If you've been looking at the winter landscape and dreaming of rolling on clean dry pavement, now's a good time to prepare for spring by giving your skates some TLC. Besides helping them last longer, regular maintenance is an important safety measure, too.
Dusting and cleaningWhen was the last time you removed every wheel and wiped down the bearings? It's important to keep away the grime that cakes onto the outside of your bearings. Wipe with a slightly damp cloth and, if necessary, gently dig out the dirt.
If your wheels have a pronounced shaved-off look on the inside edges, it's time to flip them over and swap the position of the most worn wheels with the least worn. Are your 78mm wheels now 68s? You know it's time for new wheels when you can barely read the writing on the sides (or when there are no sides at all!)
Upgrades for speedHow would you like to go faster without buying a new pair of skates? A brand new set of wheels (the tallest your skates will accept) is the first step. Next, replace the plastic spacers that are installed between the bearings in each wheel with aluminum ones. (Ask for a hop-up kit at your local shop.) Finally, if you have some extra cash, buy new, faster bearings (ABEC3 or higher).
Stock up on brakesWinter is the time to stash away replacement heel brakes for later in the year, when they may be difficult to find.