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Inline Skate Speed Boot Heat-Molding Results

timv's picture

After much research and comtemplation on the subject, I heat-molded my Hyper boots Tuesday night. It was my first heat-molding experience, and I rejected Hyper's suggested method of using a kitchen oven at 200°F. I didn't like the idea of softening all the carbon in the boot when I only wanted to reshape the heel cup area. And I also didn't like the idea that the whole boot could collapse in a molten heap if left in the oven too long at that temperature, which seemed to be a risk of that method.

I didn't own a blowdryer so I bought one at Walgreen's. (As it happened, I went to Harbor Freight right after and heat guns were on sale for $10, so I bought one of them too! I wound up not using it, but it seemed like cheap insurance to have it on hand and I'm sure I'll find a use for it in the future.)

My attitude was that I wanted to heat the carbon all the way through its entire thickness without overheating the outside or damaging any of the trim material. The technique I came up with was to put the sensor probe of a Radio Shack indoor/outdoor digital thermometer--my all-purpose digital process-monitoring device--inside the heel of the boot, and to stuff in a towel above it. Then I gradually applied heat to the outside of the heel area and waited for the temperture to rise inside. I'm sure it would have been faster to heat from both inside and outside, but I wouldn't have been confident that it was also hot in the center. It turned out that it took close to a half an hour of heating and waiting until the thermometer showed my target temperature of 125°F. But I was being careful and didn't mind going slowly.

The biggest problem I had was that the right boot was way too tight on my right heel, so tight that I was in severe pain if I had on even a very thin sock. My most determined trial in them had been skating 8 miles at Country Park, without socks. I was rewarded for that with two big angry blisters, one on either side of my right heel.

Blake had suggested taping some pieces of mousepad material to my heel to create space there for molding, but I couldn't imagine ever being able to get my foot in like that when even a thin sock created such problems. But I messed around with an old foam insole, cut two pieces of that, and taped them to my foot, and then pulled on a thick tube sock before starting to heat the boot. It wasn't exactly painless but I could get it in at least.

When I reached the target temperature, I got my foot inside and pulled up and tied the laces, then worked the boot around to make sure my foot was well seated inside. I left it in for about 15 minutes while the boot cooled. By that time the pressure of the foam pads was about all I could stand. Taking the tape and foam off my foot, I put my usual skating socks on and put on both skates. I was very satisfied to find that the right boot was now ever so slightly less snug that the left one, which had always felt pretty good. (My right foot is noticeably the larger one.)

I was late getting out to Country Park tonight for my usual Wednesday evening skate, arriving just after 7pm. It had been raining and the road was still pretty wet and slippery in some places but I did 8 laps (12 or 13 miles) in the Hypers in pretty fair comfort. My feet were happy and stigmata-free when I finished. I feel like I can really start learning how to skate in them now. There's no doubt that a little bit of heat-molding made a very big difference.

Oh, regarding ankle bone problems: Not using the top pair of eyelets for the shoelaces seems to help a whole lot here. I was able to lace them up very snugly with no ankle discomfort whatsoever by not using the top eyelets. Maybe that's an obvious thing to try but it really did help and it seems worth mentioning it.


skatey-mark's picture

great idea

Using the thermometer is a great idea!  You probably could have gotten to your target temperature a little faster using the heat gun on the low setting.  In fact, if the heat gun has a high setting, you never want to use that -- definitely too hot!  I might have to pick up a digital thermometer next time I'm around a Radio Shack...  ;)

The eyelot comment is good too -- I've been doing that on my Vaypors now since I got them.  Mainly because they made the cuff too high -- was supposed to be long track height and they made them inline height instead...  But they're making another pair that should be right, and we'll see if I need the top eyelets on those when they arrive.

timv's picture

thermometer for heat-molding

Thanks for the comments, Mark!


There have been several different versions of the Radio Shack indoor/outdoor thermometer, and I've found all sorts of uses for mine. If you watch for a sale you can sometimes pick them up for almost nothing. I think there's even a wireless version of it, but I'm generally suspicious of wireless devices since I don't believe in the aether.


I noticed that the blowdryer was rated at 1875 watts and the heat gun at only 1500 watts, so it seemed like I wasn't giving up much by playing it safe there. As it was, I spent about equal amounts of time applying heat and watching the temperature climb with the blowdryer turned off. So I probably just would have blown less and watched more with higher temperature available.


But I might get adventurous and try the heat gun next time if I decide to do some touch-ups. There is still a bit of a tight spot along the outside of the right toe box but I'm going to wait and see how much of a problem that really is.


Also, it just dawned on me that I might have stuffed the towel in tighter than I needed to, and maybe having that pressure on the cuff area while the carbon was soft also had something to do with fixing the heel bone problem, as much or more than the change in lacing. It's hard to know about that, but I wouldn't mind at all if that turned out to be the case.


Good luck with  your new Vaypors. I hope they arrive soon!

eebee's picture

great explanation

Thanks for explaining your heat-molding process, Tim. I'm inspired to try that again now. Investing in a similar thermometer seems worth the while.
roadskater's picture

Heat Molding and Oven Thermometers

Hey Tim I'm glad you had great success. I'm sorry I left town without remembering to get the Clairol Upstart hair dryer and the old mechanical oven thermometer to you! I got busy and you know what my brain is like when I'm in a hurry. I think the digital thermo is a great idea as long as it is able to read high enough for your purposes.


I thought the target temperature would need to be higher, but I had not reviewed the literature of late. I seem to recall the Hyper material has a lower flex temp than the Verducci. I don't know if that is true. I'm glad you started out safely.


Sounds like the insole material is a good alternative to the old mouse pad trick. Usually when pushing out a spot we used to try several ever-smaller discs of mouse pad stacked on each other to make a bump, covered by a very thin sock to push the boot out where it was pressuring. This is of course if one doesn't have real tools and skill! Glad it worked out great.



timv's picture

Digital thermo

I just noticed that I said I heat-molded my Hyper boots, when in fact I only heat-molded one boot! But I won't bother editing that at this point. And no problem about the Upstart. A blowdryer is a good thing to have on hand, and my last one got turned into the blower for my foundry furnace so I needed a replacement anyway.


I checked max temp on the digital thermo a couple of months ago (I used it when I made a test batch of biodiesel fuel on the kitchen stove) and if memory serves it read up to 160°F. I wasn't sure about the target temperature myself but I picked a low value to be on the safe side, assuming also that the temperature through the thickness of the carbon material would necessarily be higher than what the thermometer saw inside the boot.


But all the methods I looked at seemed somewhat hit-or-miss, and I was just looking to have some kind of objective reference to go by. I'm sure that I wouldn't have spent nearly as much time getting the boot warm if I hadn't had the digital readout to go by. But I'm pleased with the results generally, and my right foot is particularly pleased, so I guess it turned out OK.


It also turns out that 125°F is the temperature to look for on a meat thermometer when making rare roast beef. And that's about what the sides of my heel looked like after skating 8 miles in them before heat-molding, so it seems somehow appropriate.


kjg's picture

Help needed!

I have not had good success with using a hairdryer - I suspect as a result of not getting the boot hot enough. I have heat molded several times (with and without orthotics) at the local store using there oven for molding ice skates. This seemed to work well until the last time. I seems that something wierd happened at the left outside ankle bone and the boot is now cutting into the ankle bone so much that it leaves a ridge across the bone that looks like I have two ankle bones. This is so bad that I can only skate 20 miles or so before the pain is unbearable and then that leaves my ankle badly bruised and swollen.

I am off to Holland in a week and a half to skate the Elfstedentocht and am resigned to the fact that I will have to switch back to Rec. boots - which I wore for the first time in a long time the other day and they felt weird, clompy and the ankle straps kept clipping together and the wheels are tiny and feel wobbly.

Any help advise would be really appreciated. I am contemplating moving my frame (3x100 +1x90) to my rec. skates but they are salomans and I know that the frame spacing is weird any experience with this would also be appreciated.


skatey-mark's picture

double-ankle syndrome

Sounds like the classic "double ankle syndrome"...  I thought it was just limited to Bont boots though, since they take the carbon all the way to the top of the cuff...  :)

If you look at my feet, you would think that I do have two ankles on each foot...  It doesn't take long for the lumps to start showing up.  There is some good news, though -- the pressure you're feeling there is related to technique, for the most part.  I know I pronate slightly at the end of my push, which causes the cuff of the boot to put pressure just above my outside ankle bone.  Over time, that pressure results in a lump forming.

The cheapest fix is to adjust your technique so that you don't pronate.  Focus on keeping your wheels vertical during the first part of your push, even to the point of supinating slightly.  Bend your knees a abit more, which should reduce the pronation at the end of the push.

Easy to say - hard to do...  I needed some new boots this year, so I actually had them made in a way to accomodate my somewhat sloppy technique.  I had the cuff made extra low (like long track ice skating) and the top of the cuff made to have a little "give" to it.  I've only skated on them once so far (they just arrived on Monday), but early results suggest that the double ankle issues will be solved by this setup for me.  Not everyone can skate in a boot like this though, due to the lack of ankle support.  It's going to take me a bit to get used to the low boot, but I think it will be fine.

Now, you may be able to get some relief from heat molding too...  On my previous boots, I did get some relief by heating up the outside area of the cuff and pushing  it out a bit.  I just heated up maybe the top inch, so that when I pushed it out, it was at a slight angle, which kept it from digging in so much.

Your boots should have come with heat molding instructions.  Definitely follow those.  Although if it just says to stick them in the oven, I wouldn't do that since it will mold the whole boot, and there's no point in doing that if it's just one area giving you problems.  It might be that it takes a higher temperature to mold the boots than you can get with your hair dryer.  (It varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even within different boots from the same manufacturer.)

A heat gun can be had for around $20 from a hardware store.  Look in the paint/wallpaper section (they're used for stripping paint & wallpaper...)  Be very carfeul that you don't overheat your boot though!  Go slow...  Keep the heat gun a couple inches away from the boot and move it around.  I'd say spend about 2/3 of the time heating the outside and 1/3 on the inside...  If the boot starts to smoke, stop immediately...  Eventually, the heated part will soften up and you can push it out and wait for it to re-harden.

Another option is to tape a piece of mousepad or other foam-type object to the place that's giving you trouble and actually put the boot on...  Lace it up and wait for it to cool...  Different things work better for some people than others...

Definitely try to find the manufacturer's instructions for molding the boots though -- that's your best bet, and you won't void the warranty if you follow those...

- SM -

kjg's picture

my skates....Raps (Parrots) from Holland

My skates are raps (Parrots) from Holland www.raps.nl - and hence no directions! They are the parrots and boast "full moldability" and the carbon goes all the way up to the ankle. I am trying moving the frames and heat molding with the mouse pad patches and will keep you informed  - wish me luck!

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