Rolling with Power: Our Review of the Riedell R3 Derby Skates
As competitive derby skaters always striving for that extra edge of speed and agility, we’re constantly searching for skates that can hold up to fast-paced scrimmages and bouts. We want skates tailored for quick maneuvers, stability, and all-out speed to give us an advantage as jammers and blockers.
So when we discovered Riedell’s R3 Derby skates built specifically for roller derby at an affordable price, we were thrilled. We promptly ordered a pair to take for a spin during our hardcore team practices.
After logging extensive sessions putting these derby-focused skates through intense drills and scrimmages, we’re ready to break down everything you need to know in this detailed review. Keep reading for the full scoop on sizing, specs, pros, cons, usage, and performance of Riedell’s R3 Derby skates.
Table of Contents
Fresh out of the box, the Riedell R3 Derby skates make an immediate performance-driven impression with their slick black vinyl boot and clean style lines. The padded vinyl upper looks sleek while promising a comfortable contour.
Walking around in the R3 Derby, the snug fit through the heel feels secure thanks to the extra ankle strap locking our feet in place. The 59mm wheels seem like an ideal size for derby maneuvers.
And the lightweight nylon plate points toward explosiveness on the track. Our first impressions show that everything about the R3 Derby is geared towards enabling competitive derby skating.
Taking Them for a Spin
Eager to test how the R3 Derby skates felt at top speed, we promptly hit the skate park for derby drills. Right away the thick cushioning through the tongue provided comfort sprinting all out.
The vinyl boot already started conforming closely to our feet, creating a responsive feel when making quick shifts in direction. The 59mm wheels provided a nice blend of acceleration and grip for derby moves.
Making fast stops and transitions felt natural thanks to the flexibility of the nylon plate absorbing shock. The grip of the wheels gave us confidence in making aggressive lateral moves and carving tight turns.
Overall, the R3 Derby skates performed impressively right out of the box. The components came together to create a very capable setup ready for the demands of competitive derby.
Pros: What Won Us Over
After intense sessions breaking in the R3 Derby skates, here are the standout pros that impressed us:
- Padded vinyl boot – Broke in fast with excellent comfort
- Low-cut flexibility – Enables freedom of movement
- Snug heel lock – Extra ankle strap prevents heel slippage
- Ideal wheel size – 59mm wheels optimize speed and grip
- Lightweight feel – Maneuverable and quick on the track
- Optional cushions – Can customize softness and rebound
- Affordable price – Provides great value for derby skaters
- Quick break-in – Ready to roll out of the box
Considering the affordable price point, the R3 Derby skates provide a fantastic blend of comfort, flexibility, and performance for competitive derby.
Cons: A Few Small Issues
While the R3 Derby skates became our go-to for team practice, we did notice a couple of small negatives:
- Vinyl tears more easily than leather
- Basic ABEC-5 bearings – Upgrading is recommended
- Nylon plates are not as durable as aluminum
- Limited black color option – Wish there were more styles
- Not ideal for wide feet – Run narrow in the toe box
But for the price, none of these cons are dealbreakers for competitive derby skaters. With basic upgrades, the R3 Derby skates deliver incredible performance and value.
For those interested in the technical specs, the R3 Derby skates offer:
- Boot Material: Vinyl
- Plate: PowerDyne Thrust nylon
- Wheels: Sonar Aura 59mm/ 88A or 92A
- Bearings: ABEC-5
- Toe Stop: PowerDyne Adjustable with leather toe cap
- Closure: Laces with velcro cuff
- Sizes: Men’s 7-13, Women’s 5-11
- Colors: Black
The ideal wheel durometer options and derby-focused design showcase the consideration that went into engineering the R3 Derby.
Caring for Your R3 Derbys
To keep your R3 Derby skates performing at their best, be sure to follow these care and maintenance tips:
- Inspect the vinyl boots before each use for tears or cracks, and repair any damage promptly. The vinyl can tear more easily than leather when landed on.
- Wipe down the boots with a soft cloth after sessions to remove dirt, dust, and debris that can wear the material down over time.
- Use a vinyl leather conditioner on the boots regularly to keep them from drying out. This will help maintain flexibility.
- Check wheel nuts before each session to ensure they haven’t loosened from hard impacts. Tighten with a skate tool as needed.
- Rotate wheels periodically to evenly distribute wear from the inside and outside edges. This extends wheel life.
- Upgrade bearings when ready for an easy performance boost. Clean stock bearings regularly with bearing oil.
- Inspect the nylon plates for cracks or warping, and look into aluminum upgrades when worn.
- Replace laces frequently as needed. Derby can be tough on laces.
- Consider an extra pair of laces to swap mid-bout in case of breaks.
- Store skates properly in a clean, dry area out of direct sunlight when not in use.
With some basic care and maintenance, your R3 Derby skates will keep you rolling with speed and stability bout after bout.
- Based on our experience, here are some sizing tips on the R3 Derby:
- They fit narrowly so wider feet may struggle
- Length runs true-to-size so order you’re normal shoe size
- Heat molding can help stretch tight spots if needed
- Trying on in-store allows you to test the fit
- Focus on achieving an ideal snug width
- Thinner socks can help reduce bulk
Getting your exact width dialed in is crucial for responsiveness, but the boot does break-in over a short time.
Ideal Use Cases
After extensive sessions, we feel the R3 Derby excels in these use cases:
- Competitive roller derby – Specifically designed for derby
- Speed skating – Low-cut flexibility aids in faster skating
While tailored for derby, the R3 skates provide a versatile and affordable performance option on the track or trails.
After intense testing during competitive derby practice, we happily rate the Riedell R3 Derby skates 4.5 out of 5 stars for the price point. For derby skaters wanting excellent quality without breaking the bank, they deliver on all fronts.
The R3 Derby skates provide an incredibly well-rounded and high-performing setup right out of the box. While the basic bearings and limited colors are a trade-off, the boot comfort, ideal wheels, and secure fit impress us.
So for derby skaters ready to elevate their skills without emptying their wallets, we can’t recommend the Riedell R3 Derby skates enough. Lace them up and feel the speed!
Here you can find other reviews we have made for derby roller skate:
Click on the link to see the best Riedell skates we recommend for every skating category.