Upgrading Your Roller Skates
Many people do not realize this but there are many simple ways to upgrade your rollerskates. Like most other pieces of sports equipment, the right upgrade can make your skate performance better and the overall skating experience more enjoyable. When it comes to upgrades, there are three main areas that are available for upgrade on rollerskates: bearings, wheels, and frames.
We'll begin by talking about skate bearings. As logic may tell you, lower priced quad skates are going to come equipped with bearings at the lower end of the spectrum. This means that the skate will not roll as well as a skate with high-end bearings because the low-end bearing does not reduce the friction created between the wheel and the axle like a high-end bearing does. When you're talking about the single best investment you can make for your roller skates, upgrading your bearings is it because it will allow your skates to roll smoother and faster.
Most skate bearings that you will find will be rated on what is known as the ABEC scale. ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, and refers to the perfection of a bearing. ABEC ratings, which typically range from 1 - 9 for skates, grade the quality and smoothness of the polish on a bearing. The higher the number, the more efficient the bearing will operate. An additional bearing rating is the Swiss bearing. This came along after the ABEC system and the primary difference is that the standards to measure each are slightly different. For more information on skate bearings, including the differences between ABEC and Swiss bearings, please check out our article on quad skate bearings. Either of these bearing types will be the best for quad skating because they are specially designed for skating. Once purchased, you local roller skate shop should be able to install them for you if you aren't sure how to swap them out yourself. Keep in mind that once you upgrade your bearings, they will take some time to break in, so don’t expect your first time out with your new bearings to be the best it’s going to get.
Another easy step to take in upgrading your quad skates is by upgrading your wheels. Roller skate wheels will be classified into two primary categories, indoor and outdoor. Outdoor wheels tend to be softer and have more rebound than indoor wheels so be sure that you're buying the right wheels for the roller skating you will be doing. If you plan on using your skate both indoors and outdoors I would suggest using outdoor wheels all around or get both types and switch them out for the type of skating you will be doing. This might sound like tedious work, but it is actually quite easy to do.
For indoor skates, wheel hardness ratings, also known as Durometer ratings, come in 97A, 95A and 92A. The higher the number, the harder the wheel. For indoor wheels, 97A is used for a standard indoor surface, 95A is used for more slippery surfaces, and 92A is used for extra slippery surfaces so before buying your wheels, try to determine where and what you will be skating on.
For outdoor skates, wheel Duromter ratings will range from 78A (the softest) to 85A (the hardest) and the choice you make will really just depend on how hard you want your wheels to be.
Wheel size can also make a difference when upgrading your skates. The sizes typically range from 58mm through 70mm with the most common size being 62mm. However, the larger the wheel size, the more roll you will get with the least amount of energy. Larger wheel sizes also help reduce the effects of impurities on the road. Smaller wheels are more common on indoor and artistic skates because they increase precision and maneuverability. The smaller wheels are typically better for more advanced skaters while beginners should stick with the larger wheels.
The last simple upgrade you can make for your quad skates are the plates that connect to the bottom of the boot on your roller skates. These plates are typically metal (aluminum) or some kind of plastic, such as high-tech nylon or vinyl. Lower-end plates tend to be metal and carry a lot of weight with them whereas more expensive, plastic or vinyl plates are lighter and easier to maneuver on. Plastic plates are not as rugged and durable if you plan on jumping on your skates. If you plan on, or if you know that you ride your skates rough I would suggest buying a metal plate. If you're a speed skater or want a lighter skate, spend the bit of extra cash to upgrade to a high-tech nylon or vinyl plate.
Determining the right upgrades for your quad skating needs is easy with the right information and the right help. With the right upgrades comes better performance and more enjoyable skating. So don’t be afraid to upgrade!