The key to keeping your skates rolling and performing like the day you bought them is preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance is nothing more than a few simple decisions on your part.
First, make sure you choose the right surfaces to skate on for the type of skate you own. Avoid skating through water, sand, mud, or any other type of material that can cause severe damage to your skates. The fewer opportunities your skates have to get dirty and collect debris, the longer they will continue to perform like the day you took them out of the box.
Second, if you want to avoid Stinky Skate Syndrome, make sure you select the appropriate sock to wear while skating. This should be a thin athletic sock. If you wear thicker socks, the more moisture builds up and the more your skates will stink. Once Stinky Skate Syndrome sets in, there is not a lot you can do about it.
If you have slacked on the preventative maintenance but you want to get an old pair of under-performing skates back in top shape, you will need to conduct some restorative maintenance.
Restorative maintenance will require that you focus on 3 areas of your skates: Wheels, Bearings, and Brakes.
Wheels: Rotating inline skate wheels is an essential part of keeping skates performing well. Analyze the wheels of the skates you are looking to restore. If they are in good enough shape to keep, analyze them for a rotation.
Bearings: Likely the key area to look when skates are under-performing. Bearings that are properly cleaned and lubricated will perform best. It is highly recommended that you remove the wheels from the frame and inspect the bearings for debris. Conduct a cleaning and lubrication before inserting them back into the wheel hub. Keep in mind that when servicing your bearings, there are two types of bearings you are likely to encounter. For a more thorough discussion on how to service and maintain your bearings, please review our article on skate bearing maintenance.
Brakes: Checking your brake is a very important part of the inline skate restoration process as well. If you spend the time to make the skates go faster, you may just want to spend a bit of time making sure you can stop as well. Many brakes will have a recommended ‘wear-line’ that will help you determine how low you should allow your brake to wear down. We recommend that you do not wait until your brake gets to this line, but rather keep an eye on it and change it when you feel it becoming ineffective.