Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Cushion for the Pushin

I've talked to many skaters who have been skating for years, and have never done more to their skates than change their wheels and maybe, just maybe, changed out their bearings. If you are one of these skaters, please grab one of your skates and have it in your hand while you are reading this article. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Dee da dum, dwiddley de, hacha hacha koo koo, ohh, ahh, chuck-a-chong..oh hey, you're back!

First, turn your skate so you are looking at it from a side view. Either side is fine. Now, the metal bar between the wheels is the truck (or axle), and if your skates are put together correctly you should have two trucks per skate. One keeps the front wheels rolling and the other keeps the rear wheels holding onto the track. There are huge bolts (kingpins) that keeps the wheels and trucks attached to the plate and if you look directly above and below the truck along the kingpin you should see colored rubbery looking things. These are your cushions.   Here is a picture for those of you visual learners...the red items are the cushions...

Cushions are part of the shock system (tee hee, shock) of your skates and can make your skates more responsive to how your feet, knees, and even hips move while skating...but theycan work against you if you have bad cushions or the wrong squishiness for your skating ability and body type. Cushions are made of urethane or rubber, which helps to make your ride smoother when going over bumps and also retains power when loaded (pressed down) to reliably and predictably release energy when you need it for those powerful jukes. When cushions go bad, this smoothness goes away and they no longer load like they should. Since cushions go bad gradually, it can be difficult to notice when it is time to change them. The rule of thumb is to replace cushions at least once a year.

Now, what's up with all the different colors? Each manufacturer, such as Sure-Grip, Riedell, and Crazy Skates to name a few, make their own cushions and have their own color system. The different colors represent different hardnesses, or "squishiness" for a more technical term. Normally, new skaters want to start off with medium to hard cushions until they learn to be more stable on their skates. Lighter skaters will normally want softer cushions compared to a heavier skater since the lighter skater doesn't have the weight to press down and load a hard cushion. As a skater evolves into being more comfortable on their skates, they usually want to switch to a softer cushion to be more maneuverable. However, it really is up to the skater what they like to skate on so try out different hardnesses and see what you like. Last bit of info on don't have to have all 8 cushions the same hardness so play around to see what works for you.

The last component of cushions is the shape. All cushions are round when you look straight down on them, but from the side you see cushions that are straight up and down and others that are conical shaped. The straight ones are standard cushions and provide more stability. The conical shaped cushions create more range of motion while skating and you are able to lean further before the cushion starts pushing back. Most skates come with 8 standard cushions, but many skaters are changing this to 4 standard on the top (or part closest to your boot) and 4 conical cushions on the bottom (or part closest to the track). Conical cushions should "point" away from the truck, so if they on the top (which I've rarely seen but is an option), the small part should be closest to the boot and if they are on the bottom the small part should be closest to the track. Conical cushions require a conical cushion cup (the metal part that holds the cushion in place) so if you are switching from standard to conical, you will need to purchase conical cushion cups to replace the standard ones you are currently using.

I bet you never thought there was so much to know about these little colored pieces of chewiness!

Until we skate again, Shocker Khan


  1. I actually got up, got my skates, and looked to see what's going on with my cushions! It's something I *think* about then do NOTHING about on a regular basis.
    Thanks for the kick in the jammie pants I needed!

    1. Yay! If I can help out at least one skater, then this whole blog thing is worth it :)

    2. It's absolutley worth it. Looking forward to the next topic!

  2. Thanks for the post! I never knew something so small could drastically change maneuvering!


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Until we skate again!