Roller Ski Equipment
Roller skis are planks of either aluminium, fibreglass, wood or a carbon composite material with a wheel at either end. They use the same binding as cross country skis. This means that you have to use cross country ski boots, which you need to factor into the cost if you don’t already own a pair.
Biathlon uses the skate style not the classic style of skiing. Consequently you need to buy roller skis for skating not for classic. The difference between the two is that skate roller skis have thin wheels whereas classic roller skis tend to have wider wheels. Classic roller skis also have a ratchet on the back wheel so you don’t roll backwards when going uphill.
Skikes are similar to roller skis but they have some key differences. Skikes come with brakes standard. The larger rubber wheels on Skikes make them easier to balance on than roller skis and you can use them on rough roads and roll over twigs and sticks etc. In fact you can even take them off-road. Another key selling point of Skikes is that they use standard sports shoes so you don’t have to buy cross country ski boots and you don’t need to buy bindings.
I recommend Skikes for beginners and for those who just want fun. I still use my Skikes for rough roads. If you are training for competition then roller skis are better for your technique.
With both Skikes and roller skis you use cross country ski poles. For roller skiing it is best to buy some roller skiing tips. They don’t have the snow basket which tends to get worn off by rubbing on the road. It is quite common for people to have a pair of poles for roller skiing and one for snow skiing. It’s up to you.
The sharp tips on poles don’t grip on concrete so if you are going to be roller skiing on concrete paths you need to buy some rubber covers for the tips. Skike Australia sell them.
Roller skiing is done on the road or concrete footpaths and so if you fall the surface is a lot harder than snow. In addition there is the risk of hitting solid objects like cars or trees. Trust me, at some stage you will fall over. For this reason, especially when you are starting out, you should wear safety equipment so any fall is more bruising to your ego then body.
Helmet – must have. A bike helmet is fine
Gloves – the gloves are there to prevent abrasions so the palm needs to made of a material such as leather. You can buy specialise roller skiing gloves but bike riding gloves and work gloves like you find at Bunnings hardware store can also work. It is best to get gloves that breathe and aren’t insulated or your hands will get too hot.
Elbow and knee pads. The same ones as you would buy for skate boarding or roller blading are fine.
Brakes – most roller skis do not have brakes. You can still slow down by pushing the skis sideways. However, I recommend brakes because it gives you the confidence to go on hilly terrain.
Bike pants. You should wear pants that are a little tight like bike pants because if you fall over you want the pants to slide along the rough asphalt. Loose pants will bunch up and your skin will do the sliding. Ouch!
I wear padded pants which provide some extra protection.
High visibility clothes. Wear bright clothing so cars, bikes and pedestrians can see you.
Sunscreen on sunny days
A water belt as roller skiing is thirsty work.