Skateboards get dirty. Pushing your board around the street and sliding on random objects means you are tracking around road funk everywhere you go. And, while it’s useless to worry about the filth piling up on your board for the sake of looks, knowing how to clean a skateboard can keep some of that dirt and grime from affecting a skateboard’s performance.
The main points of concern for a street skateboarder involve the trucks and bearings. While it may be possible to clean a deck, it’s usually pointless. Besides, the scuffs and marks on a deck are badges of honor, showing telltale signs of whatever tricks you’ve been doing. But bearings, and to a lesser extent trucks, require maintenance to roll their fastest. If you happen to get your grip tape muddy, this video shows one method of cleaning it.
Bear in mind that these maintenance chores are not anything you need to worry about doing very often. When you notice that you aren’t rolling as fast as before, or if you have to push too often, follow these steps to restore the speed to your board. Remember, the grime inside bearings wears them down, and they last for a fraction of the time they could have if you’d kept up with them. You’ll go faster and roll smoother, which is a win-win for everyone.
Bearing Cleaning 101
What You Will Need:
• Set of (8) dirty, grimy bearings
• WD-40 or similar lubricating product
• Blue Shop Rags or paper towels
• Sacrificial cup (It’s trash after this)
• Speed Cream/3-in-1 oil with Teflon/Remoil
Doing this job outdoors will keep your house from smelling like a garage. If you’ve never done this, spin your bearings between your fingers and pay attention to how they roll. When you’ve finished, they will roll better than when new. Bearings must be broken in to truly get fast.
You should lay a paper towel or two down on your work surface and, if your bearings have removable shields, remove them. Now, take the cup and hold it sideways, with a slight tip upward. Spray WD-40 into the cup until it pools at the bottom – This will take a good bit of lubricant. Once the puddle is sufficiently deep, place all eight of your bearings in the liquid. Coffee cups work great for this, but plastic is okay. Just don’t use Styrofoam. Swirl the bearings around in the liquid, then leave them to sit for up to an hour.
When you return, swirl the bearings around again. If the liquid is black, pour it off and repeat the process with fresh lubricant. WD-40 is my go-to lubricant for this job because it liquefies and carries off the old, used up lubricant from the last cleaning and leaves only a light film behind. Continue cleaning your bearings this way until the WD-40 remains relatively clear, then pour it off one last time. This video shows someone using a similar method to clean skateboard bearings.
Pour your bearings out onto a paper towel. Then, with another towel, pick them up one at a time and use the clean towel to wipe them off, making sure to get into all their little crevices. Spin the bearings between your fingers to fling off any excess lubricant so it doesn’t spew all over your wheels.
Next, apply a few drops of one of the suggested bottled lubricants to each bearing, spinning them after each application. Bones Speed Cream works great, but any thin lubricant with added Teflon should suffice. Once you’ve lubed each bearing, you’re done.
Cleaning your trucks will make them last longer, operate smoother and roll quieter. If you don’t have any idea about what is truck or what size trucks do you need, we also have an article about this. And, continuing with cleaning skateboard truck, you can leave your base plates on the board, and simply remove the kingpin nut from the kingpin. Next, remove the hanger from the baseplate and take out all the bushings.
If they are cracked or split, replace them. Otherwise, spray a bit of WD-40 on a paper towel and wipe away any grime. If your trucks were squeaky before, this will quiet them temporarily. Using wax like as shown in this video can permanently stop the squeaks.
Next, use the paper towel to clean off the axles, which get really dirty from gunked up bearings. All that is left now is to reassemble the skateboard and go skate. Be careful at first, though, as your board will be faster than before. Also, it is very easy to over-lubricate bearings, which leads to oily, dangerous wheels. If lubricant sprays on your wheels, use less the next time you clean your bearings.
Clean bearings are fast bearings. Often, beginning skaters will think their bearings are shot, when cleaning and lubricating will fix them right up. Before you toss your old bearings, try cleaning them first. You may be able to save that money for other things.
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