Rollerskis and Skikes simulate the actions of cross country or Nordic skiing but instead of snow you use them on the road or footpaths. That makes them ideal for training during the Summer months. There is no reason not to enjoy them in its own right as it is quite fun. There are a lot of similarities between the Rollerskis and Skikes and it really depends on why you want them, your experience and how much you want to spend.
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. With both Skikes and rollerskis you use cross country ski poles. The technique is the same as cross country skiing.
As in Nordic skis there are classic and skate style roller skis. There are also combi roller skis that can do both. I only skate ski so my comments are only about skating. I have tried to skate with a combi ski that had wide tyres and I hated them. They were sluggish and I had to work hard to get any momentum out of them. The rollerskis I now own have hard rubber thin wheels which are ideal for skate skiing.
Most rollerskis do not have brakes but I wasn’t prepared to use them without fitting a brake. I bought a Jenex V2 Universal brake and even though it is not as good as the brakes on Skikes it does the job. With rollerskis you only have a brake on one ski. Don’t mix them up though. One day I put my rollerskis on and I didn’t realise that I had swapped sides. So I push my right foot out to brake, the one that normally has the brake, and nothing happened. I then fell onto my butt in my confusion.
Because rollerskis are so similar to cross country skis if you are training for cross country ski racing then roller skis are the better option. The thin wheels mean you have to have your balance just right particularly with one-skate (V2).
Skikes are like roller skis but they have larger pneumatic tyres, brakes and they work with normal shoes. Most of them are not hinged at the foot like rollerskis are although there is a model that offers that feature. The large tyres mean that you can skate over rougher roads and even go off-road. This opens up a whole world of possibilities such as going through the bush. What I do like about Skikes is that I can use them on paths that have lots of twigs and wooden plank bridges without getting the wheels jammed and doing a face plant.
Skikes come with brakes standard and operate on both feet which make it a lot safer and give you more confidence, especially in hilly terrain. You activate the brakes by leaning slightly back or straightening your knees.
The larger rubber wheels on Skikes make them easier to balance on than roller skis. The easier balance, brakes and the lower entry price make Skikes my recommendation for beginners.
My personal experience
I started on Skikes and I still use them for rough roads. After 12 months of Skiking I’m now using roller skis on the recommendation of a coach to improve my balance and therefore my cross country skiing. The Skikes were ideal for learning. They took me from a low level to where I am today. I still used Skikes for certain tracks that have lots of debris on them. I found the roller skis much harder to balance on and although it had been months since I fell on Skikes I have had about 6 accidents since I took up roller skiing (mainly grazes to my knees, hands and a sore butt). It is definitely helping my balance which will help my skiing but the learning curve is hurting a bit.
If you are in Sydney and you want to try either Roller skis or Skikes then contact me through the comments.
Skikes can be purchased from http://www.skike.com.au/
Easier to balance on
|Better for ski racers practising for competition.
|Cons||Doesn’t replicate skiing as accurately||Usually don’t have brakes
More expensive with boots and bindings
Requires more technique