How to Break in Skateboard Bearings

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Bearings are the circular metal components inside the wheels of skateboards. Each of the four wheels found on a skateboard contains two bearings. Bearings allow the wheels to spin on the axles of the trucks. Bearings need to be clean, debris-free and dry in order to function properly. Skateboarding with bearings that have failed is not only be difficult, it can be dangerous. Bearings can typically be considered broken in after a half hour of use. However, there are steps one can take to ensure bearings continue perform at peak performance.

Things You'll Need

  • New or clean set of bearings
  • Skateboard
  • Screwdriver
  • Push pin
  • Cleanser
  • Lubricant
  • Towel
  • (Optional) vice grips

Keep Them Clean

  • Bearings typically contain seven steel or ceramic ball bearings that roll along an inner race (metal ring) and an outer race that allows them wheel to spin. Over time, heat and dirt can break down the finish on the ball bearing or races, causing bearings to fail. Bearings are easy to replace and can be found at most skate shops and online retailers. Most shops will replace the bearings free of charge with your purchase. Bearings also can be removed by placing the wheel in a vice grip and popping them out with a screwdriver or the truck itself.

  • Once you have purchased a set of bearings and have them installed on your skateboard, try them out. Find a site that is well-lit, dry and clean of debris and skateboard around. Test the feel of your bearings and make sure they're spinning well. After a half-hour of skateboarding, your bearings are considered broken in. The lubricant that came with the bearings has coated the ball bearings and races.

  • Keep your bearings dry and free of dirt to ensure they perform their best and have a long lifespan. To clean the bearings, first remove them from the wheel of your skateboard with a screwdriver or with the truck itself. Use a pushpin to gently pry off the rubber shield that holds the bearing together and remove the ball bearings, the inner race and the retainer, or small metal component that holds the ball bearings. Use a cleanser, preferably non-corrosive and environmentally friendly, to remove any dirt from the components of the bearings. If you use a water-based cleanser, dry the bearings immediately with a towel to avoid rusting. Apply a lubricant to the components and place them back in the bearing. Replace the rubber shield and your bearings are ready to be put back to use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try not to bend or damage the rubber shield when removing or replacing it.
  • Keep all the components of your bearings dry, dirt-free and lubricated.
  • Do not skateboard on a failed bearing.

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