How do you know your skateboard bearings need to be changed? To avoid a gruesome accident being your first clue, here’s a guide to when to replace a key part of your ride.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – and a skateboard can only be safe and enjoyable if even the smallest component is doing its job!
We are talking bearings; how to maintain them and when to replace them.
Your personalised and eye-catching deck and those top-quality wheels will only get you ‘so far’.
If you have a ‘bare’ understanding of what bearings are on skateboards.
This easy-to-overlook part of your ride impacts how fast you go – and how smoothly – but also whether you’re likely to bail when your wheels hit the ground.
What do bearings do on skateboards?
Every complete or customised board needs a set of eight bearings – two per wheel.
These large outer and smaller inner doughnut-shaped structures include small steel balls and are made of metal or ceramics.
Their role is vital – bearings enable your wheels to turn.
You will see them ranked according to an ABEC rating.
ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineers Committee in case you were curious!
ABEC ratings range from 1-9. 1 being the worst, 9 being ridiculously smooth and only useful for luge style, downhill skateboarding. So look for an ABEC rating between 3-7 (7 will be expensive). More here on What an ABEC Rating Tells You About Skateboard Bearings
Want a good ABEC-rated bearing? Try these Bones Reds Bearings. (pictured above) They’re cost-effective and come with spacers and washers.
It tells you the tolerance level of the ball bearing – so the quality of the manufacturing in a sense.
However, many skaters think this makes little difference to a ride. Though 100% of them know bearing quality and maintenance matter massively!
Other bearing brands we recommend:
Trixes – For affordability
TRIXES 8 Frictionless Abec 9 Sealed Skateboard Roller Skate Bearings
Stripes Yellow Jacket – For premium quality
Yellow Jacket Premium Skateboard Bearings, Pro Longboard Bearings, 608, ABEC 9, Washers and Spacers, Tropical Orange (Pack of 8)
Why you should care for your skateboard bearings
It’s pure logic. This part of your board is going to be affected by time, use, and the surface you ride on.
This means your skateboard bearings can get rusty, clogged, or generally faulty.
They can also break if they get a severe knock.
When they slow or stop your wheels, you get a bad ride or possibly a bad fall.
Maintenance of skateboard bearings is easy. Use a bearing lubricant such as Venom Skateboards Bearing Lubricant.
Don’t use WD40! It will strip the silicon lube out of your bearings.
Maintenance should be done at least every 3 months.
How to clean skateboard bearings
How long do skate bearings last?
If you clean and lubricate skateboard bearings, they can last around two years.
However, that’s if you ride mainly in dry or indoor conditions.
When you get your board wet not only does moisture linger, it can transfer grit and other contaminates into your moving parts!
Plus, moisture affects the silicon lube that supports the way your bearings spin.
Also, it all depends on how much action – and weight – your board handles.
The more jumps you do, and the heavier you are, the more likely it is your bearings will wear down or fracture.
Signs you need new skateboard bearings
When do you know it’s time to change your skateboard bearings? Fortunately, the clues come long before you face plant, so look out for these 3 things:
- Look at them – check for rust you can’t clean off and hairline cracks.
- Feel them – When you use your board, it may give you a rougher than normal ride, or be sluggish to push off.
- Use your ears – A squeak or grinding sound tells you changes are needed.
How to make your bearings last longer
You can’t buy skateboard bearings individually – they come as a kit.
If one looks, sounds or acts ‘off’ then it makes sense to swap the lot for fresh ones anyway.
Buying good quality skateboard bearings makes sense so you don’t have to change them too often.
That doesn’t have to mean the most expensive though – look for mid-range prices and bearings made from high-grade steel.
Top skateboarding brands run by boarders are always a good way to know that you are tapping into a well-made board accessory too.
Also, avoid skateboarding in wet or dirty conditions to stop moisture and grim stuff from doing their worst.
If you do get them mucky, give them a good clean and re-lube them straight away rather than waiting for your regular maintenance task.
Keep it lubed!