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I recently decided to try out in-line skating, and as I was after the first few days of skating I noticed I was already wearing out the skate wheels. I found that I already needed to rotate my wheels in a short period of time. Is this true for everybody?
You should rotate your wheels when they show signs of wheel taper, which can occur in as little as 6 hours of skating. How often you have to replace your skates depends on your level of pronation or supination, your skating style, as well as your wheels, and what surface you’re skating on.
I thought that I was doomed to have to rotate my wheels every 5-10 hours of skating, but I learned after rotating my wheels that only my right skate was in desperate need of rotation, which means that my skating form was to blame for my excessive wear. There’s more to it than that even! Let’s jump in.
When Should I Rotate My Inline Skate Wheels?
There isn’t a set schedule for when you should rotate your wheels, rather, you should rotate your wheels when the wheels start to taper.
Here’s an example of moderate tapering on my right skate:
This is where my wheels were at after 9 days of skating for about 30-45 minutes a day for one skate. For reference, here is my left skate:
As you can see, the amount of tapering is much lower on the left side–so I can conclude that it has to do with my skating form that causes this.
At this point, you could definitely get some life out of this skate for several more hours of skating, but it’s about this time where you should rotate your wheels.
So, in short when your wheels start to taper, it’s time to rotate the skate.
If you see severe tapering after a short amount of time, it’s most likely your skating form that’s the issue.
When Do Wheels Start To Taper?
If you have a strong pronation habit, (your ankle leans in the direction of your other foot) or if you are skating on rough asphalt, then you will see wheel taper within as little as 5 hours of skating, or even less time.
If you have tough wheels and no bad blading habits, you can get by for much, much longer–some say their wheels last more than a year of regular skating before your wheels start to taper.
If you wear the tear-edge of your skates but not too badly, you might be able to get by with rotating your wheels once a month if you skate 5 hours a week or so.
Why Rotate Your Rollerblade Wheels?
Rotating your rollerblade wheels makes your wheels last longer because you are wearing out the entire wheel more evenly. If you don’t rotate your rollerblade wheels the surface area that you’re skating on will shrink to a line, which will reduce your speed as well as reduce your traction.
Take a look at this wheel that is moderately worn. If I didn’t rotate the wheel, the taper would get even more pronounced, and instead of rolling on a wheel, it would be like I was rolling on the edge of a bowl. This can impact your turning, speed, and traction.
Besides the downsides of losing speed and traction, rollerblade wheels aren’t cheap–you can easily spend $20-60 on a new set of 8 wheels. If you rotate your rollerblade wheels as needed your wheels will last a lot longer.
How Do You Rotate Your In-line Skate Wheels
I have a much more in-depth post with step-by-step instructions here, but for a classic wheel rotation, you swap your skate wheels with the wheels two above or below diagonally. The picture will make a lot more sense, below.
Your skates should have come with a couple of allen wrenches that you can use to remove the wheels.
Note, for 5-wheel skates, the process is different, this only applies to 4-wheel in-line skates:
Lastly, when you swap the wheels, you have to ensure the worn edge is facing away from the opposite skate.
That’s the basics, but make sure and check out the full tutorial, here.
When Is It Time To Replace Your Rollerblade Wheels?
Inline skate wheels should be replaced when you can’t stand on your skates without bowing your knees inward, or when you start to lose traction when turning or stopping, or when it’s difficult to move and you find yourself working a lot harder to skate.
Another tell-tale sign is if only some of your wheels are turning while you skate. This means that some of the wheels are severely worn and that your entire skate is not making contact with the ground–this means less traction and less of a surface area to push off of when accelerating. You have a higher chance of crashing as well as a tougher time getting rolling.
If you are careful to rotate your wheels frequently and adjust your skating stance so you aren’t putting too much force on one side of your skates, hopefully, you don’t have to purchase new wheels on a regular basis.
You can always try a rotation first to see if it can give your inline skate wheels some extra life.
What Type Of Wheels Last Longer?
Part of the reason why my Rollerblade wheels are wearing out so fast is that I have wheels that are too soft.
If you’re like me, you might not have known that inline skate wheels come in different hardnesses. Softer skates are better for rollerskating rinks or for extremely smooth surfaces because they have a better grip.
Harder wheels are better for outdoor use if you’re skating on concrete, asphalt, and everything in between.
The hardness of a wheel is measured by its durometer rating (more info at inlineskates.com).
My skates came with general recreation wheels with a hardness of 78A. Usually, you can see this on the sidewall of the wheel. If you’re skating outside a lot, you might want to get something in the 80s.
Why Are My Inline Skate Wheels Wearing Out So Fast?
There are a few reasons–if you’re like me, you might be dragging excessively on the tear (inside) edge. For me, in particular, this is happening only on one side.
Pay attention to the angle of your feet. If your knees are bowed inwards there’s a good chance you are wearing out your inside edge too much.
So, here are the summarized reasons:
- Your form is creating too much drag or wear on one edge of the skate rather than evenly distributed.
- You are not rotating your wheels often enough (make sure to rotate when you see your wheels taper)
- Your wheels are too soft. If you are skating outdoors, try a hardness level in the 80s.