Why tune up?? There
are three good reasons for maintaining your skates:
- Performance - Unlubricated bearings mean that you'll skate
harder to catch up to your friends. Plus, your friends will think twice
before inviting the slowpoke again.
- Safety - Loose axle bolts may fall out which may cause a wheel
to seize and result in a self-induced cartwheel.
- Cost - Rotated wheels last longer so you won't have to use
grocery money to buy replacement wheels.
Rotate your wheels when you see that one side has become more worn than
the other side. The more often you rotate your wheels, the longer they will
last. Replace wheels when they are worn close to the hub or when they are
so small that you can't accelerate and go fast.
- Use a skate tool to remove the axle bolts.
- Place the loose axle bolts in a small container so they won't roll
around and get lost.
- Use an old toothbrush to remove dirt and grime that has accumulated
on the bearings. Use soft brush strokes so you don't push any contaminants
into the bearing.
- Switch wheels in position 1 and 3. Also switch wheels in positions
2 and 4. In addition to switching, wheels should be flipped so that
the worn edges face the outside of the skate.
- Reinstall axle bolts and tighten. Be sure to check the tightness of
axle bolts periodically.
- Check your work. Most wheels are imprinted on one side with the brand
or model. Before rotating wheels, the imprinted sides should all face
the same direction. After rotating and flipping your wheels, the imprinted
sides should all face the opposite direction.
Prevention ins the first step in bearing maintenance. Prevention means skating
clear of puddles and sand. Water and sand are the archenemies of bearings.
If your bearings don't spin freely or make grinding noises, it's time to
service or replace them. There are two types of bearings: serviceable and
non serviceable. Serviceable bearings have removable shields and c-clips.
Non serviceable bearings are like disposable cameras. Once they're used
up it's better to buy new ones. Non serviceable bearings have crimped metal
shields that are difficult to remove. If you have non serviceable bearings
that are old and cranky, I recommend replacing them with serviceable bearings.
- Remove bearings from skates and wheels using a skate tool and bearing
- Use a pushpin to gently pry off one c-clip and shield from the bearing.
Throw away the removed shields and c-clips. Don't remove the second
shield and c-clip.
- Place bearings in container and add degreaser. Let soak for 10 minutes
and shake to remove dirt and old lubricant. Use a toothbrush to remove
- Remove bearings from container and let dry thoroughly on newspaper.
- Lubricate bearings with 2-3 drops of skate oil or gel.
- Install the bearings in the wheel with the shielded side facing out.
The unshielded side will be protected from dirt since it faces the inside
of the wheel. Leave the shields and c-clips off to make future skate
Whether you're a fitness skater, hockey player, or commuter, a few minutes
spent maintaining your skates will increase performance and fun. Wheel
and bearing maintenance are two simple procedures to keep your skates
rolling fast and furious.
From Mr. Chi Skate Specialist and Founder of SONIC.
Sonic designs, manufactures and markets inline skate products to help
you skate better. Thank you for providing California Skate School with
real cool stuff!