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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Preventing Loose Frame Bolts on Inline Skates

By Peter Doucet

Rear frame bolt on inline skate

Rear frame bolt onPeter Doucet's Cado Motus setup.

photo: Peter Doucet

Various disasters lurk on the racecourse. Falling. Getting lost. Being out of shape and outclassed by the competition.

Or all three at once.

Here’s another: the loose frame bolt.

The first indication that anything is wrong is the dreaded clicking sound of a loose frame. At that point, the bolt has loosened.

Next, the bolt falls out, allowing the frame to swing wildly from side to side.

At that point anything can happen, none of it good.

For me, loose frame bolts have resulted in falls or DNFs. Less fortunate skaters have suffered broken ankles.

Fortunately, you can usually prevent frame bolts from loosening with a little preventative maintenance.

Here’s how:

Tighten Up

The most important thing you can do to make sure your frame bolts don’t drop out is to keep them nice and tight. This means checking them regularly and re-tightening them when they get loose.

But be careful. Don’t over-tighten or misalign your bolts. Doing so will strip the threads, rendering the bolts useless. And if you are installing new bolts, make sure they are long enough to provide a secure lock. (Typically, they should be the same length as the original bolts.) Overly short bolts tend to strip and fall out.

Chuck Bolts with Stripped Heads

Don’t use bolts with stripped heads. (The head is the part of the bolt the skate tool fits into.) You can’t properly tighten a bolt with a stripped head, so they can be a precurser to disaster.

You know your bolt head is stripped when your skate tool turns but the bolt doesn't. If you examine a stripped bolt head, you will see that the hexagon shape is becoming circular with metal shavings coming off and clinging to your skate tool.

Drops of Prevention

When you mount your frames to your boots, use Loctite or another thread-locking compound. Loctite does a good job keeping bolts from loosening.

Mounting Blocks With Options

Some skate manufacturers make boots with several rows of mounting holes under the toe and heel. This allows you to vary the position of your frames. And in some cases, it also makes it possible to use two bolts to secure each end of your frame. That can provide an extra layer of peace of mind.

Three-Point It

One big advantage of Bont’s 3-point system is that the frames are bolted onto the boot at three places. This greatly reduces the chance of a frame falling off or shifting position.

With conventional speed skates, if one of the two bolts comes loose, the frame will shift out of position.

Bont’s 3-point technology features skating frames secured to the boots with the help of three mounting points. If one bolt comes loose or is not tightened, it’s possible that the two other mounting bolts will keep the frame in place and keep you skating.

Another bonus of the 3-point set-up is that you can tighten the bolts without removing the wheels, which makes it easier to make sure your frame bolts stay tight.


Peter Doucet skatingPeter Doucet is the 2010 National Roller Cup champion (men's open division) and the webmaster of Speed Skate World. A resident of Mississauga, Ontario, he has represented Canada in seven World Championships and at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil. He founded the Toronto International Inline Race Weekend and the RSO Speed Points Series. He is also a coach of the Toronto Inline Skating Club. His hobbies include writing and performing music, cycling, watching movies, going out with friends, and cooking.





Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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