Maybe you inherited them from Grandma, maybe you scored them off Gumtree or maybe you dug around in the back shed and fished those old rollerblades out of their dusty grave.
Whatever the case, you now have an ollllllld pair of inline skates that you want to pimp out and get rolling on.
But before you get going there are a few things you need to check over for your own safety and comfort.
You may also need to upgrade some parts!
Here are some tips on what to look for and what you might need to replace.
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Okay, so rolling is one of the most important aspects of skating.
I know it sounds basic but without the right wheels and bearings you ain't gonna roll very far or very fast.
Outdoor inline wheels are made of a harder urethane than indoor inline wheels. The hardness of the wheel is usually written on the side of the wheel eg. 78A, 80A, 82A, 85A etc.
Anything softer than an 82A is probably going to wear down really quickly, especially on most street surfaces like footpaths, gravel, bitumen, courts etc. (Some cheap supermarket skates come with a hard plastic wheel. These are also no good.)
The more gritty the surface, the quicker the wheel will wear.
The heavier the skater and the heavier the stops (especially power slides and t-stops) the more the wheel will wear.
If your wheels are too soft they will wear down real fast and you will need to replace them.
Replacing all 8 of your wheels will cost you between $80 to $120, depending on which wheels you choose.
Get In Shape
If your wheels are the right urethane but a weird shape and all different sizes you might also need to replace.
If the wheels look strange (not round) and have a hard edge on them this means they are coned.
It's likely that their previous owner has not rotated them which means they have been worn more heavily on one side.
When you are skating on them you will feel like you are skating on the edge of the wheel, forcing your feet to collapse or bow in one direction.
Skating like this will usually cause you foot pain and eventually the wheels will become unskateable.
If some wheels are still round but the others are coned you might be able to get away with replacing a few wheels. Replacing a single wheel will cost you between $10 to $20, depending on which type and brand you choose.
Do your wheels look a little bit too worn out? Are they bald? No meat left?
In better times, your wheel was whole but after many skates it looks like a half eaten donut. The hub is only millimetres away and in some places there is no urethane at all.
Let's get something straight: You can't roll on the hub of the wheel, it's like if you tried to drive your car on the rims! Not fun.
If your wheel doesn’t have much life left in it then it makes skating hard because you have to work twice as hard to get anywhere.
If the urethane of your wheels is super old and crusty you may find that when you skate on them they will just flake off like your favourite chocolate bar.
Maybe the wheels were new in the 1990s but because they have been stored in a shed, exposed to heat or just super old they can spontaneously combust on the first outing.
See above warning about skating on the hub.
This type of wheel has given up the ghost. In this case you most definitely need new wheels.
Bear(ing) With Me
There are things in your wheels that make the wheel spin.
They're called bearings and you can get slow ones or fast ones.
If the bearings in your wheels are super low quality, rusted, dirty or just very, very old you might find that you have to work really hard to roll at all.
You will basically feel like you are running not rolling. It hard work!
If you want to roll smooth then new bearings are just the ticket.
A full set of 16 bearings start at $40 for a basic set. (Psst: you need 2 bearings per wheel and you usually have 8 wheels, that's why you need 16 bearings in total)
Just like anything, the more you spend the better quality you get and that's why you can also spend $50, $60, $70, $100 or even up to $400 on new bearings.
A pretty good quality set will set you back between $55-$70.
Don't forget that bearings also need to be cleaned, at least every six months!
The wheels are attached to the skate boot with the frame. Frames can be nylon or aluminium.
Cheaper nylon frames can sometimes bend and warp with adult body weight, particularly if the skate itself is low quality or made for a child.
Some skates have aluminium frames allowing them to take more body weight.
The more advanced you are, the more weight you tend to put into any action so if you are an advanced skater or over 100kg you may need to skate on something with a thicker aluminium frame.
Recreation style skates tend to have a longer frame than slalom or hockey skates.
Hockey frames are shorter and often have a Hi-Lo frame which have bigger wheels on the back and smaller ones on the front.
This puts you in an acceleration position and allows you to skate more in your toes and make faster and easier turns.
Take A Brake
Some inline skates come fitted with a brake but after dragging it to its death the poor old brake is looking a bit worse for wear.
Unfortunately there is no universal brake kit or brake pad but depending on the brand/model you may be able to replace it or machine something to fit.
Replacement brake pads can cost around $10 to $15 depending on the brand.
Or you can throw it away and learn to skate without it.
The Right Size
Skating in the right size skate is extremely important so if you are hell bent on keeping your old school skates please make sure they fit.
Too small skates will cause cramping and the loss of toenails (R.I.P), while skating in too big skates can cause serious damage.
In fact, the wrong size skates can cause all kinds of problems that are expensive to fix such as: ligament damage, bunions, stress fractures, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis etc.
Our advice: If the skates are not your size don’t skate in them!
Pimping out your skates can be a super fun time or it can cost you more money than the skates are actually worth.
So weigh up the costs and decide what is right for you.
Maybe it is time to look at a new pair or maybe there is still some life in the old crusties yet.
You can always get on a roll now and upgrade your skates later or invest in a new pair with all the bells and whistles.