by Trevor Miyamoto
To get the highest performance and the most enjoyment out of your
skates and gear, all you need do is complete a few maintenance
procedures. Just before or right after each outing, take five to ten
minutes to rotate your wheels, wipe down your bearings, check your
spacers and inspect your brake system components. Making these simple
maintenance procedures a part of your skating routine will also help to
ensure you have a safe and enjoyable skating experience each time you
After you skate a few times you will notice that your wheels will be
wearing more to one side (usually inside of foot). Just like a car, the
wheels on your skates must be periodically rotated to even out the wear
and maximize their usable life. Wheel wear is affected by many
different factors including: skating surface, frequency and length of
outings, skaters weight, skating style and activity, temperature, wheel
size and shape, urethane quality, etc. For this reason, your wheels may
need rotation as often as every day or once a week. A good rule of
thumb is "every time you skate". Consult the owners manual in your
skate box for specific wheel rotation instructions.
Bearings need to be kept clean to maintain their top performance. Your
bearings probably won't require complete cleaning every time you rotate
your wheels, but if they become wet it is advisable to remove both
(two) bearings and the bearing spacer from each wheel and wipe them
dry/clean. Never lubricate the outside of a bearing as it will only
Bearings are either serviceable or non-serviceable. Serviceable
bearings have a metal shield with a removable "C" ring, or have a
plastic/rubber style removable shield. Bearings with removable shields
may be opened/disassembled and serviced. Servicing involves using a
solvent to remove the old lubricant and accumulated contamination,
rinsing and drying the parts, and re-lubricating and reassembling the
bearings. Non-serviceable bearings that have a metal shield which are
staked/crimped metal edges (folded/pressed under the outer ring). These
need only be wiped off with a clean, dry cloth. Consult your owners
manual in the skate box or call the company you purchased your bearings
from for specific instructions.
Check the wear on your brake pad before and after every time you go
out. Make sure the brake is firmly attached; if your skate employs
advanced brake technology (such as cuff-activated or disc brakes) make
sure all brake components are functional. Brake pads have a "wear line"
which indicates how much life is left in the brake. It's critical to
replace your brake pad BEFORE this wear line is reached. Adjust the
position of the brake so it does not interfere with normal skating.
Eventually the rolling components (wheels, bearings, hardware) will
wear out and need replacement. This is a great opportunity to select a
different set of wheels and/or bearings with the design characteristics
that can fulfill the performance needs (speed, maneuverability,
handling) of your preferred inline activity. When selecting a wheel
some things to consider are: diameter (size), durometer (hardness) and
profile (shape). When selecting a bearing the most important factors to
consider are: Serviceability, ABEC Rating (precision), Lubrication
(speed/maintenance/protection), Materials (rings/retainers/shields),
Internal Geometry (shallow vs. deep groove).
Because every foot is a little different, some people may encounter fit
related problems (blisters, foot moves inside skate, chaffing, etc.)
causing discomfort or performance issues. These can usually be
corrected by using additional fit pads or inserts. Check with your
local skate or ski shop to find an experienced custom boot fitter.
Most items on your skates can be repaired or replaced. Even things like
buckles, liners and frames. Check with your local inline skate dealer
or call your skate manufacturer for a dealer in your area that performs
Most protective gear and skate liners can be washed. The recommended
method is usually hand washing in a mild detergent and air drying.
Check with your specific skate manufacturer for care/washing
instructions on your specific skate model.
Miyamoto was an ICP Level III Examiner, an NSP Examiner, and lays proud
claim to the title of "Original Rollerblade Demo Van Man."