Want to make sure you achieve the highest possible speeds with your skateboards as you cruise around town? Well, it’s common for skateboards to get slower with time and show performance glitches due to the routine wear that comes with time. When it comes to speed, that primarily depends on how well your skateboard bearings are performing. Even if you have the best skateboard bearings, you need to clean and lubricate them regularly so that they keep performing at their best and your skateboard rides are not ripped off the speed and thrill that comes along. So, how to lubricate skateboard bearings? Well, it shouldn’t be too hard, and following the simple steps described below will allow you to clean and lubricate them.
Things You Will Need
- Acetone or some other solvent (Isopropyl Alcohol 97% works fine too)
- A cup or a bowl
- A straightened staple or a small pin
How To Lubricate Skateboard Bearings?
Once you have the dirty skateboard bearings taken out of the wheels, you need to follow the steps below in exact order to make sure you lubricate them properly. So, here’s what you need to do.
1. Pop The Seals Out
Skateboard bearings normally use one of the two types of seals i.e. metal shields or rubber seals. You can simply pop them out from the opposite side using a straightened staple or a small pin. Just stick the pin between the outside race and the ball cage and press it out. You should aim at the seal’s center as it’s made using metal and you don’t risk puncturing it by doing so.
In the case of metal shields, a circlip around their outer edge holds them in place. So, you need to get the pin under an edge of that circlip to take it off rather easily. The metal shield pops out as you do that.
2. Soak & Clean
Once you have popped the seals out, you can put your skateboard bearings in a bowl and soak them for cleaning purposes. Here is how to do that.
Put 1/2” of acetone in the bowl and soak the bearings in it. Leave them there for one minute. You can also tap the bearings at the bowl’s bottom and spin them in your hands until they become grit-free. After cleaning the bearings, just spin dry them and put them on a clean paper towel with the balls down, and let them dry. Do this same process with all the 8 bearings of your best skateboard wheels.
As the bearings are left to dry, you should use acetone to clean the seals as well. Just do it all gently enough as you do not want to bend the inner ring of the metal seals.
3. Filter Acetone and Save It For Future Use
Now, this step is optional. If you can’t afford buying acetone again for regular cleaning, you can simply filter it out and save it for future use. You can use coffee filters or some other filters you may have available and see how it works. Use a well-marked container to store the filtered acetone so that you may not end up accidentally using it for some other purpose where it’s not meant to.
4. Grease The Bearings And Re-seal Them
After cleaning the bearings and removing any dirt and grit from them, grease them for lubrication. Grease should be added to those little pockets present between the balls. Generally, people use enough of it to fill only three pockets barely. More of it, or less, is perfectly fine, however. Just remember that your goal is not to pack them fully with grease but to lubricate the balls.
A question here is which grease should be used. Well, bike grease should do fine and marine grease would do too. In fact, lithium or silicone grease can do a fine job too. Whatever grease you use, just spread it around using a finger while rolling the bearing forward and backward until covering all the balls sufficiently.
Put the seals back on gently. As you had un-lubed it completely, run the greasy finger around the rubber seal from the outside so that it is moistened as well. Some grease should also be applied to the metal surfaces as well so that they may not rust.
This is the point where you may also use lubricating oil instead of grease too. While there are specialized lubricating oils available, you can also use motor oil as it works just fine. When using oil, only a couple of drops can do the job. Just spin the bearing and it will spread around before you could re-assemble.
That’s it! You have lubricated your skateboard bearings. Just put them back into the wheels and fit the wheels back into your best complete skateboards. Remember, however, that this is not a one-time process, and you should keep cleaning your skateboard bearings regularly to optimize their performance. Regular cleaning and greasing will keep the bearings in top shape and you’ll be able to make the most of your skateboarding experience.