Many roller derby skaters have their wheel nuts too tight. Loosen them if you want to skate faster.
If the wheel nuts is too tight it will rub against the bearing, causing friction which causes the bearings and wheels to spin slower.
In a nutshell (see what I did there), overly tightened nuts are like a brake and they slow you down.
The solution is easy, loosen the wheel nuts a little and your wheels will roller faster and longer.
- Adjust the wheel nut so the wheel can slide slightly back and forth along the axle.
- There should be a gap of about 1 to 2mm between the nut and the wheel.
- Don’t confuse sideway wiggle room with zigzag wiggle (below right) caused by poor quality, sloppy bearings.
But I did this last week!
You wouldn’t believe how many times Ive been told by skaters that they don’t need to adjust their nuts because “someone adjusted them last week”.
Unfortunately, that person was probably not aware that overly tightened nuts slow you down so yeah, you still need to adjust them.
Brand new skates… yeah, they are too tight
I have found that at least 50% of freshies have their wheel nuts too tight. This is not surprising because skate manufacturers are concerned that your wheels will fall off, you break your spleen and then sue them into oblivion. I think they are overly cautious and in most cases the nuts are too tight.
The Goldilocks Zone
Too loose and the wheel might fall off. I have seen this happen at bouts and its not pretty.
Too tight and the nuts acts like a brake, slowing down your wheels.
Find the Goldilocks Zone… not too tight, not too loose, juuuuust right.
You will need a skate tool to loosen the nuts or even a wrench. Don’t use pliers because they round the edges of nuts.
In most cases, a quarter of a turn will do the trick.
P.S. Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty
Look out for a later post where I will compare metal and nylon nuts
Legal Disclaimer AKA Crunch’s Get Out Of Jail Free Card
Be careful because your wheel may fall off if the nut is not tight enough.
If your wheel falls off and you break your leg, its nut my fault.
What do you think?
So there you go. Loosening your nuts is an easy way to gain a bit of speed.
I have seen Freshie’s improve their 27 in 5 by 1 or 2 laps by following this simple tip.
Have you tried it and how much different did it make to your speed?
About the Author
Captain Crunch is the head speed coach for WA Roller Derby.
He holds state and national speed skating titles from his days of competitive quad speed skating.