We all know that every time you go out skating, there’s no doubt your skateboard is going to take a beating. Sometimes it’s inevitable to skate right through a puddle, or you may stack it and eat dirt.
However, it’s common for riders to forget to maintain their bearings, causing them to get clogged up with dirt and grime. This of course, makes it harder for the wheels to spin, causing the rider to get less glide and them having to kick harder.
Not fun times.
Cleaning the equipment will decrease normal wear-and-tear on your board, increase its speed, and prevent the wheels from seizing up.
Luckily the process is easy enough for anybody to do at home so, we thought we would give you guys an easy break down on how to clean your equipment so that you never have to feel like a mouse in a spinning wheel every again.
But first, here’s a little list of the things you should have to give those bearings a proper clean:
What You Will Need:
- Your dirty skateboard bearings (duh)
- Acetone or another solvent (97% isopropyl alcohol is good too)
- A bowl or cup to put it in
- A small pin or straightened staple to remove the bearing shields
- A ratchet or socket wrench might come in handy
Step #1 – Pop the Wheel Off
First things first, you need to take your wheel off to get to your bearings. To do this, you can use a socket wrench, ratchet or skate tool to loosen the nuts holding the wheels in place. You may need to hold your board steady and apply firm pressure to break the bolts loose.
Step #2 – Remove the Bearings
There are two kinds of seals that are common on skateboard bearings: rubber seals and metal shields. The seals can be popped out from the other side with a small pin or straightened-out staple. Stick your pin between the ball cage and the outside bearing race and press the seal out. Aim for the center of the seal, because it is made of metal and you won’t purchase it.
Step #3 – Soak and Clean
Fill up your bowl with 1/2″ of acetone and put the bearings (balls down) in the solution and let them sit for a minute. Alternately tap them on the bottom of the bowl and spin the thing in your hand until they feel grit-free. Once you get a bearing cleaned, spin it dry and place it on a clean paper towel (balls down) to dry. Repeat for the other seven pieces.
Step #4 – Remove and Dry the Bearings
Before removing the bearings, prepare a level, safe place where these can dry. Lay down a paper towel or a rag, remove the piece, and allow enough time to pass until completely.
Step #5 – Grease and Re-seal
Add grease to the little pockets in-between the balls. Most people use just enough to fill three pockets barely. You don’t want them packed, but you want all the balls lubricated.
You can use any grease that is lying around the house. Spread the grease around with your finger and roll the bearing back and forth until you can see all the balls adequately.
It’s an awesome feeling cleaning your bearings for the first time because you can really feel the impact of the difference, which is why it’s important not to forget that feeling and to remember that this is something you need to do on a regular basis if you want to have good rides.
But how often should you clean them exactly? It depends on how much you ride, and how often in crappy conditions, or how often you feel stuck.
For greased bearings, try once every month at first or more often if you’re in the wet a lot. Oiled pieces need maintenance every couple of weeks if you ride every day.
I tend to clean them out right after a rain ride; the oil just doesn’t provide as much rust protection. Now go and clean so you can feel the glide of your freshly cleaned bearings.