Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roller Skate Bearing Maintenance

Recently, I took a roller skate maintenance class at my favorite roller skate store Rolling Thunder Fun Factory. This is my first attempt to put that knowledge to use.

When I got my new skates, I gave Jim my old skates and bearings. I had skated on them for months without doing any actual maintenance, so I figured it would be nice of me to use his bearings (my old ones) for my first attempt at bearing maintenance.

My cleaner of choice is Simple Green diluted at a 2:1 concentration (2 parts Simple Green, 1 part water). Simple Green is pretty easy to find, is inexpensive, is a good degreaser, AND it's biodegradable.
Some basic tools - bearing puller/press, skate tool, bearing cleaning container filled with Simple Green, paper towels, bearing oil (not pictured), compressed air (not pictured).
Remove wheels first. Set locknuts aside in a safe place.
Use bearing puller to remove bearings from wheels.
Pets may decide you are focusing too much attention on maintenance.
Use a safety pin to gently remove plastic cover. Note: some bearings have metal covers that cannot be removed.
Be sure to remove plastic rings from both sides. Bearings will be exposed for better cleaning.
Slide bearings on spacers onto bolt of bearing cleaning container. Secure and place lid back on container
Shake container for several minutes to get cleaning solution into bearings. Remove bearings and place on dry paper towel. Note: If your bearing are really dirty or oily, you can let them soak for a few minutes. You 'll need to make sure you have enough cleaning solution in the bottle to submerge them. Note: I also give my bearings a quick rinse afterward, because I feel like the Simple Green is kind of gummy.
Break out the canned air.
Use the canned air to dry out the bearings fully. There can be NO moisture left in them or they could rust. You can ruin perfectly good bearings this way. If you think they're dry, spin them to make sure there's not still some water in the bearing spacer.
Put plastic covers back on bearings.
Line up bearings. Put one drop of oil on inside and outside. Flip them over and repeat. Note: Oil can also be added while one of the covers is off for easier, more direct application
Give your bearings a good spin to distribute the oil and make sure they spin well. Use your bearing press to put your bearings back in your wheels and put your wheels back on your skates. Take them for a spin to see how they feel!


  1. If you look at your wheels before you remove them from the skates, you can find which wheels your skating style wears on (and uses up) the most (usually front & inside the curve). When you put it all back together, put the best rolling bearings in the wheels that have the least wear. The best wheels & bearings in your set should go back on the skates in the spots you wear on/use the most.

    Also, I'm sure Sock 'Em did spin the bearings (while holding them with the covers up) after placing the oil precisely between the outside race & the cover and the inside race & the cover, before flipping and repeating on the other side. Work that oil down into the bearing by moving the parts around.

    Note the needle nose tip on the oil that she used. My favorite oil comes packaged this way, so that it is easy to place it precisely.

    Nice photos to document the process. I especially liked the one with the cat - my cats think bearings get too much attention too.

    Truly F Obvious

  2. Good point on spinning the bearings after oiling them! I did that, but I forgot to mention that into the blog. I might make an edit.