Skateboard bearings should be replaced if they start making squeaking sounds or if one (or more) of your wheels are no longer spinning well.
Bearings can get broken and worn out from things like rust or dirt getting into the bearing.
You’ll know that it’s time to replace your bearings when they no longer spin properly after you’ve cleaned and lubed them. Also, if the bearing shields or any of the ball bearings are missing you should replace your bearings immediately to prevent any accidents.
However, if your bearings are just dirty or grimy, you can probably save them. Having a proper maintenance and cleaning regime can save you money in the long run. Try giving your bearings a clean before you buy a new set.
Why Is It Important To Replace Your Bearings?
When the bearings in your skateboard begin to degrade it can take a lot more effort to push yourself and get up to reasonable speeds. Believe it or not, not going fast enough can be the difference whether you nail a trick or bail.
But above all else, faulty bearings are dangerous. If a bearing shield falls off, your bearings can shift which can block your wheels and cause a wipeout. It can also damage your wheel, too.
Bearings aren’t too expensive. However, having to get a new set of wheels and bearings can be costly.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy just one or two bearings, you need to purchase a whole new set. That being said, one of your buddies might have a spare so you should ask around. It could save you 20 bucks.
How To Make Your Skateboard Bearings Last Longer
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when skateboarding is riding in wet conditions or in the rain. You should never skateboard in the rain.
Moisture is terrible for skateboard bearings. Water causes oxidation, rust, and ruins the silicone lube that keeps your bearings spinning properly. Once that lube is watered down, friction will increase, wearing down the bearings even more.
Another issue that you might run into is sand and dust. If you live somewhere with a lot of sand or dust, your bearings will wear down faster.
The dust and dirt will eventually get inside of your bearings, sticking to the silicone lube, and causing it to become dirty, gritty, and grimey.
If you live in an environment with a lot of dirt, sand, and dust, clean your bearings more frequently. They will last much longer.
How To Clean And Maintain Your Skateboard Bearings
Cleaning your bearings is easy but you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty unless you have a skateboard bearing kit.
Remember to clean your bearings regularly. If you skateboard all year long, you should be cleaning your bearings at least every three months.
One last thing, never use WD-40. It might seem like it would work to lubricate your bearings but it will eat away at all of the silicone lube within the bearing and dry out extremely quickly.
What you need to clean your bearings:
- A razor blade or pin (for popping off the bearing shields)
- Rubbing alcohol
- A jar to soak your bearings in
- Paper towel or a rag
- Bones speed cream
- Skate tool
Step 1. Remove the bearings from the wheels and remove the shields from the bearings.
Step 2. Soak the bearings and their shields in a cup with alcohol for 30 minutes or longer.
Step 3. Use your paper towel or rag to clean the bearings. You can also use Q-tips to really get in there. Another good tip is to use the paper towel, rag, and/ or Q-tips and then close the bearings in a Tupperware container (inside the alcohol) and shake vigorously. Do this a few times until they look new.
Step 4. Give the bearings some time to dry.
Step 5. Lube your bearings with the Bones Speed Cream or household alternative of your choice.
Step 6. Re-attach the bearing shields and put your bearings back into your wheels.
Here is a more detailed article on how to clean and maintain your bearings.
What Are The Best Bearings For The Money?
I’ve always been an advocate for Bones Reds skateboard bearings. At $20, you can’t really go wrong. They’re durable, fast, and reliable.
However, there are some other really great bearings out there like Bronson Speed Co. A lot of skaters will argue that they’re just as good as Bones Reds but I’ve always stuck by the brands that I use and know best.
I’ve used Bronson Speed Co. bearings before and admittedly they were great but I always found myself going back to Bones Reds.
Both Bronson and Bones Reds will last you anywhere from two years or more, depending on how much you skateboard and how often you clean your bearings.
If money isn’t an issue though, you could go get some ceramic bearings that could last a lifetime. However, they come with a huge price tag of $90 for a set. Still, the Bones Ceramic Super Reds have quite the amazing reputation.
Ceramic bearings aren’t really necessary for your regular skateboarder though. They are high-end bearings that are made for hill bombers and speed freaks. The high price is a silent guarantee that your bearings won’t fail you at high speeds.
As stated on their site, “Bones Ceramic Super REDS® are lighter and provide faster acceleration because the balls weigh much less. They create less friction and are thus faster than Super REDS, with or without lubricant! When you get dirt into your Ceramic Super REDS, the ceramic balls will help to re-polish the steel races flat again, providing a self-healing benefit because ceramic balls are so much harder than steel. Finally, ceramic balls will not rust, further lengthening their life. Ceramic Super REDS use a bone colored shield with laser-engraved outer races for identification.”
Personally, I think the best option is right in between the regular Bones Reds and the Bones Ceramic, the Bones Swiss. They are superior to any other steel bearing and can last a decade or more if they’re maintained properly.
Bones Swiss are made of high-grade steel and are one of the best investments that you can make for a regular skateboard. These bearings are reliable, fast, and with proper care and maintenance, you won’t need to replace them for a very long time.