Rockering of Inline Skates
Rockering your wheels increases the maneuverability of your skates, although the effectiveness this is debated heavily amongst inliners. One thing is certain, the point-point rockering formed by wheels set at different heights will never exactly match the smooth curve of an ice skate blade for the ability to apply consistent lengths of skate-to-surface contact.
Below is an exaggerated image of normally rockered wheels showing how there are only three positions where two wheels would touch a flat surface. In all other positions only one wheel will contact the surface. As you can imagine the smooth curve of an ice skate does not have this issue. This diagram is greatly exaggerated, as the amount of rockering tends to be around 4mm, depending on the skate setup and model.
For the sake of simplicity, I've not mentioned or taken into account factors such as lean angle, or wheel, ice, or ground deformation, which will have a complicating influence. I've also not covered anti-rockering, which is not very common, and tends to be used on some aggressive skates.
Two Examples of How to Rocker your Skates
I've shown pictures of how to rocker two particular models of skates. These are by no means the only way in which rockering is achieved, but should give sufficient example.
The Salomon TR9 makes use of a special offset rockering axle. These axles need to be purchased separately as Salomon do not supply them with the skate. The normal way to use these offset axles would be to purchase 8 to replace your standard axles. Install the offset axles with the middle two pointing down, thus lowering the center two wheels, and the front and rear axles pointing up. This will raise the front and rear wheels to give a wheel profile similar to the diagram above, which is not to scale.
Normal axle that comes with the Salomon upon purchase.
Offset axle used to rocker the Salomon TR9.
Image showing a rockered and a normal axle mounted in the same skate - note how the rockering axle has only one arrow to denote its offset, while the normal axle has two arrows to show that it doesn't matter which orientation it is mounted in. The configuration shown here gives minimal rockering. More normally found would be the left axle (middle wheel) as shown, but with a rockering rather than a normal axle mounted on the wheel on the right with the arrow in the opposite direction.
You will need to rotate your wheels slightly more often as the center two wheels are likely to experience more wear than the front and rear wheels, as they will be bearing more load on average.
These skates come with a different rockering mechanism consisting of offset inserts in the frame. Rotating these inserts allows you to rocker your wheels because that will cause the axles to be placed higher or lower than their default setting.
Note the offset axle hole in the middle of this insert. The insert can be rotated to place the hole, and thus the axle, higher or lower.
The insert as it fits into the frame of the skate.
An Alternative Solution - Bauer Vapor 8 Shock Rocker
This is one possible solution to the skate rocker problem discussed above. The middle two wheels are on their own chassis, which can rotate with fore/aft weight shift. This allows you to always have two wheels on the ground (unless you go on one end wheel only), and maybe three, if you are also weighting either the toe or heel wheel. I own this pair of skates, and can recommend them to anyone as they are excellent. The rockering system really works well, leaving these skates much more twitchy and maneuverable than any other inline skate I've skated on, and not too far off ice hockey skates. Having said that, at £350.00 they should be pretty good!
Scan of the Bauer Shock Rocker card supplied with the skates. Note how the amount of rocker can be adjusted by adjusting the wheel size. Additionally, the small chassis on which the center two wheels are mounted can be tightened or loosened to alter how much resistance there is to the rockering movement.
Side on picture of the Vapor 8 showing the frame and Shock Rocker chassis. Note that the axle on which the small black center chassis rotates is at the top of the black triangle. Lower and forward on this small chassis is an adjustment to change how much force is required to rocker the chassis.
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