How To Set Up Skateboard Bearings
Skateboard bearings should be installed correctly to give you the smooth ride they’re designed to provide and to last as long as possible.
Incorrectly installed bearings spin poorly and can allow dust to reduce their ability to keep speed. The following guide will walk you through removing and installing skateboard bearings like a pro.
Prepare Your Tools
You will need the following items to remove or install your skateboard bearings:
- Skate tool to remove the axle nuts
- Skateboard trucks to pry out the bearings from the wheels
- 4x Skateboard wheels
- 8x Skateboard bearings
- 4x Bearing spacers
- 8x Axle washers
Skateboard trucks generally come with axle washers, and bearing sets generally come with bearing spacers. The only item that does not come included with the standard equipment is a skate tool.
Are all skate bearings the same size?
Yes, the dimensions of skateboard bearings are standardized to allow interchangeability between wheel sizes. You can use the same-sized bearings for your street deck as you can for your longboard.
Skateboard wheels vary in size and hardness and bearings vary in quality. For a detailed look at the different options available, check out our dedicated articles on "How To Choose Skateboard Wheels" and "How To Choose Skateboard Bearings".
1. How To Get Bearings Out of Skateboard Wheels
When replacing or cleaning bearings, begin by removing them from your skateboard wheels. Follow these steps:
- Unfasten the axle nut from one of your trucks and remove the wheel. Carefully place the two axle washers to the side.
- Place the tip of the axle halfway into the wheel and gently lean the wheel to the side to pry out the bearing. Carefully place the bearing spacer, located inside the wheel between the two bearings, to the side.
- Repeat the prying process with the second bearing on the same wheel.
- Repeat this process for all four wheels.
Once the bearings are removed, you can get started on cleaning your equipment to help them give you the smooth ride they were designed to deliver.
2. Cleaning the Wheel and Bearing Area
Once the bearings have been removed from the skateboard wheel, you can proceed to cleaning the cavity in the wheel. For cleaning instructions, read our guide on "How To Care For Bearings".
3. How To Put Bearings in Skateboard Wheels
When you’re ready to install your new or freshly cleaned bearings, use the following steps:
- Lie your skateboard on its side and thread a washer onto the axle of your truck until it sits against the hanger.
- Thread one of your bearings – with the dust shield facing towards the washer and hanger – onto the same axle so that it sits against the washer.
- Thread your skateboard wheel onto the axle until it sits against the bearing.
- With the palms of your hands on both sides of the wheel, press down firmly and evenly to secure the bearing into the wheel.
- Remove the wheel and place a second bearing against the hanger followed by a bearing spacer.
- With the pieces lined up, press them firmly into place in the same way as described above, sandwiching the spacer inside the wheel between the two bearings.
- Repeat this process with all four wheels.
Once all four wheels are assembled – each with two bearings and a spacer – you can attach them to your trucks. Your trucks should have two small washers on each end of the axle.
The washers sit between the newly assembled wheel and the hanger on one side, and the wheel and the nut on the other side. These washers ensure that your bearings will have the least amount of friction, letting you maximize the energy of each push.
Axle nuts secure the wheels on the trucks and should be tightened enough to hold the wheels in place without pinching them and affecting the ability of the wheels to spin freely.
Wheels often come with graphics on one side which you can face outwards to show off. Some skaters choose to face the graphics inward on either the nose or the tail to tell which end is which.
4. Testing & Adjusting Your New Setup
Look out for the following to make sure your bearings are working at their fullest potential:
- Before securing the wheels to the trucks, look through the space in the center of the wheel to determine that both bearings are perfectly parallel to one another.
- After securing the wheels to the trucks, wiggle the wheel along the axle to check that the axle nut is tight enough.
- With the board flipped upside down, give each wheel a roll with your hand and listen for any hissing or grinding sounds. Use this test to ensure that each wheel spins smoothly and is not subject to any unwanted friction.
If a wheel comes to an abrupt stop rather than gradually slowing down, it’ll need some troubleshooting.
If any of the tests above show that your wheels are not spinning as freely as they should, try the following solutions:
- Loosen the axle nut to see if it was pinching the bearings and causing unwanted friction.
- Remove the wheel and press the bearings into the cavity with slightly more force to see if the pieces aren’t properly pressed together.
- Remove the bearings and individually test their ability to spin by pinching the inner ring with your thumb and index finger and spinning the outer ring with your hand.
Skateboard bearings should roll freely, quietly, and gradually lose speed rather than abruptly. After reading this guide, you should feel confident in assessing, removing, and installing bearings that allow you to skate comfortably.