Well choosing your speed skating frames
By the international speed skating coach Christophe Audoire
As an international coach and expert, Christophe took part, in collaboration with several manufacturers, in the development of speed skates.
The frames should support the line of wheels with great rigidity in order to transfer the forces present during edge takings and pushes.
They should also have more flexible parts at the wheels in order to benefit from a good handiness.
How to test the good rigidity / flexibility ratio of the frames?
Just as for the boots, with the strength of your fingers, you can estimate the resistance offered by the frame at different points with the exerted pressure:
- Take a frame (without wheels and axles)
- press it in-between your fingers at the first wheel and at the last wheel: you should feel a slight flexibility and a dynamic return
- now press at different points at the center of the frame and you should have different feelings alternating between rigidity and flexibility.
Warning: If most of the frame bends evenly and quite easily, while skating you will have a loose feeling and find difficulty to handle the skates.
On the contrary if the frame shows the same rigidity everywhere, you will get a frame that is hard to handle and that will lack dynamism on the whole.
Anecdote: a completely rigid frame "doesn't turn"!
Several years ago I took part in comparative skate tests. To my greatest surprise, one of the frames was so reinforced that it was impossible to turn with it. You had the feeling to be on a rail and to force the skates to turn in playing with the flexibility of the wheels.
You need a good combination between power and flexibility. The key-word is: dynamism.
A recent concept: the arched and X bridges.
In order to get the good dynamic combination, manufacturers have designed the new generation of frames with a structure in the shape of arches or Xs, with very rigid points at the top of these arches and more flexible points at the ends.
It is important to keep the continuity of the line of wheels with even spacings between them.
During the transition from 84 mm to 100 mm, some manufacturers had quickly developed frames that could be set up in 4x100 mm on boots with 165 mm of interaxial spacing.
The adopted solution had been to move the front wheel forward, which disturbed the above-mentioned line and affected the handiness of the skate.
At that time, before the coming of the boots in 195 mm, I always recommended the most suitable solution: the 3x100 mm with a smaller wheel (84 or 90 mm) which had the advantage of having 4 contact points with the ground and an even spacing.
Other parameters to take into account
Just like the diameter of the wheels, the choice of the length of the frame is important. You have to take into consideration the height and the power of the skater.
When you think of wheel diameter (the difference between 90 mm and 100 mm for example), you associate it to the supplementary power that you will need in order to develop your push.
You often forget that the length of the frame plays an important part. Length acts like a lever: the longer, the more you can develop power, if of course you have the strength to…
On speed skates, the frames are longer than the boots. You will seek to obtain that supplementary lever and the power / speed ratio that goes with it. Stability is also improved at high speed. A shorter frame is easier to handle.
A little mechanical detail that should not be forgotten: Take non anodized axles (without color) to set up your wheels because the thin anodized layer sometimes jams the axles in the frame.
For the boot / frame set up, you can consult the previous article on boots.
The choice of frame (model, wheel diameter, length) should be made according to the category and the practice of each skater.
How to choose your speed frames (Yann Guyader)
How to choose skates when you are a speed-skating beginner?
Choosing your speed skates
Choosing and setting up speed skate boots
2-point or 3-point Frames? Pros and Cons
Translated by Close Yr E's
Photos: Ligne Droite