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Beginning Skaters Forum This is the place for beginning skaters to ask questions and share their stories. We would love to hear about your experiences learning to skate. No question is too dumb!

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Old April 25th, 2014, 08:26 PM   #1
iains
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Default Kitting out the Kids

Hi!

I've got three kids, 9, 7 and almost 5 years old who have all learned to skate (and ice skate) at the local nursery.

As they got older, we passed on the kit from on to another, except when #1 out grew his pair at age 6, left the nursery and went to school, we didn't replace them.

A couple of years later, last summer in fact, we decided that we should get him a new pair of skates. One of his classmates invited him to come to her team practise one evening and we all went. Everybody loved it. And then we were invited to the last big race of the season the following Saturday. #1 and #2 took part and both won medals! And got hooked on speed skating!

So since then, they've been practising a lot, racing a little and a couple of months ago, #1 was moved from his fitness skates to low cut speed skates. Which he hated. They were really old, uncomfortable, heavy etc... Someone in the group then sold us a pair of second or third hand powerslide fibreglass skates with old wheels and bearings. #1 goes really well on these, but they don't sound too good despite my trying to clean them and we've been told that the wheels too are too worn and need replacing. #2 has also been told that if we can source them he could also use these style speed skates! Mum and I disagree!

OK. The good news is that soon a relative is going to come back from the States and has asked what he can bring with him. Everything is soooo much cheaper there with a wider range than here it is unbelievable! So could you recommend what to get? When he outgrows his current ones, we'll have to get boots locally so that he can try them on, but I'd guess that anything else can be better bought via the net!?

His current wheels are noname 84mm 85a hardness. I'd prefer to get him less hard wheels. I'd guess that the wear caused by a small (25 kg) child will be less and they'll provide him with better grip. Maybe even rain wheels too, because it traditionally rains on local race days! And they race almost exclusively outside on a dedicated asphalt track.

The bearings are something or other with a red plastic or rubber cap I'm loath to try and remove because I feel I'll never get it back on and all the ball bearings will fall out. I'd clean them regularly rather than pay for ceramics. Oh and people here clean and lubricate the bearings with WD40 which seems to be a bit strange to me? Would using a teflon bike chain spray be better?

He is still often falling over - partly with the change of boots - partly because he does push himself really hard. This is both painful and expensive in the number of new leggings we're having to buy. So some good knee / hip pads that don't slide down when he falls at speed would be good.

I don't mind spending a few hundred dollars because everything will be passed down to #2 and #3 in time.

So what do you think I should be getting the kids for their birthdays? And where from? Thanks in advance!
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Old April 25th, 2014, 09:02 PM   #2
WJCIV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
#2 has also been told that if we can source them he could also use these style speed skates! Mum and I disagree!
I would say that he could, but there is no need to rush out and buy a pair if his current ones fit and he is going to outgrow them soon. The next time he needs new boots go ahead and look at speed style.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
His current wheels are noname 84mm 85a hardness. I'd prefer to get him less hard wheels. I'd guess that the wear caused by a small (25 kg) child will be less and they'll provide him with better grip. Maybe even rain wheels too, because it traditionally rains on local race days! And they race almost exclusively outside on a dedicated asphalt track.
I think we're going to need to clarify the term asphalt. I seem to remember that it is used differently in different parts of the world. Here is used mostly to refer to a very smooth surface that is typically only used in parking lots and driveways. It gets pretty slick when wet, but is very good when dry.

In addition, are there tar snakes? When roads crack from repeated expansion and contraction road crews often "solve" the problem by filling it in with tar. That's even worse when it gets hot (sticky) or wet (slick).

Whatever type of wheels you decide on getting, I recommend getting two sets. One for practice which can be run into the ground. The other is put on the day before the race and removed the night after. They will last longer in good condition and allow your child to perform at his best on race day. Store the set at room temperature in a bag to protect it from the elements and keep it out of direct sunlight. At that age, when you get new wheels they can become the new race set, and the race set can become the practice set.

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Originally Posted by iains View Post
The bearings are something or other with a red plastic or rubber cap I'm loath to try and remove because I feel I'll never get it back on and all the ball bearings will fall out. I'd clean them regularly rather than pay for ceramics. Oh and people here clean and lubricate the bearings with WD40 which seems to be a bit strange to me? Would using a teflon bike chain spray be better?
There should be a shield or seal which protects the inside from the elements and a retainer that holds the balls in place. You can remove the shield or seal with no problem, but there is never any real need to remove the retainer. If the bearings get wet, you must remove them as soon as your child stops skating and put them in something (cleaner, WD-40, or gasoline). The reason the bearings are making sounds is either because they are not lubricated properly or the balls/races are already scratched. One of those problems is solvable. The other would relegate that set to a practice set or the garbage for me.

Ceramics make things easier because they do not rust, so you don't have to worry about cleaning them right after getting wet. Higher quality stainless steel also gives you a little bit more time, but doesn't eliminate the necessity.

WD-40 is not a lubricant. It is a Water Displacer. It's great for when you have wet bearings that you need to store before cleaning. It isn't absolutely terrible for your bearings under the load a small skater imparts, but you are better off with a real lubricant. Sewing machine oil, 3-in-1, Bones speed cream, etc. We can also argue grease versus oil, but I hope someone will just link to a thread we already have than start that here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
He is still often falling over - partly with the change of boots - partly because he does push himself really hard. This is both painful and expensive in the number of new leggings we're having to buy. So some good knee / hip pads that don't slide down when he falls at speed would be good.
More likely the cause is technique. If the boots fit properly he should be able to adjust. Unless he is at the point of exhaustion/ his falls come mostly at the end of practice, I wouldn't blame the effort. It is hard to get kids to focus on proper technique, but it pays off in more ways than one. I personally find that pads hinder my ability to get in a proper stance, but some other skaters do just fine.

EDIT: You may want to have someone check the frame placement too. If your son's ankles are being torqued that could cause balance problems or floppy ankles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
So what do you think I should be getting the kids for their birthdays? And where from? Thanks in advance!
Maybe a new frame? There aren't a lot of good speed wheels being made at 84mm anymore (to my knowledge). You can get something like a 4x100/3x110 transformer frame and stick 90s on there initially. Then your kid can graduate to 100s and 110s without needing a new frame. Each time the wheels wear out evaluate if he is ready for the next size up. If you do change size, do not just rotate them in as the race set as I mention above. You want to practice and race on the same size wheels.
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Old April 26th, 2014, 05:46 AM   #3
iains
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Hello!

Quote:
I think we're going to need to clarify the term asphalt. I seem to remember that it is used differently in different parts of the world. Here is used mostly to refer to a very smooth surface that is typically only used in parking lots and driveways. It gets pretty slick when wet, but is very good when dry.
We are on about the same stuff...

Quote:
In addition, are there tar snakes?
No, the track cannot be easily accessed by vehicles and hasn't been fixed like that (well, not as far as I remember, but I'll have a closer look next time I'm there)!

Quote:
Whatever type of wheels you decide on getting, I recommend getting two sets.
OK, that sounds good. Do they have to be the same type? Also if he practises on one set which will get worn faster, will he likely notice if he then races on full size non-worn wheels?

I'll look up some bearing maintenance videos, because I really saw no way to open the bearing without damaging it. But that's my lack of experience...

Quote:
More likely the cause is technique. If the boots fit properly he should be able to adjust. Unless he is at the point of exhaustion/ his falls come mostly at the end of practice, I wouldn't blame the effort.
He often falls in three situations, at the end of training when he is tired, when he races in the wet and at relay changovers when there are lots of more experienced skaters on the same patch of track...

Do his boots fit properly? Well, he says that they are comfortable, but I can't feel where his toes are in them or anything. How can someone not wearing the boots tell?

Quote:
Maybe a new frame? .... You can get something like a 4x100/3x110 transformer frame and stick 90s on there initially.
That's something I never thought of. What do I need to know about the boot to choose an appropriate frame? And he will tell me today that 110mm wheels would be best for him if he thought it'd make him faster. If he's not completely stable in 84s, then I guess he's not nearly ready for 90s/100s. Does having 3 wheels in a frame make much difference as opposed to the normal 4?

Quote:
I personally find that pads hinder my ability to get in a proper stance, but some other skaters do just fine.
His mum would prefer him to skate in a michelin man suit. But yes, the experienced ones around do tend to go lighter on the padding.

Thanks for your response!
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Old April 26th, 2014, 08:33 AM   #4
Mort
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Bearings:
Getting inside them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXmZh...5T__iaX_CtSLTD

Cleaning them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEkAeVVivK8

This guy has some nice videos.

The citrus cleaners are ok, but if you want thinga clean fast just use a kerosene/ gas/ acetone. Or a hard solvent to remove grease. Citrus cleaners work GREAT on oiled bearings, but can have some trouble dissolving greases.

If you are using a harsher solvent be mindful of its toxicity. Wear PPE(Personal Protection Equipment). The way I clean bearings is use "gunk motor flush" its meant to be used at the time of an oil change for your car It's sold by the quart, is not terribly expensive, cleans fast and has a lower odor than most other solvents. After a cleaning, I like to "clean" the solvent/cleaner out as well. I do this by using 1 part dish detergent to 20 parts water(essentiality making very strong soapy water solution). Appplying the soapy mixture with a tooth brush an giving a good, a few spins and a good rinse jnder hot water whike spinning. I then use my air compressor to blow them dry, or my wifes hair dryer. You can put them on something mesh so airlow increases an they dry faster, spin them too a couple time while drying, to ensure no stagnant water was left behind. Careful they get hot under the hair dryer!

For lubrication as oils go- honestly if you ask me 10W30 synthetic motor oil is so damn good and cheap, you cant go wrong with it, it lasts SUBSTANTIALLY longer than sewing machine oils. Its film strength is superior-the amount of loading it can handle before metal to metal contact occurs-, it fights off rust much better too. Application of oil is pretty easy, get a tooth pick or a coffe straw, pour a little oil into a cap and dab the straw/pick in and get a few drops in each bearing say 3-4 placed around it. I prefer to do this with 1 seal in place, face down so not much leaks through the bearing.

I clean my bearings fairly often, and even when really loading them up with sewing machine oil they come back dirty with abrasives from metal to metal contact. On the other hand the synthetic motor oil just keeps on lasting and the bearings stay much cleaner.

Bearings in skates need more film strength, where sewing machines spin at high rpm and need lesser viscous lubrication. They also do not see the loading we subject skate bearings to.

As for skating, proper form = speed AND endurance. Try to get him to secretly focus on form alone for a while, not so much go-fast, just trying to use a perfect kick. When hes chasing people tell him to try to throttle bak the power and increase the precision of his strides. Ask him to try and get a "feel" for a stride that makes a good speed but still be a kick he can do all day long. Good form is often the reason for top level athletes, not just being gifted for strength and endurance. A smooth transition of power will result in much more efficient propulsion.
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Old April 26th, 2014, 01:53 PM   #5
WJCIV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
No, the track cannot be easily accessed by vehicles and hasn't been fixed like that (well, not as far as I remember, but I'll have a closer look next time I'm there)!
That sounds pretty cool. I wish we had some regular skating sessions like that around here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
OK, that sounds good. Do they have to be the same type? Also if he practises on one set which will get worn faster, will he likely notice if he then races on full size non-worn wheels?
They don't have to be the same type. It will help if they are the same brand. If you look at wheels from different companies head on you can see they have different shapes. I think Matters are the "pointiest". WRW feel less pointy than Atom IQs to me. This is really noticeable when you go around corners because the shape can force you onto the edge of the wheel.

As the practice wheels get worn down he will notice a difference between the two sets, but not the size difference. The less used wheels should feel like they roll better. The size difference between worn and unworn wheels is very minimal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
I'll look up some bearing maintenance videos, because I really saw no way to open the bearing without damaging it. But that's my lack of experience...
Do you know the brand? If I had to guess based on what you already said I would guess Bones with a rubber seal. Or the seal is missing and you can already see the balls. You only have to have one shield/seal removed. If you can see the balls on one side, that is good enough for cleaner to get in and grit to get out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
He often falls in three situations, at the end of training when he is tired, when he races in the wet and at relay changovers when there are lots of more experienced skaters on the same patch of track...
Okay. That doesn't sound so bad. The wetness one is technique. As the road gets slicker he should shorten his stride. The other two sound mental. As he builds his confidence things should improve. What type of leggings are you getting? This may be one of those cases where it is worth buying a pair at double the price because it will last more than twice as long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
Do his boots fit properly? Well, he says that they are comfortable, but I can't feel where his toes are in them or anything. How can someone not wearing the boots tell?
If you feel from the top you should be able to figure out where the toes are. Certainly you can't feel through the carbon fiber on the sides, but down below the laces it should be possible. Also look at the fit around the ankles. Finally, when he is just standing there or skating slowly in a straight line, does it look like he is in full control? The ankles should not flop about, and the wheels should be very close to straight up and down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
That's something I never thought of. What do I need to know about the boot to choose an appropriate frame? And he will tell me today that 110mm wheels would be best for him if he thought it'd make him faster. If he's not completely stable in 84s, then I guess he's not nearly ready for 90s/100s. Does having 3 wheels in a frame make much difference as opposed to the normal 4?
You need to know the distance between the front and back mounting plate. Most boots are 165mm or 195mm, although I believe some kids' boots are 158. He will probably say 110s are good (most new skaters want to skate on what the pros are using as soon as possible), but moving up too early is bad for ankles - especially those still developing. Wait until he has full control of one size before moving up. Otherwise he is at risk for ankle and/or shin pain and injury. It could even cause more falling, which puts the rest of the body at risk too.

I've heard three wheels can grip less in theory, but I know plenty of skaters not having any problems. Even the pros are experimenting with 3x125 right now. For a heavier skater three wheels will deform more and steal speed, but that isn't a problem with smaller skaters.

Cado Motus has a transformer line of frames made for this situation.
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Old April 26th, 2014, 08:16 PM   #6
iains
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@Mort: Thanks for the links and advice about the bearings. I'll try and take one of them apart for cleaning next week. Once I've cleaned them is it valid to test them by checking which rotate longer freely? Some of his bearings are noisier than others, but this doesn't seem to have a relationship to which rotates the longest when spun in the air.

As for learning the correct technique, sounds good, but how fast should this be coming to him? He has only been skating in the group for about 8 months, 3 months were winter inside gym only exercises and has only been on proper speed skates for 1 - 2 months!

@WJCIV: OK, if wheels can be pointy, is this a good or a bad thing? If I order a couple of sets, will it matter at this level, what they are, so long as they are the right size (84mm) and hardness (85a)? You mention Atoms and Matters? I guess that they are both good brands? Neither available here so I can't ask anyone who uses them, but I could buy a set of 8 wheels from IW for under $40 including bearings or 8 individual wheels without bearings for about $100. At kid level, are they likely to feel a difference? If one type will last longer than the other, then *I* might feel the difference

I'm definitely going to leave him on 84s for this season. But when he next goes out and I can get there, I'll try to watch his ankles and figure out the fit of the boots more accurately!

Thanks to you both for your advice!
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Old April 26th, 2014, 08:19 PM   #7
iains
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Originally Posted by WJCIV View Post
Cado Motus has a transformer line of frames made for this situation.
I've just had a look at that link. Ouch! That's almost more for a pair of frames than everything else he is wearing combined!



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Old April 26th, 2014, 11:32 PM   #8
WJCIV
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Originally Posted by iains View Post
As for learning the correct technique, sounds good, but how fast should this be coming to him? He has only been skating in the group for about 8 months, 3 months were winter inside gym only exercises and has only been on proper speed skates for 1 - 2 months!
It depends on the kid and the coach. Actually, there are lots of drylands to practice technique, so that time does count. Talk to the coaches about whether there are any technique drill they want him doing at home. The earlier he learns good technique the less he will have to "unlearn" later. It obviously feels different on skates, but you can make progress on shoes. Shortening the strides when the surface is slick is not something a lot of coaches bother to point out, so it may be worth mentioning.

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OK, if wheels can be pointy, is this a good or a bad thing?
No, not really. It is a matter of preference. It can be bad to practice on one and race on another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iains View Post
If I order a couple of sets, will it matter at this level, what they are, so long as they are the right size (84mm) and hardness (85a)? You mention Atoms and Matters? I guess that they are both good brands?
It does matter, but I don't know enough about 84mm wheels to give you guidance. Atom, Matter, and WRW are all well respected brands for a reason. MPC also has some very good offerings. I don't think you have to worry about banded versus non-banded wheels.

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Originally Posted by iains View Post
I've just had a look at that link. Ouch! That's almost more for a pair of frames than everything else he is wearing combined!
I didn't have to pay VAT, which is shown by default. Then again, shipping cost about the same as VAT would have. You might be able to find a set used off eBay, Nett Racing, local racers, etc.
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