Who does not like to wear a new pair of rollerblades? Shiny, pristine, and new; without a mark of dent or scuff and without any squeaking noises; new rollerblades are indeed a skater’s delight. Until they cause ache and discomfort. New skates can be stiff to wear and breaking into them may take days and weeks of hurting workout sessions. So, is there a way around to speed up the process [source]?
Can you bake rollerblades? Indeed, you can! The procedure is called Heat Molding wherein you bake your rollerblades to soften the material, reduce break-in time, and achieve a better fit around your feet.
Some skates even come with proper instructions for baking at home. Before you even attempt the procedure yourself, make sure that the skates are heat-moldable and proceed every step with caution. Done improperly, the procedure can ruin your boots and reduce their life expectancy.
Why bake your skates?
Baking your skates not only speeds up the break-in time but also helps in molding the most stubborn skates for a comfortable custom fit. Heat molding can turn your boots that feel just OK into the most comfortable pair you have ever worn.
The procedure does not alter the length of your skates. It only supports better performance through a customized fit and comfy feel. Some people believe that you require some special type of oven to perform the procedure correctly.
While ovens designed specifically for the procedure are handy and maybe a bit easier to use, you can carry out the baking steps at home using a conventional oven. All you need are your skates, your conventional kitchen oven pre-heated to a temperature of 175 degrees, and an ordinary baking sheet.
Make certain that the rollerblades are suitable for the procedure and check for any brand-specific heating instructions that accompany your skates in the description. Certain boot brands require you to follow the specific instructions given by the manufacturer. For others, you can follow the standard steps.
Baking Instructions for Rollerblades
Based on the required fitting for the boots, you have two options for baking and heat molding the toe box and counters. Remember that after molding, all the metal components in your rollerblades will turn very hot. Make sure you do not directly touch the buckles, eyelets, or aglets.
Also, do not move around too much when you lace up your boots after the heating procedure. The primary goal is to stay in the skating stance keeping your foot as close to the skating position as possible. Moving around wearing newly baked boots will not allow them to cool down evenly in a uniform manner.
Allow your skates to stand for a few hours after initial cooling before you plan to use them for rigorous skating. Here are the procedures you can follow for heat molding your rollerblades [source]:
Targetting Trouble Spots
You can use a hairdryer or heat gun to target specific trouble spots in your rollerblades. The procedure can handle individual problem areas such as toes, outer foot, or arch. This approach allows you to mold only a specific section at a time.
For this, keep the dryer or the gun approximately at a distance of 6-8 inches from the boot. Gently move the device in small circular patterns so that the spot never gets overheated. The procedure may take around 3 to 7 minutes.
Once you observe that the material turns pliable, you can use your hands to give a gentle massage and a slight push out to mold the problem spot. Hold it still until cool. You can use the blunt end of a screwdriver to push out a particularly tight spot. You can repeat the process as many times as required.
Baking Rollerblades in Kitchen Oven
In this approach, you can target multiple spots at the same time. Professionals advise molding a single boot at a time. For this procedure, you need to pre-heat the oven to a temperature of 175 degrees. Make sure that the temperature never exceeds 200 degrees.
Make sure to remove the insoles, toe stops, laces, wheels, and bearings before you put your boots in the oven. You can leave the cushions inside. Place the rollerblade in the oven on the rack covered by a cookie sheet. Let it stay in the oven for about 3 minutes.
Carefully remove the hot boot from the oven. Insert insoles. Place your foot inside the boot and lace-up. Do not forget to wear the socks you usually wear during skating. Try to stand still maintaining your skating stance. Wait for a while until the skates cool down. You can repeat the process as and when required.
The molded rollerblades support a comfy fit and improve performance. Molding primarily improves the fitting of a heel cup, a narrow foot, or tendon areas. Depending on the composite layup and the manufacturing materials such as thermal sheets or resins, some boots may be more pliable than others.
Detailed Baking Instructions
- Remove wheels and bearings. Leave the frames attached to your boots. The frame helps in stabilizing the boots when you place your foot inside. It also makes certain that the boot rests in the correct position throughout the molding process. Check that the frame is not tight and fits snugly. Make sure that it doesn’t move when you shake the boot, but is pliable enough to be pushed by hand [source].
- Center oven racks and cover with a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to a temperature between 175 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Never try to rush the process or increase the temperature setting. For best results, the process must proceed slowly and take its time.
- Place your boot with frame in the oven. Watch out for the boot should not make direct contact with the heating elements or any other internal part of the oven.
- Remember to loosen the laces before you place your skate in the oven so that you can easily slide your foot inside the boot after baking.
- After about 3-7 minutes, check the oven to know if the boot turns pliable. In case, you are not satisfied, close the door of the oven and check again after a few minutes.
- Use oven mitts or hot pads to take out your boots out of the over after a few minutes. Avoid direct contact with the skate or the skate frame. Keep them at a safe place because the skates and frame will be extremely hot when they come out of the oven.
- Wear a thin nylon sock to protect your foot from direct heat. Wear the skate and lace-up so that the boots fit snugly without tightening.
- Bend your knees at 90 degrees to maintain a seated position. Do not stand while the boots are hot. Make sure that your hips are in line with the knees while your knee lies directly over the toes.
- Once the boot cools, you can repeat the procedure with the other skate. Remember you need to gently push the ankle bone. Apply pressure gently so that the shell moves to a specific point. You can use a heat gun to further mold the tight toe box. Press and hold the areas that require expansion by using your thumbs. Again, you can use the heat gun to further mold the heel cup/tendon.
Once the boot cools down you can unlace the skate to remove your foot. Re-lace again, and stand in an upright position. Let your boots stay in that position for 24 hours. Now, your boots are ready to hit the pavement.
If baking can improve fitting and influence performance, why does everyone not follow the procedure? Remember, baking is not as easy process as it sounds. If you do not follow the instructions correctly, you may end up damaging your boots. Therefore, some skaters prefer to follow the old-fashioned way of breaking-in into the boots by skating. Others simply do not want to risk mismanaging the baking process and ruining their skates. The process may not seem difficult, but one needs to stay careful when baking. Done incorrectly, the process may cause a premature breakdown of the rollerblades. Therefore, you need to pay attention throughout the procedure and follow the directions carefully. It is sometimes a good idea to seek professional help rather than executing the procedure at home.