Even if our weather is still jumping from cold to "very cold" right now, the "skateboard crave" is real more than ever. Good thing the streets are dry, but be careful, they are still really dirty. This is why knowing how to clean up your bearings by yourself is essential if you're trying to hit the streets.
If you don't want one of your bearings to explode or just stop rolling because of the sand, salt and dust that's present in large quantities in our streets (not to mention water, mud and snow piles), we strongly advise you to give show your set a little love and clean them up.
Because by keeping on riding on very dirty or non-lubricated bearings (typical of spring skateboarding), you run the risk of permanently damaging them. And who says jammed bearing says high risk of falling and getting injured. To avoid problems on your skateboard in the following weeks, take a little 20 minutes to give your set of bearings a new look by following the steps below.
Gather the what you need
Acetone or other solvent. (Rubbing alcohol is good too)
- A bowl or a cup.
- A small pin or staple straightened to remove the shields.
Take the shields off
There are two types of shields common to skateboard bearings: rubber and metal. Take them out before cleaning your bearings in order to see the ball inside each of them. Shields can be taken out with a small pin or a straightened clip. Stick your pin between the ball cage and the outer ring and push the seal up. Aim the center of the ring to avoid damaging it.
If you have metal shields, they are held in place by a clip around the inner side of the outer ring. Push your pin under the edge of the clip to make sure the metal shield comes out easily.
The most crucial step of the process, but the easiest! Fill your bowl or cup with acetone or rubbing alcohol, throw the bearings in the solution and let them soak in the solution for a minute.
Alternatively, remove the bearings from the solution and pat them on the bowl wall a little bit to eliminate excess liquid. Rotate the bearings in your hand until the grainy feeling is gone. Once this is done, place the bearing on a clean paper towel and let it dry.
Repeat for the other 7 bearings. As the bearings finish drying, clean the shields in the solution too. Be careful the shield can be fragile and you don't want to fold it.
Oil/grease it up
Now that your bearings are clean, add grease or oil in the spaces between the bearing balls. No need to use too much. You do not want to drown your bearings in grease, but you want to be able to see that all the balls are well lubricated.Bike Grease work perfect. As for oil, we strongly recommend you get some Speed Cream by Bones. Spread the grease or oil around your finger and apply by roll the bearing back and forth until you can see all the balls are properly covered.
Gently put the seal back on. You will hear it will snap back into place. Then, scrub your greasy or oily finger around whole bearing, just enough to keep it moist. Get some grease on the metal surfaces to help keep the rust away.
Grease is nice because it needs less maintenance than oil. On the other hand, it won't make your bearings roll as fast as with oil. Grease is also a good option during this time of year as it keeps your bearings clean for a longer time. Note that you can come back to the oil when it finally stops being cold and there will be no salt and sand in the streets.
Congratulations. You have just cleaned your bearings yourself.
How often should you do this? It depends on how often you ride, and in what conditions. We recommend doing it twice a month when the streets are dirty. During summertime, once a month will do the trick just fine.