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The Mystery Of Wheel Rotation

Next to bearing maintenance, wheel rotation is probably one of the most controversial subjects in skating. Every pair of Rollerblades sold comes with instructions to rotate "two in, two out", and a lot of magazine articles say move one wheel back.

These approaches are all good compared to not rotating at all, but the absolute best approach is to just "read" your wheels. By reading your wheels, you can learn a lot about your skating technique, and optimize your wheel wear (thereby extending their life).

Start by just taking a look at your wheel wear. Unless you’re some kind of alien, you’ll have more wear on the inside edge. Of course, this means that when you rotate, you’ll want to make sure this edge ends up on the outside. Also note which wheels are wearing the fastest. Most people wear the back wheel the most, then the front wheel. And most people wear wheels on one skate a little more than the other; a lot more if you do T-stops.

Now for the controversial part. Take all your wheels off and put them in a pile. If they need cleaned, scrub them with a toothbrush or something. (No need to remove the bearings if the toothbrush is dry.) Compressed air is nice to get into the hub spokes. Now separate the four largest wheels from the four smallest wheels. Put those wheels back on the front and back, with the largest wheel where the smallest wheel was when you first inspected your skates. Don’t forget how those edges should go! Take the remaining four (smallest) wheels and put them in the center two spots. Mission accomplished! You have just spent 15 minutes and saved a lot of money.

How often should you do this? Every 16.58 miles. Just kidding. It’s silly to say how often because everyone skates with a different style. Naturally, a more aggressive skater will have to rotate more often. Just look at your wheels; if they start to look flat on the inside edges, it’s time to rotate!