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The lifespan of a skate is based on its frequency of use, and the materials from which it is made. However, preventive skate maintenance can ensure that each part of a skate functions for a long period of time, and also functions correctly. During this brief, we will identify each part of a roller skate in detail, and discuss certain problems and occurrences to look for. We will also cover proper ways to clean and/or oil parts of roller skates.

One thing to keep in mind is that roller skates are mechanical, with moving parts that cause friction and heat. These elements are a large part in basic breakdown of the skate parts. Most maintenance and repair in the skate involves the plate/truck system, and the wheels/bearings.

Most wheels are made of urethane compounds, which demonstrate properties similar to rubber compounds. Basic wheel maintenance starts with keeping wheels clean. Simple soap, water, and an abrasive cloth is all that ’s needed to keep wheels looking like new. It is important NOT to use any alcohol based solovents to clean your wheels. For indoor wheels with a grooved texture, it is possible to have the wheels re-grooved with a special machine that “shaves” off worn down layers to leave new traction grooves. Check with a local roller skate rink or shop for wheel grooving. Finally, the easiest way to keep wheels natural is by rotating them after extended usage. Wheels on the inner side of the skate tend to wear faster than wheels on the outer side of the skate.

All bearings sold today are considered precision bearings, which means they are shielded and sealed to protect the bearings from dirt build-up. Some precision bearings are filled with grease in the openings to dissipate heat with wheel movement. Precision bearings should be removed from the wheel in order to be cleaned. Then the bearings can be immersed in a solvent (alcohol) and agitated to loosen dirt build up. It is possible to remove the shields and clean the inside of the bearings, however bearing damage can easily happen when removing shields.

Truck Assembly
The truck assembly is the part of the skate that is subject to the most torque action. This also requires the truck assembly to be the most stable part of the skate. The action cushions (bushings) are the primary working parts of a truck. Because of their functions, cushions are made of rubber or urethane. As skates are used, cushions will crack and split. It is important to be aware of the conditions of all cushions, as they may need replaced frequently. Another common maintenance issue with truck systems are bent axles. As weight and torque is distributed throughout the skate, the axles can bend as well, causing wheels to roll irregularly. Bent axles must be hammered out of the truck system carefully, so as to not damage the truck.

The plates basically serve to functions, to connect the skate parts to the boot, and to evenly distribute support for the front and rear truck systems. Most plates are made of aluminum (heavy and durable), or nylon/plastic (lightweight and compact). Regardless of the makeup of the plate, the hardest working part of the plate is the toe stop. Depending on how it is used, toe stops tend to wear faster than any part of the skate. Most toe stops can be rotated to even the usage, however it is recommended that toe stops be replaced to ensure they are used correctly.

A boot consists of outsoles, midsoles, and insoles, uppers (main boot body), boot linings, tongues, and tongue linings and paddings. The main function of the boot is to provide support and comfort to the foot, as well as protect the foot. Boots are made of leather or vinyl (synthetic) materials. Leather is the best material for boots because of its durability, and it also stretches to form to the foot for comfort. The process of forming this leather to the foot is “breaking in”, which is achieved through natural use of the boot.

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