Roller Skates 101

Roller Skates 101



Wheel hardness is determined by an A scale rating, the higher the number, the harder the wheel. Softer wheels are used for outdoor skating (78A or 84A). Outdoor wheels are softer to provide a better rebound for skating on uneven surfaces. Rebound allows for the wheel to roll over the uneven surfaces rather then bouncing over them like the harder wheels. Hard wheels (90A to 101A) are used for indoor skating with the softer indoor wheels offering a better grip than the harder indoor wheels.

Soft wheels below 84A need a hub to reinforce the bearing seat in the wheel. Under normal conditions, an 84A wheel will hold the bearings, but not under extreme conditions. Hubs are used on harder wheels only to lower the weight of larger wheels. Usually nylon or aluminum hubs are much lighter than the urethane they replace. Metal hubs are preferred over nylon hubs to produce a much stiffer wheel and provide a better feel to the top end skaters. Nylon hubs tend to flex while skating.

Narrow wheels are standard with Juvenile skates, artistic skates, outdoor skates and most rhythm skates. The narrow shape makes the wheels lighter and much easier to maneuver when skating. Wide track wheels are used for most jam skates, track skates and speed skates because the wider surface provides more grip when cornering, especially at high speeds. RADAR wheels also feature Speed Groove Technology, a groove down the middle of the wide track wheels allowing the wheel to flex at the groove, causing even more grip.

Wheels are offered in an endless array of color, however, different urethanes will produce different colors or hues due to the original or natural color of the chemicals. Wheels are cast with powdered pigments to change the urethane color. Wheel color helps the skater know what hardness or grip the wheel is and allows the skater to have a different look.

Top end wheels for jam skating, speed skating or track skating are made from a material called POLY BD This very specific material has exceptional grip while providing excellent rebound yet remains stiff enough to deliver a quality roll The POLY BD also has a very high viscosity which means it pours very slowly when cast and as it cures,tiny air bubbles are caught inside the wheels. These tiny air bubbles show up as holes in the wheel when the running surface is trimmed, as well as, when the wheels wear down and more holes come to the surface.
Do not fear the holes, these bubbles do not affect the performance of the wheels and in fact, they prove that the material is truly POLY BD which enhances the performance of the wheels on skating surfaces. Enjoy your new wheels knowing all those tiny bubbles are there for a reason and it means you are skating on the most advanced wheel formula.

Bearings sit in the wheel hubs and are what allow the wheels to roll in the skates Most bearings are rated using the ABEC rating system The higher the bearing rating, the better the bearing is. The ABEC rating has nothing to do with bearing quality, it is only a rating system.

What is ABEC?
ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineers Committee. It is NOT a brand of bearing This committee works to determine the standards for bearings for the Anti Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association (AFBMA).
The ABEC scale classifies different accuracy and tolerance ranges for bearings There are five ratings in the ABEC scale

The ABEC rating of a bearing is determined by the following (for a 608 size bearing):

How close the bore is to 8mm m microns
How close the outer diameter is to 22 in microns
How close the width is to 7mm in microns The rotating accuracy in microns.

Does ABEC affect the speed of your skates?
No. Not unless you are skating at 330 mph That s based on a 608 bearing limiting speed of 32,000 rpm. Only in extremely high speed applications like ultra high speed motors and precision measuring instruments can bearings above ABEC 1 affect performance Regardless of how fast you plan to go, speed is affected first and foremost by the choice of lubricant. If we're going to talk about tolerances, the fit of your wheels and axles have a much greater effect on performance than ABEC rating Wheels and axles for inline skates have extremely loose fits that allow you to press the bearings into the wheel by hand. This masks the benefits of a higher precision bearing by allowing it to slip on the axle or in the wheel Slippage between the mating parts results in energy loss Lost energy is lost speed.
Remember how fast you go is up to you and your ability Higher rated bearings will not make you go faster, but you do have more ROLL OUT Another way to put this is how long it takes for the wheel to stop spinning, higher rated bearings will spin longer after you stop pushing.
The real qualities of the bearings are the components. Bearings consist of Races, Balls, Cages 8c Shields. Chrome steel races are far superior to cheaper carbon steel races and this is the basic difference between good quality bearings for roller skates and cheap imitations. The carbon steel bearings will roll freely if there is no pressure on them, but after a few times on the skates, they tend to slow the bearings considerably.

Lubricant ...What is it?
The two most common lubricants are grease and oil.
Grease is basically oil with a thickener or soap The thickener acts like a sponge to soak up the oil when not in use.

What does it do?
Keeps metal parts from wearing against one another keeps dirt away from the sensitive inner workings Grease Oil helps keep dirt out prevents material wear can suspend contaminants requires frequent servicing prevents material wear has low torque requires little servicing does not last as long increases torque lasts a long time From the above you can see that a greased bearing requires little servicing yet cannot run as fast as an oiled bearing. An oiled bearing is susceptible to dust and contamination, so it needs to be serviced more often As grease is thicker, it acts as a seal against dirt, but at the same time it can increase torque and slow down the bearing. A bearing lubricant or cleaner is recommended vs using any household chemicals to lubricate or clean them. Household cleaners may seem like they are doing the job, but in reality, they are slowing the bearings down.

Skate Maintenance:
Taking care of your skates will increase the life of your skates. The best way to ensure a long lasting skate is buying a skate that is the correct fit. Misfit boots are the # 1 cause of premature boot break down. The second cause is not taking care of your skates. Leather skates need to be kept dry. After skating, allow the skates to air dry before storing them. Over time, sweat (bacteria) will deteriorate leather (protein) regardless of what you do, so allowing leather skates to dry & conditioning them help the boots longevity. Every 6 months use a leather conditioner to keep the leather from drying out and cracking. Rotate wheels that are beginning to wear and replace wheels that are at the end of their life. Before each skate, inspect your skates and replace or repair anything needed to avoid injury or skate malfunction. Use common sense when it comes to skate care &, maintenance. Skates are a big investment and should be cared for to get the best return on your investment.

Over $100 - Typically Leather, but not always.
Under $100 - Always a Vinyl or Synthetic

High Top = Traditional, Rhythm and Artistic skating
Low Top = Track, Speed or Jam
Suede = Outdoor or traditional skating

Boot Parts:
A boot consists of Outsoles, Midsoles, Insoles, Uppers (main boot body), boot linings, tongues, tongue linings & padding. The main function of the boot is to provide support and comfort to the foot and to protect the foot.

Leather vs. Vinyl
Boots are made of leather or vinyl (synthetic) materials. Leather is the best material for boots. Leather offers a durable and comfortable material that will stretch and form to the foot with use. The process of the leather softening and forming to the foot is called "breaking in." Vinyl or synthetic materials are soft to begin with, but will break down quickly with excessive use. Most Vinyl boots are not made for competitive use, but rather recreational skating. Vinyl is not as durable or comfortable as leather, but is less expensive. Leather is one of the main costs m high end boots.

Custom Built Boots:
Only available from Riedell are custom, premium and special boot make ups.
Custom built boots are made with unlimited changes to the boot, including design, colors, materials and sizing changes. Custom built boots offer a limited guaranteed fit.
Premium built boots offer up to 3 changes to a "stock" boot to include split sizing. Other changes may be in materials and color. Special built boots offer one change to a stock boot.

Aluminum Plates w/ aluminum trucks = Over $200
Nylon Plates w/ aluminum trucks = Over $100
Nylon Plates w/ nylon trucks = Under $100
Plates w/ Adjustable toe stops 5/8" = Over $100
Plates w/ Bolt on toe stops 5/16" = Under $100

The plates consist of the components less the wheels and bearings. Plates allow you to maneuver your skates around.