Snow is still a ways off, but fall is the perfect time to work on a solid foundation for the ski season, and roller skiing is the most ski-specific training method.
While roller skis don’t need gliding or kick wax, they do require some attention in order to roll smoothly and safely. Here are a few tips to care and maintenance.
Ratchet – front or rear wheels?
The debate surrounding the ideal position of ratcheted wheels for classic roller skiing is a frequent topic among roller skiers. Is it best to ratchet the front or the rear wheels, or both? If both front and rear are ratcheted, it becomes a lot easier to get perfect kick, which is a bonus for recreational skiers. However, more advanced racers might find this too much.
Most elite skiers prefer to install the ratchet on the front wheels only. This forces skiers to lean forward to find kick and promotes an explosive, efficient kick.
On the other hand, front wheel ratcheting makes it harder to get kick, and requires better technique. For those who struggle with classic technique, rear wheel ratcheting provides a happy medium between full ratcheting and front wheel ratcheting.
Bindings – rear or middle mounted?
With skis, bindings are mounted based on the balance point of the ski. This is not possible for roller skis, as they are much shorter and differently engineered.
In general, bindings for both classic and skate roller skis should be mounted as far back on the ski as possible. Some skis come with pre-mounted binding plates for NNN, where the bindings simply slide onto the plate. They can then easily be moved up and down on the plate according to preference.
For other binding systems the bindings are best mounted by a skilled retailer. However, make sure the distance from the front of the binding to the rear of the ski will accommodate your boot size.
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Roller skis don’t require extensive maintenance.
Simply rinse dirty roller skis with water and wipe them dry with a shop towel or rag. While cleaning, take a look at the skis and remove debris that might have got stuck between the wheels and the fenders, and make sure no gravel or dirt is stuck in/on the hubs. This might damage the bearings.
Modern roller skis are equipped with sealed hubs and bearings and don’t require rebuilding or re-greasing. If you notice problems with the bearings or hubs, it is generally wise to have the roller ski serviced by a shop mechanic rather than try to take the wheel apart on your own.
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To get the most from your roller skis, make sure you wear the wheels as evenly as possible. Because of ratchets, biomechanics and surface, you may notice uneven wear on the roller skis. Try switching up which ski you use on your left and your right foot in order to reduce the wear on the wheels.
Additionally, skating generally wears down the rear wheels faster than the front wheels. A few times throughout the season, you might try rotating the front wheels to the rear.
Classic skiing with proper technique tends to wear the skis more evenly. If you notice your significantly different wear on the wheels, this might indicate that the boots don’t provide enough support or biomechanical issues.