“ Brushed synthetic & molded mesh upper. Abrasion resistant toe piece. Nylon grind plate. Air pocket hell cushioning. ABEC 7 688 reinforced micro bearings. Fats PU wheels with Heelys graphics. Steel coin axle. Includes sole saver heel plug. Theft-proof wheel packaging. „
When it comes to Heelys you probably fall into one of two camps. If you are under 16 you probably think they are fantastic and if you are older than that you are probably muttering under your breath about those damn shoes with wheels that kids heel around supermarkets wearing. Are they a flash in the pan fashion craze or are they any good?
I bought my daughter a pair of Heelys for Xmas in 2008 and they are still going strong over 18 months later. I bought the rave design although many more designs are available, the one thing that they all have in common is that they have a small wheel embedded in the back of the sole allowing the user to use the shoes for either walking or skating.
The rave Heelys look like normal trainers except that they are really bulky to enable to house the wheel in the sole. The whole shoe is extremely sturdy and comes high up on the foot supporting the foot really well during use. The upper is made of sturdy manmade fabric and the sole is made of plastic so there is no leather involved. My daughter tells me that they are really comfortable to wear and the fact that she rarely took them off for the first few months after I bought them seems to back that up.
Heelys can be used in two modes, the first mode is obviously the skate mode but you can also remove the wheel using the supplied tool and insert a small stopper in place to make them into non wheeled trainers. The process of changing from wheel to trainer is fairly fiddly but only takes a couple of minutes.
The mechanism used to skate with Heelys is different to that than when wearing normal roller skates, to use them you lift your toes off the ground and then use a normal walking motion to glide along. The fact that the way that the weight is distributed can make the first couple of outings tricky for a child who is used to roller skates so they should practice skating and braking by putting the front of their foot down before being let loose on the world. Once the kids have the hang of it they will be speeding around the place quicker than they could run.
Heelys have caused a lot of controversy, the most worrying publicity concerns accidents. All physical activity a child takes part in involves some degree of risk of injury and Heelys have worked out that their skates are 7 times safer than normal inline skates and 39 times safer than bikes although how much you would trust the statistics produced by the people trying to sell a product is debatable. Whether those statistics are true or not I believe that the fact that my child enjoys them and gets exercise by wearing them outweighs the risks involved, risk is part of life. I personally wouldn't give Heelys to a child younger than around 8 and if you are especially worried you can insist on helmets and other protective gear even though your child will hate looking like a geek wearing it.
The other thing people don't like about Heelys is the fact that kids wearing them in shopping centres and supermarkets can make a nuisance of themselves heeling around and knocking into other people. My daughters absolute favourite place to skate is at the sick kids hospital because there is a ramp designed to wheel trolleys and wheelchairs between departments which makes a perfect skating place (her doctor there always laughs at her in her Heelys btw!). I will admit to being one of those awful parents who ignore the signs in Tesco saying that Heelys are banned but my daughter loves the shiny surface as she glides along it so smoothly but she is careful not to bang into other people.
The only thing I dislike about Heelys is the price of around £60 (although I bought my daughters from Amazon for £30 when they had a sale on) and the fact that you grow out of them as you go up shoe sizes. I bought a size 6 and the sizing is extremely generous meaning my daughter needed to use insoles at first and letting her wear them for longer. The Heelys look almost new despite very heavy use over the period of time she has owned them meaning they are really sturdy and hardwearing.
I would recommend Heels as a good alternative to normal skates for a child who enjoys being active. Despite their high price they are so hard wearing that they are worth every penny.
When you first put them on, they feel a bit strange, but since the heel is slightly raised off the ground the short guys amongst us feel a little better. It took a day or two of practice to get the hang of it. Once I got it sorted (with the help of my 7 year old who sussed it out a lot easier than me) we were off down the park. What fun !!! I also found that the whole experience left me sweating profusely which obviously means its a great keep fit exercise, much better than just walking. So any "stocky men like me" get your self a pair and get Heelying.
I was a bit unsure about ordering my Heelys from a website without trying them on, especially since most of the website suggest going up a size, but once I spoke with a really nice guy on a freephone number at Heely UK, he put my mind at rest. Honestly, Steve was great help with both my Heelys and my son's.
The £75 I spent on my pair whilst being a lot of money, was well spent. I would usually spend £60 for a pair of trainers and these Heelys are even better.
If you get a bit tired whilst you are out, just pop the wheels out with the tool, although you can get them out using a pair of strong thumbs. Then put the plugs in and hey presto a regular pair of trainers!!
I had originally considered buying a pair of a similar type of skate shoes, which were a lot cheaper (£20) but my friend had some and the wheels kept on falling out on their own, so even he bought the real Heelys after my experience.
On the whole, I think Heelys are well worth the money and this craze is going to be big so get them while you can.
Heelys are 'Shoes that Cruise'.
They are uniquely designed to let you walk, run, roll and skate due to the removable wheel(s) in the heel as per Dooyoo's pic above. They are akin to roller/inline skates but with a difference. Put the wheel in to skate, remove to walk.
Heelys are quite big news in Asia and America and they are just finding their way into the UK market albeit slowly as they were introduced in 2000.
What are Heelys?
Heelys look like an ordinary pair of trainers but with either one or two removable wheels in the heel. They also come in a version with a wheel mounted either side of the heel.
My review is based on the single removable wheel as these were bought as a birthday present for my 13 yr old. They are not just a kids thing, grown ups can 'cruise' well! So no excuse not to have a go all you mums and dads!
Basically a sturdy and solid trainer with a thick rubber sole, the wheel space cut into the heel approx. 1.5" x 1.5". I have found them in various colours being black, navy and white, black and white and they range in shoe size from a child's 10 to an adult size 11. The outside of the shoe has been double or triple stitched so will withstand daily use.
The wheels are included in a plastic pack and are just like roller skate wheels and contain bearings.
Fitting & Removal of Wheels
Each wheel has a central horizontal pin that you push into the wheel spacing until you hear it click and lock .it's that simple! To remove you can either remove by hand or with a special removal tool that you can buy and to be honest it is easy to remove by hand. With the trainer on its side just push down on one side of the wheel and push outwards and the pin will disengage, do the same from the other side and out the wheel comes. It does require a bit of 'oomph' to get them out but at least you know they won't be falling out whilst 'cruising'! Removal of the wheels will take you no more than a minute.
The Wheels are in .What Now?
You're ready to roll! Skating in Heelys is completely different than roller or inline skates as the point of balance is in the centre of your heels. First you have to find that point of balance. When you buy these there is an information leaflet to help you. At the start, one foot should be in front of the other and slightly diagonally offset. Lift up your toes slightly so you are using only the wheel to find your balance.
Just like roller skates you move one foot in front of the other propelling yourself forward from the back foot. (The leaflet is more in depth so will take you through step by step).
Getting the hang of it can take anywhere from 20 mins to a couple of days depending on how often you try but with us it was just a case of put then on and keep going! Just like skating there are 'proper' ways to find your balance but everyone has a different way of trying.
My son was trying to find the balance by pushing himself off from the worktop and then trying to 'roll' to the other end of the room. He fell over countless times and because the balance is in the heel your feet tend to carry on going so you fall backwards onto your bum! It does hurt sometimes which is why its best to practice indoors. Not to be left out I had a go as well and fell over loads much to the amusement of my dear son!
But 'the knack' does come quite quickly, he mastered it in a couple of hours and although it sounds quite difficult it is not much different in principle to inline skating and so much fun. Once you have mastered the 'shoes that cruise' you can do tricks and buy wheels with grindplates to allow you to 'grind' along rails a bit like they do with skateboards, although my son and I haven't been that brave to try them yet!
Getting the hang of Heelying is fun but as my bones and body are not so supple as a teenagers I need to know HOW TO STOP!
You can either lift your leading toe up so that the actual heel drags you to a slow stop or if you fancy doing and emergency stop just put your toe down! Be prepared to be lurched forward and hope there are no bushes in front of you!
So What Makes these Different from Normal Skates?
The difference is you can skate or walk in these. You want to 'heel' into town or work but then walk? No problem! Heelys have been designed so you can walk AND skate and transferring from one to the other is easy as I stated earlier. However if you wish , you can walk with the wheels in, you just tend to walk more on your toes which is not a problem for short distances.
My son will skate into town. Then as its not that clever to skate round hoards of people on the pavement (a bit like pedestrians trying to avoid the cyclist that chooses to ride on the pavement) he simply sits down and 'pops' out the wheels. All he then does is fit the 'Sole Saver Plugs'. These are just moulded plastic, semi circular in shape with a flat side and they push into the gap where the wheel was. Not only does this protect the actual space from being filled with mud on a wet day it also, as it says, saves the soles, and they then become a normal pair of trainers to do your walking in.
You can purchase a little leather pouch that will clip to your belt, handbag or rucksack that will hold the plugs and wheels whilst they are not in use. Unlike a pair of skates that you would have to carry round with you as well as a normal pair of shoes, you don't need to this with these.
Then when its time to leave town, he simply pops the wheels back in and is home in double quick time.
The other good thing to point out here is that if your route took you across a park or grass area, normal skates would make getting across it hard work. In Heelys you just take out the wheels, pop in the sole savers and walk. It may sound a lot of swapping and changing but it really does not take any time at all and you still get there quicker.
Prices and Availability
I warn you now, these are NOT easy to find. As the manuafacturer, (also called Heelys) is American, a search on the web for Heelys will show you that there are many American stockists with prices about £40 (converted). However, please be aware that import taxes will DOUBLE this price.
I managed to find just a few UK stockists and with these being fairly new to the UK market, trying to find the right style in the right colour and size was a complete nightmare.
It took several searches, emails and enquiries over a 2 week period before I found the ones I wanted. Heelys are given different names for different styles, just like a sports trainer has it own 'style name'.
Heelys come in child and adult sizes although if you are purchasing for a female you need to buy a size smaller than your normal shoe size. Why this is I still have not found out! For the males, you order the same as your normal shoe size.
Expect to pay anywhere between £69-£100 per pair! I think these are quite expensive but then when you consider you could pay this amount for a normal pair of branded trainers, it doesn't seem quite so bad.
The only downside to this is that if you are buying for a young child its possible their feet will outgrow the Heelys really quickly therefore making them a waste of money. I ordered a size bigger than normal for my son and they were not 'too' big that they slipped at the heel.
As stated earlier you can purchase a leather pouch to keep the wheels/plugs in for about £5. This is ideal as it stops either getting mislaid.
The removal tool is useful but not essential, in my opinion anyway, and costs about £8.00.
Brightly coloured laces in shocking or fluorescent colours make your feet stand out. These can probably be purchased cheaper from any local market/ hardware shop etc.
Also there is a large variety of custom/advanced wheels should you wish to progress on to these. Prices start at £29.00.
Care & Maintenance
Regular checks of the wheels to ensure proper working order is a must as well as checking the wheel housing for any foreign objects that might have become lodged.
The wheel bearings can get dusty and dirty so check regularly. If they do need cleaning, DO NOT use water as the bearings can rust, use WD40 instead.
Please DO NOT put these in the washing machine! The outside and uppers of the shoe can be cleaned with a mild soap and warm water.
What Does Mum Think?
As ever, if its fun I like it! Learning and Heelying is just like trying to learn to roller skate when you were a kid, all that tottering, swaying and then ending up on your bum!
The huge advantage over normal skates is the ability to change form a 'heeler' to a 'walker' in seconds.
My son has had these since February 05 and they certainly have had a lot of use. My initial reaction was that they were expensive for what they were and would end up being a 5 minute wonder but this has NOT proved to be the case.
He wears them whenever possible. When they have a non uniform day at school he 'heels' to lessons and in his lunchtime, swapping to the plugs when he gets to his lessons. He wears them when we go to Tescos as he zooms and nips around the aisle picking things up off our shopping list and now, provided I take him with me, shopping gets done in half the time! (please note that no people are knocked over by my son as he is cruising round the aisles and he does look where he is going...unlike some shoppers in the supermarket!)
I have also had several people in Tescos, including staff, ask me 'just how is he doing that?'. They ask because the sole is only about a centimetre off the floor and from looking you cannot see the wheel at all, so it does give the impression of 'cruising'.
However, as I mentioned I wouldn't necessarily have purchased these for a younger child as you wouldn't get your moneys worth before their feet grew out of them.
ALSO REMEMBER THAT AS WITH ANY SKATING EQUIPMENT SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT AND A HELMET, KNEE AND ELBOW PADS SHOULD BE WORN AT ALL TIMES.
I like the concept of these and think they are so different to your normal skates. It would not look strange for an adult to 'cruise' to work in these, in fact it looks quite cool as they are so unique.
They are a fun product but at the same time practical. I would think twice about buying them if you knew they wouldn't be used very often simply due to the cost.
As the official site of www.heelys.com says " have a blast as you convert the world to your very own skatepark, but be courteous and observe 'no skate' zones by simply popping out your wheels" although there are several other sites you could visit.
Despite the length of time it took to track these down and the initial cost, I would recommend these to anyone who fancied getting to work a different way, an older child for the fun value or for anyone who likes something different. Just give them a go!
So 3 out of 5 stars from me. One lost as I think they are quite expensive and the other lost as they are not really for the younger child simply because their feet are still growing, unless you can afford to replace them when they go up a size.
All in all, great fun providing you don't mind a few bruises on your bum!
Thanks for reading. If there is anything I have missed or if there are any questions please let me know and I will amend this. x x