How To Remove Skateboard Bearings
Skateboard bearings make a big difference in how fast and smooth your board rides. Some bearings are inferior, to begin with, constructed with cheaply made parts and sloppy machining.
Bones Swiss for example is machined with high-quality Swiss precision that has become the industry-leading standard for quality of their ball bearings. Their balls are smoother and rounder than cheaply machined balls, which aren’t as fast in addition to breaking faster.
Some bearings just need a cleaning to spin faster. The gaps in between the parts, or tolerances, are so small that a little dirt will hurt their performance.
Whether you want to upgrade to better bearings, replace a broken bearing or clean your bearings to make them like new again, you will need to take the wheel off and remove the bearings. It’s very simple if you know what you’re doing.
Step 1: Removing The Wheel Nut
You will need a wrench or a skate tool to remove the nut holding the wheel onto the truck axle. Remove it by turning counterclockwise, or lefty loosely. Make sure not to lose the spacers on the axle when you remove the wheel.
Now you’re ready to remove the bearing from the wheel.
Step 2: Removing The Bearing From The Wheel
Skate Shop Bearing Press – Pull It Out
The best way to remove skateboard bearings from the wheel is to use a skate shop bearing press. This tool hooks the bearing just enough and pulls it straight out of the wheel. This avoids damaging the bearing.
Prying at an angle can cause bearings to break, although if your bearing breaks when you remove it, it definitely needed to be replaced anyway. So its actually a good thing that it broke so you don’t put a faulty bearing back in and have it break while you’re riding. Breaking bearings can make you at the most random times, which can make for bad falls.
Skate Tool – But Who Does That!?
Some skate tools have parts for removing the bearing, but these often times don’t work very well. The part that you insert isn’t long enough to get good leverage on the bearing to pry it out. These tools are okay, but it’s way easier to remove the bearing with the truck axle.
Truck Axle – Pry It Off!
Using the truck axle is the way most skaters remove the bearings from the wheel. It is only tricky because you can’t insert the wheel too much or it won’t work very well.
All you do is put the wheel back on the axle, but only put it in about a half inch or less than half the width of the wheel. There are two bearings and possibly a bearing spacer in there. You want the truck axle to only go in as far as the one bearing is sitting in there.
Grab the wheel with your palm and pry it to one direction. The bearing should pop out at an angle. If it doesn’t come out all the way, pry the wheel the other direction or back and forth until you get it out.
Handheld Tool – Work
You can do the same pry-out technique as using the axle, but with a handheld tool. This avoids damaging the threads on the truck axle, but it’s harder to do. Skaters have long been removing the bearings with the truck axle without damaging the threads, so don’t worry too much about that. If you do decide to use a hand tool, use something that is long for leverage and has a good handle to grip it with. Sometimes bearings take a lot of force to remove, so having a good tool helps. It sucks removing bearings with a short hex key, but it can be done.
Removing Broken Bearings [Secret Trick]
When a bearing breaks, all of the inside parts fall out leaving the outer ring stuck in the wheel. It can be difficult to remove. This trick wonks wonders. Herbert Holmes taught me this:
- Put the wheel on the ground and leverage the screwdriver under the bearing ring and touching the outer part of the wheel.
- Step on the screwdriver to keep it in place.
- Step on the screwdriver and pop it out!
(Some skaters use their truck to remove the bearing ring, especially if they’re out skating and don’t have a screwdriver handy. The screwdriver trick makes it so easy if you have one around.)
Flip & Repeat
Once you remove the first bearing you repeat the process for the other side.
The second one will be easier because you can see inside the wheel, giving you a better idea of how far the axle or tool needs to go in to pry the bearing out. Make sure the axle clears the whole bearing and then a little extra. If you go too far, the axle will hit the inside of the wheel.