For anyone that has ever rode a longboard or a skateboard for long, you will know that a good deal of maintenance is needed to keep them in tip-top shape. Without taking care of your board and all of its parts, you are doing yourself a major disservice. Today, we are going to take a look at how to clean your bearings. The bearings are a major part of the puzzle in regards to your board, and if you don’t take care of them it will seriously hamper your performance and enjoyment of your board. So, let’s take a look at how to clean them!
Skateboard Bearings Cleaning Guide
A Word of Caution
This is not something you can do in a couple of minutes. This is not brushing your teeth, and as such, you will need a decent chunk of time set aside to do this. It won’t take hours, but you will need to be patient and allow yourself time to do it. It’s best to have a single window to do it in, but that is left up to you. If you can work in multiple sittings, then go for it.
Step 1: Removing the Bearings
Before you do anything, you have to remove the bearings to start the process. To get to that, you have to take the nut off the axle. Then you have to slide the wheel across it so that the bearing on the very innermost part of it is at the end of the axle. One you have done that, open it like you would a bottle of soda and take the bearing out. Once you have done this, you need to repeat it on the other side since there are two.
Step 2: Removing the Shields
The bearing is protected, basically, by what is called the bearing shields. The amount of these shields will vary depending on what kind of board you have. If you’re lucky, you might just have one shield. If so, the workload is lessened for you. But most have more than one, so be ready to get to work to get them out. To remove them, just use a small screwdriver. This works very well and is easy to do for a shield made from rubber. If it’s made from metal, you will need to find a C-shaped clip and then take it off. If you do damage one shield somehow, don’t freak out. Plenty of bearings operate with just one shield, so as long as you have one you are good to go.
Step 3: Cleaning
This part is what we are here for, right? The biggest issue that needs correcting is the buildup of grease in there. This is the first thing you should be looking to eliminate. By using some sort of spray, or an alcohol or solvent or some sort, soak the bearings, you will be able to erase this grime almost entirely without much issue. If you can find a degreaser that sprays it will be even better and easier to accomplish. After you have done that, put the bearings in whatever liquid you have chosen for them. Then take them and shake them for a couple of minutes. After that, you can rinse them and with even more cleaning solvent just to make sure you have done the job well.
Step 4: Regreasing
After that, you have to regrease them. A lot of things in the world end up needing this at some point or another. Since you don’t want to put up with that really loud noise, you’ll be glad you did this for sure. After you have dried the bearings off with a hair dryer or something similar, you need to use a touch of either oil or grease. Note, it’s a touch. That’s all you need. You don’t want a ton of grease being applied, since that also can create problems via friction. You can use all sorts of things, and there are ups and downs to them. If you use a medium level grease like that you can find at a bicycle shop, then you won’t have to be cleaning them nearly as often. It’s also useful if you are going to be riding in the elements a lot, as that does put a lot of stress and strain on all of the parts. If not, then you can go with one that is made and intended for skateboards and longboards. After all, they are just for this purpose.
Step 5: Putting It Back Together
After that, you can just go back and reassemble everything. You should be good to go, and you will be thankful that you now have clean bearings and can get back to riding again!
What Do Bearings Do?
The term might be a little alien to you, but despite sounding like just a small part, bearings play an essential role in the makeup of a skateboard or longboard. A bearing is a small groove that sits in the middle of the wheel. Their main purpose is to eliminate fiction from occurring between the metal wheel and the metal axle that the wheel spins around. Without bearings, you cannot skate because there would be nothing to hold it all together at once. You’d just have a cool looking (maybe) board that’d be sitting on the ground with wheels and a long handle. Not exactly very cool, is it?
How Are They Rated?
Whenever you look at either complete skateboards or longboards or you are looking at the bearings themselves, you will see some numbers associated with them. These numbers can be quite confusing if you don’t know what they mean, but they really aren’t that difficult to figure out. They are ranked by numbers from 1 to 9. They only use odd numbers, too, so you only have five choices (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, of course). This is known as the ABEC rating. This is a committee that ranks bearings. Sounds like a fun job, huh? Nonetheless, these numbers indicate a more precise tolerance as they go up. What this means is that the better ones have a higher number. Do be aware, however, to not over analyze this with your board. Sometimes one seven might not be as good as another seven since they aren’t only brought before this panel in order to look at parts for skateboards and longboards.
Why Do I Need To Clean My Bearings?
This is, perhaps, the first and most important question you will be asking about them if you are reading this. Just why should I clean them in the first place? The answer is not because you are bored or don’t have anything better to do. It’s because it’s a very big part of the entire picture that is your board. Without them in proper order, you will suffer a lot while riding. It just won’t be the same or feel the same as it used to, and that’s an unnerving feeling for many riders. You will not get near as much life expectancy out of your bearings, and thus your board, if you do not take care of them. It’s not pretty work, but it just needs to be done sometimes.
Should I Buy A Complete Board?
This is totally up to you. If you are a newer rider, a complete board is going to be just fine in all likelihood. You get the board, the wheels, the trucks, the bearings, etc, etc. You get all of it without having to shop and scavenge the world over to find what you need. However, if you more experienced with riding, then you might be looking for something else. Maybe you don’t like the feel of a complete board even and you just want to replace some of the parts. This perfectly normal and is done all of the time. Bearings could be one of the alterations you make to the mix.
How Often Should I Clean Them?
This is all dependent upon you, the rider, as well. It’s not an easy question to answer, since you only know what you are feeling and hearing. If the wheels aren’t spinning as easily as they used to, or you can hear them getting dirty, then you need to clean them. Some bearings are much better and much cleaner than others. You won’t have to fool with them as much. But that is not the case all the way across the board. In fact, to go back to the previous section, if you have a complete board then it’s more likely to have poorer parts with it. Not always but generally speaking it will. So, those are often the types that will need more work done to them.
Figuring out a way to clean your bearings might not be the most important thing on your list as a skateboard or longboard rider, but it should still be taken seriously. Your board is a delicate piece of machinery, and if you don’t take good care of it, it can and will come back to haunt you. You can avoid that by taking heed and cleaning them to ensure you have a much more consistent, fun ride for a long time coming!