It’s the little things…


I can’t remember what I used to do in my spare time, pre-Derby. I know I used to do something with it and I’m pretty sure I didn’t just google pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch (although I totally still do that). These days, things are a bit different; my procrastination porn is much more likely to be Roller Derby Recyclables, Derby Dialogue or the Bont website and as we speak, my dining room table is a skate maintenance centre, much to the annoyance of my middle-class dinner party-loving partner. This blog is a collation of skate-related items and advice I’ve collected on my travels that aren’t massively exciting, but are nonetheless important in looking after that kit you’ve scrimped, saved and possibly starved to buy.


Spare bearings
If you have more than one set of wheels, you need more than one set of bearings; it just saves time and ball-ache when you switch between them. They don’t have to be expensive, but if they have removable shields then they can be cleaned more thoroughly and easily.

Bearings tool
If you have wheels with an aluminium hub, you could spend an hour trying to gently coax the bearings out, risking breaking them as well as giving yourself RSI. Alternatively, get a bearings tool. Honestly, you’ll thank me for it.

After cleaning bearings, give them a quick spray of GT-85. It helps to displace some of the moisture and stop them corroding between drying and lubrication.

Sewing machine oil
A much cheaper, multi-purpose alternative to Speed Cream. Use it to lubricate bearings and on moving parts of metal plates after cleaning.

Bicarbonate of soda
Machine washing your pads just doesn’t cut it when it comes to Derby stench. Add some of this to help kill it. I’ve found that it’s also useful in skates to draw out moisture, should your boots get damp.

Tea-tree oil
Between washes, sprinkle some of this on your pads to keep the pong to a minimum, as well as to help minimise the risk of infection from bacteria and other nasties. It’s also useful in stinky skates.

Hockey tape
You could spend a fortune on beautiful hand-made toe-guards, but you will still need hockey tape to protect parts of the skate they don’t cover, as well as the floor. Ensure you use a cloth tape rather than plastic, as it has a tendency to melt under friction and will leave marks on contact.

Zinc oxide tape
This tip came from a marathon running friend of mine. If you are prone to blisters, rubbing or that horrible burning sensation on the ball of your foot, apply zinc oxide tape to dry feet before skating. I’ve also been known to use this before a night out in high heels!

Waxed hockey laces
Most skate laces are pretty awful and usually fray then snap easily. Waxed hockey laces are a little more hard-wearing and have the advantage of generally being mega long. For people with fat feet who have to use two sets of laces, this will help, as well as if you want to wrap laces through a heel tab or under the plate for extra support. Trim them down to the right length, heat the end to seal it again and you’re good to go.

Milton Sterilising Fluid
Never cleaned your gumshield? You probably should because that’s just grim. Just don’t forget to rinse it before using it again. I speak from experience on this one. Unpleasant doesn’t quite cover it.

Plastic bag
Moisture and bearings are not great bed fellows, so it’s worth keeping a spare plastic bag in your kit bag to keep your sweaty pads and skates separate.


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