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Sport basics: roller blade maintenance, care, and cleaning

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Sport basics: roller blade maintenance, care, and cleaning

Sport basics: roller blade maintenance, care, and cleaning A proper care, maintenance, and cleaning schedule is the key to maximizing your roller blade enjoyment and making your skates last longer.
Rollerblading (inline skating) is a great form of exercise, recreation, or competition. No matter how you choose to use your skates, a proper care, maintenance, and cleaning schedule is the key to maximizing your enjoyment and making your skates last longer. Additionally, proper maintenance of your skates will help ensure your safety while you are using them. There are several areas of your skates that you will want to carefully check, clean, and maintain each time you use them. Besides the skates themselves, you will want to thoroughly and completely check the wheels, bearings, and brakes for signs of damage or excessive wear.

WHEELS
Your wheels will begin to show wear with each use of your skates. In order to evenly distribute the wear on your wheels you must rotate, or turn them. How often you need to rotate your wheels will depend on several key factors. If you skate long distances, go skating often, or skate on rough surfaces, you will likely have to rotate your wheels more often. You should check and rotate your wheels as often as every day or as little as once a week depending on these factors. The inside of the wheel usually gets worn first, as the overwhelming majority of contact and pressure is centralized here during skating. To rotate, you will need to use the Allen wrench that came with your skates. Loosen the Allen screw, remove and wipe each wheel, and check that the bearings (small balls located inside your wheels to help them turn smoothly) are free-moving and clean off any dirt or debris from the skate itself. Turn the wheels so the side that is worn is facing the opposite direction. For example, if the inner side of the wheel is worn, you will turn the inner side so it is facing the outside. You also want to rotate the position of the wheels. If your front wheel has a lot of wear you will want to switch it with one of the middle wheels that may not have as much wear.
Once the wheels have experienced considerable wear, it is time to replace them. Wheels can be purchased at any sporting goods store in which skates are sold, or also from the manufacturer of your skates. When choosing new wheels, you will want to keep in mind which type of wheel would be best for your skating style and needs. Skinny, tall, hard wheels roll faster and wear slower, however they tend to vibrate more on rough surfaces and slip when making turns on smooth surfaces. Fat, short, soft wheels roll slower and wear faster; however they are better for turning and gripping with better balance.
Replacing your wheels will take a little extra time, but it can also be fun. You will need to remove each wheel using your Allen wrench. If the bearings from your old wheels are still in good condition you can use them in your new wheels, otherwise these will also need to be replaced. Remove and clean the existing bearings from the old wheels, place the bearings into the new wheels, and finally put the new wheels onto the skates.

BEARINGS
Bearings are small steel balls located inside your wheels which allow them to turn smoothly and easily. The type, size, and quality of the wheel bearings will affect both speed and smoothness of the ride. You will want to make sure that you clean the bearings often to keep them running smoothly. This doesn?t need to be done every time you rotate the wheels, however if the bearings are exposed to dirt, debris or water, they should be wiped down. Try to avoid going through puddles, sand, or dirt in order to keep your bearings clean and dry.
As soon as your bearings have a sandy or gritty feel it is time to replace them. Bearings are rated on a scale from the Annual Bearing Engineering Council (ABEC). This scale ranges from ABEC 1 to ABEC 7 with 1 being the lowest quality to 7 being highest. Ask your sporting goods professional for help in selecting the correct bearings for your replacements.

BRAKES
You will normally have only one brake pad on your pair of skates. However, you may be able to choose which foot to wear the brake on so you can position it according to your liking. You should check your brake each time before you skate. Your brake should be adjusted so that is not too low and in the way while you are skating. Many brake pads have a wear line to indicate when the pad needs to be replaced. The pad should be replaced just before it reaches the wear line to maintain proper braking ability. If your pad does not have a wear line, you should replace it before you reach the screw which attaches the pad to the skate.

SKATES
After cleaning and maintaining all the intricate parts of each skate, you will also want to remember to check the skates themselves. Each skate may have laces, buckles, Velcro, or clasps that will wear, stretch or potentially even break - and therefore need to be adjusted or replaced. You can contact the manufacturer or look in a sporting goods store that sells inline skates for proper replacement for each of these skate parts.
After using your skates you should keep/store them in an open area to allow any perspiration inside to dry out. If the tongue of the skate is covered with plastic you should store them with the clasps closed as if you were wearing the skate. This keeps the tongue from getting bent and becoming uncomfortable.

By following these simple care and maintenance guidelines, you will keep your skates in great condition and you will thus be well prepared each time you slip into your skates.
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