Bearings: Wear, Tear and Care
Let's face it, bearings wear out and break. They're one of the most common wear and tear parts on a scooter. If you ride everyday, you'll be lucky to make a set of bearings last a couple of months. There are a few things you can do to get the most life out of your bearings. These tips will keep your bearings healthy until they're actually worn out.
Keep them Clean
Bearings have two main enemies: dirt and water. Bearings are inches from the ground, and they collect sand, dust, and road grime while you're riding. It doesn't take long for enough dust and debris to build up and mess up good bearings. We've seen brand new wheel bearings ruined by wet and sandy roads in as little as one day of riding. Avoiding puddles, keeping your scooter out of bark and grass, and not riding on dirt will keep your bearings lasting longer. In other words, stay out of the wet stuff, stay on the paved stuff, and aim for the swept off stuff.
Spread Out the Wear and Tear
The back wheel bearings wear out faster. When you land a trick on a scooter, nearly all of your weight travels through the rear wheel. When you don't land a trick, the rear wheel still takes a mean hit. The impact from jumping alone wears out bearings!
Currently, the bearings being used in pro scooter wheels are the same size you would find in a skateboard wheel. However, skateboards experience longer bearing life because they've got twice as many bearings, twice as many wheels, and more urethane for the impact to travel through.
Some scooter brands are currently testing wheels with larger bearings. But, it could be years before we see the industry standards change. Instead of waiting around for the scooter world to adopt a larger sized bearing, try rotating your wheels.
Rotate your wheels
To rotate your wheels, just switch your front wheel out with your rear wheel, and your rear wheel out with your front wheel. Rotating your wheels won't just help you wear out the urethane more evenly, it'll help you wear out the bearings in both wheels at about the same rate.
These wheel bearings are filthy, wipe that stuff off! Notice the uneven wear, the back wheel was much smaller compared to the front wheel. The back wheel gets more abuse.
Keep it dialed
Aside from keeping them dry and clean, there are a couple of other things you can do to get the most out of your bearings. Keeping your wheel axles tight will make your bearings last longer. When you crash with a loose wheel, it twists the wheel and puts uneven pressure on the bearings. Keep the wheel tightened so that there is zero side-to-side free play. If you keep the wheels tight, there is far less risk of damage caused by movement in the wrong directions.
Keep it oiled, with real oil
You've probably heard the rumors about WD-40 being bad for bearings. WD-40 is the acronym for, "Water displacer formula #40." WD-40 is not oil. While WD-40 does work for getting rid of water and rust, it does not leave behind an oil lubricant. If you're going to use WD-40, you need to use real oil lubricant afterwards. So, the rumor that WD-40 is bad for bearings is only true if it is the only stuff you use.
An easy-to-find recommended bearing lube is 3-in-1 Multi-Purpose Oil. You should be able to find this stuff for just a few bucks. It can be found at most grocery or home improvement stores.
You don't need to spend a lot of money on race lube, this stuff works great and is very affordable. A little goes a long way, this bottle could last you years!
Never use a hammer
One of the most important things to know when it's actually time to replace your worn out bearings is to NEVER use a hammer. Metal core wheels require a bearing press to slowly and evenly press the bearings in and out of the metal core. Using a hammer can ruin your wheel and your bearings, it's just not worth it.
Using a hammer can enlarge the hole that holds the bearing. When this happens, the bearings have a loose fit inside the wheel. No matter how much you tighten your wheel axle, there will always be side-to-side free-play, and they will always make an awful rattling noise.The term, "ovalized wheels" is used to describe this issue of a wheel with free play even though the wheel axle is fully tightened.
Ovalized wheel issues do occur naturally over time with normal riding just from jumping and landing on the wheels. Using a hammer to install or remove bearings can make a healthy wheel ovalized in a matter of seconds - causing this issue to surface months before it would have happened with normal riding.
The bearing press at Kicks Pro Scooters, the tool that started it all. Don't ruin good parts with a hammer, do it right with a press.
These little bearings do wear out. You can make your bearings last longer if you stay out of the wet, stay off the dirt, keep your wheel axles tight, rotate your wheels, use real oil, and don't use hammers. It is what you do that determines if they'll last you a day or several months. Keep shredding!