The sun is out, and it is time to go inline skating again. You might have to look for your skates if you haven’t used them in a while, you put on your helmet, and you’re out the door for a sunny ride. What you're probably not thinking of is a new set of wheels. Your old ones are doing the job just fine. Are they? You probably get more out of a ride in terms of fun and safety if you change the position of the wheels in your skate regularly and replace them all together on time. And that doesn’t have to be expensive.
New wheels for more speed, comfort and safety
It is a bit strange when you think of it: you will sharpen your dull skating blades, replace a worn chain on your bike, and you replace your tires before you start having flats. Inline skate wheels, on the other hand, are often used until you can see the plastic core. Wear happens slowly, most of the time you don’t even notice that they are worn out. You can’t get a flat tire, so why would you replace them?
The most important reason for regularly changing your wheels is that it will simply give you more joy. The difference between old and new wheels for your riding experience is huge. It feels like if you go from a headwind on snowy natural ice to a smooth sheet of black ice with the wind in your back. It is easier, more comfortable and you will go faster. You have more grip and control, which makes it easier to steer. It will give you more confidence and will help you when you have to avoid an obstacle on the road. All in all, a new set of wheels is an investment that will pay off immediately.
Reduce wear by changing your wheels
Wear will happen gradually, so it is important to check your wheels regularly. You could start by rotating your wheels first. You can place your front wheels in the back, as your front wheels tend to wear out a little bit faster. A good moment to start rotating your wheels is when the seam in the middle of the wheel has worn off. When you have new wheels you can feel and see that seam. By rotating your wheels regularly, you can distribute the wear evenly over all your wheels.
When is it time to replace your wheels?
To find that out, you could look at the shape of the wheels. If you look at a new wheel from the front, you can see that the shape is round and oval. When you are straight up on your skates, this shape makes that you have the smallest surface contact so you have less roll resistance. We also call it the footprint. Because of the oval shape, the contact surface is bigger when you push off and your wheels are slanted. This way you will have maximum traction and grip.
But if the wheels are wearing off and even if you rotate them regularly, the wheels will eventually get spikier. The result? You lose grip and have less control. Crossovers on spiky wheels are hard, which will make cornering tricky or even dangerous. It is important to replace the wheels before they lose their round shape.
You can also feel if a wheel needs to be replaced. New wheels have a smooth surface, but that will change after a few rides. That’s not a big deal, but when the wheels start to feel rough, it is time to buy a new set. Riding on a rough surface will speed this process up, but even if you only ride on a smooth surface, the wheels will start to feel rough eventually. If you don’t change your wheels regularly, they will flatten out on one side. This can be dangerous in the corners because you will lose grip on one side. With obvious consequences. Do your wheels lose their round shape? Don’t rotate but replace them. Even if the other side still looks good.
Check your wheels regularly
When you choose your wheels, think about what is important to you. Do you want comfort and a lot of traction? Softer wheels are the best choice for you, especially when you usually ride on rough surfaces. The downside is that these wheels will wear out faster, and you will go less fast. Hard wheels are faster, and they work well on a smooth surface. They also wear out less quickly. It is definitely worth it to experiment with, to see what works best for you and the surface you often ride on.
How long your wheels will last depends on your technical skills, the surface you are riding on, a track or public roads if you regularly rotate them, and like we said if you use soft or hard wheels. Based on average, 500 kilometers of inline skating on one set of wheels is not uncommon. That means if you skate a 10 kilometer loop three times a week, your wheels last about 4 months. Be smart, check your wheels regularly and replace them on time. You will enjoy your ride more, have more speed, comfort and it is safer as well.