How to Clean Longboard Bearings (Skateboard Bearings)

As a novice to longboarding, perhaps you have experienced some slag in your board. If you have performed downhill slides and have found that the wheels just feel odd then it could be that the bearings have become dirty. This is one of the most common problems with a longboard. Even the best longboard bearings will need to be cleaned from time to time. As the moment that bearings are exposed to the world there are elements and erosion which work against them, it is required that you clean them every so often.

A step by step guide to keep your wheels and board looking great. You will do the same for skateboard bearings.

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Removing the bearings

​The first step in cleaning your longboard is to remove the wheels and take out the bearing. Before you start ensure that you have a level place in which to work and that you have a towel or something to that nature to keep the grime off of your flat surface as well as protect the board from surface to surface scratching.

​You will need to have either a specialty key to remove the wheel, or a socket which equivalates the size of the removal key. A pretty standard size socket is a 13mm socket but check so that you do not strip it. Depending on the longboard that you choose as well as whether you purchased the best longboard wheels or just the cheapest ones you could find, you may have what is called a speed washer between the nut and the wheel. Do not lose this.

​When removing the wheel and the bearing unit you may have to pull slightly on the wheel to get it to come off. However, you do not want to yank on the wheel. If there is too much tension on the wheel it could be that your truck is bent, the bearing is bad, or a number of other problems. Take your time and find out why the wheel and bearings are gripping.

​Removing the bearing from the wheel and the sheild

​There are tools which have a device called a bearing press remover. Yet, often these presses restrict the wheel and are not as functional as they may sound. It is advised that you first test the bearing press remover. If you find that you cannot get the bearing out in this way, try using the axel. Remove the axel nut and washer. To remove the bearing put the bearing to where it just clears the top of the axel and then bend back the wheel to remove.

​There are tools which have a device called a bearing press remover. Yet, often these presses restrict the wheel and are not as functional as they may sound. It is advised that you first test the bearing press remover. If you find that you cannot get the bearing out in this way, try using the axel. Remove the axel nut and washer. To remove the bearing put the bearing to where it just clears the top of the axel and then bend back the wheel to remove.

​Cleaning the bearings

​The best way to clean the bearings is with a bearing cleaning kit. Add the bearings on the rod and then fill the container 1/3 to ½ of the way up. Do not use strong acid solvents or wd-40 as these will erode the bearings. Citrus oils are the best to use.

​Shake the container vigourously to remove the dirt and grime. It is recommended that you also let the bearings sit and soak in the solution for a bit to seep into those hard to reach places. Shake again. Depending on how bad the dirt accumulation was to start out with you may have to repeat this process a few times.

​When you are satisfied with the basic cleaning of the bearings, take the rod from the container and place it on a paper towel or cloth. Tap the bearings lightly as well as roll them around a bit to get any excess dirt and grime off. Let the cleaner drip off.

​Lubricate the bearings

​Do not use thick oils and lubricants as these will slow down the rotation of the bearing. Use oils such as sewing machine oil and electronic oils. Many of these come with a needle nose or syringe which will make it a bit easier to apply. Each bearing will only need a few drops applied. Do not overdo the lubrication as this can slow the board down.

​Quick tip: If you spin your bearing in your hand or if you are riding on your longboard and you hear a whizzing or hissing sound from the bearing this is an indicator that you do not have enough lubricant and that the bearings are going out.

​Putting it all back together

​The process of putting your bearing and wheels back together requires reversing these steps. Replace the seal. When attaching the bearing to the wheel, it is best to use a bearing tool press and not attempt to use the axel. Pressing down too hard can damage the shield. Once the bearings are on both sides of the wheel add your spin washer and the nut. DO NOT tighten your wheel nut all the way down to the bearing. This will cause the shield to break on the bearing as well as restrict the movement of the wheel. Do not worry if the bearing does not spin as fast as it used to. It just needs to break in.

​Replace or wash?

​While taking care of the best wheels for a longboard can be time consuming, it is maintenance which should be conducted regularly. It should be noted that if the bearings have a great deal of rust or if the bearing is extremely difficult to spin, you may want to replace the bearing completely as you will end up spending more time cleaning then riding if you do not.

​To prolong the life and minimize the maintenance of your longboard, keep your board stored inside and away from moisture.

Kenny Woo
 

I'm Kenny Woo, chief editor of Skate Stuffs. We believe in empowering people with passion on skate to make them choosing better tool set and techniques.

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