How to Clean Skateboard Bearings

A skateboard is a fun and easy way to get around town and is most popular amongst teenagers and young adults. Skateboarding has even become a sport. Keeping a well maintained board is key to a fast and smooth ride. Today, we go over how to clean skateboard bearings on our article. Read to know more.

If you notice carefully, you’ll see that most problems begin at the wheels and bearings. Daily riding will slowly wear away your wheels and start to foul your bearings, you’ll feel the effects if you ride in varied terrain, where dirt and dust is more likely to clog your wheel bearings.

We’re going to cover the ways your bearings can get dirty, how and when to clean them and also how to tell if you need to replace them.

How to Know that Your Skateboard Bearings Need Cleaning

An important part of maintenance is knowing when you need to clean and when you need to replace a certain part. Using bearings that are in the final stages of their life can lead to unsmooth rides and sudden wheel seizures, which can cause you to fall off your board. 

The first thing to notice is if there is squeaking when you’re riding. Hearing squeaks is a sign of bearing deterioration. It usually means that your bearings are dirty or are coming to the end of their life cycle.

Riding in dusty conditions or through dirt can affect your bearings, sand and dirt have abrasive qualities and wear the bearings away which leads to problems. You’ll see it when you’re cleaning and if you feel the bearing surface to be pitted and dimpled, it’s time to replace the bearings. 

Another thing to notice is how hard you need to push to get up to speed. If you need to use a lot of force when you push off, or find yourself frequently pushing, there is significant gunk in your bearings or they are nearing the end of their life cycle. 

After cleaning, check if your wheels spin freely, if they spin for about a minute or two, then your bearings are in good shape, however, if they spin slowly or stop earlier, it is time to replace or clean them.

How Do Bearings Get Dirty?

It goes without saying that daily use will wear and foul your bearings, but there are more factors that affect your wheel bearings. 

Let’s go over them.

Whenever you ride, the dust, dirt and other debris from the road, sidewalk or skate park can get lodged in your bearings. Though this is normal, excessive or hard riding can expedite this situation.

Another factor is the lubrication on your bearings. Different types of lubricant have different effects on your bearings and how they become dirty. For instance, using a type of grease would work well if you don’t clean your bearings often. It is recommended to use an oil based lubricant because of its lightness.

Consequently, you should also know what works as lubricant and what doesn’t.

Dos and Don’ts of Using Lubricant to Bearings

Don’ts: When it comes time to lubricate, don’t use something like WD-40 as it is a degreaser and will dry out your bearings after a while. Another thing you may want to use is a spray on lubricant, this is not recommended as the process is messy and the lubricant evaporates quickly leaving your bearings unlubricated. 3-in-1 oil is also not recommended, even if it provides adequate lubrication, it does not protect. 

Dos: On the other hand, using thin bearing grease is perfect if you want your bearings to last long. Sewing machine oil, dry chain lube and even synthetic engine oils should be considered when lubricating bearings. Skateboard specific greases such as Bones Speed Cream or Tri-Flow work just as well too.

How to Clean Skateboard Bearings

Before we begin, here is a list of the things you will need to clean your bearings. 

  • A skate tool or T-tool as it’s commonly known
  • Rags or paper towels
  • A small container, preferably with a lid
  • A hobby knife
  • Solvent such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol or spray on degreaser
  • Lubricants or grease for your bearings

First, we’ll start by removing the wheels using the skate tool, then slide the wheel to edge of the axle, then push the wheel down at an angle as it rests on the axle to pry the bearing from the wheel. Each wheel has two bearings on either side, so you’ll have to repeat the process. 

Now with each bearing out on a rag or paper towel it is time to extract the bearing shields from the bearings. If your bearings are made of rubber, you can pry them out with the edge of a hobby knife or push them out by using a pin to push out the shield by sliding it in between the bearings. If your bearings have metal shields, use the circlip pliers to undo the clip that is on the circumference of the shield.

Now, we move onto the process of cleaning. It is best to wear gloves and work in an open space if you are using acetone. Put the bearings and bearing shields into the container and add solvent till they’re covered halfway. You can leave them to soak for a bit or shake them in the lid to extract the dirt and grime. You may use spray on degreaser too and rinse with acetone or alcohol, after.

Finally, onto greasing. Depending on how and where you ride, add the grease of your choice. For skating in the rain it is recommended to use marine or engine grease, if not you may use Bones Speed Cream or Tri Flow. 

Conclusion

Knowing how and why bearings get dirty is important if you find yourself replacing bearings frequently, and now that you know how to clean skateboard bearings, your bearings will last longer till they’re replaced.

You can also check: Top 5 Best Skateboard Bearings of 2021

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