How to Remove the Heel Brake from Inline Skates

If you’re a beginner to inline skating, a heel brake is a critical feature to have on your rollerblades. But if they installed the brake pad at some awkward angle and you’re falling frequently, that can be super frustrating.

Related: How to Replace the Brake on Inline Skates

Also, if learning crossovers, skating backward, and powerslides have become one scary experience owing to the brake, it may be time to take it off. In this step-by-step guide, I will show you (with pictures and video) exactly what to do and how to do it. I’ll also tell you about a challenge you might encounter and more importantly, how to solve it.

So let’s get rolling…

Also: Rollerblade wheel rotation pattern

5 Reasons to Remove the Heel Brake from Rollerblades

  • You’re wanting to replace the brake because the existing one is poorly designed and is positioned awkwardly.
  • The Brake is making T-stops and powerslides harder to learn.
  • It’s making crossovers and rolling backward more challenging for you.
  • You’re tripping on the brake more often than feels comfortable (there’s nothing good about eating hard dirty asphalt haha).
  • You’ve learned everything beginner skaters need to master and feel it’s time to step up to tougher challenges in your skating journey.

The brake can make learning T-stops and powerslides that much more difficult. I also noticed that the brake made learning crossovers and even skating backward a tad more difficult. Also, some people find that they fall more often with the brake on and remove it from the get-go.

How to Correctly Take the Brake off Your Inline Skates

If you’d rather watch one of our team members removing the brake from his inline skates (Flying Eagle), I bet you’ll find the video below helpful. Please like, share, and comment so YouTube’s algo might show our video more often to others who might need the brake pad removal tutorial.

When it comes to removing the heel brake from inline skates, the rollerblade model and manufacturer you have matter. But generally, the process is extremely simple and anyone can do it in a matter of minutes using a 4mm Allen Key. Follow the brake removal process below to complete the task.

If you don’t have a skate tool/Allen Key, I recommend the Park Tool P-Handle Hex Wrench. It’s a 4mm tool and it’s really good quality. It costs roughly $13, which is twice the cost of many, but it sure feels like much better quality. It will last you years.

What You Need to Remove a Rollerblade Heel Brake

  • A pair of reasonably dexterous hands
  • An Allen Key, specifically a 4mm one
  • A rag: place your nuts, bolt/bolts, wheel, and brake pad here after removal
  • The right skate (that’s where they place the brake pad on the vast majority of brakes
  • A standard-size wheel axle for the skate model you’re handling (it probably came with your skate. Misplaced the axle? Drive to your local skate shop and see if they’re carrying it or order it online

Now that you’ve gathered up all the materials and tools you need, let’s get started.

Step #1: Grab your Allen Key and insert it in the head of the bolt/wheel axle. The rear axle is typically longer in size compared to the axles running through the other wheels because it has to secure both the rear wheel and the brake pad.

Also read: How to remove inline skate wheels and bearings

a skater inserting a 4mm Allen Wrench into the head of a wheel axle

*You may actually need 2 Allen Keys for the task. One to unscrew the axle and the other to push against the head of the axle on the other side. This only applies if the skate has a two-part axle instead of a single-part one.

Step #2: Turn the tool counterclockwise to loosen the wheel axle.

Step #3: Pull the wheel axle (or 2 bolts, a smaller one and a longer one, where applicable) out of the frame with your hand.

a man pulling axle out of inline skate wheels

Step #4: Wiggle the brake pad free of your skate’s frame and set it aside.

wiggle the brake out of the frame

Step #5: Run a shorter wheel axle and make clockwise turns until things are nice and tight. Don’t tighten the nut too much, otherwise, you’ll have a hard time unscrewing it next time.

long brake axle vs standard size wheel axle
The wheel axle on the left is a standard-size one. Use that when mounting the rear wheel back onto the frame without the brake. Use the longer axle when replacing the heel brake.

That’s how easy and fast removing the brake from rollerblades can get. Let’s know if you’re facing any challenges and we’ll be sure to suggest something to help you out.

Challenges You Might Face and Solutions

Since the brake bolt is normally longer than a regular one, it might stick out too much from the frame once you remove the brake. If you’re not careful when learning powerslides, this protruding wheel axle could catch on the ground and cause you to crash. I hate kissing asphalt with my hands, especially when I don’t have any pads on!

long wheel axle sticking out from frame
If you run the original axle after removing the brake (the longer one), the axle ends will stick out from the frame, causing you to fall when learning crossovers or powerslides.

Some skate sellers are kind enough to include a standard-size axle in the package. But if you’ve misplaced yours or didn’t get one, chances are that your local skate shop sells rollerblade wheel axles for the model you have. Alternatively, you can buy it online.

Here’s what else you can do: use washers to fill up the space that was left by the brake. You could even cut up the brake pad and use some of the pieces as washers.

How to Replace the Brake on Inline Skates

There are two reasons you might want to replace the brake on your inline skate. The brake might be worn well past the indicated wear line and you’ve not perfected your stopping technique. So you need to replace the brake. Or it could be that your skates came with a poorly designed brake, one that makes stopping challenging or impossible.

What to do: Buy a good replacement brake pad, remove the existing one, put in the new pad, and run a long enough wheel axle through the brake, frame, and wheel. Make clockwise turns to make the assembly tight and secure.

put the new brake pad into the frame

Can You Switch the Brake to the Left Skate?

Yes, you can move the new brake pad to the left skate if you’re left-foot dominant. Skate brands place the braking system on the right skate because most people are right-foot dominant.

Why is the Brake on Rollerblades Placed on the Right Skate?

Tran and Voracek conducted a study in 2016 that examined 12,000 subjects. The research found that fully 61.6 percent of people have right-foot preference versus 8.2 percent for left-foot preference. And 30.2 percent can use the right foot with the same ease they can use the left one.

Wrapping It Up: Removing the Heel Brake from Rollerblades

Removing the heel brake from inline skates is a simple process that looks like this: Use a 4mm Allen Key and turn the head of the rear wheel axle counterclockwise. Keep rotating the tool’s handle until the bolt comes out.

Next, pull the pad out and then put the wheel back in. Finally, run a shorter axle because the brake isn’t there anymore. You can still use the existing axle but with washers this time round to address the space the pad left.