaged by absorbing that impact and you should replace it even if there is no visible damage.

 

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2014

So you want to play Roller Derby? Wear protection!

So you want to play Roller Derby? Awesome! You will need;

  • A sense of humour
  • Determination to get up when you fall down
  • Willingness to meet new people and make friends

We can't bottle those things up for sale, but we can help you with a basic starter package that includes; skates, a helmet, a mouth guard, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards.

 

The Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby, (according to WFTDA and MRDA) state:

9.1.2 - Protective gear shall include, at a minimum: wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, mouth guards, and helmets.

9.1.2.1 - Wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and helmets must have a hard protective shell or inserts.

 

All bodies are different, so choose pads that fit securely without restricting your movement. Nothing should slip or slide off when there is a series of unfortunate events. Tape should only be used to secure stray bits of velcro, not to hold your gear on. If the straps are flapping in the breeze, you need a smaller size. All pads will pack down a little with wear. This is normal, but bruising through your pads is not.

 

Wrist guards

Wrist guards must have a hard shell that covers the palm area, or a hard front and back splint that immobilizes your wrist. Best way to protect your wrists and hands? Train yourself to "fall small" and lose the impulse to steady yourself with your hands. 

 

Elbow pads

The point of your elbow should point to the hard shell of the pad, and once the straps are secured it should stay in place even if someone tugs on it.

 

Knee pads

If you are new to skating and only invest in one thing, make it your knee pads. Your knee cap should point at the hard shell, and you should be able to move freely. When the straps are secured you should not be able to shift the pads around on your leg.

 

Wear and Tear

Most skaters should plan to replace their gear on a yearly basis. Obviously if you play every week and rock it out in the skate park, your gear will wear out faster than if you're doing an occasional roll around.

Dry out your gear after you skate. Your team mates will thank you, and your gear will last longer. When you wash it, use cold water and avoid putting them in the dryer.

Also, skating will change your body. If things are not fitting because you've built powerful muscles, celebrate by getting gear that fits so you can keep skating more!

October 10, 2014

So you want to play Roller Derby? Start with Skates!

So you want to play Roller Derby? Awesome! You will need;

  • A sense of humour
  • Determination to get up when you fall down
  • Willingness to meet new people and make friends

We can't pack those things up for sale, but we can help you with a basic starter package that includes; skates, a helmet, a mouth guard, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards.

Skates

Skates are your most important piece of gear. You might start on vintage specials or borrowed skates, but the sooner you have a pair of skates that fit you well the sooner you will start to build your skill. If your feet are in ill-fitting skates your brain is too busy thinking “Oh no, I’m unstable! I can't feel my toes! Am I bleeding?!?” to actually learn anything. You want your brain to be thinking “Hey, this movement propelled me faster, that's how you change direction, let's go over there and block that Jammer… Shazam!”

A “package” skate is one where the factory has put together all the parts and it comes out of the box ready to go on your feet. A “custom” skate can mean anything from having your feet cast to make a one of a kind last to build your boot, to simply choosing a boot, plate and wheels from different manufacturers and having your friendly neighbourhood Skate Nerds put it together. 

Skate Boots are Not Street Shoes

Skate boots need to fit very snug and this can feel weird, especially if you love Flip Flops. Most skates are sized on a men's last, so women will need to go at least one size smaller than their shoe size. When trying on a skate, push back into the heel before doing up the laces. When you put your weight on your foot with the laces done up your toe should just barely brush the end of the boot. If you have space between the end of your toe and the end of the boot, you will slide into that space when you go up on your toe stops. When the skate is laced up, grasp the back wheels and try to lift your foot out of the skate. If your heel moves up and down, the skate is either too big or too wide. If your toes are curled inside the boot or they are pushing against the end, then the skate is too small. When you try on skates, don't be afraid to stand around for a while and feel it out. You should not be feeling pain or pressure in your feet.

Leather vs Vinyl Boots

Most inexpensive starter skates have padded vinyl boots. While this makes them comfortable at first, with wear and tear the padding breaks down. Leather boots have the ability to give and stretch over time. New leather boots will require a break-in period, but once they have worked in to the shape of your foot they will be comfortable and longer lasting. Note that leather boots don’t magically change size during the break in process; if the boots don’t fit now, they won’t fit after breaking in. 

Plates

The plate is the part under the boot that has the trucks and toe stops. Most starter skates have a nylon or plastic plate. This makes them inexpensive and lightweight, but also means they are not as stiff and durable. Metal plates perform better and last longer.

Trucks: the part of the skate that has the axle and the pivot pin.

Kingpins: are the bolt that goes from the plate through the truck, 

Cushions: are the rubbery donut shaped parts that go on the kingpin on either side of the truck.

Adjusting trucks and cushions is something that you will want to get familiar with right away. Many skates come out of the box with very stiff cushions, and with the trucks tightened right down. This means it's hard for the trucks to compress the cushions when you lean to one side to turn, making it a struggle to change direction and keep grip in the corners. Trucks are too tight if the cushions are bulging, or you can't move them with your hands. Trucks are too loose if they rattle when you shake the skate around, or if you feel them wobbling when you coast on a straight line. Choose a hardness of cushion based on your weight and skating style; a softer cushion will compress more easily and a harder cushion will offer more resistance to a forceful push.

Toe Stops

Toe stops screw in to the plates and are held either by a nut, or a set screw. If your toe stops have a nut, make sure you check it every time you skate to make sure it is tight. Most toe stops come in a standard and a short version. If you like to screw the stops all the way in to the plate, choose a short stem. Always ensure that you have at least 1cm of thread in to the plate, or you risk breaking the stop right out of the plate.

Some practice spaces demand non marking toe stops. If your league requires this, choose stops that are made of natural (non dyed) rubber, or that are labelled "non marking".

Axle nuts

Wheels should spin freely without being loose so that you can slide them on the axle.

Happy Skating!

 

October 08, 2014

Buying skates online? Measure your feet!

We love it when people come to Nerd HQ and try on all the skates. But what if you're far away? Well until we get our transporter beam working, we'll have to use low tech methods; a pencil, a piece of paper, a ruler, and a tape measure..

  • Place a piece of paper on a hard floor lined up against the wall and tape it down. 
  • Mark the line where the wall meets the floor.
  • Stand with your heel against the wall 
  • Ask a helpful friend to trace all around your foot. Make sure that the pencil stays straight up and down; if you tilt it, you won't get an accurate measurement.
  • Use a ruler to measure from where your heel was touching the wall to the end of your longest toe to get the length measurement.
  • To measure the width, stand on the tape measure at the widest part of the ball of the foot.
  • Ask your friend to measure the circumference of your foot. This is very important if you think you have very wide or very narrow feet.
  • Do both feet. Most people have one foot bigger than the other so you want to make sure your skates will fit your larger foot.
  • Write your name, email address and phone number on the tracing.
  • Thank your helpful friend.
  • Send your measurements and tracing to Nerd. Don't just scan the tracing without sending measurements, as images can come out different sizes when you print them.

Sending pictures of your feet is very helpful, especially if you have issues you are concerned about, like bunions, high arches, narrow heels, odd lengths of toes, etc.

Make sure you get a top view looking down at your toes, a side view that shows the arch, and a back view that shows your heels.

We'll do our best to find the best skates for you! Read our Boot Fitting article and follow the steps when you try on your new skates for the first time. Hopefully it all worked out and you're ready to roll!

 

October 08, 2014

Skate Boot Fitting

Once upon a time, I went on a bus adventure in West Australia with a friend. I learned many things on that trip; re-apply sunscreen, wallabies kick American Frat boys pretty hard in self defence, and while flip flops are great for the beach, they are probably the worst choice of shoe for climbing boulders and hiking up treacherous sandy cliffs. (Note: when Australians say "go for a walk" they mean scrambling up treacherous cliffs in 38 degree heat). The moral of this totally random story is, PICK THE RIGHT SHOES.

Skate Boots are NOT Everyday Shoes
Wear whatever you want while walking down the street (Except Crocs. I mean it.) You need your skate boots to support your feet and translate every push, movement and shift in balance to your plates so that you are in control.

When you skate, there is constant communication between your body and your brain. If you have badly fitting boots, the conversation might look like this:

Brain: Let's get in derby stance
Feet: ow ow ow ow
Brain: Let's transition to backwards
Feet: I am not on solid ground! We are going to fall!
Brain: Here comes a Jammer, let's get in position
Feet: I'm falling asleep here. Who cares about a Jammer?

Trying On Boots
Your shoe size is not your skate size. And just like everything else that is made by a factory, sizing is arbitrary. Ask anyone who has ever shopped for pants.
Also, how warm is it? If you've been walking around for hours on a summer day your foot will be swollen, while if you just woke up and went out the door in the dead of winter, your foot will be smaller. The difference is tiny, but it is a difference.
When you try on a pair of boots, first push your foot as far forward into the boot as you can while it is unlaced. If there is mass amount of space at the heel, drop a size. Then, push your heel right back in to the boot and lace up. Look at the lacing pattern. If the laces seem to be bulging, you may need a wider boot. If the laces are nearly pulling right together, you may need a narrower boot. Stand and check for any pressure points or movement inside the boot. Remember, you're not going for a walk, you're going to be squatting, lunging, leaning, pushing. Let the boots warm up to the temperature of your feet, as that will soften the leather and give a more accurate feeling of how they will fit.

Boots Too Big

This is the most common of fit problems for two reasons; buying skates in your shoe size without trying them on, or trying them on and buying them because they are nice and comfy. Your skates should not feel like your bunny slippers.
High performance footwear needs to be snug so that it can both respond to and stand up to what you going to do. Ask any skier, snowboarder or rock climber.
Here's how to tell if your boots are too big:

  1. Heel slipping inside your boots
  2. Lurching forward when using toe stops
  3. Feet falling asleep half way through practice. Usually this means you are lacing them too tight because your brain is trying to solve the problem of instability inside your boots
  4. Monkey Foot: this is another example of your brain trying to solve the problem, in this case by using your toes and all the muscles in your feet to hang on, as if you could grip the plates through your boot by sheer force of will. This results in wicked cramps across the ball or arch of the foot.

Boots Too Small

There is a difference between boots being tight and boots being too small. If you are used to wearing nothing but flip flops and bunny slippers, shoes that securely hold every part of your foot are going to feel restrictive.
Your boots are too small when:

  1. Your toes are curling up inside the boot
  2. You find yourself lifting up your feet or pushing in to your heels when at rest to ease pressure
  3. You have bruised toenails or lose your toenails from regular skating (Note: this is not from superman falls that result in kicking the cement with the top of your big toe. Not that I've ever done that. *cough*)

Boots That Are Just Right

  1. Your longest toe just brushes then end of the boot without pressing it
  2. When the laces are tightened, they seem to follow the natural shape of the boot
  3. Every part of your foot feel supported and held
  4. No uncomfortable points of contact at the ankle or any other bony parts of the foot.

About Breaking In Boots

Almost all leather boots will have a break-in period, unless they have super high tech heat molding capabilities or you are just incredibly lucky to have a perfect fit. Breaking in will soften and wear the boot to your own unique shape and can take anywhere from a week to over a month depending on how often you skate. It will not make the boot a different size if it didn't fit to start with. It is normal to have some discomfort during this process, but you shouldn't be feeling like you're achieving martyrdom.

Remember kids, skating will not give you pretty feet, but you can keep them happy.

October 08, 2014

Gear Review: Rollerbones Turbo 85a

Finally had a chance to roll some Rollerbones Turbo 85a while at Sk8mare in Oil City and these are not Your Mom's soft sticky 85a marshmallows.

To start off, these wheels are poured by Rollerbones themselves in Santa Barbara, USA and they use their own proprietary compounds.  This lends to them not feeling like most other wheels on the market. The polyurethane in the Rollerbones Turbo is rubbery instead of like a plastic.  Given this, if you pick up the RBT 85a and push on the edge of the wheel you will see it's really flexible and I believe this makes it grab far better.

Next, their wheel design is different.  The extruded aluminum hub with the distinctive turbo blade design is larger than most other hubs but at 62mm diameter they are the same size around as most other wheels.  This means the tire, or layer of polyurethane, is much thinner.  The hub also has a slight extension on the inside which allows you to use them without frog washers if you need extra clearance for your hangers or trucks.

 A bit of a lesson on polyurethane wheels.  Given a specific and likely extreme weight, a typical 85a durometer (or hardness) polyurethane should compress about 5% maximum  and for the same weight a 95a should compress about 1%.  So if there's a 10mm thick layer of polyurethane a 95a will compress about 0.1mm whereas an 85a will compress about 0.5mm (source http://www.sdplastics.com).  Not really much difference but, it's the energy you exert from your legs along with your weight which compresses that tire instead of propelling you forward.

For comparison, a common car tire is about a 70a durometer and the old school phenolic wheels (the rock hard ones which wouldn't compress at all) are about a 145r which would be really slippery on almost any floor.  A 145r would be about equivalent to about a 170a durometer on the A scale or maybe even higher, if there was such a thing.  The Shore A scale only goes to 100a technically (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shore_durometer).

Now, with a thinner layer of polyurethane and the stiff Aluminum hub you get a sticky but really fast wheel which on some of the floors we skate on in Alberta is pretty awesome!  The softer tire can grab even the smaller scratches in a slick skate surface giving you more traction and because the layer of polyurethane is slightly thinner than most wheels it compresses overall less (not less percentage wise) making it roll faster.  On some slick floors, like the one at the Grind House, this is really awesome.  So awesome in fact that I firmly (pardon the pun) believe that this is what let me pass my 10 lap WFTDA administered skate test there.

Now the question on everyone's mind, are they worth the money?  After all, they are one of the more expensive wheels out there (not the most though).  Yes, I totally believe they are.  I'd say if you skate on hard to grip surfaces then they are definitely something you would want to try. They are a bit narrower and come in 62mm diameter and 37mm width only for now.  Word is, they are also going to start producing some colours soon so stay tuned for that.

Rollerbones turbos come in hardness from 80a to 101a and we have them all in stock. Remember too, if you buy the wheels and a set of bearings we'll press the bearings for you!