How to Clean Skateboard Bearings? Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning your skateboard bearings might seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential for keeping your ride smooth and fast. Whether your board’s been collecting dust or you’ve just finished an epic skating session by the beach, those bearings are bound to be covered in dirt and grime. Trust me, it’s worth the effort to get your hands a little dirty.

Required Materials and Tools

list showing how to clean skateboard bearings

Having the right materials and tools is crucial for cleaning your skateboard bearings effectively.

Basic Tools and Materials

  1. Skate Tool or Wrench: Essential for removing the wheels from your skateboard to access the bearings.
  2. Bearing Cleaning Kit: Includes a container to soak the bearings and a metal rod to secure them.
  3. Rubbing Alcohol or Mineral Spirits: Used to soak the bearings and dissolve grease and grime.
  4. Bones Speed Cream or Bronson: High-quality lubricant to keep your bearings spinning smoothly.
  5. Paper Towels: For drying the bearings and wiping away excess cleaner and lubricant.
  6. Safety Pin or Small Tool: Handy for removing bearing shields without causing damage.
  1. Bearing Spacers: Helps in maintaining the proper alignment of the bearings during the cleaning process.
  2. Rubber Gloves: Protects your hands from harsh chemicals.
  3. Compressed Air: Useful for blowing out dirt and moisture, ensuring the bearings are dry.
  4. Small Brush: For scrubbing off any remaining dirt inside the bearings.
  5. Ceramic Oil: Offers an alternative to speed cream, providing excellent protection and lubrication for long-lasting performance.

These tools and materials simplify the cleaning process, ensuring that both basic and deep cleaning tasks are handled effectively.

Preparation for Cleaning

When preparing to clean your skateboard bearings, create a workspace and gather necessary tools.

Safety Measures

Proper safety measures ensure a safe and effective cleaning process. Use rubber gloves to protect hands from dirt and chemicals. Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes from alcohol or mineral spirits. Avoid using oil-based products like WD-40, as they may damage the bearings.

Workspace Setup

Select a flat surface such as a table or desk to work on. Lay down paper towels to catch grease and dirt. Keep a separate container for dirty bearings. This setup helps keep the workspace organized and clean.

Required Tools and Accessories

Gather essential tools and accessories before starting. You will need a skate tool or wrench to remove the wheels from the skateboard. Use a razor blade or knife to pry the bearings from the wheels. Collect isopropyl-based alcohol or mineral spirits for cleaning. Other items include a disposable cup for soaking the bearings, paper towels for wiping, and a small brush for scrubbing.

Organizing Bearings and Shields

Remove the wheels and then remove the bearings from each wheel using your skate tool. Bearings usually have rubber shields; carefully remove these to clean the inside of the bearings. Keep these shields in a safe place for reinstallation.

Next, place the eight bearings in the disposable cup filled with alcohol or mineral spirits. Allow them to soak to loosen built-up dirt and grime. Rotate and swirl the bearings around in the solvent to ensure thorough cleaning.

Handling Lubricant and Drying

After soaking and cleaning each bearing, remove them from the solvent and tap them on a clean paper towel to remove excess liquid. Let the bearings dry completely. Once dry, add a few drops of lubricant, such as Bones Speed Cream or Bronson, to keep them spinning smoothly.

Reassembly

Reinstall the rubber shields back on the bearings. Place the clean, lubricated bearings back into the wheels and reattach the wheels to the skateboard using your skate tool or wrench. Ensure that all components are secure and tightly fastened.

By following these steps, you ensure that your skateboard’s bearings are clean, functional, and ready for optimal performance.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

This section details the process to clean your bearings for optimal skateboard performance. Follow these steps to ensure a thorough and effective cleaning process.

Step 1: Remove the Wheels

Start by taking off the wheels from your skateboard. Use a skate tool or wrench and turn the nuts counterclockwise. Set the nuts and washers aside to avoid losing them.

Step 2: Extract the Bearings

Once the wheels are off, it’s time for removing the bearings. Place the wheel halfway onto the axle, then use the truck axle to pry the bearings out gently, twisting outward. Be cautious not to damage the bearings during this step. Repeat for all eight bearings.

Step 3: Remove Bearing Shields

Next, remove the bearing shields. Using a metal rod like a safety pin or thumbtack, carefully lift the shields back from the bearings. Avoid bending the rubber shield as it should fit snugly when replaced. Keep the shields organized, possibly in a container, to prevent loss.

Step 4: Clean the Bearings

It’s time to clean the bearings. Soak the bearings in a solvent. Rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits work well for dissolving dirt and grime. Swirl the bearings around in the solution to dislodge any debris. Allow the bearings to sit for 10-15 minutes for a deep clean. Use a small brush to reach the interior of each bearing if needed. Ensure the bearings are contaminant-free before moving to the next step.

Upon finishing, dry bearings thoroughly. Use compressed air to eliminate moisture, ensuring no rust forms. Apply bones speed cream or a similar lubricant afterward to maintain smooth motion. Reassemble the bearings and place them back into the wheels, completing the process. This systematic approach ensures your new skateboard bearings perform at their best.

Step 5: Dry the Bearings

After soaking the bearings to remove contaminants, it’s crucial to dry them thoroughly. Completely dry bearings prevent rust and ensure smooth performance.

Use Compressed Air

Using compressed air from a can or air compressor helps expel any remaining moisture. Hold the bearing with one hand, and direct the compressed air nozzle towards it, making sure to target all sides. Rotate the bearing to ensure that every part receives attention.

Dry with a Paper Towel

If compressed air isn’t available, use a paper towel. Gently pat the bearings dry, ensuring all areas are free of moisture. Rotate the bearings around while drying to reach crevices.

Avoid Heat Sources

Avoid using hair dryers or placing bearings near heat sources. Excessive heat can damage the integrity of the bearings and bearing shields, reducing their lifespan.

Inspect for Residual Moisture

Examine the bearings closely to ensure no residual moisture remains. Hold each bearing up to a light source; any water droplets should be visible. If moisture is detected, use compressed air or a clean paper towel to remove it.

Allow Bearings to Air Dry

Allow the bearings to air dry for 10-15 minutes. This step ensures that any remaining moisture evaporates before moving to lubrication. Placing the bearings on a clean, dry surface, like a paper towel, helps in this process.

Drying is critical in the bearing cleaning process to keep your skate bearings functional and extend the life of the bearings. Make sure each bearing is completely dry before proceeding to lubrication. This careful approach enhances the performance of your skateboard’s bearings and prepares them for the next steps in the cleaning process.

Step 6: Lubricate the Bearings

Lubrication ensures skate bearings run smoothly and extend their lifespan. Opt for high-quality skate-specific lubricants like Bones Speed Cream for optimal performance.

  1. Use the Right Lubricant: Skate-specific lubricants, such as Bones Speed Cream or Bronson Speed Co High-Speed Ceramic Oil, provide better protection and performance than general-purpose oils. Avoid WD-40, which offers insufficient long-term protection, leaving bearings dry and prone to rust.
  2. Apply the Lubricant Properly: Drip 1-2 drops of lubricant into each bearing. Spin the bearing to ensure the oil distributes evenly inside the bearings. Repeat for all eight bearings. Proper distribution helps to avoid friction and keeps your bearings clean of debris and dust.
  3. Reassemble Bearings: Snap the rubber shields back onto the bearings to keep out dirt and debris. Place the bearings back into the wheels and reattach the wheels using your skate tool or wrench. Ensure to replace bearing spacers and speed washers if applicable. This maintains an even weight distribution and reduces wear and tear during rides.
  4. Regular Maintenance: Clean and lubricate your bearings regularly, especially after exposure to water or dirt, to keep them in top condition. Consistent care can significantly enhance the life of the bearings.

By following these practices, the bearings remain smooth and durable, providing a better skateboarding experience.

Step 7: Reassemble Bearings and Wheels

After ensuring that the bearings are clean and dry, proceed to reassemble them and the wheels on your skateboard. Begin by attaching the rubber shields to the cleaned bearings. Be careful to place the shields back without bending or damaging them. Using your skate tool or wrench, gently tap the shields into place if needed.

Next, add a few drops of lubricant, such as Bones Speed Cream, to each bearing. This step is crucial for maintaining the smooth performance and extending the life of the bearings. Avoid using general-purpose oils, as they don’t provide adequate protection.

Place the bearings back into the wheels. Hold the wheel and press one bearing onto the axle, using a metal rod if necessary for alignment. Repeat for the second bearing on the opposite side of the wheel. Ensure each bearing is snugly fit into the wheel to avoid any movement during use.

If you have bearing spacers, insert them between the bearings. These spacers help in distributing the pressure evenly, thus improving the ride quality. After securing the bearings in the wheels, slide the wheels back onto the skateboard trucks.

Finally, use your skate tool or wrench to tighten the axle nuts. Ensure they are tight enough to hold the wheels securely, but not so tight that the wheels can’t spin freely. Double-check each wheel to confirm they are attached correctly and spin without resistance.

This reassembly process completes the cleaning and maintenance of your skateboard’s bearings. Regularly repeating these steps will keep your bearings in top condition, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable skateboarding experience.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Consistent maintenance of skateboard bearings enhances performance and longevity. Following a routine cleaning schedule and recognizing signs that bearings need attention are essential.

Routine Cleaning Schedule

Regularly clean your bearings to keep them in optimal condition. A monthly cleaning routine works well for frequent skateboarders. Start by using a skate tool or wrench to remove the wheels from your skateboard. Once the wheels are off, pry the bearings from the wheels using the same tool or a dedicated bearing removal tool. Soak the bearings in a solvent like alcohol or mineral spirits.

After soaking, swirl the bearings around inside the solvent to dislodge dirt and debris. Remove the bearings from the solvent with care and place them on a paper towel to dry. Ensure the bearings are dry before applying a light coat of lube such as Bones Speed Cream. Finally, reassemble by placing the bearings back into the wheels and securing them with your skate tool.

Signs Your Bearings Need Attention

Early detection of issues prolongs the life of the bearings. Pay attention to these signs:

  • Noisy Bearings: Squeaking or grinding noises indicate the bearings need cleaning or lubrication. Dirty bearings make more noise during movement.
  • Rough Rolling: Resistance while rolling suggests dirt inside the bearings. This could mean the need for a deep clean.
  • Visible Dirt: Accumulated grime on the bearings signals it’s time to clean them. Dirty bearings can damage the skateboard’s performance.
  • Rust: Corrosion appears when bearings are exposed to moisture. If rust is visible, cleaning becomes necessary to prevent further damage.

Maintaining a cleaning routine and addressing issues promptly will contribute to a smoother skateboarding experience and extend the bearings’ lifespan.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Skateboard bearings sometimes encounter issues even with regular maintenance. Addressing common problems helps to keep your skateboard running smoothly.

Problem: Stuck Bearing Shields

Stuck bearing shields can be quite frustrating. Pry the shields carefully using a small metal rod or a fine tool. Be gentle to avoid causing damage to the shields or the bearings inside. After removal, clean the shields thoroughly with alcohol or mineral spirits to remove dirt and grease, ensuring they are dry before reinstallation. Consider replacing the shields if they are too damaged to function properly.

Problem: Rusty Bearings

Rust negatively impacts the performance of bearings. To tackle rusty bearings, soak the bearings in a cleaning solvent like rubbing alcohol. Swirl the bearings around to ensure that the solvent reaches all parts. After soaking, use a wire brush to gently scrub away any remaining rust. Dry the bearings completely using compressed air to avoid further corrosion. Lubricate them with a few drops of Bones Speed Cream to ensure smooth operation.

Problem: Noisy Bearings After Cleaning

Noisy bearings can detract from your skateboarding experience. Start by removing the bearings from the wheels and checking them for any dirt or debris that may have been left during the cleaning process. Re-clean the bearings if necessary, ensuring all foreign particles are removed. Reapply lubricant, such as Bones Speed Cream, to the bearings after cleaning. Make sure the bearings are properly seated in the wheels to prevent any noise from misalignment.

In each of these common issues, following proper cleaning and maintenance steps ensures the longevity of your bearings and enhances the overall performance of your skateboard.

Tips:

  • Regular Maintenance: Clean your bearings every few months or sooner if you skate in dirty or wet conditions.
  • Avoid Water: Try to avoid riding in the rain or through puddles, as water can cause bearings to rust and degrade quickly.
  • Use Specific Lubricant: Always use a lubricant designed for skateboard bearings to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Conclusion

Maintaining your skateboard bearings is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable ride. By using the right tools and following a routine cleaning schedule you can extend the lifespan of your bearings and avoid common issues like rust and noise. Remember to use skate-specific lubricants and avoid general-purpose oils to ensure optimal performance. Regularly checking and addressing any signs of wear will keep your skateboard in top shape and enhance your overall skateboarding experience.

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