Skateboarding is a fun and exciting activity, but it can also be dangerous if not done correctly.
One of the dangers of skateboarding is that it can cause debris to get caught in the bearings of your wheels.
If this debris gets stuck in the bearings, it can cause them to become overridden, which can lead to serious injury. So, to prevent this from happening, it is important to clean your skateboard bearings on a regular basis.
Why do we need to clean our skateboard bearings?
There’s something about a freshly cleaned set of skateboard bearings that just feels good. Not only that! They also spin more freely and make skating smoother and faster.
But what many people don’t realize is that over time, skateboard bearings can become caked with dirt, dust, and other debris, which can affect their performance. Not only does this reduce your speed and agility while skating, it can also lead to bearing failure.
So, cleaning your bearing regularly is a must for every skateboarder!
How often do we need to clean our skateboard bearings?
The bearings in your skateboard need to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep them functioning well.
But, how often do you need to clean them? Well, It all depends on how often you use your skateboard and the conditions in which you use it.
In general, you should clean your bearings every week if you use your skateboard frequently and more often if you skate in dirty or wet conditions.
Cleaning your bearings is not difficult, but it does require a little bit of work.
Items You Will Need To Clean Your Skateboard Bearing
- Non-water-based solvent (Acetone or carburetor cleaner)
- Skateboard bearing lubricant
- Skate tool or 5/16” (8mm) socket/wrench
- Sewing needle or similar
- Clean bottle or jar
- Generic dish soap + water
- Paper towel or rag
- Pen (optional)
Step 1: Remove the bearings from the wheels
In addition to removing your wheels, it’s also a good time to rotate your wheels.
Although rotating wheels is not necessary. But certain wheels will wear more/less than others. So, if you rotate them, you can extend their lifespan.
Rotating wheels means putting the bottom left wheel on top right, the bottom right wheel on top left, etc.
To make this easier, write the initials of where the wheel should be placed at the end of the rotation/cleaning before you start removing them.
As an example, writing “TR” (Top Right) on the bottom left wheel will help you rotate each wheel correctly when reassembling the wheels. Regarding the ink, after a few minutes of skating, the pen ink will simply disappear.
To start, unscrew the axle nuts with a skate tool or 5/16-inch socket/wrench.
During this step, It is very important not to push the tool into the outer shield of the bearing as this could cause damage to the shield.
As soon as you have unscrewed the axle nut, remove the wheel from the axle, paying attention to the axle washers that are likely to be between the nut and bearing. It is important that these small washers are placed aside for future use when reassembling.
Now you have to pry the bearings out of each wheel, one by one.
It will take some strength to complete this step, so don’t be afraid to use some muscle. Place a bearing just over the tip of a truck axle. In order to pull out the bearing from the wheel you must twist it to one side with care, making sure that there is only one bearing over the axle. The bearing must be twisted to one side (see photo below).
And repeat this process for all bearings.
Step 2: Remove the bearing shields
The last step required a certain amount of strength, but the next step requires a great deal of precision. During the process of removing bearing shields, it is important to be careful not to bend the shields, especially if you are using rubber or nylon shield bearings. If you have bearings with shields on both sides, it’s best to remove them both.
Bearing shields come in several types
1. Metal shielding bearings
These are older styles that are usually locked by a C-ring. You can locate one of the ends of the C-ring along the outer edge of the bearing by using a needle. With a needle, pry under the C-ring, and the shield should then fall (or be pried) out.
2. Rubber/nylon shielded bearings
Place the needle carefully under the shield (see photo below). Using gentle force, pry up and around the bearing, making sure it isn’t bent too far. Don’t pull the shield up in just one place, it should remain flat throughout the process.
Once all shields have been removed, place them in warm water and dish soap.
3. Ensure that the shields are not placed in solvents or acetone
By using solvent, the rubber/nylon compound of the shields will dry out and be destroyed, thereby preventing dirt out.
Instead, use soapy water, rub the dirt and grease off with your fingers. Be careful not to bend the shields.
You can do the same with metal shields, but make sure you immediately dry them out to prevent rust from occurring.
Step 3: Cleaning your skateboard bearings
It’s time to get that dirt and grime out of your skate bearings! To do this, you have two options:
1. The easy way
Once all shields have been removed, you can see that the steel balls are aligned in a plastic cage inside. Now that the bearing is open, it can be cleaned effectively. Be sure to keep your bearings away from water (except the shields).
Next, fill a jar or bottle half-way up with solvent, and put the bearings in the solvent-filled bottle.
Then, lightly shake or stir the bearings in the solvent so that the solvent moves through the bearings and flushes out dirt and debris.
The photo below shows a Bones “Bearing Cleaning Unit” bottle in which bearings can be placed and then shaken to flush the solvent through them.
There is no need for this bottle, but it is extremely helpful. Without it, you can simply place the bearings in a jar, let them soak in the solvent, and shake them a little bit to remove any dirt.
After a few min, remove the bearings from the solvent and let them dry on a paper towel.
2. The hard way
This method is only recommended if you have prior experience cleaning bearings and your bearings are completely dirty/grime.
To begin, take the same steps as above, except you will need to remove the plastic/nylon shields holding the small steel balls in place.
Now, You will need to push the nylon cage away from the steel balls very carefully (not pry). It is very important that the balls remain in place as they are locked into an inner and outer race in the bearing rings.
Once you have pushed the cage out, you should now be able to align the balls on one side of the bearing and they should then fall out.
At this point, the bearing is completely disassembled. Then clean all components in the solvent.
After you have cleaned all components, place them inside the outer bearing ring, aligned on one side in a “C” shape.
Now place the inner ring in the middle and line the balls back up into the races/grooves.
Next, Place the plastic cage above the balls and align each ball carefully.
Lastly, Using an even pressure, press each steel ball back into the cage.
While this procedure can be time-consuming and tedious, But your bearings will be as clean as the day they were manufactured!
Step 4: Lubricating and reinstalling the bearing shields
After cleaning/drying off your shields and bearings, it’s almost time to assemble them.
The next step is crucial! In order for your skateboard bearings to function properly, you must apply skateboard bearing oil.
If the bearings are not lubricated, they may spin insanely fast for a few minutes, but they will eventually overheat and become permanently damaged.
If you skate downhill without lubricating the bearings, you can even cause a serious accident if they seize up.
Ideally, you should only use a skateboard bearing lubricant that has been specifically designed for skateboard bearings, as generic lubricants do not have the correct viscosity that skateboard bearings require.
Just drop two to three small drops on the bearing’s steel balls. You should not cover your bearings with a lot of lubricant, since it will make a huge mess and attract dirt.
After applying lubricant, carefully reinstall each bearing shield. Once again, do not bend the shields!
Step 5: Re-installing the bearings into wheels
Before you can skate, one last step needs to be taken! In order to press back each bearing into your wheels, you can do so in several different ways. One of the simplest ways is to place a bearing (shield side down) onto your truck axle and then place the wheel over the axle and onto the bearing.
The bearing underneath should pop into place inside the wheel when you press down evenly. You’ll need to do this for all the bearings. Once you have screwed on the axle nut, tighten it down until the bearings are fully pressed.
Make sure axle washers are installed between the bearing and axle nut before tightening the nut. Make sure you don’t damage the bearing shields with your tool while doing this.
It took some time, but your skateboard bearings are now spinning and looking like new! While you may be excited to go skating, you should not be surprised if your board isn’t as fast as you would like it to be when you first push off.
Because bearings have now been lubricated with fresh oil that still needs to spread around inside the bearings.
In about 10-15 minutes, you should start to notice that the bearings are breaking in and skating faster than before.
If you want the bearing to break in faster, the best way is to go skating down a hill or down a bowl!
Cleaning and Lubing skateboard bearing or Buying a new skateboard bearing?
If your skateboard is not moving as freely as it used to, or if the bearings are making a lot of noise, it may be time to clean them. Bearings can become clogged with dust and debris, which can cause them to make noise and move slowly. If you don’t clean your bearings regularly, they may need to be replaced.
There are a few reasons why you might want to buy a new skateboard bearing. The first reason is that your old bearing might be worn out and no longer performing well. If you’re having trouble getting your board to roll smoothly after cleaning, it might be time for a new bearing.
Another reason to buy a new skateboard bearing is if you’re planning on doing any tricks or stunts. When you’re doing tricks, it’s important to have bearings that are up for the challenge. A good set of bearings can make all the difference when it comes to your performance.
Finally, if you’re just starting out skating, it’s a good idea to buy a new set of bearings. This will give you a fresh start and help you learn how to skateboard more effectively. No matter why you need them, new bearings can definitely improve your skating experience.
Conclusion on how to clean skateboard bearings
Cleaning your skateboard bearings is a fairly simple process that only requires a few minutes of your time and a few tools that you may already have at home.
By following these steps, you can help to ensure that your bearings run smoothly and help to extend their lifespan.
So, what are you waiting for?