Best practices for urban inline skating?
August 30, 2004 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Urban rollerblading: I've just taken up rollerblading again, after an absence of some years. It's coming back pretty well, but I have some best practices-type questions.

The biggest difference is that I now live in NYC, as opposed to Madison, WI. I've gotten up to about 5k a day (either surface streets in Manhattan or the loop in Prospect Park).

My questions are about equipment: I have some basic fitness-type Solomons with your typical wheels, which seem to be accumulating wear at a much faster rate than I recall. How often should I rotate them? What's the best way to do so? When/how often do I need to replace them? I heard someone mention "hard" wheels, are those more appropriate for city streets?

I've googled for general info, but it'd be great to hear from some urban riders.
posted by o2b to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wheels have a hardness attribute (durometer) but you have to balance that against a comfortable ride. (Softer wheel absorb more shock but harder wheels last longer.) I would guess that your wheels are somewhere around 78A, sort of middle of the road. You might want to try harder wheels next time and see how they feel. And be aware that wheels are wheels, branding doesn't mean much. (Nothing in my experience.) Try to get the cheapest wheels you can.

Of course, how often you need to rotate is a function of how often you skate. I used to do 45+ miles a week and probably rotated once a month or so. When the wheel starts looking obviously unsymmetrical, it's time to rotate. I usually rotate left to right and front to back. (All my wheels are the same size.)

And use your break instead of a t-stop if you can. That saves a little wear.
posted by sexymofo at 12:06 PM on August 30, 2004

It's been almost ten years since I was into rollerblading, so take this with a grain of salt, but you just want to rotate in a way that counters whatever wear has happened. So flip them over, move them around, whatever, you should just be able to eyeball what's happening. As for hard wheels, in addition to causing a rougher ride, they also are a lot less grippy. This means that it will be more diffficult to turn, stop, maneuver, etc., so be prepared for that as well.

One other maintenance thing that is really worthwhile but often overlooked is cleaning/lubing your bearings (the metal spinny donut things in the middle of the wheels). It's a little messy and requires a special tool to pop them out, but you'll feel like you are flying after clearing out all the grime. The tool: get one of these and carry it at all times. I used to have one and it came in handy way more often than you'd think.

Back to bearing cleaning: they make special solvents and such for it, but you can do a pretty good job with Simple Green for cleaning and WD-40 for lubing. The basic idea is just to take everything apart (kind of tricky, might want to find detailed instructions somewhere), rinse off all the dirt, spray a little grease on, then put it all back together. Be careful not to get grease on your wheels in the process.
posted by rorycberger at 2:36 PM on August 30, 2004

Motorcycle chain lube with molybednium in it will make those little bearings FLY. I wouldn't use wd40, since that's more of a solvent than a lubricant.

The bearings are the only real difference between good wheels and cheap wheels, and if you don't keep them clean it doesn't matter too much which you buy.
posted by SpecialK at 2:49 PM on August 30, 2004

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