One effective — and often overlooked — way to improve your skating comfort on uneven or rough surfaces is to simply use softer wheels.
Softer wheels provide better grip and dramatically cut road vibration and bounce. I do virtually all of my urban skating on wheels with a durometer rating of 79A, which some skaters dismiss as ridiculously soft.
According to the conventional wisdom, softer wheels wear out faster than harder wheels. But I haven’t found that to be a problem.
I find that softer wheels need to be rotated fairly often but that they last longer than expected.
Keep a set of softer wheels around for those times when you know you will be skating on less-than-optimal surfaces. You will feel the difference.
Tim Monroe (a.k.a. Tristo) is an avid inline skater who has managed to avoid major injury despite decades of urban skating in cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Boston. In May 2013, he finished his skate of all 850 miles of Boston streets. In 2006, he completed his skate of all 831 miles of Oakland streets, earning a commendation from the City Council, which praised him for his "unique and extraordinary physical accomplishment." His exploits have been heralded in children's books and documentary films. When he's not skating, he might be working as a software engineer for Apple. Tim currently splits his time between Cambridge, MA and Oakland, CA.