If you want to be talked at by a team or league mate, there are two questions that will lead to a word waterfall that will leave you dizzy and thirstin' for a beer.
What wheels are you using?
What toe stops are you using?
Nothing gets derby players more chatty than those two questions and people's answers to these seemingly simple questions can be confusing, even for the most experienced players. If you're reading this for some biblical closure, disappointment is in your future. Like wheels, toe stops depend on preferences and style. Not like fashiony style...we're talking player style.
At Neon, we've always got Gumballs (short and standard), Moonwalkers, Shock Stops, and RXs. We also have this bin of super old school toe stops for those of you with super old skates that you'd like to revive in time for a roller disco.
The stock toe stops that come with your skates are a great place to start and you needn't open this can of worms unless stuff isn't working out for you, or you're marking up floors.
Definitely a skater favourite. And like you don't already have enough to deal with, there are two kinds of Gumballs and two different stem lengths. Balls.
Original Gumballs are rounded and have a little break in period. They're nice and big, so if you tend to hop up on your toe stops, the increased surface area puts less pressure on the tips of your toes, which doesn't suck. Newer Gumballs are flat and angled so that break-in period isn't a thing. Both have aluminum stems to keep them light and with the new Gumballs, the stems come in different colours and every box is designed to surprise you! Gumballs are made from a natural rubber so that they don't mark floors and basically, the less you screw with a material, the more of its integrity it maintains. (Translation: when you don't dye the rubber, it last longer.) The slide/grip relationship is pretty bang on with these stops on various surfaces.
As for stem length, it depends whether you like your toe stops to be closer to the ground or closer to your skate. NOTE: if you have Revenge plates in a size 4, Gumballs will not fit on your plates.
COLOURS! For those of you who need colour in your lives, welcome to Moonwalkers. Grip and bounce are the key points with these little dudes. They're super responsive to sudden pressure and the holes make them wicked bouncy, which is great for getting a move on. They transition well between surfaces and are super light.
You definitely don't see too many people in these because people just haven't discovered how great they are. The Shock Stop is the Love Child product of the Gumball and the Moonwalker. It comes in an angry grey, which is legit given it's an orphan. It has the same dimples as the Moonwalker, but the heft of the Gumball. Non-marking and safe for outdoors, the Shock Stop is a star in the making.
These stops combine awesome colours with grip and durability. If you think about how much of a beating toe stops take, knowing they're going to last is kind of a relief. They look wear and tear in the eye and laugh. Unlike the new Gumballs, Moonwalkers, and Shock Stops, Rxs are rounded, which contribute to maneuverability. They're more wee than other toe stops, but not everyone likes a hoof sticking out from their plates.
OMG, WHAT DO I BUY?
Dance around on the toe stops you have now and make note of a few things. See if changing the height affects your comfort. If there's too much pressure on your toes regardless of the adjustments you make, you may prefer Gumballs or Shock Stops, which are bigger and distribute pressure. If you feel like you need some bounce and precision at higher speeds, consider a Moonwalker or an RX. You can also track down a league mate, borrow their toe stops for a few minutes and see what you're getting yourself into.
You can also ask us. We work in a derby shop and we listen to people talk about their gear all day. Also...we've been around the block and we've tried a lot stuff and we're happy to share our experiences.
Finally, don't get tied up with any nonsense about weight or strength or experience. While these things may impact your preferences over time, they impact just your preferences. Cool? Good.