Rollerblade is one of those brands, like Xerox and Velcro, that is literally synonymous with an entire product line, in this case inline skates. What's interesting about inline is that it was originally conceived as summer training for winter skaters. Inline skates got popular as their own thing and then kind of cratered, becoming in the words of the New York Times "the fanny packs of footwear." But you have to put this quote in context: this was in an article about how the US speed skating team uses inline skate training to dominate their sport, as evidenced by the fact that they went into Sochi with more gold medals than any other American Olympic sports team.
In addition to being the killer app for training ice skating – and skate skiing – inline skating is fast and fun, and it's still true that no one does inline better than Rollerblade. Their beginner-to-intermediate focused Macroblade 84 ABT is state of the art, with 4x84mm wheels riding on SG7 bearings in an extruded aluminum frame. Bearing precision is measured on a 1-9 scale, with 9 being the most precise, so be prepared to move out with a purpose once you strap these rockets on. And strap them on you do: after lacing up the women-specific FormFit padded liner, you secure the lower rip-and-stick strap and then the ski boot style ratcheting upper strap. The fit is very comfortable while still being very efficient at transferring force from your stride to the ground.
The ABT refers to active brake technology. You can see the extra aluminum stay going from the brake to the back of the boot cuff, and it allows you to apply the brake simply by leaning your foot back, without taking the wheels off the ground. It's very effective and easy to use, and will provide additional confidence to those who are in the early learning stages. The brake comes preinstalled on the right boot only, but know that you can install quickly on either foot with the included allen wrench and extra axle. Overall the Macroblades are highly recommended; we've reviewed the line before and found it great; they sit in the middle of the Rollerblade inline skate lineup, below the Powerblade, which makes it a perfect balance of affordability, comfort and performance. If you want to have some retro fun, or get serious about training for winter skate sports, the Macroblade with ABT is your ticket to stride.