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Question about Inline Speed Skate Wheel Wobble

andrewinnc's picture

I am hoping someone can help me solve a major dilemma. I have noticed some of my wheels have developed a severe wobble. It doesn't matter which location I put them on the frame they still wobble. I checked the frames out today and the axles are all inline, surprisingly very much more than I would have thought. So i have ruled out a bent frame. I align my frame with the heel being centered underneath my heel and the front of the frame coming out between my big toe and second toe. This ligns up with a lot of the articles I have read on frame alignment, so I think it is pretty close. I understand that it is more a lot to do with technique and foot stance, but this feels pretty good and doesn't cause me to pronate or suppinate.

I have skated with several from roadskater and maybe it is something I am doing wrong with my technique. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I don't want to keep reinforcing bad habits, not to mention destroying perfectly good wheels. Thank you.


timv's picture

Wobble is curious

My first thought: If your wheels are getting eccentric or somehow non symmetrical from use, perhaps they weren't such "perfectly good wheels" to begin with? I've worn out quite a few wheels in my time and some of them got cone-shaped pretty badly but I can't imagine what would make them develop a side-to-side wobble if that's what you're describing. For frame alignment, my understanding is that "centered in back, between first two toes in front" is a good starting point. But I'm way away from that now, backs of the frames pushed way inward. That's just how my ankles are built. If I want to push from knee to wheel through the joint, that's where the wheels have to be. It took a long time and a lot of skating to find an adjustment that let me stay on top of the wheels easily and without having to apply lots of side force through the boots, but my wheels always wore true (as properly shaped cones at least) even when the alignment was less than ideal for me. No doubt we all could improve our technique so I'm sure there's some room for improvement in your stroke. But I'd suggest first looking hard at the wheels and seeing whether perhaps the hubs are shifting or the bearing-mating surfaces deforming somehow. It sure seems--based on a quick reading of your post anyway--to be a mechanical issue with the wheels, not one with your mechanics.
eebee's picture

How long ago did you first notice?

Is this a new thing? When was the first time you noticed this particular kind of wheel wobble?

TimV said what I thought: sounds like a dodgy batch of wheels perhaps. 

If it's a relatively new problem I don't think it's your technique, especially if you're rotating the wheels regularly. And knowing how much you enjoy skating, new skates and wheels right now, it's not likely to be something wrong with your maintenance. Are you skating on new or weird terrain, like a skatemill or something? :-)

I agree again with TimV on the subject of wearing wheels conical - I had a full set of pizza-cutters towards the end of last August. When I finally got around to rotating them, for all it was worth, the only problem I found was trying to force myself onto the correct edges, which was not a problem after a few good downhill knee-popping T-stops.

If you have a set of old trusties lying around, that you remember didn't wobble, you could always blow 30 mins changing them out and testing them. That'd eliminate the frame/technique suspicions if there's no wobble.



andrewinnc's picture

First notice

I first noticed this past summer I had one Matter wheel doing this. At first I thought it was a bad wheel, i replaced it and noticed after a while another one was doing it. Finally I had to take 4 of the wheels out of use because of it. I put on a set of Labedas I used on the Rolling in Randolph, one of them started doing it. Lastly I bought a used set of mpc wheels, slightly used, well after about close to 50 miles I have two of them doing it as well. I had an accident indoors so I thought maybe I had bent the frame. The matter wheels were doing it before the accident though.

It only seems to happen on the left skate and with the front two wheels, the very front one being the worse offender. Once a wheel has a wobble it stays that way no matter wherer I move it to. I checked the frames at work and the axles all line up, within .0005. Way closer than I expected. Hyper wheels don't seem to do that for me. Maybe I just need to stick with them. I did get my liberty Ion frame last Thursday and am planning on trying them out with the impending warm weather. Will let you know if I still have the wobble problem with a different frame.

andrewinnc's picture

re: wheel wear

Timv thanks for the comments. The wheels are wearing pretty evenly, not going eccentric at all. It is almost like the rubber is coming loose from the hub. I have noticed this on Matter wheels, as well as mpc wheels. So it is not "cheap" wheels so to speak. I have tried different bearings, and spacers too. There is no wheel shift from side to side, as if the spacer were too big. The bearings also fit snug in the hubs, just like new. I can't explain it.
timv's picture

I've never used Matter

I've never used Matter wheels, or for that matter any wheels larger than 80mm. But I wonder if in big wheels, the hub-to-polyurethane interface is being asked to do a lot more than it was originally meant to. The first Rollerblade wheels were what, 72mm? Could a 100mm wheel might be putting enough torgue on it (perpendicular to the axle) to cause trouble?

Regarding Matter wheels, or other top brands: I have to chuckle when people say, "You get what you pay for." Actually you often don't. It might be true that "you don't get what you don't pay for," but good companies put out flawed products all the time. (How many times has Apple recalled devices because batteries were melting or catching fire or something?)

What I think you should be able to expect is that they'll stand behind their product and protect their good name. This might be a situation where you could contact them and see if they'll make good somehow. It seems like they'd want to know about stuff like this happening with their wheels, if they don't already.

Good luck with it!


eebee's picture


Sorry I don't have any constructive advice here, just more questions! When do you perceive the wobbles the most - skating flat, coasting, downhill, or sitting on a bench with your foot up, spinning the wheels with your hands? Is it bad enough to interfere with your skating? Are you afraid the wheels are going to shred to the point of disintegration on a fast downhill (or if you weren't, you now are?! Sorry!).

It's interesting and alarming. Sorry I don't have any knowledge to help. Above all, I hope your wheels are sound and keep you safe.

andrewinnc's picture

To answer the matter question

I have contacted Julie Glass at Luigino racing and she said to send the wheels back to them. Josh the man that is in charge of things like this is looking at the wheels and going to get back to me on them. I am keeping my fingers crossed they replace them. Matters aren't the most expensive wheel out there, but they aren't cheap either. They do have a good feel to them, I think the way the hubs are put together leaves a lot to be desired. On closer inspection of them they seem to split and hence they offset from each side, result wheel out of balance.

In answer to your questions eebee, I can feel the wobble going down hills the skates just don't feel stable. I don't think the wheel will shred, at least I hope not. I just don't want to be cruising down hill at any speed and lose control because of the shimmys.

I did think of something today, while going to visit my daughter in the mountains. The matter wheels did most of their thing over the summer, during all of our skates in the T2T training rides, etc. But the mpc and labedas happened when I was doing laps at the local HS track. It is a little rougher than most of the roads I skate on, could this be the culprit. Or maybe it is the way I am going around the turns. As I said before the problem seems to develope on the left skate and from then on the wheel is ruined. I am doing a further investigation into the wheels after they have become wobblers and will let yall know what seems to have happened to them. One of the engineers at work seems to think the eurathane is coming loose from the hub. Maybe timv is right and we are stretching the limits of our wheels sizes. i have read where some are working on 125mm. Makes one wonder what kind of problems will arise out of that situation.

eebee's picture

Track Skating and Wheel Wear

I guess it's conceivable that counter-clockwise track skating would show wear on your two frontmost left-skate wheels, as you'd be doing crossovers and possibly pushing off with those wheels at the end of your underpush. However, normal wheel wear would be the most you should expect!

I hope you get some help from the distributor. Kinda makes one think others must be having the same problems.  

It reminds me of my first Matzger workshop back in 2000. A tall, well-built skater carved 'C' shapes so hard on the Georgia Tech concrete parking deck that he stripped the (polyurethane?) material clean off the hub. However, he had already worn the wheels down to about 65 mm.

andrewinnc's picture

Re: matter wheel problems

Eebee I have read postings on other blogs that indicate my problem with Matter wheels is not exclusive to me. Others have had similar results and Matter has issued replacements in some of the cases. I hope they can do the same for me as some of the wheels have hardly any wear on at all. I am going to try the Liberty Ion frames this afternoon with the welcome warm weather we are having. I am curious to see if the problem develops with these as well. Thanks Eebee and Timv for the suggestions.
roadskater's picture

Can't Think of a Reason Other Than the Hub

I can't think of anything in your skating that would create wheel wobble problems, if I understand what you mean. I think you are NOT talking about high-speed wobble that you'll get with a 12.8" frame at a lower speed than it takes to wobble a 13+" one. One of the disappointments in moving from 5x84 to 3x100+84 was that Silver Hill and other fast downhills felt less stable to me.

I would suspect the hub issues. I've never had a bad Hyper or Explore wheel (except for the clear rec wheel which was fine quality but not the right stuff for our purposes). I had a set a Bont wheels sent to me and was hoping to write good things about them but some were out of round that I didn't want to use the whole set, and I haven't even used all of the good ones because of other comments I heard at the time. So this is my review of those purple Bont wheels. I've been using those in the 2nd slot of my 3x100+84 setup, though, and they seem fine.

My experience with Labedas, even blems was very good, too. Some were faster than others, and the green-yellow tennis ball color ones in size 80 were some amazing wheels. Also the Team Labeda stuff was good.

I have heard good things about Cyko 100mm wheels (from Jay of APRR methinks) but timv and I had some cherry red 80s that were pretty slow.

Wheel wear has always been self-correcting for me, and I am sure this is not due to good technique on my part. It seems to me that wheels will wear pretty evenly unless there is something seriously wrong with the equipment. If everything is tight and stable, it seems like everything has to wear evenly over time...the parts that aren't touching ground (or are touching with less force) won't wear until they are touching again.

I can't imagine you are doing anything to cause this. Any problem with the hub or the connection between the wheel and hub seems like it would cause all sorts of nasty issues.

Be careful and remember how many wheels a quick visit to the emergency room can cost, even if insured!

Oh and to be clear, I haven't tried Matters or the others you mentioned. I'd like to, were it free, but Hyper Hyperformance +G and Mach II and Explore Elites always seemed great to me. I think Bruce on APRR recently had some good comments. He said Mach II for training, Star Grips for racing because of their thinner profile, and MPCs for rain. I think Bruce knows a lot about wheels. Take his comments for someone in his height and weight range, a little shorter than average and very lean but strong and balanced...at A2A alone, he's skated 1124 miles in almost 65 hours of skating with a 17.33 mph average. Amazing! If I ever do something I consider a race again, I might have to try Star Grips for fun.

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