Love your skates and they will love you back.
Do you hear that crunching noise coming from your skates? It’s your bearings crying for love and attention. Its so easy to neglect our skates. We just assume they’re going to do their job no matter what, but like any tool they need to be maintained. We derby folk must clean and maintain our quad skates.
If our skates are so important, why do we neglect them? The most likely answer is lack of knowledge. If we don’t know the bits and pieces of our skates, then we can’t be expected to identify problem areas and fix them. Conducting skate maintenance will 1) increase the life of our skates, and 2) prevent an injury in relation to a skate malfunction. So join me on a Skate Mechanics 101 lesson. We’ll go over the names of the various parts of a skate, what each part does, then how to show each area some love. Since there are a lot of parts to a skate we are going to break this guide into two sections. Today we’ll cover items 1 through 6.
The various bits and pieces:
The home for your feet. The boot can be made from lots of different materials; leather, pleather, and even vegan options. They come in narrow, wide, square toe box, etc. Your feet are gonna live inside of your boots for many hours a week. So take your time, do your research, and find what makes your feet happy.
*Keep an Eye on – The sole separating from the boot and look for excessive wear areas. Skates are expensive. Whether it be tape, toe caps, or tuff toe. Do what you need to do to protect them from holes.
Excluding the boot, the plate is the largest component on our skates. I would liken the plate to our spinal cord. It is the part that all the fun pieces connect to and branch off from.
*Keep an Eye on – The little nuts that help hold the plate to the boot. If you lose one don’t replace with a regular nut, they have a tendency to fall off very easily. Buy mounting nuts or lock nuts. Lock nuts have plastic on the inside to keep them in place and mounting nuts or k-lock nuts have little teeth that lock them in place.
The King of all pins (sometimes called the action bolt) is very important. There are two of them. They are the largest bolts on your skates and home to several smaller but also very important pieces.
*Keep an Eye on – The nut that keeps the kingpin flush with the plate. Not all skates have this nut exposed, but if your’s does it’s easy to spot. If it’s loose the kingpin will have room to wiggle.
Your trucks are what you manipulate to make your skate more responsive to your movements. Tight trucks make it hard to execute tight turns while super loose trucks makes it near impossible to skate in a straight line. Every skater has their ideal truck tightness.
*Keep an Eye on – Weird bends and metal integrity. Not super common, but trucks can break. They can also become bent during a collision or wild skate park adventures. Just give them a quick once over every few weeks.
These guys extend from the truck and are the home for your wheels.
*Keep an Eye on – Bends and debris. A bent Axel makes for a bad day. They’re pretty hard to bend though so shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, axels are great for trapping hair. Be kind to your axels and remove the randomness that gets wrapped around it.
These little guys are so easy to forget about. Honestly, a lot of people don’t even realize they exist. Pivot cups keep the truck stable while also giving it a smooth plastic surface to rotate or “pivot” on. They are extremely import! They are actually made pretty strong, but they endure a lot of punishment.
*Keep an Eye on – Cracked pivot cups. Since they are a combination of plastic and rubber (or sometimes just one material) they can crack and break into small pieces. A cracked pivot cup means a less smooth surface for your trucks to pivot on. Also, as the plastic crumbles and falls out it means that your truck is going to start grinding directly on metal which can cause permanent damage. If your trucks seem to have more freedom of movement than normal and you haven’t adjusted them in any way, it’s likely your pivot cups have gone bad. Uncontrolled trucks can lead to broken ankles, so please check your pivot cups.
Okay, I just overloaded you with knowledge on 6 parts of your roller skates. So how often should we be checking all of these things?? Honestly, most of these checks are a visual inspection or a quick touch and you’re good. After practice, give your skates a brief once over before you pack them away. Doing that simple act can help you spot problem areas long before they become major issues.
I appreciate you all making it to the end. If there are any topics that you want me to go more in depth on, just let me know in the comments 🙂
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