Servicing and repairing roller skates

Wheel change at Roller SkatesRoller skates are meant to be used – sometimes roughly, and accordingly they get dirty and damaged a bit. Because there’s very little suspension, the skates are subjected to some very harsh forces and many parts get used up quite a lot. Sooner or later you’ll have to do some repairs or at the very least a little service to make sure they keep working nicely.

Replacing wheels

Most roller skate wheels are made from polyurethane. That’s a relatively soft plastic. Roller skate wheels come in a number of hardness levels, with softer wheels being better for outdoors and harder ones better for indoors roller rinks.
If you only go for the occasional slow drive for fun, then you shouldn’t have to worry about wear and tear for a long time. However, if you enjoy getting a bit more vigorous, play fast games or skate  on rough roads, then you’ll find it necessary to change your wheels sooner or later. Furthermore the main reason for changing wheels is often uneven wear on them. You usually cast off differently with your left foot than with your right, and the inside wheels get worn differently than the outside wheels. That means that you might want to switch the wheels even before they get too worn in order to distribute the wear over all wheels evenly.
There are many different systems for switching wheels around. Some people prefer to move them clockwise, others counter clockwise and on the different shoe etc.
The most popular system is the following:
You switch all wheels from the right skate with those of the left skate. While doing that, you switch the least worn wheels with the most worn wheels. That means the most worn wheel from you left shoe ends up where the least worn wheel on your right shoe was – and the other way around.
How often you do this is individual. Just look at the wheels regularly, and rotate them when you think you need to. You’ll soon get a feeling for it.
The actual changing of the wheels is absolutely straightforward – you open the screw, pull of the old wheel, stick on the new wheel, and then tighten the screw again.

Replacing stoppers

Stoppers are probably the elements with the widest difference in wear and tear. How much they get used up depends pretty much solely on your skating style. Some people used the stoppers extensively – both for accelerating as well as breaking, while others prefer to use the sides of the wheels and barely use the stoppers at all.
Because the stoppers are often made from softer material than the wheels, they get affected more by rough roads and outside use and a lot less on smooth indoor skating rinks.
When to change stoppers really depends on your personal preferences. Some people use them till the screw scratches on the ground.
The actual act of replacing them is very easy. You open the screw, pull off the stopper, push on the new stopper and tighten the screw again.

Replacing wheel bearings

When you go roller skating a lot, the you’ll notice after some time that the skates don’t quite run the way they used to. This might be coincided with changes in the way they sound. The likely reason for this are dirt in-, or wear of the wheel bearings. If it’s just dirt, then you can alleviate the problem by taking the wheel bearings apart and cleaning them. If you find that it isn’t dirt, but wear from the usage that’s causing the problems, then pretty much the only thing you can do is replace the bearings.
You can find a detailed instruction on cleaning wheel bearings here: http://www.skatefaq.com/bearings.html

Kugellager Typ 608 detailIf you need to replace the bearings, but don’t know which new ones to get:
Almost all modern roller skates use wheel bearing of one of two types: Either 608 or 627. You can find out which ones are used in your skates by removing the old bearings and looking at their casing (see images). The type should be etched in there.

 

Kugellager ABEC 3Which ABEC standard your new wheel bearings should have depends on you. Generally speaking, the higher the value of the number, the faster the bearings. For beginners ABEC-3 bearings would suffice. For more advanced skaters ABEC-7 bearings would be ideal (but ABEC-5 is acceptable – they are used in most roller skates). Which kind the bearings you have now are can be seen when you look at the case of the wheel bearing – it should be etched in there.(see image)

Conclusion

Servicing or replacing parts on roller skates is pretty easy and straightforward. Usually you only need tools that anyone should have (screwdriver and a hexagonal wrench). Spare parts – wheels, stoppers and bearings can be bought in local skate shops or many sports any toy stores. Or, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time searching, you can just buy them online.
Here’s a few links to the typical parts you might need:

  • [eafl id=178 name=”roller skate wheels” text=”Find Roller Skate Wheels at Amazon.co.uk”]
  • [eafl id=177 name=”roller skate stoppers” text=”Find Roller Skate Stoppers at Amazon.co.uk”]
  • [eafl id=176 name=”bearing 608zz” text=”Find bearings at Amazon.co.uk”]