When I received an offer to try out a pair of Heelys I was intrigued. I’d seen kids cruising around in the mall and at football games with these shoes, but neither of my boys had ever expressed an interest in them. So I asked John, my youngest, “Are Heelys still cool? And would you like a pair to try that I could review on my blog?” He replied, “Sure, I guess.” which is the equivalent of screaming and squealing and jumping up and down for a twelve-year-old boy. If the house was on fire he’d tap me on the shoulder and say casually, “Um, I think something’s burning.”
So we went to the Heelys site, and the hardest part was deciding which of the exceptionally cool-looking styles he wanted. He has HUGE feet for his age (men’s size eleven) so I thought our options would be very limited, but that was not the case at all. This is the style he finally selected:
They are called “Slide” (#7733 if you’re searching) and they look very nice on him – not at all bulky and odd like I’d suspected they would. We received them quickly (I have a special place in my heart for companies with fast shipping, especially when it’s something my kids are waiting for) and they came with very clear instructions. They are shipped without the wheels in, ready to be worn as normal shoes. After John tried them on and walked around in them a bit like he would any pair of new shoes he used the included tool to pop out the plugs that cover the holes where the wheels go and popped the wheels in – easy-peasy. But then it got complicated. John and I read the instructions and watched the instructional How to Skate video, but he just couldn’t get the hang of it. Since my husband’s feet are only a half-size smaller than John’s and my nineteen-year-old’s feet are only a half-size larger I had them try out the shoes as well. My husband did the best job, but all three said it felt “unnatural” and that they had a hard time keeping their toes up off the floor to balance on the rear wheel. I was disappointed, but encouraged John to keep practicing, since it was obviously going to be an acquired skill. I did notice that he’d started wearing the Heelys every day, though. He didn’t usually have the wheels in, but he liked the look of the shoes so much he chose to wear them instead of the pricey sneakers I’d bought him just a few weeks earlier. Then, today, came the ultimate stamp of approval. It was the first day of school and what shoes did he wear? His Heelys! The wheels, of course, are at home, since they are banned in his school hallways.
I had begun to suspect that the reason John (and the other big-footed men in my family) were having problems learning to use the Heelys properly was that since their feet were large there was simply too much surface area for one rear wheel to balance properly. So I started poking around on the Heelys site (which is very user-friendly, by the way), and I found this:
It’s an “in-line footboard” which means it’s essentially a skateboard to attach to your Heelys. Uber-cool, huh? And, yes, there are two wheels, so the balance is much better. The downside is this is something that would have to be purchased in addition to the Heelys themselves, but it would certainly be an option for kids who love their Heelys but are having a harder time using them as their feet grow. There is also a line of Heelys called HX2 which have two wheels instead of one. Both wheels are still situated at the back of the shoe, though, so I’m not sure that would help our “big foot” issue.
John’s going to keep practicing, and I have no doubt he will become more comfortable with his new wheels eventually, but he probably would have enjoyed them more before his latest growth spurt. Would I recommend Heelys to other moms for their children? Absolutely! They are clearly well-constructed, the selection is extensive, and their customer service, what with all the careful instructions and How to Skate videos - impeccable. And the best part is that even if you child doesn’t end up enjoying the skating option the shoes offer they will still have a great-looking pair of shoes to wear that are well worth the money.
disclaimer: The Heelys company provided me with a pair of shoes free of charge to review, but all opinions expressed are, as always, my own. I was given no monetary compensation for this post.