To get your skateboard riding like it’s brand new again you need to learn how to lube skateboard bearings.
I recommend that you open them up, clean, relubricate them and store them in a moisture-free container until they are ready to use again.
You might be able to go ahead and clean and lube your skateboard bearings just by seeing these six steps.
- Remove the wheels from your skateboard
- Remove the bearings and shields
- Soak bearings in cleaner
- Dry and lubricate your bearings
- Replace shields and insert bearings
- Put wheels back on your skateboard
However, we’ve gone into detail for each step. So if you’re just a little bit unsure, keep reading so that you don’t ruin your bearings.
Step 1. Remove The Wheels From Your Skateboard
Removing the wheels from your skateboard is extremely easy. You can use a skate tool (or an adjustable wrench if you don’t have one) and simply unscrew each of the nuts on your trucks.
Remember – lefty loosey, righty tighty.
Set aside all of the nuts and washers. I usually keep them in a tupperware container when I’m at home. But if I’m ever taking wheels off when I’m out and about, I’ll put the washers back on the trucks and screw the nut just enough that it’s secure.
You can also toss them into a small cup of alcohol if you want to clean them but it’s not completely necessary.
Step 2. Remove The Bearings And Shields
Now you’re going to need to remove the bearings from your wheels. You remove them by prying them out of your wheels using the axle of your truck.
To do this, slide your wheel half-way onto the end of the axle. Only one bearing should be on the axle.
With the axle holding the inside of the bearing in place, twist the wheel outward and around, prying out the bearing. Then flip the wheel over and repeat on the other side.
Once all of the bearings are removed from your wheels you need to pop the bearing shields off. Unfortunately, there is no tool to do this with. Be extremely careful and use something sharp like a razorblade, safety pin, or a thumbtack.
Try your best not to deform the shield, as deformations can cause the ball bearings to rub, causing your bearings to lose speed.
Pro Tip: Some wheels have bearing spacers. If yours do, keep track of them by placing them in your hardware tray. You’re going to need them later when you put your bearings back in.
Step 3. Soak Your Bearings In A Cleaner
With the bearings out of your wheels and the shields removed, you now need something to clean them with. A cleaner or solvent that is not water-based will do the trick such as acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and mineral spirits.
When using solvents, make sure to wear gloves and avoid all contact with your skin.
Use a wide-mouthed bottle, a mason jar, or tupperware container to soak the bearings for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Ideally, the bearings should sit for 10 to 15 minutes. However, the better you scrub, the more dirt and debris you can get out from them.
I recommend using a rag or an old toothbrush to scrub the bearings the best you can.
Another recommendation of mine is to try out the Bones Bearing Cleaning Kit. It’s an awesome mess-free way to clean your bearings better and faster without damaging them.
Step 4. Dry And Lubricate Your Bearings
Once all of the dirt, debris, and gunk has been removed from the bearings, take them out of your cleaner and dry them as quickly as possible. Tap the bearings face down on a paper towel or dry rag. You can also spin them while holding them in the rag or blow them with a hair dryer.
Next, re-lubricate the bearings. A dry bearing will cause friction that will damage the bearings which is why lubricating them is such a crucial step.
I recommend using a skate-specific bearing lubricant such as Bones Speed Cream. Use 1 to 2 drops by dripping them into the bearing and then spin it to evenly distribute the oil. Repeat for all eight bearings.
Pro Tip: Do not use WD-40 as lubricant! It dries up quickly, leaving your bearings dry and susceptible to rust. If you need a bearing lubricant alternative, check out this list.
Step 5. Replace Shields And Insert Bearings
Now you need to place the bearing shields back onto the bearings. This step is much easier than taking them off. Simply set them in place and gently press from the center out until they snap back on.
Put each of your bearings back into the wheels. If done correctly, it should feel like riding a new set of bearings again.
Pro Tip: Make sure to replace the bearing spacers between the bearings before re-inserting them in the wheels, and place the speed washers back onto your truck axle before tightening your axle nuts.
Step 6. Put Wheels Back On Your Skateboard
This step is by far the easiest. Simply, put the wheels back onto your skateboard and tighten the axle nuts. However, if you’re not sure exactly how tight or loose to tighten your wheels then you should go read about how tight your wheels should be.
As a quick tip, they should be loose enough that they spin easily by using your hand but tight enough that they don’t wiggle on the axle.
Now you know how to lube your skateboard bearings. Unfortunately, there is no timeframe as to when you’ll need to do it again. If there is visible gunk or the bearings are starting to lose their mojo, give them a clean.
If you’ve attempted to clean them again but they’re just not meeting your expectations anymore then it’s time to buy a new set of bearings.