Do Skateboard Wheels Come with Bearings?
Most sets of skateboard wheels do not come with bearings. You will need to buy bearings separate from wheels. Some wheel sets come with bearings included, but they are not the majority.
Below, I will go over what you need to go with skateboard wheels, what good bearings look like, as well as how to maintain your bearings. By the end, you should be ready to get out there with your new wheels.
What else do you need when buying skateboard wheels?
Since skateboard wheels don’t come with bearings you may be wondering what else you need. Skateboard wheels need a couple of extra pieces to work properly. Aside from the obvious deck and trucks, you will need the following:
- 8 bearings (2 per wheel)
- 4 spacers
- Cleaning fluid
- Bearing oil
The first two items are central to the functionality of the wheel. Just like wheels don’t come with bearings, bearings often do not come with spacers. You don’t have to have spacers between your bearings. That said, they are very helpful if you do a lot of tricks or are otherwise hard on your board.
The last two items on the list won’t be needed right away. After some time, your bearings will need some maintenance. Regular cleaning and maintenance will extend the lifetime of your bearings. If you don’t ride often or in inclement weather you won’t have to clean them very often.
Some good cleaning fluids include Acetone, denatured alcohol, and citrus cleaner. These cleaners can often be found in hardware stores. As for the oil you should use after cleaning there are lots of options. Go with your preferred lubricant oil or grease.
What to look for when buying bearings
You want the best when looking for a set of bearings to go with your wheels. To do that you need to look at the materials used and the size. All bearings are not created equally.
- Steel balls vs ceramic balls
- Rubber seals vs metal seals
- 608 vs 627
There are two areas where the material matters most: the balls inside the bearing and the seal. The ball bearings are commonly made of either steel or ceramic. These two materials will differ in price and performance.
Steel balls will be cheaper on average than ceramic. The performance you get out of steel bearings will depend on the quality of the metal. Cheaper bearings within the steel category will not perform as well as more expensive steel bearings. Steel bearings will also expand in the heat and be vulnerable to rust.
Ceramic bearings on the other hand will be more expensive overall. The ceramic balls will not expand or rust. They also have a slight self-cleaning property. They will also have less friction which means they roll faster. The increase in performance comes in part from the ceramic. The other factor is the high-quality metal used.
The material of the seal also matters. Rubber seals will typically provide a better seal but increase friction. Metal seals often have a worse seal but create less friction. You can also remove the seal on a bearing for even less friction. You will have to clean your bearings more often, however.
Lastly, the size. Skateboard bearings are all the same size on the outside. The size comes into play with the inside diameter. Bearings that are 608 have an 8mm core while 627’s have a 7mm core. This changes the size of axle they can fit.
How to clean and maintain your bearings
After you’ve used your board for some time you’ll need to clean and maintain the moving parts. Some of the more important parts are the bearings. Some skaters will say that you never need to clean your bearings. This is only true if you never use your board.
Cleaning and maintaining your bearings will not only extend their life but also keep your board performing at peak efficiency. You should clean your bearings once every three months. If you ride constantly or in dirty environments you may need to clean more often.
If your bearings are old and haven’t ever been cleaned it may be better to replace them. You can keep up with maintenance with the new bearings.
Bearing cleaning steps
To start cleaning you will need a well-ventilated space, ideally outside. The cleaning solutions can be harmful. You will also need the following supplies:
- Cleaning fluid
- Bearing container
- Skate tool
- Drop cloth
It is recommended that you get a bearing container specially designed for this purpose. It will help prevent any damage to the bearings as well as contain the cleaning solution. If you do not have one of these containers you can use some other container. You just won’t be able to shake the container.
Set up your space with the drop cloth so that you don’t lose any parts or stain the floor. Start by removing the wheels. Then remove the bearings from the wheels. Once you have the bearings out and the space set up we can begin.
- Remove the seals from all 8 bearings. You can pry them out using a safety pin. Do your best to avoid damaging them.
- Place the bearings (balls up) into the bearing container. Secure the bearings with the nut on the bolt.
- Fill the container at least halfway with the cleaner of your choice. To save cleaner you do not need to fill it all the way.
- Shake the container with the bearings and cleaner inside. Do so for a minute or two.
- Remove the bearings and place them somewhere they can dry.
Once they dry you will need to start maintenance.
Bearing maintenance steps
After the bearings have been cleaned you will need to lubricate them. For this, you will need the same setup as above.
- With the seals still removed, put one or two drops of your lubricant on the ball bearings.
- Rotate the outer ring of the bearing to spread the lubricant.
- Finish up by replacing the seals and reassembling your wheels.