Inline Skating Knowledge: Rockering

I've been playing around with the setup of my skates recently, and decided to share my findings, to give people an idea what can be done with different wheel setups. All wheel sizes mentioned on this page are examples only, other sizes will work, too.

What is Rockering?

Most skates are sold with what we call a 'flat' setup, means: all wheels have the same size
Rollerblading Information Rockering Flat This is a stable setup that suits most beginners and occasional rec skaters, providing good balance, speed stability, but limited manoeuvrability. This setup is easiest to control when practicing slides.
If you want more then you'll have to change some or all your wheels to different sizes!

Why the heck would I do this?

Simple answer: to change the way your skates behave in specific situations. To adapt them to your way of skating, to your uses for your skates. Skates you skate a Marathon in are not the same as skates you play hockey in, at least not if you have a choice. If you have the money buy a pair of skates for each activity you do on skates, and modify them to suit you and the activity perfectly. If you don't have the money (or storage space...) to do so learn to adopt your skates to your varying needs - and changing your wheel setup is one of the best ways of doing so!
On the financial side you can get maximum life from your wheels if you rotate them the right way into rockers (see explanation below), just in case you don't have to money to splash out for another full set of wheels for your flat setup every 2 or 3 months.

OK, so what can I do, and how does it work?

Well, let's have a look at the 'classic' rockering setups, and their pros. cons, and potential uses.
Let's start with a simple one: the 'HiLo' setup
Inline Skating Rollerblading Rockering HiLo Benefits/Downsides: still quite good speed capabilities and speed stability (you sacrifice a tad at the top end), rotates a bit better. This position shifts your weight forwards, keeping you in a perpetual sprint position. This can be very comfortable, and can also be very helpful if you have problems with your weight shifting backwards resulting in backwards falls. This setup works well for slides, too, and allows extending the useful life of your wheels (see comment on wheel rotation below).

A bit more volatile: the 'front rocker'
rollerblading inline skating information rockering front rocker
Benefits/Downsides: you're rolling on either 3 or 2 wheels. This means that you have less directional stability at speed, a lower tolerance for speed wobble, but a better response to rotational movement. A very good trade-off if you, for example, would like to use the same setup for street and hockey skating.

One step further, the Full Monty: the 'full rocker' (aka Banana rocker)
rollerblade inline skate rocker information full
Benefits/Downsides: a lot like the front rocker above, but more extreme - you're on 2 wheels at all times! This setup mimics an Ice Skate blade: inline skate rollerblade information rockering ice blade
This setup is mainly used for playing hockey, or for slalom; skating at higher speeds - and slides - become very hard to control. Frequently the wheel sizes are smaller than indicated here (I sometimes use 50-60-60-50) which provides a little bit more control (and less speed, which is not an issue here).

Why not do a bit of both? a 'full HiLo rocker' is the result!
rollerblading inline skating rocker HiLo full
Benefits/Downsides: Very similar to the full rocker above, but with your weight more forwards, which brings your ankles and knees into a more natural position and make intricate footwork easier. This is my preferred setup for slalom/freestyle, and it allows extended wheel use (see comment on wheel rotation below).

A specialist variant: the 'anti rocker' (aka inverse rocker):
rollerblading inline skating rocker information inverse
This setup is only used in aggressive skating. It provides easier access to the frame (which provides less resistance and wears less) when grinding ledges & rails - frequently the inner wheels are either very hard, or are replaced with hard plastic blocks altogether, as they don't need to rotate at all. If used for rolling then this setup is very similar to a flat setup, but with higher wear on the two rolling wheels.

A few words of advice

rollerblade inline skate rocker information salomon ea frame
The Salomon FSK EA frames don't have the axle holes on the same level - this is what Salomon calls a 'HiLo' setup, but which, in reality, is a flat setup with different wheel sizes.
If you want to create any of the setups above on this frame you have to subtract twice the axle height difference (2mm on these frames) from the 'normal' wheel size (think about it... radius vs diameter...:), e.g. the same proper HiLo from above requires 80-78-72-70 wheels now.


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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