Ask the Gear Guy

Fix slow skateboard wheels


skateboard.jpgThe wheels on my skateboard aren’t spinning well anymore. Is there anything I can do to fix them or do I have to buy new wheels?

Slow Joe, Tampa, Fla.

We feel your pain, Slow. We have the same problem, so we asked our friend Andy Macdonald, eight-time world champion skateboarder, for the lowdown on your slow down:

“New wheels are not going to help in the least if your wheels aren’t spinning. Chances are you just have to clean and lubricate your bearings. Remove your wheel and pop out the bearings with the edge of your axle. Bones Bearings pretty much set the standard in the skateboarding world as far as bearings go. They recommend picking up a Bones Bearings Cleaner Unit at your local skate shop ($15), but a clean plastic yogurt cup and a few cotton swabs will work, too.

“You’ll need to remove the bearing shields if your bearings have them. Just poke them out with a paper clip. Then soak your bearings in acetone, nail-polish remover or rubbing alcohol. Spin them dry and make sure all the dust and dirt are out. Now you’ve removed all the dirt as well as all the lubricant from your bearings. It’s important to use a silicone-based lubricant. WD40 or others like it will dry out your bearings and attract dust and dirt. You can pick up a bottle of Bones Speed Cream at the skate shop, or try some Prolong from the auto parts store. It doesn’t take much, and the excess will just spin out when you replace your shields, pop your bearings back in your wheels and start shredding. Skate safe and enjoy your new-found speed.”

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