Skateboarding is most common on sidewalks and road surfaces, but sometimes you may encounter rather rough surfaces for riding, such as cracked sidewalks and uneven roads. There is no doubt that your wheels will pick up all the dust, dirt and grime from the road surface, initially it may not matter but over time, it may lead to problems while riding, such as improper grip, suddenly slowing down or extra bumpy rides. The stress of riding falls on the wheels of the skateboard the most. We go over how to clean skateboard wheels today in our article.
Now there is a solution to this problem and it’s to clean your wheels at regular intervals. However, before we begin let us go over what skateboard wheels are made of, when to clean or replace them and finally over the maintenance process to clean your skateboard wheels.
What are Skateboard Wheels Made of?
The first skateboard wheels were made of metal, however, metal really didn’t provide enough grip and later on skateboard manufacturers tried using clay, but they soon found that the clay wheels weren’t any better than the steel wheels they replaced.
However, in the 70s Frank Nasworthy came up with wheels made of polyurethane or PU, after seeing similar wheels on roller blades. The invention of plastic wheels made skateboarding explode into the sport it is today. Since the invention of PU wheels there have been small changes in the manner they are manufactured, but the basic construction remains the same.
Are There Different Types of Skateboard Wheels?
With the advancement of manufacturing processes, a lot of variety has been seen in skateboard wheels. For instance, the hardness of wheels can vary and each hardness has different use cases.
Hardness is best measured using a durometer scale, which goes up to 100 points.
In terms of comfort, the best wheels to use are 78A-92A hardness wheels as they vibrate the least and give you a smooth, near silent ride, its best if you ride on sidewalks and parking lots.
The medium type is rated from 93A-95A and feels like a soft and hard wheel. They cushion as well as the soft wheels and perform well on varied, somewhat uneven road surfaces.
The hardest wheels range from 95A-99A hardness. These wheels last long and are remarkably hard and are perfect for doing tricks on hard, smooth surfaces like those of a skate park or pool.
How Do My Wheels Wear and When Should I Replace My Wheels?
Wheels are the most important part of a skateboard and take the total stress of riding. Landing from jumps, uneven road surfaces, riding down slopes or halfpipes all impart stress on the wheels.
Skateboard wheels wear down at different levels based on their hardness and how you ride. When you’re riding, the PU wheels slowly wear down as the friction from riding causes them to compress and expand. The rider’s weight, the symmetry of the trucks, bushings and bearing quality are all factors that affect the rate of wheel wear.
The first thing you’ll see your wheels do after maybe a month of riding is yellowing of the wheels. This happens due to the degrading of the PU. During manufacture, the PU is bleached and the daily stresses of riding and exposure to sunlight turns the PU yellow. The effect is entirely aesthetic and has no effect the overall ride quality.
What begins to affect the ride is uneven wear from favoring one side during riding, excessive sliding which leads to flat spots and riding on harsh, unkempt surfaces. Flat spots and dents appear in the wheels leading to wobbly rides and loss of control and grip. When you see your wheels getting smaller and smaller or see chips and flat spots, it’s time to replace them.
How to Clean Skateboard Wheels
In order to clean your wheels, you’ll need several things. These have been listed below.
- Skate-tool or T-tool
- Bearing press puller
- Warm soapy water
- Paper Towels
- Wire Brush
First, using your stake-tool, remove the wheels and extract the bearings using the bearing puller. Now, either in a bowl or clogged sink, let the wheels soak in warm water mixed with a little dishwashing soap. Letting the wheel soak allows the soap to work and loosen all the dirt and junk that is present in the bearing beds. This is an important step so it should not be glossed over. Finally, using either a rag or paper towel, clean out the inside of the wheels.
With that over you are ready to clean the outside of the wheel. Run a little hot water over the wheels to loosen the layer of grime on the outside, then use the wire brush to scrub away the loose dirt. Now, if there are any particularly stubborn bits of dirt, add dishwashing soap and nothing else, anything harsher may damage the PU material of the wheel. Clean until there is no more dirt left on the wheel.
Now for the drying process, use a dry rag or paper towels to wipe the water off the wheels and keep doing so until it feels dry to the touch, it’s important that there be no water left in the bearing bed as it can rust your bearings. To completely dry them, leave the wheels out in the sun for a few hours and that will make them bone dry.
During reassembly, you can do a final trick to increase the life of your wheels. You may flip the wheels around or swap their positons to make them last just a little longer. The left rear wheel may be placed onto the front right and right front to left rear, the right rear to the left front and left front to right rear.
Now you know when to change and how to clean your skateboard wheels. Keeping the wheels clean and well-maintained will give you ultimate skating experience and also keep you safe while riding.
You can also check: What Skateboard to Get?: Champion’s Choice