Roller Derby is an American company that has been making skates for kids for over eighty years. It’s not surprising that they have developed an innovative beginner skate, the Roller Derby Fun Roll, among their lineup of children’s roller skates.
For parents seeking a versatile roller skate for children who are just starting, the Fun Roll is an excellent option. There are many beginner skates for kids on the market, but there are two innovative features on Roller Derby’s Fun Roll model that help it stand out from the rest of the crowd.
The first is the adjustable boot size, a game-changer for any parent who has ever had a kid grow a shoe size or two practically overnight. With just the twist of a lever, the skate’s boot can expand up to four shoe sizes. There are two sizes available: Small, which covers sizes 7 to 11, and Medium, which covers sizes 11 to 2.
The second feature that sets the Roller Derby Fun Roll skate apart is its clever rear wheel design. Picture a tractor: two small wheels in front, and two bigger wheels in back, set slightly further apart. They could almost be compared to training wheels for roller skates, as the design makes for a very sturdy skate which is pretty hard to topple over.
Design and Features
Low Centre of Gravity
Roller Derby makes a few different models of beginner skates for kids, including the Firestar, Trac Star, and Fun Roll. While all have their advantages for various purposes, the Fun Roll has a much lower center of gravity than the other two. This design will benefit beginners, especially when combined with the wide-set rear wheels. Roller Derby calls this a ‘tractor’ design, and it’s a great visual to compare to the design of this skate.
It’s a minor design change that can make a massive difference to young skaters. Most roller skates have the rubber brake stop mounted on the front, where the experienced skater can use a casual toe drag to bring themselves to a halt. The Roller Derby Fun Roll takes a different approach and mounts the brake stop on the rear of the skate.
With beginners, using the front brake can sometimes cause them to throw their momentum forward, resulting in a fall. With the brake mounted on the back, the skater only needs to lift their toe, keeping the wide rear wheels on the ground.
When beginners fall, they tend to fall backward. If they begin to fall backward while wearing the Roller Derby Fun Roll skates, the brake will stop and catch them, allowing the child a chance to regain their balance and prevent themselves from falling. This feature is very practical in a beginner’s skate and is sure to save kids from countless scraped knees and elbows.
I really cannot rave about this feature enough. As a parent who had a kid outgrow a pair of new skates before the season was even half over, I wish I had this feature back then! The Roller Derby Fun Roll design is simple to use but effective. All you need to do is find the clip handle on the back of the skate, then rotate counterclockwise while the skate boot expands until it is the appropriate size.
Once adjusted, lock the clip into place by flipping it back up. The padded boot liner extends too, so you don’t need to sacrifice comfort for convenience. Since the skates cover a range of sizes, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you purchase when your child is at the lower end of the size range. The manufacturer also notes that if your child has wide feet or is a half size below the cutoff for the size range, it is recommended to size up.
The Roller Derby Fun Roll skates feature a supportive boot with a comfortably cushioned boot liner. The reinforced polymer frame comes with non-marking rear brakes, and the urethane wheels are suited for use on a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces. The Fun Roll skates are fastened with a simple cam lever locking closure, easy enough for a child to do independently.
Compare and Contrast
Roller Derby Fun Roll vs. Roller Derby Trac Star
The Roller Derby Trac Star is another model in the lineup of Roller Derby’s skates for kids, and it has both similarities and differences to the Fun Roll. The Trac Star also features an adjustable boot covering several sizes, although the mechanism for adjustment works slightly differently. There is a button located under the heel boot, instead of at the rear of the skate, and with a quick press of the button with one hand while pulling out the toe cap with the other, you can expand this skate several shoe sizes.
The Trac Star is also available in two sizes: Medium, which covers sizes 12 to 2, and Large, which covers sizes 3 to 6. Both models of skates have the same type of cam lever closure on the boot. However, the Trac Star sits up higher on its wheels, going with a more traditional four-by-four arrangement of wheels – Roller Derby calls this style “trucks” versus the “tractor” style of the Fun Roll. To use a bicycle analogy, if the Fun Roll has training wheels, the Trac Star is a two-wheeler.
Another notable difference between the two skates is the placement of the brake. As noted above, the braking placement in the rear of the Fun Roll skate is ideal for beginners to help break their falls. The Trac Star places the brake in the traditional spot in the front of the skate.
To sum up, while the Trac Star shares the Fun Roll’s expandable boot, its other features make it more suitable for young skaters who have already mastered the basics.
Roller Derby Fun Roll vs. Roller Derby Firestar
The Firestar is probably the Roller Derby kids skates model that most resembles the grown-up, lace-up type of skate you picture when you think of roller skates. The model comes in several fun colors to suit your child’s style. The design of the Firestar has several notable differences from the Fun Roll, and chief among these is the boot design.
The Fun Roll and Trac Star both have an expandable boot made of molded plastic, but the Firestar has a sport shoe-type boot with a cushioned interior, and the closures are not the cam lever ratchet straps but traditional laces with a Velcro strap at the top. The skate is built on a torsion beam chassis for stability, and it has a front-toe brake.
This adds up to an excellent roller skate for beginners, but I would probably save this skate for a child who has tried out skating and has mastered the art of staying up on their feet for more than a couple of seconds at a time!
Table of Comparison
What’s in the Box?
The Roller Derby Fun Roll skates come with one pair of skates in the box, with adjustable boots and rubber brake stoppers.
The Roller Derby Fun Roll roller skate is ideal for beginner skaters. While other models such as the Trac Star or Firestar have slightly different features, such as front brakes and a slightly different wheel placement, they are probably better suited to children who have mastered the basics of skating first.
For kids who are just starting, features such as the very low chassis, the “tractor” style of wide-set rear wheels, and the placement of the rubber brake in the rear of the skate all combine to make an ideal skate for the young beginner. The expandable boot ensures that this skate will fit for several years, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Overall, I would say that if you are purchasing skates for a beginner child over the age of six, the Trac Star is probably your best bet. The Firestar model would be recommended for a child in the same age range with a bit of experience.
If you’re looking to buy skates for a beginner under the age of six, the Roller Derby Fun Roll skates have an ideal combination of features that will help get your child off to a solid start. Skating is a sport that people of all ages can enjoy, and the Roller Derby Fun Roll can be a great first step on the way.