How to adjust and/or change your roller skate toe stops

Tools for the job!

Using your toe stops is essential in derby and therefore should not be neglected. Between figuring out the correct length for your skating style and keeping them from falling off mid-practice, toe stops can be almost as confusing as choosing your first set of wheels.

Yesterday I received a new set of Gumballs, so I figured I’d share with you how I tech my toe stops while I’m changing them out. Please note that if you ask five different skaters on their chosen length, you will get five different answers. So the key is for YOU to keep a log whenever you adjust your tippy toes so you can track what works and what doesn’t.

My Current Toe Stop Settings

It’s helpful to know your most common starting position when you are adjusting your stops because often one toe stop will be longer than the other based on what foot you put in front.

I usually start with my right foot in front. This is a photo of me about to go down into my starting stance. See how my left heel is naturally much higher than my right heel in my stance? My toe stops are different lengths to reflect this positioning.

At a gear session with Coach Pauly, he said a good starting point for your front skate is to have your back wheels the same height as four fingers when you are up on your toes. That is what my right skate is currently set at. My left skate sits higher, which means your toe stop will be adjusted closer to your skate compared to the right skate.

Have I confused you yet?

Long story short, the closer your toe stop is to your skate, the higher your heel will be when stand on your stops. You need to find your balance of where you are comfortable when you stand on your toes.

There are many ways to gauge and record your toe stops… do what works best for you!

Any of these ways works to measure your toe stop height

Cherri’s Toe Stops (prior to changing them)

4.5 cm from skate
9 threads from skate
4 fingers heel height

4 cm from skate
8 thread from skate
More than 4 fingers heel height

Now that I’ve established my current settings, it’s time to change to a new brand of toe stops. My stats will change on the thread count because of the brand change, but I plan to keep the distance and heel height the same as my previous brand.

Removing Your Toe Stops

I don’t like the little wrenches that come with many skate tools. They just don’t offer enough torque to loosen and tighten my stops effectively. Plus I don’t want to strip the nut of the skate. I always carry a large wrench in my bag for this job. I find it works best.

Lefty loosey

Once your nuts are loose, unscrew the toe stop from your skate then remove the nut and washer from the toe stop. They will be a little gunky so I take this opportunity to clean them and I also wipe out inside the hole of the skate.

Paper towel works fine. I don't use water.

Screw your nut and washer on your new toe stop and position it further than necessary down the stem of the toe stop. Remember, the washer goes between the nut and the skate.

Then insert the toe stop into your skate and screw it in until the desired height is reached. If your nut gets in the way, position the nut further down the stem.

Check your height

Once you are happy with your toe stop height, finger-tighten the nut down to the base of the skate.

Get it as tight as you can with your fingers so it won't move when you tighten it fully.

Using your wrench, tighten your nut. If you have finger-tightened it enough, the toe stop shouldn’t rotate as your tighten. But if it happens you may need to hold the toe stop in position while you tighten so it doesn’t move.

Right tighty.

When tightening my toe stops, I really put my back into it. I hate having to keep checking them to make sure they aren’t getting loose. So I lay my skate on its side, put my foot on the toe of the skate and pull up as hard as I can with my wrench.


If you have toe protectors on your skate…

DO NOT place them in between your nut and skate. The leather becomes compressed over time and it will slide out. Then the extra slack between the skate and nut will make your toe stop come loose. I just let mine hang loose. I guess I could also cut them off since the rest of the cover is secured by tape. I just haven’t done it yet.

Leave the piece of leather out of your nuts. (hehe)

Last step: Remeasure and log your new toe stop settings

4.6 cm from skate
5 threads from skate
4 fingers heel height

4.1 cm from skate
2 threads from skate
More than 4 fingers heel height

Hope this helps some of you tech your own toe stops!

All pretty and ready to be broken in!

13 thoughts on “How to adjust and/or change your roller skate toe stops

  1. Pingback: Trucks, hangers, cushions – taking apart your skates « Diary of a Roller Girl

  2. ive got 2 pairs of vintage riedell 265 boots on sure grip xk4 plates but cannot get the left toe stop to go in at all on either plate, the allen wrech bolt has been taken all the way out and the toe stops will only go in 3 threads on the left but all the way in on the right . any advice?

  3. Thanks so much for this info. I know it’s an older post, so please forgive the question if it’s already been asked – I just fitted some new stops and toe guard on my skates. They had run out of Gumballs at the shop so I got something similar in size/shape/etc. However, they didn’t come with a washer, just the nut. And my old stops (Crazy DBX standard issue) also didn’t have the washer. Should I have washers on there, or doesn’t it matter much?

    Thanks again for the post – as a very new skater, I have absolutely no idea and am relying on blogs for this info as the skater boys at my local skate shop are pretty useless!

  4. Okay, so I’m a sucker for sales and ordered the Riedell Volt (not noticing the AWFUL fixed toe stop.) So is there any way I could maintanance them/rig them into having the hardware for a removable toe stop? its a crazy suggestion but I didnt know if anyone else had tried.

  5. My rule of thumb for the length of my toestops: I draw an imaginary line extending from the surface of my toestops and make sure my front wheels just touch that line. Optimal use of surface! Also quite close to that four finger rule. And no fooling around with hardware with my plates: the plates themselves are adjustable to secure the toestops. Never lost a toestop yet.

    • Just to clarify, you draw a line vertically from the lower part of the toe stop and that should meet the front of your wheels? If that’s the case, I really like that approach! May I add it to the blog post with credit to you? Truthfully I don’t use the four-finger rule much anymore because I’ve gotten a good feel for where I like my stops to be. But any starting point for a new skater to tweak from is always helpful! Thank you for posting!

    • Kate, Reidell Volts DO NOT have a replaceable toe stop. I have a pair and then ordered some new toe stops only to realize upon trying to place them on there that they cannot be swapped out. It’s shitty. If you want new/different toe stops you’ll either have to replace your skate’s plates or get a different pair of skates completely.

  6. Pingback: Love Your Gear: Quick Guide on Skate Maintenance – Eat, Sleep, Live Derby In The World of Kiki'N Da Teef

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