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Published on November 2nd, 2011 | by DerbyLife


Ask An Expert: Plate Mounting – Short/Forward vs. Standard Mounting

We received a request from Joe Asbury for more information from experts in the field about short and forward mounts vs. standard mounts for skate plates. For answers, we contacted Ivanna S. Pankin from Sin City Skates, and Doug Glass from Atom Wheels/Atom Gear/ Nistevo Manufacturing. Both experts referred us to Sure Grip’s statement on the issue, so let’s start there.

“The theory of the “Short” mounted plate is not a new theory but rather a new approach to the old style. Traditionally the plates were one or two sizes smaller and mounted forward on the boot, similar to the picture below. Today we see much more aggressive plate setups sometimes 3 sizes smaller than a manufactures recommendation. The short forward theory started in the 70s and 80s when short track speed skaters wanted to turn sharper; Its simply mechanics that a shorter wheel base will yield a tighter turning radius.

In the 70s and 80s the plate of choice was the Sure-grip Magnum or the XK4 style plates, back then the plates were single action 45 degree. The 45 degree king pin angle will allow the skater to turn over on his or her edge further and with less effort than with a traditional 10 degree king pin angle. In the past all plates that used the 45 degree action were commonly called figure plates. Once skates found out how this plate skated they never looked back. To this day the 45 degree plates are widely praised in both figure and speed skating.

Today we use a new double action 45 degree truck that use our super cushions allowing the
skater to dial in his or her performance. This plate has transformed the short track speed and derby
markets by allowing them to fine tune their skating style and make the plate skate the way they want it to. Usually skaters use one of our 45 degree action plates when using the short forward technique.”

-Sure Grip International, “Short Forward Theory”

When asked about the difference, Ivanna S. Pankin had this to say,

“Generally speaking, its a tough subject because there’s a lot of BS out there in the world, so I’m going to try to do it justice in a long article for fiveonfive this month, but I’m not sure a short answer would be easy at all! I mean, my super short opinion is that DA45s don’t work for me, but the (I thought very balanced) blog I already did about it caused such a shitstorm flurry of emails from skatelog forum guys – some very insulting! – that I want to make sure I explain myself fully, show examples and cite sources so I’m not just stepping in it to get flamed again.

But just in general, my experience is that shorter plates (up to a point) are awesome for skaters as their skating skills develop from intermediate to advanced – you get a lot of agilty and responsiveness out of shorter plates and bonus: the skates are lighter, as well. Short forward, well, yeah, because you want the axle under the ball of your foot, so as you move into shorter plates, they move forward, too. Which is not exactly the same as “short forward mounted” as it applies to DA45 plates, and that’s just a whole nother ball of wax.

My preference is 15 degree double action plates, and I explain why in my blog, but – that’s as meaningful, in a way, as saying I prefer chocolate over vanilla or wide, small diameter wheels over slim ones – its just a matter of opinion and everyone has got one (though I swear I might be the only one that doesn’t think everyone should like what I like!). I might be a little unique in that I get to try everything, but still – a preference is a preference, nothing more.”

Atom Wheels’ Doug Glass, a former international champion speed skater and long-time skate equipment manufacturer had this to say,

“Short Forward Mounting (SFM)

Short forward or standard forward mounts are techniques used by outdoor speed skaters, pictured below, dating back to the 70’s.

Atom SFM 1.png

Atom SFM 2.png

The purpose of forward mounting an outdoor speed skate was to emphasize ‘heel toe’ skating. Technically, there are substantial advantages to being able to reach with your back outside wheel, then power all the way through to your front inside wheel as you complete your push.

Although there are similarities, derby and outdoor speed skating have some differences:

– Outdoor speed skating, the track is much larger with a real emphasis on large corners and straightaways.

– The necessary speeds of an outdoor skater are maintained at a much faster rate than the game of derby.

– Speed skating is a non-contact sport (according to the rule book).

– Generating top end speeds for 500, 1000, 1500 meters at a time is a necessity.

– Speed skaters do not stop and go, speeds vary but never do speed skaters come to a complete stop.

– Speed skaters are focused on being faster than their competitors. Derby players have to prepare to be hit from all angles at all times.

Atom SFM 3.png

A pack of speed skaters is a lot different than a pack of derby players, very little contact with all-out speeds.

Atom SFM 4.png

The front axles are in front of the ball of the foot, the rear axle is forward substantially to promote reach with your heel for additional power and speed. Notice everyone is in similar position. Speed skaters, unlike derby players, have similar technique. Speed skaters are generally skating with bent knees and torso bent over, in a speed skating position.

Atom SFM 5.png

Bobby Kaiser, one of the greatest all-time outdoor speed skaters displays perfect speed skating technique.

Atom SFM 6.png

Derby is a very dynamic sport that requires stability and agility, as well as endurance and explosiveness. Having your plate/axles positioned in the right place under your foot is crucial. I think it is fair to say that you cannot play your best game or support your team to the best of your ability when you’re not on your feet. Moving your rear axle forward will indeed provide some agility. However, you must consider: at what consequence?

Rocky Oly Joe Rollerfan Atom SFM 7.jpg

Mounting your rear axle as far back as possible promotes stability, while having your front axle under the ball of your foot or as close as possible promotes agility. If you want the best of all worlds then I suggest mounting your plate a maximum ¼” from the back of your boot. Your front axle should line up with the ball of your foot or close as possible to the ball of your foot.

For maximum stability mount the plate all the way to the back. At the same time ensure you have the plate length that allows your front axle to remain under the ball of your foot. Regardless, a standard mount or what I call a long wheel base promotes stability, speed and with the correct foot work and truck action. You can have as much agility as you’re physically capable of having.”

-Doug Glass, Short Forward Mounting

We hope this helps answer your question, Joe! Skaters, what’s your preference, and why?

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