Inline Skating Knowledge: Rotating Wheels
"Why should I rotate my wheels? Don't they do this all the time?"
Ok, joking aside... why should I?
Have a look at your wheels - chances are they are not as brand new as
they used to be. Instead you start wearing them down - more on your
stronger foot than the weaker one, more on the inside than the outside,
and more towards the front if you're a beginner or intermediate skater.
Rotating them evens out this wear pattern (and can also do other things
- see below), thus saving you money by extending the active life of
your wheels. Rotating your wheels also ensures acceptable
behaviour from your skates - having badly worn wheels mounted can really
affect your skating!
OK, I see. So what do I need to do?
If you ask 10 experienced skaters how to rotate your wheels you'll get 11 different opinions. At least. This here is mine ;-)
What you need to do is have a look at your wheels, and when they start
showing wear, rotate them in one of the ways described below. Use this
handy chart for reference:
A: a perfectly new and unworn wheel. No need for any action here...
B & C: uneven wear on wheel, these urgently need to be rotated
D: who are we kidding? if your wheels look like this all you can
do is chuck them out, and get some new ones. You'll be surprised how
your skates behave all of a sudden ;-) And next time rotate them
before they look that bad!
Sounds like a pain - how frequently do I have to do this?
minutes work, maybe a few more the first time you do this...
rotating wheels doesn't need to be a pain or a chore. There's no fixed
rule for frequency, as it depends on a lot of factors, like the wheels
using, your weight, your skating style, the surface you're skating
on... some people only need to work their wheels once a year,
others (like yours truly) needs to do so after every bigger skating
session or street skate. Keep it simple: each time you come back home
from skating, have a look at your wheels. If they are worn and look
asymmetrical then rotate them before you put your skates away. That way
you'll always have properly set up skates to grab when your run out of
Basic wheel rotation for a flat setup
Flat setup? See here for more details...
OK, here's the classic 1-3/2-4 rotation. A good place to begin to even out the wheel wear.
Make sure you always turn the worn side towards the outside of your skates when you put the wheel into its new position!
Alternate this rotation with the 4-1-2-3 variant on the right
to ensure best results
If your wheels are beyond saving, or simply too small, then you'll have
to purchase and put on an entire set of 8 wheels in one go, moving the
bearings from the old to the new wheels. Take a note of in what order
things came off so you can put them back like this, and make sure you
don't lose any of the parts!
Advanced wheel rotation
You can get much more life out of your wheels if you use the techniques
below. But beware, these will change the behaviour of your skates, as
you create a HiLo or a HiLo Rocker
setup, respectively. The decision is yours... I can only recommend
these setups! Plus, if you start from a flat setup, then the transition
will be gradual, giving you time to get used to the changed behaviour
of your skates.
For these rotations you need to take out all the wheels first, and then
order them by size. If it's hard to decide which of two wheels is
bigger then it won't really matter which order you put them in, so don't spend hours
If you feel the smallest wheels
are getting too small, or they start 'coring' (the polyurethane starts
coming of the core of the wheel), then you discard the two smallest
wheels, and add two new wheels (move the bearings and spacers to the
new wheels!) at the other end of the stack of wheels, like this:
If the wheels are broken then throw them out, else measure them, write
the current size on them, and place them in the 'spare wheels' bag
every skater has for special occasions or specific setups!
Ok, the actual rotation - get your skates, upside down, and get your
stack of wheels, too, and distribute them as shown (remember, always put the
worn side towards the outside of the skates):
For a HiLo setup
For a HiLo rocker setup
Both these diagrams assume that
your right foot is your stronger one, so the wheels on the right skate
will be a touch bigger then the ones on the left. If you're left-footed
simply reverse the left/right pattern for the correct effect.
- Depending on your frames and axles you'll need one or two Allen
keys - they should have come with your skates, but if you can't find
them simply use the ones from the IKEA furniture ;-)
- Be very careful not to lose any parts - hold on to any washers, axles, bolts etc you're taking out, you will need them again!
- Look out for the longer axle for the brake attachment - this one needs to go back exactly in the same place
- If you're switching wheels make sure you move all bearings before
you throw any wheels out (yes, I know people who...), and make sure you
also move the spacers between the bearings, too
- Having troubles? Know of another way of rotating your wheels? Find the advice on this page useful? contact
Skating is a dangerous activity. Wear protection. I can't take any
responsibility for what happens to you if you try and play with the
things on this page, so you'll have to take responsibility for your own
actions. There's not guarantee that what works for me will work for
you. Your mileage will vary. Go skate.
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