Rollerski Safety and Repairs
By: Canadian Wintersports (2014/05/05)
If you’re rollerskiing, then periodic verification and maintenance isn’t an option, it’s an absolute requirement.
While the helmet is not technically a part of the rollerski, it is by far the most important piece of your rollerski equipment. Have a look at the state of your helmet. How old is it? Does it fit securely and are all straps and clips intact? Has the helmet seen an impact?
If you fall, even once, and the helmet touched ground, then you need to seriously consider how hard the fall was and look closely for scratches, fissures, or any sign at all that the helmet is damaged. That plastic cover with the pretty graphics is just a cover, the impact absorption and head saving material is under the plastic in the bulk of foam (technically referred to as EPS – Polystyrene).
It’s kind of like an airbag in a car, once it deploys in an accident, you have to get the airbag replaced. Same for your helmet. If you’ve fallen and the helmet was impacted, that means your head wasn’t but it also means the helmet integrity was likely compromised and requires immediate replacement. Well worth playing this one on the more cautious side.
Because rollerskis are short in length, very high stress is directed to the frame, wheels and parts. Therefore proper maintenance of your rollerskis is important for your own safety and also for the longevity of your skis. When purchasing rollerskis, be sure to thoroughly read the instructions that accompany the skis.
Check your binding screws often to ensure they are secure. If the binding comes off your rollerski while you are skiing, so do you! Take 5 minutes to open up caps and reveal all the mounting screws on your bindings.
Ensure they are nice and snug and that none of the screws are stripped. If you have a stripped screw or mounting hole in your rollerski, go directly to your local qualified ski technician. Here’s a great little reminder I refer people to every year written by Graham Maclean, Assistant Coach / Wax Technician at the Callaghan Valley Training Centre. As a competitive athlete, National Ski Team technician, and training centre coach, Graham has spent a few hours on and around rollerskis: Rollerski Maintenance – by Graham Maclean
Wheels and Bearings
New wheels and parts are normally well greased inside. Depending on the use and the conditions, the ratchet, bearings and the axle must be lubricated with low friction water repellent grease at all times.
Keep your rollerskis clean and store them at room temperature.
Check the frame and wheels and “feel” the bearings before each outing. When skiing in wet conditions, wipe skis clean and dry and lubricate the wheels properly after skiing. Only use a solventless lubrication.
Note that any deep scrapes along the bottom of an aluminium frame may cause a weak point in the material and possibly a serious accident if it snaps. If you are using carbon roller skis, ensure that there are no serious impact fractures anywhere on the frame. If you’re in doubt, bring your skis in to your local specialty retail store for further analysis. You wouldn’t ride a badly damaged bicycle frame so use the same common sense for rollerskis.
Ratchet Wheel Maintenance (that’s the wheel on a classic ski that only moves in the forward direction)
- Loosen the axle and take the wheel off the frame (most rollerskis use a 13mm bolt for the ratchet wheel)
- Take off the axle. Use soft rubber or a wood mallet (to protect the threads).
- Clean and dry all parts with a clean cloth. Do not use solvents!
- Grease the axle and the ratchet (and also the inside of the wheel) with low friction water repellent grease.
- Using too much or too viscous a grease may cause the ratchet mechanism to slip in colder temperatures.
- Check the bearings. If they feel and sound “rough”, replace them.
- Place the axle inside the wheel and carefully insert the bearings.
- Mount the assembled wheel onto the frame (the axle must be placed at the very bottom of the fork slots) and make sure, that the axle nuts are tight. IMPORTANT: Always use 2 wrenches to tighten the ratchet wheel simultaneously from both sides! If you tighten one side at a time, you seriously risk torquing the axle enough to bend open the axle slot on the frame.
- If any grease should get smeared on the outer surface of the wheel, be sure to clean it off as the grease can degrade the rubber compound which the wheel is made of.
Non Ratchet Wheel Maintenance
Check the bearings periodically, otherwise service in the same way as the clutch wheel.
Rollerski Tips and Poles
Don’t stop your safety check until you’ve confirmed your poles aren’t damaged. An untimely pole snap on pavement could cause a fall. Not fun.
Just as important, have a look at your rollerski pole ferrules: they should be very securely glued on to the pole, aligned properly with your grip, and not be able to twist (either the grip or the ferrule). Your rollerski ferrules should have a beefy and roadworthy carbide tip. Check that the tip itself is securely inserted into the plastic ferrule and there is no wiggle or bend in it at all.
Lastly, your tips need to be sharp in order to work! Sharpen them as often as possible, mainly because it’s very quick and easy to keep tips sharp with a few strokes of a diamond file rather than wait until they are completely rounded.
Questions? Comments? Anything to add to this article?