Bearings are a very important part of your longboard as they are what connect the wheels to the trucks and make the wheels spin round and round. As they wear down, the wheels will have more resistance and it will get harder and harder for them to spin.
Longboard bearings should be replaced at least every 1 to 2 years. Of course, this depends on the quality of bearings you buy, how often you clean them, and whether you ride in wet conditions.
Why is it important to replace your bearings?
It is also quite dangerous to be riding on bearings that are broken. If they seize, it could cause your wheel to fall off; Therefore you should always replace your bearings when they start to wear down or break.
Make sure to keep your bearings clean (especially if you have a good or expensive set) to help them last longer. Every couple of months, take them off and give them a quick clean to make sure they are dirt free. This simple maintenance will increase their life immensely.
What causes bearings to go bad?
There are many different things that could cause wear on your bearings. One of the worst things for bearings is being left in moist environments or skating while its raining; Both of which can cause oxidation (rust) on the bearings.
Dust/Sand/Dirt can also be a problem for bearings as they can get into the bearings and stick which causes the bearings to wear down faster than they normally would. Specifically, the bearing balls don’t like dirt/dust which causes stress on the inner rings.
What are symptoms of bearings that have gone bad?
The most obvious symptom is when you push, you no longer are going as far as you were before. You can test your wheels by making them spin with your hands and seeing how fast they slow down. If it is a quite noticeable change, then it’s worth getting your bearings changed.
Another way to test your bearings is to check if they make any noise while the wheels spin. To check this, push a wheel with quite a bit of force and listen for noise. Bearings that are good quality or not wearing will be silent.
If they do make noise or are quite loud, they should be changed. Additionally, they could be bad quality bearings and bad quality bearings will wear a lot faster than good ones.
Lastly you could check to see if the wheels move side to side, try to move them side to side 4-5 times. If there is movement then you should consider replacing the bearings.
How to change the bearings on your longboard
When changing your bearings, the best tool for it is a skate tool. This is a multi-function tool that does everything you need to do when changing wheels or bearings. They’re a great tool that is normally priced well and a hell of a lot easier than carrying a bunch of different tools!
To change your bearings, follow these instructions:
- Put your board on a flat surface, facing upside down. Then start by unwinding the nut on the first wheel by turning counter-clockwise. Keep this in a safe place where you won’t lose track of it.
- After doing this on all other wheels detach the washers from between the nuts and outer bearings, keep them with the nuts in a safe place.
- You can then remove the wheel from your board and remove the second set of washers if your board has them (not all do).
- You can then Remove the bearings by pushing them with force from one side and place them to the side.
- If your wheels need cleaning, it’s best to do it now to keep them in good condition.
- Now to put your new bearings in, place the wheel on a flat, solid surface. Put the new bearing and place it in the hole in the center of the wheel with the colour shield facing outwards.
- Apply pressure to the bearings pushing it down into the wheel, when in place you will hear it click
- Flip over the wheel and do the same to the other side and repeat these steps with all your wheels.
- To get your wheels back on go through the same process of getting them off in reverse. (1-4)
What are the best quality bearings to buy?
There are many different brands of bearings out there with lots of different options.
For beginners, it can be hard to decide on a brand/type of bearing. Here I will give some options for budget friendly bearings and great bearings that you can buy if price isn’t an issue.
“Budget friendly” options
“Spend more” options
How to make your bearings last longer
To make your bearings last longer, there is a few key things you can do.
To start off, it’s important to keep your board out of the rain and any moist environments. Try not to ride while it is raining as well, moisture can cause the bearings to rust and not last as long as they can.
Keep the bearings clean as much as you can. If there seems to be dirt built up on the bearings, you should clean them to help them keep longer. To prevent dirt buildup, try not to skate anywhere where dirt/sand could get caught in the bearings. Beach boardwalks are notorious for getting sand up on the bearings. Be prepared to give your board a deep clean if you take a trip to the beach.
To summarise, it is very important to the health of your board to keep your bearings in great condition. Keep them clean and working at their best.
It can also be dangerous for your own health if you ride with worn or broken bearings as you can hurt yourself if any accident occurs. It’s not hard to change bearings with the right tools.
It’s also vital that you make sure the bearings you use are good quality. Buying good quality bearings doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Even the more expensive bearings are relatively affordable.