Maintaining your skates is extremely important, not only to ensure the long life of your skates but for a smooth, safe ride. Skates need routine cleaning and maintenance and we have put together a guide to help you keep your skates in tip condition.
Clean Your Skates Regularly
With a damp cloth clean away the dirt accumulating on the outside of the bearings. Gently dig out any embedded dirt.
Change the Wheels
Check the wheels for wear and replace when the inside edges have a shaved off look or when you can hardly read the writing on the sides of the wheels.
Every three or four months check the wheel nuts. If you skate a lot you should check them more often. Tighten with a half inch wrench just enough that they have no play but not tight enough to prevent the wheels rolling smoothly.
Roller skates have two types of stoppers, Carrera types that are adjustable and non adjustable types. The non adjustable types need to be checked weekly as they work lose from the vibrations caused by stopping frequently. If they are loose use a screwdriver to tighten them as tight as possible.
Adjustable types of toe stoppers do not become loose from vibrations so need much less frequent checks. Once every six months should be enough. If they need adjusting loosen the nut on the base of the stopper and use your hand to adjust the height.
Trucks can be adjusted for flexibility and control. The looser they are the more flexible, but control is harder, especially when skating fast. If the trucks are tighter flexibility is reduced but control is easier. It is a matter of preference and skating style so experiment until the amount of flexibility suits your style.
Inverted kingpins are tightened with a wrench and do not have a locking nut. Standard kingpins have a locking nut which must first be loosened with a wrench. The king pin is then turned to adjust the tension. After adjusting the trucks make sure that the locking nut is re-tightened.
Adjusting the Plates
The plates are adjustable on some skates, for instance Soul Train and Blue Love makes. Independent adjustments of the trucks can then be made. This is particularly useful for artistic dancing and freestyle skating. For tight turns and spins a narrower setting is used. For most recreational skating a wider setting will be more appropriate and this will be the setting of most newly purchased skates. Experiment with the width of the trucks if you have adjustable ones by making small changes and testing the feel and control.
They are adjusted by loosening the locking nut on the base of the truck with a wrench then adjusting the spacing by moving the whole assembly on its track. The locking nut must be securely tightened after adjusting and checked monthly to make sure it has not worked loose.
When to Change the Bearings
After about a year, or six months if you skate a lot, the bearings will need to be changed. When the bearings start to make a lot of noise and skating is no longer smooth you will know it is time for them to be changed. The bearings ensure that the skates run smoothly. On each wheel a casing holds the ball bearings and they are damaged by sand or dirt or when being used when the ground is wet. Bearings are readily available and can be easily changed. The standard size is 8mm but check the size of your skates before you purchase.
How to Change the Bearings
1. Using a wrench remove the axle and pull out the front wheel
2. Pop off the bearings from both sides of the wheel.
3. Place the new bearings onto the wheel and replace the wheel in the frame.
4. Re-tighten the axle with the wrench. For aluminium spacers tighten the bolts as much as possible. For plastic spacers tighten as much as possible then slightly loosen.
5. Check that the wheels can spin freely. If necessary loosen the axle bolts slightly. Tighten the bolts more if wobbling occurs.
6. Repeat the steps for the back wheels.
Clean and maintain your roller skates for enjoyable and trouble free skating!