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Plate Buying Guide

The plate is the part of the skate that attaches to your boots to house your wheels, toe stops and other components. Be sure to check out the "Specs" tab of the product description for the juicy details!

For more information see: Anatomy of a Plate

Competition Level

If looking at buying plates, you'll want to ask yourself what level of derby you will participate in. We break our plates down into three levels of play: Recreational, Competitive and Elite.

Recreational

For entry-level players playing just for fun, those on a tight budget, or are unsure about their future in roller derby. Plates are economical in price, but may lack performance and durability features of higher-level skates.

Competitive

This player intends to play on a competitive team and/or place more rigorous demands on their equipment. Most players fall into this category. Plates in are an investment and built to be more durable with variations of higher-level components that can affect price. Ok for both beginners (that plan to stick with derby), and advanced level skaters.

Elite

An Elite player may skate for a nationally competitive team, or is simply a bonafide badass. Plates are not "too advanced" for Recreational or Competitive players, but being the highest price with the highest quality of components, Elite players benefit from their built-in performance features where others may not.

Plate Materials

Plates are made of differing materials that will help determine the weight, performance level and feel of your skates. These materials are broken down into Nylon and Metal Alloys.

Plate Example 1

Nylon

Nylon is less expensive and great for those on a budget. In the past they were known to be weak and flexible. This is still true on very basic low-end models, but modern day nylon plates are reinforced with fiberglass to be durable and strong enough for Recreational play and for lighter Competitive players. They are also lightweight which can help reduce fatigue.

Metal Alloys

This category includes aluminum and magnesium varieties and is highly recommended for Competitive to Elite players. The metal plates can sometimes be heavier than nylon but they are more rigid to provide better power transfer and performance.

Aluminum Alloys

Aluminum alloys have a wide range of grades, with higher end options being lighter and more rigid. Common grades for aluminum are:

Plate Example 2
  • Cast Aluminum - Die and pressed casts, these are typically the heaviest plate options but are economical.
  • Aircraft Aluminum - Wide range of middle, Competitive level plates. Can range from aircraft aluminum, extruded aircraft aluminum and lightweight extruded aluminum. Each step up will be lighter and more performance based.
  • 6000-7000 Aluminum - The highest level of aircraft aluminum, these are considered elite and will typically be lighter than nylon plates. You get the best of both worlds, lightweight and high performance!

Magnesium Alloys

Magnesium is another alloy option and is lighter and more rigid than most aluminum alloys (with the exception of some 7000 series grades). This makes for a more responsive and durable plate.

For more information watch: Plates 101: Materials

Kingpins

The kingpin is the bolt that extrudes from the plate to hold the cushions and trucks in place. The two most important characteristics are its angle and the adjustment type.

Angle

Plate Example 3

Each plate will have a set kingpin angle. Typical kingpin angles will range on a scale from 10-45° (degrees). The math for how a kingpin angle is determined can be tricky but when looking at skates the important part to remember is that lower numbers are referred to as smaller angles and higher numbers are larger.

  • Smaller angle = more stable, upright skating stance
  • Larger angle = more agile, lower skating stance

Kingpin angle is a personal preference based on skating style rather than competition level. Inexperienced skaters may feel more confident on a more stable skate that has a smaller kingpin angle. If unsure, we recommend testing out a few teammates' skates before choosing.

For more information visit: Kingpins 101: Angles

Adjustment

The type of kingpin nut adjustment is broken down into standard and micro adjustable. This refers to the ease of accurately adjusting the pressure put on your cushions. Micro adjustable kingpin nuts allow for more precise customization to the feel of your skates.

Top Stop Housings

This is the part of the plate that where the toe stop will is placed. There are 3 different types, two of which are suitable for derby: Lock Nut or Cinch Screw.

  • Lock Nut - Almost exclusively found on Nylon plates, they feature a metal insert to screw the toe stop directly into the plate. The toe stop is then secured in place with a lock nut and washer using an open-ended wrench.
  • Cinch Screw - Preferred toe stop housing for roller derby skates, and is the most secure. The toe stop is screwed into threading integrated into the baseplate, and then the plate is tightened around the stem by hex screw on the plate.
Plate Example 4

Size

Plate sizing is determined by the brand and model of a plate. For brand specific information you can click on the "Sizing Chart" button at the bottom of each product description. The best reference for size when replacing a plate is the wheelbase, however you can also base it off of the Men's Shoe size that corresponds to your boot size.

For more information see: Plate Sizing Guide

Mounting

Mounting hardware is often included but will be noted in the product description under "Hardware Included." This will let you know if the plate comes with mounting hardware and axle nuts. If you do not see these parts listed, be sure to purchase it separately. You can buy mounting hardware and axle nuts here.

Derby Warehouse also does custom mounting! Not ready to drill into your boots yourself? No worries, we'll do it for you! Just use our custom skate builder or contact our staff to get it set up!

For more information visit: Plates 201: Mounts.

Related Information

Derby Boot Buying Guide Derby Skate Buying Guide
Plates 101: Materials Plate Sizing Guide
Toe Stop Buying Guide
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