about Cross-Skating and Cross-Skates
Topics: Poles; shoes; tyres and wheels; brakes; shoe belts; Skike S; cost effectiveness; gravel and grass; pace; means of transport?; use of poles; alternative to other sports?; care and maintenance.
[All text and pictures are coyrighted by Frank Röder]
Q.: What's better - rubber pole ends or metal tips?
A.: Rubber pole ends initially feel pleasantly soft on asphalt but you will soon notice that they slip a little, even when there is very little sand on the asphalt surface. On off-road terrain they will slip even more. Driving is, on average, better with sharp pole tips. We recommend hardened metal tips as soft metal tips will soon go blunt - after 5 to 10 km on hard surface they will blunt and after 100 to 150 km completely be worn down. Hardened metal tips will often stay sharp for over 150 to 250 km. They can then be sharpened several times (under refridgeration) before they will need to be replaced. There are "half pads" where the metal tip will still reach through the rubber pad a little and then offer grip when needed whilst the rubber pad absorbs impact and noise. These "half pads" are a useful alternative for skating in urban areas because they prevent the poles from getting stuck in between paving slabs, especially on interlocking pavement. They can be carried along as a useful accessory. Very large, soft rubber pads are great for indoor training or skating on tartan track.
Q.: Is it normal to sometimes lose metal tips between cracks in the road?
A.: Unfortunately, the metal tips sometimes get stuck in between paving slabs or cracks in the asphalt. The leverage effect is just so strong that it simply rips out the short tip. That is why is it best not to use the poles whilst skating on such stretches. You're lucky if you don't break the pole or fall. In case you notice losing the tip and happen to find it straight away (it will be stuck firmly in the ground), you can easily reattach it. In most cases, all you need to do is to put it back onto the pole end and press the pole down. The only other option is to attach new tips complete with a plastic base as a new pole end - usually with hot glue.
Q.: What can I do when I lose the complete pole end?
A.: If you still have it, glue it back on. Just use ordinary hot glue. It is always better to use a bit too much than too little glue. During assembly, spread the glue onto the pole end and heat it with a hair dryer - the glue will spread more evenly and you will have more time to attach the pole end before the glue cools down. Quickly glide on the pole end completely and make sure that the tip in directed towards the direction of travel (the only exception is poles with no glue required).
Q.: Can I attach snow plates onto my Cross-Skating poles or Rollerski poles?
A.: Yes, if they are attached with glue! You can easily replace our LEKI and KVplus pole ends with snow plates. They will also be attached with hot glue. Those who both cross-country ski and cross-skate in winter can leave the snow plates on because our online-shop only stocks snow plates with hard metal tips which won't blunt easily. These, relatively small snow plates are hardly any bother at all on snow-free stretches and can be replaced with summer tips after the snow melting. Some pole manufacturers (eg Exel or Skike) offer click-in systems for a fast pole end exchange instead of glued in pole ends. We recommend to inquire directly at the manufacturers as they don't always offer fitting snow plates.
Q How do I adjust and lock my Vario poles?
A.: You can lock the poles by twisting the upper and lower end of the pole just like you would tighten a drinks bottle top. You can adjust the pole by "unscrewing" it. Always remember to lock it before use. It is important that you don't use too much force when locking the pole. The pole tips should be directed towards the direction of travel so that they won't slip away during push-off.
Q.: Which shoes are suitable?
A.: For a Skike V07 you can just take a Skike shoe frame with you to the shoe shop and try which heels fit properly. Flat sneakers, MTB-tour shoes, cross-country ski boots or sturdy hiking boots are great. The stronger and firmer the soles, the better the skating style.
Q.: My feet are quite large, size EUR 48/49. Can I use Skikes with this shoe size?
A.: It depends on the length of the sole whether you will fit a Skike, not the shoe size. 335 mm sole length is the maximum. There may well be some compact hiking boots in a size 48 or 49 that are no longer than that. One customer with size 49 just sanded off a little his hiking boot heel and it fits very well. Just re-measure your shoes and use our shoe size table (without obligation) as guidance. If you still have doubts, just try it out at the shop.
Tyres and wheels
Q.: Whenever I have a puncture, the little hole in the tube is always located around the valve. Is that a material fault?
A.: In most cases - no! These punctures accumulate whenever the tyre pressure is too low for too long or when skaters don't realise early enough that the tyre and tube have moved along the rim. Sometimes you may notice at an early enough stage, that the tyre and tube have twisted (see picture 1). In that case you should deflate the tube completely and then readjust the valve so that it will fit exactly back into the designated indentation (see picture 2). For tubes with different valve angles (eg Powerslide or Cheng Shin) the valve can be directed quite differently and you might have to observe any changes from the "normal position" and, if necessary, correct it.
Q.: Can I repair the tubes?
A.: The tubes are made of a special mix of materials that may not be suitable for all solvents. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that all bicycle puncture repair patches will bond although we are told that it has worked in some individual cases. You might want to try to repair the puncture but there is a lot of effort involved - it's probably more reliable to just replace the tube.
Q.: How quickly do the tyres lose air pressure?
A.: It is normal for such a small high pressure tyre to lose around 1 to 2 bar a week. Those who skate on a daily basis don't need to re-inflate their tyres every day. However, those who only skike or cross-skate every 1 to 2 weeks will have to re-inflate their tyres before every tour - skating at too low a pressure (below 5 bar) will ruin the tube.
Q.: Are the tubes defective? They retain air for no more than a few seconds.
A.: Theoretically, tubes are subject to wear and tear and, therefore, excluded from warranty. However, if this defect has occured at the very first inflation we may make a goodwill replacement in individual cases. Reasons for a possible puncture:
If the tyre loses air at the very first inflation - please try another two or three times. Sometimes the valve is simply stuck and you need to try a few times to get as tight as it should be. The tyre itself has no effect on any loss of pressure of the tube but once they have been worn down the likelihood of punctures from the outside increases.
Q.: Can I combine different tyres on my cross-skate?
A.: Yes, you can but it isn't a good idea to combine different tyres at the front and the back. If the tyres have slightly differing dimensions, it can impede the directional stability. If you chose this version, you should at least replace front and back tyres at the same time.
Q.: Why do the Cross-Skates no longer go straight after prolonged use?
A.: Provided you didn't change the wheel alignment (eg due to exchanging a wheel or due to crashing into an obstacle), this is usually due to one-sided wear of the tyres. The wear will spread more evenly if you regularly change the wheels "across" (back right exchanged with front left, back left exchanged with front right), around every 300 to 600 km.
Q.: How vulnerable are the tyres against wear and punctures?
A.: The tyres hardly wear off by normal use of the brakes but rather by braking with locked wheels which can be avoided. The weak point of the wheels is the area of the tube around the valve. If you skate with far too little pressure or don't notice that the tyre is slipping, you will risk the valve ripping off. As long as this does not happen, you will be able to skate around 2000 km without breakdowns. The specified maximum pressure should even be exceeded with skaters above around 70 kg. From around 90 to 100 kg in weight it has proved to be safer to inflate to around 7,5 to 8 bar.
Q.: The wheels on my new skates have a slight resistance. Won't that slow me down enormously?
A.: The grease filling inside the new wheel bearings will have to first be distributed but after around 3 km it should run more smoothly. After around 100 km these bearings will be officially "broken in" and should run really well. If they still don't, the bearing might be faulty and will be replaced by us. Do Inline Skate bearings fit into Skike wheels? As far as the measurements are concerned, yes, but as opposed to the Skike bearings they are generally not splash-proof. You will also need special Skike spacers which will only be delivered with Skike bearings.
Q.: How long do the wheel bearings last and will Cross-Skates become faster with fast inline bearings?
A.: Wheel bearings last between 1000 and 6000 km, depending on whether you skate a lot in rain or on dusty roads. They are almost waterproof but not entirely sealed. Inline bearings are often "fast" because their aren't sealed as well which can soon become a problem on rainy roads. For those who refer to the ABEC standards (special standards for bearings): The durability and, therefore, long-term easy running of the bearings does not depend so much on these standards but rather on the quality of steel.
Q.: I can't really brake properly on my Skikes. There isn't enough "pressure" although I have already adjusted the brake way to the back. I still have to straighten my legs completely in order to brake. What can I do?
A.: You should never have to straighten your legs completely when braking as you can easily lose control of the Skike. Unfortunately, very tall people or those with relatively thin calves often arrive at the end of possible settings. In that case, the following tricks will help (try them in this order):
Q.: Despite having exactly the same setting on both brakes, my left skate brakes better than my right. Is this a brake setting fault or is it something I do wrong?
1. The most obvious thing is the adjustment of the brake arms. It is best to adjust them to exactly the same position on both skates. It is very rare to find small tolerances on individual Skikes which, whilst being unnoticeable to the eye, can lead to tiny differences in adjustment angle.
2. The shoe frames (Skike V07) should have exactly the same distance from the back wheel on both sides.
3. The shape of the heel of the shoe affects the pressure point of the brake. The heels of both shoes should be positioned at the very back of the shoe frames.
4. The diameter and shape of the lower leg (including socks and trouser leg) also affects braking.
5. You should use both brakes in the same way.
Q.: When I try to brake it is all or nothing. Either it doesn't work at all or it's a full brake. Why is that?
A.: You can dose the brakes by keeping your knees slightly bent. If you involuntarily straighten your legs too much when braking, you won't be able to do that and will become unstable. Downhill skating only becomes less scary when you are able to dose the braking. It might be sensible to practise on stretches with a gentle descent at first. After braking for longer than about 30 seconds at a stretch, your brake pads need to cool down a little. The effect of the brakes will decrease dramatically in moisture/wet conditions. The brake pads that press down on the Cross-Skate tyres from above will hardly generate enough impact when there is something slippery like snow between pad and tyre. The braking effect was officially measured and is comparable to that of bicycle. A German TV programme (Galileo) roughly confirmed this with a braking from 30 km/h with a 8 m braking distance. There are a few youtube.com videos where you can see Cross-Skates braking. Wet leaves hardly disturb the braking process at all - no more than on a bicycle rim brake. The rain creates a moisture film which, as with a rim brake, you will need to initially "brake away". Although this decreases the braking effect slightly, it is still sufficient. Once you take this fact into consideration, you won't experience any situations where you can't brake on time in wet conditions.
Q.: Do I always have to brake with both legs?
A.: It is sensible to do so for a maximum braking effect. Braking with one leg is the exception and is usually only done in the case of breakdowns, defects or near-falls where a fall can surprisingly often be prevented by (more or less spectacular) one-sided braking. How to use the brakes on downhill roads? Just the same way as always. Of course, braking on downhill stretches means there is a longer braking distance and it should be practised.
Q.: How long do the brake pads last and how do they affect the wear of the tyres?
A.: The rubber of the tyres will hardly at all be abraded by intact metal brake pads. The brake pads will wear faster than the rubber of the tyre - provided that you don't constantly lock the back wheel when braking. Brake pads will last for around 2500 to 4000 km on dry road. However, they will last only for around 400 to 700 km in muddy conditions. As most Cross-Skaters skate in mixed conditions, it is safe to assume that the brake pads will last around 2000 km, used mainly on flat terrain. The Powerslide's plastic brake pads will last around half of that. They press directly onto the tyres and, therefore, the tyres will also wear a little faster.
Q.: Are all 3 belts of a belt set identical?
A.: Only the middle and the lower belt are identical. The upper belt has a sewn on reflector on the front and a velcro strap to fix the calf pad on the inside. It is also approx. 15 mm shorter. This is still long enough to replace the upper belt with the middle or lower belt if needed. It is fairly easy to remove the reflector and the Velcro.
Q.: Should I buy Cross-Skates or not? Is is worth it? I am an enthusiastic cross-country skier and tend to ski between 250 and 600 km in 2 to 4 weeks each winter. I have now tested Cross-Skates for a week and really liked them. However, there is no suitable terrain in our area - there are mostly concrete slabs or interlocking pavement. It is not that much fun and an investment of € 250 seems quite a high price for that.
A.: You go on skiing holidays for between 2 and 4 weeks each year? That is a maximum of 28 days. How much do you spend on skiing equipment? Do you spend time waxing your skis? How far do you have to drive to your holiday destination? How much does your holiday cost per day? Around € 50 or more? How long is the way to your ski run from your hotel? Do you sometimes travel to recommended ski runs that are further afield? And now compare. Suppose you can only visit the desired "cross-skate-region" that lies a bit further afield only 2 to 3 times a month - that means you'll be able to cross-skate 28 times in 11 months already. All other reasons are in favour of the skate because they pay forthemselves - even with occasional use. Those who skate on a daily basis will have discovered one of the cheaper sports.
Gravel or grass
Q.: How do I skate on gravel or grass?
A.: You should carefully approach gravel. It best to start with fine and then move on to more coarse gravel. Skating on gravel gets easier the faster you skate - you need more power or a slight decline in order to get ahead. It can be quite tricky for beginners with a poor technique to come across a gravelled incline at their very first Cross-Skating session. They will probably just get stuck. It is best to avoid skating on grass altogether even though it might look as though it could be quite easy. Grass surfaces are soft, uneven and difficult to manage - not very good conditions for cross-skating. In comparison to mountain bikes, the wheels are very small and tend to get stuck in deeper holes but you will be able to roll quite easily across small branches or stones (as opposed to inline skate wheels).
Q.: How fast can I go on my Cross Skates? 30-40 km/h - the same as on Speed Skates?
A.: The air tyres have a roll resistance that is almost three times as high as that of Speed Skates. However, their road grip is around three times better. That means superior safety. You will reach 30 to 40 km/h only during the sprint. The constant pace on the road will be 15 to 25 km/h at the most. The pace is around the same as that of Ski Skating. Taking into consideration that you can achieve around 16 km/h at about 200 watts, and 300 watts are sufficient for 21 km/h, you get a rough idea of quite how powerful this sports equipment really is. There is an approximate 10 % drop in pace for off-road terrain and on difficult terrain you may have to deduct up to 30 %.
Means of transport?
Q.: Are Cross-Skates suitable or registered as a means of transport?
A.: Suitable yes, but not registered! Cross-Skates are not vehicles and would be difficult to define as such. From a German legal viewpoint, Cross-Skates would be considered like Inline Skates, Roller Skis or other sports equipment and "toys". So, in theory, cross-skaters have to always use footpaths. You may not cross-skate on the road (unless when crossing it) and will be really just tolerated on bicycle paths. However, as most small cross country roads are both cyclepaths and footpaths, you can use them. In many areas you will be able to go on roads with only light traffic, but then again, so are pedestrians where there is no pavement. Just make sure you go against (!) the driving direction. We sort of count on the understanding and tolerance of other road users. If in doubt, we will have to behave defensively. In any case, cross-skates are safe and suitable to use in everyday life because of their reliable brakes and their stability. Those who cross-skate to work by twilight can make sure that they will be seen in traffic by wearing a head lamp and a flashing light attached to their belts. As cross-skaters have the same legal status as pedestrians, they are allowed to attach lights to their bodies. At least in Germany. Each country may have their own regulation.
Use of poles
Q.: Won't the poles create a terrible clicking noise at high speed?
A.: Not necessarily. If you manage to synchronize your use of poles well with your skating pace and touch the poles down softly, you will only create a slight clicking sound and the poles won't slip. This is primarily a question of practice and concentration.
Alternative to other sports?
Q.: Do I burn the same amount of energy and can I achieve the same sort of training effect as with jogging?
A.: Cross-Skating is an excellent alternative and compliment to long-distance running. Its energy consumption is higher (at 10 - 15 %) and even after training at a higher average pulse rate than jogging, regeneration is still considerably faster. That means that you can set some interesting training goals without overtraining. By actively and passively stabilising the body, the joints are trained against inappropriate strain, almost like at physiotherapy. You will notice that your musculosceletal system will start to feel more "stable". Athletes of other sports which require strong joints have also reported an improvement in joint stability since starting to cross-skate. Cross-skating is a great way to train your back and tummy! A cross-skater with the correct technique on asphalt, is around 15 to 30 % faster than a long-distance runner of the same strength. This changes, of course, on off-road terrain.
Q.: How high is the energy consumption during cross-skating?
A.: Allegedly, nordic walking uses 40 % more energy than hiking. Does that lead to the conclusion that cross-skating, which is also done with poles, should use more energy than inline skating? I said "allegedly"... Our arms only have 20 % of the muscular mass of our legs so we can use up to 20 % more energy. However, only if we don't listlessly dangle the poles behind us and if we are quite athletic already. But who does Nordic Walking? Mostly people who want to (need to?) do moderate training to build up their fitness level. They might want to use a moderate amount of energy over a prolonged period of time in order to train their metabolism. The alleged 40 % higher energy consumption would increase their heart rate by around 15 beats - a beginner would not be able to endure this. As opposed to Inline skating, cycling, swimming and running, you can increase the energy consumption even further . Some tables name Squash as the sport with the highest energy consumption which is plain wrong. Cross-skating can be done in moderation with a low metabolic rate or really powerfully - You can use up to 5 to 10 % more energy per hour than with running, maybe up to 15 % with some practise. Cross-skating can have the same level of exertion as cross-country skiing, which has the highest oxygen consumption of all sports. It shows that you can cover a very wide performance spectrum from people who chross-skate for rehabilitation on to top athletes. Most beginners tend to have an issue with motivation. If they enjoy cross-skating they will already have won against their inner couch potato.
Care and Maintenance
Q.: What can I do about creaking or squealing of plastic parts or bearings?
A.: We recommend silicon spray from your hardware shop. It won't corrode plastic or rubber and is generally recommended for maintaining seals (great for your household because you can get rid of any squealing doors or difficult to open locks, etc.) Just make sure to clean the bearing before lubricating so you won't add any dirt.
Q.: How do I remove the plastic caps from the axis of my Skike V07?
A.: You can remove the axis caps with a sturdy knife (not a thin kitchen knife) or grab them and pull them off with pliers (add a cardboard layer to avoid scratching the caps).