Anatomy of Skate axles and spacers
Axles: essential small parts
The axles are the rotation spots of the wheels, a bit like the axles of your car's wheels. That part ensures the fixing of the wheel to the frame, through the bearings inserted into the wheel. The bearings are in direct contact with the axles. They are separated by spacers.
The nature of the axles may vary according to practices.
Speed skating axles
Most of the time they are made of aluminum and have a diameter of 8mm. They always have a threaded head in order to be directly fixed onto the frame. It is said that they are in one piece. All you need is an Allen Key No.4 to take them out and put them back in. Thus, they are more precise and faster to put on.
The most common axles are divided into two parts:
- The axle in itself, with a diameter of 6, 7 or 8mm
- The screw
That process is used a lot as it is the cheapest to produce. Yet, more and more speed skating-type axles should be found on the market.
Spacers: a huge variety of models
The spacers are inserted in-between the bearings around the axles.
Some low range skates are not even equipped with spacers. It may be the case if the skates are sold with AB bearings, i.e. bearings the inner ring of which is extended on one side to serve as a spacer.
Beware if you have to change them as some diameters are of 7mm, and others of 8mm even 6mm. It depends on the type of axle that you have.
Moreover, according to the brands and types of bearings, their length may vary. Last but not least, the axle of the wheel supporting the brake is often longer than the others.
The spacers ensure the coherence between your bearings. They enable to optimize their rotation and favor their alignment. A few tenths of millimeters may wedge the wheel or offer it a great liberty of movement. Most of the time for spacers, too long is better than too short.
Let's say that there are endless types of spacers: according to their nature, according to your practice, the type of bearings, the diameter of axles.
Changing your spacers
If you have to change your spacers, be careful as the axles may be of diameter 6, 7 or 8mm. If you are equipped with 6 or 7mm axles, the spacer will often be inserted in the bearings. As for 8mm axles, the spacer will be simply put in-between the bearings (cf. photo).
Other parameters may complicate the situation: the type of bearings. For example, if you use micro-bearings: they only adapt with special spacers because their diameter is smaller than that of a classic bearing.
To know more about how to choose your spacers, this way.
Plastic or metal?
Lots of low end and mid-range models are equipped with plastic spacers. Sometimes, they may break. In that case, do not hesitate to replace them with metal spacers, more expensive but more resistant and more efficient. To chose them, you should take into account all the criteria mentioned above. If you wish to improve the quality of your rolling, have a look in-between your bearings!
Useful linksBy Alfathor
Translation: Chloé Seyres
Photos : Alfathor