If you’re in a pinch, there are some skateboard bearing lube alternatives around the house that you can try such a motor oil or even cooking oil to lubricate your bearings. As a forewarning, WD-40 is not a lubricant, it’s a solvent, and therefore should not be used in an attempt to lubricate or grease your bearings.
Solvents will eat away at the plastics inside the bearing, shortening the lifetime of your bearings.
One more thing to note, olive oil is not a good cooking oil to use on your bearings. However, it is better than using nothing and definitely better than using a solvent.
What Are The Best Skateboard Bearing Lubricant Alternatives?
Dirt, debris, and dried lubricant are the biggest killers of skateboard bearings. Once they begin to collect inside the bearing, they become abrasive like sandpaper and increase the wear and tear.
Gritty wheels are not fun to ride and shorten the lifetime of your bearings. So that being said, you should clean your bearings regularly and lubricate them with a bearing lubricant like Bones Speed Cream. Lubricants will make your skateboard faster and lengthen the lifetime of your bearings. It’s a win, win.
If you don’t lubricate your bearings, you’re going to need to purchase bearings a lot more often. Bearings can make it through many years if you take good care of them.
First of all, I’d like to say that I prefer to use Bones Speed Cream but if you are in dire need of a lubricant, then here are some pretty good alternatives:
- Motor Oil
- Triflow Lubricant
- Vegetable Oil
- Canola Oil
- PAM Cooking Spray
REMEMBER – Do not use WD-40 as a bearing lubricant. It will not work!
Steps To Clean And Lubricate Your Skateboard Bearings
What You Need To Clean:
- Your dirty skateboard bearings
- 91% alcohol or acetone
- A cup, bowl, or jar
- A small pin or razor blade to pop off the plastic shields on the bearings
- A rag
- Q-Tips (optional)
Now that you know the tools that you need, let’s discuss how to actually clean and lubricate your bearings. To be honest, it is extremely easy. You’ll be a pro in no time.
Step 1. Pop off the shields
You should be able to easily pry off the shields with a razor blade or bobby pin. Even if you break it, don’t panic! You should be okay. Just make sure when placing the bearings back in the wheels that the outer side that you can see on the wheel has a bearing shield.
Step 2. Soak your bearings in your choice of alcohol or acetone for 15 to 30 minutes
I choose to use 91% alcohol when soaking and cleaning my bearings. Usually, you should let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. However, you can totally let them sit longer. The longer that the bearings soak in the alcohol, the better.
Step 3: Clean your bearings with a rag and q-tips
Before taking your bearings out of their alcohol bath, shake them up in it in a lidded container. Then remove them and begin to clean out all of the dirt and grime with a rag and q-tip.
Step 4: Grease and reseal your bearings with their shields
When you’re all done cleaning your bearings, regrease or oil them with your choice of lubricant or lubricant alternative.
Trusted Skateboard Bearing Lubricants
There are quite a few lubricants dedicated to the skateboarding market. Although there seems to be quite a bit of skepticism by some about all lubricants being equal, I can tell you that that’s not the case.
Some of the more coveted and trusted brands of skateboard bearing lubricants include Bones Speed Cream, Heady Shake Skateboard Bearing Oil, Bronson Speed Co Next Generation Oil, and Ardent Reel Butt Bearing Lube. Most of them will range between $10 to $15.
Out of all of the brand-name bearing lubricants, Bones Speed Cream is the most popular among skaters. It’s a high temperature, low viscosity lube, which means that it will not dry up as quickly as other light oils.
Other skaters prefer using light grease over oils in their skateboard bearings. The main reason is that it’s readily available and can sometimes increase periods between bearings needing maintenance.
Grease vs Oil Lubricants
There are a few differences when it comes to grease versus oil lubricants, especially with skateboard bearings. For starters, many people notice that their skateboard’s wheels are faster when lubricated with oil. The reason being, that oil is less viscous and creates less resistance when the bearings are in motion. However, bearings that are lubricated with oil tend to need cleaning and relubrication more often.
If you prefer not to clean your wheels and bearings as often, then grease will be a better option for you.
The kinds of grease to use on your skateboard bearings include bike grease, marine grease, silicone grease, and lithium grease. If you have some molybdenum grease around the house you can use that as well but it is a little bit overkill.
Spread the grease around the bearings with a q-tip or rag, rolling the bearing back and forth until all of the ball bearings are adequately covered.
Pop the seal back on, making sure it snaps into place. Then use your q-tip to grease the plastic seal and all of the metal on the outer part of the bearing. You want just enough to keep it moistened and protect it from rust.