A guide on how to clean your longboard bearings.

So your bearings are dirty?  Cleaning them is an important part of maintenance, that shouldn’t be skipped. It will help to keep them spinning and reducing the risk of them seizing up. Which could prove to be a disaster when going fast. You’ll also get a faster and more fun ride. Sound interesting? You can either read the article or watch my video below. Article, is more in depth, but the video takes less time. 

What you will need

    • Skate tool
    • Your dirty bearings
    • A lubricant such as bones speed cream or sewing machine oil
    • Towel or old rag
    • Alcohol based cleaning solution eg methylated spirits or ethanol
    • Container with a lid such as a glass jar
    • Time, around 30 or more minutes

Built or normal bearings?

Before we start there are two options for bearings. With built-in speed rings, and without them. For lots of you riders out there you may have regular bearings (non-built-in speed rings). Which means more fiddly bits, because the bearing is separate from the speed ring and spacer.

However, if you have built in bearings you don’t have to worry about that as built-ins have the bearing, spacer and speed ring put together.

If you decide to get a set of built in’s later, after inevitably losing a speed ring every now and then “Zealous” are a great and relatively cheap option. You can check them out on Amazon.com here.

For those stuck with regular bearings, my tip is to try to keep the tiny components somewhere when cleaning bearings. Preferably a place where you will not lose them.(Happened to me more then enough times)

Speed rings go on the outside and inside bearing between the truck and wheel nut. They help reduce friction. If you are missing one try to at least have one speed ring on the inside against the truck. Spacers help reduce the weight between the bearings. Which can make your turns smoother and more stable and also extend the life of your bearings.

Procedure

Removing bearings and bearing shields:

Ok so let’s get started. Remove your wheels from your longboard using the skate tool. Then remove the bearings by using the axel of the longboard truck as leverage. Wiggling the bearing on the edge of the axel should take it out of the wheel’s core. The core is where the bearing is held within the wheel.

Once you have removed your bearings from the cores of the wheels. Remove the bearings shields using your blade. Ideally you will need to leverage from the inside or outside of the shield. The bearing shield helps “shield” the bearing balls from outside elements. So try keep it in one piece.

Shake it up:

Once you have removed all the shields from each bearing, place all your bearings inside your container of choice. Although a bit harder to do and a bit messier, I have used large mugs, cups and other improvisations. Fill the container with your choice of solution. Then close the container and give it a good shake to get rid of all the nasty dirt and grime.

 Alternatively, you can use Bones Cleaning Unit. It provides a cleaning solution and design that gives you the ability to “clean 8 bearings at the same time. It’s a good option if you want something less “diy” and easier to manage. The bottle comes with a cleaning unit and a bottle so you can just add your own solvent and get cleaning.

Lubricating the bearings:

how to lubricate bearingsOnce you have emptied the container and dried every bearing, to get rid of any excess solution. Start to lubricate each bearing. Using your choice of lubricant.

It is important to keep bearings lubricated as it helps avoid bearing from heating and or seizing. It is ideal to lubricate and clean your bearings straight after a session if you have been skating in the rain. As rain will damage and rust a bearing over time. Unless you have some of those fancy water resistant or ceramic bearings. Whilst the lubricant I’m using in the example works sufficiently there are a range of better and more suitable options.

As rain will damage and rust a bearing over time. Unless you have some of those fancy water resistant or ceramic bearings. Whilst the lubricant I’m using in the example works sufficiently there are a range of better and more suitable options.

Here are a couple of examples you can find on Amazon.com:

Other options include simply buying “thin, light” grease, oil such as sewing machine oil, lubricant. As long as they keep your longboard bearings spinning and are not too thick then it will work adequately.

Why thin lubricants?

oil as a lubricantThin lubricants usually provide a good roll speed and don’t collect as much grime. Although a thicker lubricant such as oil might provide greater protection, spin faster and last longer. It is more prone to attracting more dirt and grim than the thinner stuff.

Oil also is prone to potentially slithering out of the bearings outside the wheel when travelling at high speeds. This could prove problematic as it could cause the bearings to heat and therefore melt wheels and even seize up. Not to mention it makes the wheels look pretty dirty and grubby. Unless that’s your thing of course!

Finishing up:

After lubricating each bearing, it is generally a good idea to wipe away any excess oil. Then press the bearings back into the wheel. Don’t forget Speed rings go on the outside of the bearings. One against the truck and one against the wheel nut.

wiping bearings

putting bearings back in to the wheel

bearing speed ring

Your turn!

Cleaning longboard bearings is an important process however it doesn’t have to take too long. With our guide you should be all good to keep rolling. When it comes to cleaning your bearings id clean them every time you either skate in the rain, or every couple of months.