DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert, I’m just sharing what I researched. There may be some blatant errors in my info. Any experts out there? Please correct me so I can keep the info accurate for others!
Not being able to afford a new set of boots and plates and my existing boots still in decent shape, I decided to just upgrade my plates. As CRDA skater Negative Nancy told me, (paraphrased) skating is much easier when you’re not fighting with your equipment. And it’s true! After many truck adjustments and changing cushions, I felt still really weighed down by my skates. It was time to try something new.
So I ordered these babies.
This is the first post of what is going to be a shit-tonne of information. I found this whole ordeal of selecting and installing my plates pretty exhausting and even now, over a month since taking on the task, I’m not sure if I would do it again.
I found I had to do a lot of research and glean information from here and there, because selecting plates and how you mount them is an extremely individual choice!
Should you get new plates?
If you’re wanting to upgrade your skates but not wanting to shell out for a whole new package, it’s a great way to save some money. It’s a personal choice, really. But for me, I felt my skates were limiting me a bit. I wanted to turn harder and faster and they just weren’t cooperating with me; hence my decision to change.
The plates I chose are double-action 45 degree trucks, which means 2 cushions per axle and the kingpins are at a 45 degree angle. This model also has an adjustable pivot pin, which allows a bit more tweaking of your skates. I’ve never skated on anything but 15 degree in derby and borrowed another skater’s 45 degree setup to make sure I didn’t hate them. After skating on them I decided to do more research before making my purchase.
Luckily I like to read on the interwebs and I found some articles that talk about the kinds of plates that are available and their pros and cons. It’s important to analyze what your current setup is NOT doing for you and then try and find a product that fits what you want. Read. Read. Read. Better yet, ask to borrow skates that have a different setup from your own to get a feel for the difference.
For me, weight was a huge issue so I had to find a lightweight plate model. I also wanted to stop fighting with my cornering and I read that 45 degree trucks allow you to turn with less force. So the Sure Grip Magnesium Avengers were a great fit for me
Here’s some articles about plates and trucks to help you get started on your research…
What size of plates do I order?
I wanted to go to a short forward mount, which was to give better response, agility and maneuverability. I thought I was ordering the right size for such a mount, but then after receiving my plates I realized I should have gone one size smaller. Again, you have to do your research to figure out what size of plate is best for the kind of mount you want to do.
In the end I think it turned out well though because if I did go a size smaller, it would have handicapped my skating for a longer period.
The manufacturer of your plate should have a handy-dandy chart on what size plate to order based on your skate size. Look for ‘plate specification’ documents for info like that, as per this example.
What’s short forward, you ask?
Essentially you are ordering a plate that’s a size smaller from what you would normally skate and then you mount them closer to the front of your boot so the front axle is more forward of the ball of your foot (base of your big toe). It forces you to stay on the balls of your feet more and better turn radius because your wheels are closer together.
I’ve also read that it allows more power when pushing.
WARNING! This setup is not for new skaters as there is more empty space at your heal with this setup, meaning if you aren’t always weighted forward, you will not have your wheels at the back of your heal to catch you if you lean back.
Even though I didn’t order the right size plate, I decided to do the short forward mount as best I could with what I had.
Make your purchase!
The good news is if you make a mistake and hate your new plates, you will likely have a market to sell them within your league. But if you do your research thoroughly, I bet you’ll pick the right ones!
Make sure you double-check what the seller supplies with the plates, especially if you’re buying them used. Make sure that cushions and mounting hardware are included and if it isn’t, purchase the appropriate kits to complete the set!