Your scooter is making a noise, slowing down, wheels are heating up, or, they are even seized up; all SOS calls that do not require a rocket scientist to figure out. Take out and clean those bearings pronto. Overheating bearings will damage your wheels even as they may be polyurethane, but still a plastic that does not fare well against heat. Bearings are the one singular part that dictates the performance. Here’s how to get the bearings out of scooter wheels.
Why Is It Necessary to Get the Bearings Out of Skate Wheels?
It is not necessary that bearings need to be cleaned only when they show signs of malfunction. It is a recommended practice to do it every month and bi-monthly if you have been skating in the rain with your scooter wheels and cannot avoid riding through puddles, where there is a real danger of bearings getting rusted. It’s also the same with the skateboard or the longboard bearings. It is a simple job and if you have never done it before, this article will help a lot. The first time, don’t rush it. Take your time to make sure that you don’t damage anything, especially the shields. Use a dry, well-lit space as your workshop. A humid room will retard drying.
To get access to the outer race which houses the ball bearings, you need to get the bearings out and shields prised open. The bearings are where debris and foreign matter gets trapped.
How to Get Bearings Out of Scooter Wheels?
- Skateboard Tool or 13mm (½”) socket wrench
- A Stanley knife or a sharp knife edge to pry open the shields
- Paper towels
- A solvent preferably one containing isopropyl alcohol
The axle nut needs to come off first. The size is a standard 13mm and the skateboard tool comes with a socket. If you don’t have a skateboard tool, use a socket wrench. Remove all four nuts because we are going to be cleaning all the bearings.
Connect Truck Axle and Remove Bearings
Slide the wheel to the edge of the axle. The idea is that the bearing should remain on the axle. The Outer bearing and wheel are now free. The inner bearing is still on the axle and can be slid free of the axle.
Flip over the wheel and get the axle into the outer bearing and lever it out using a crowbar type of motion or popping a bottle cap.
The bearing spacers and the speed rings will also need to come off.
Opening Up the Bearings
As can be seen from the figure, the bearing shields should be gentle, taking care not to inflict damage, prised away from the end of the outer race. The ball bearings housed inside are now visible.
Place bearings, shields in the jar containing the solvent and let it soak in for 2 to 3 minutes. Put back the lid on the jar, screw it tight and shake the jar up and down like a cocktail shaker, only not so vigorously. Remove bearings and shields placing them on a dry paper towel. Allow enough time to dry out completely. Use a hairdryer if one is available. Clean the bearing as thoroughly as possible. The paper towels are for soaking up the solvent. Do not use them to clean as lint residue can be left-back. Use a clean, dry cloth. Check for rusty areas on the sides of the bearings which may have to be removed before boxing it all up. Bear in mind that, opening and cleaning scooter wheel bearings isn’t as easy as cleaning longboard bearings. So, you have to pay painstaking attention during the whole process.
For lubricating, grease is the best but avoid heavy grease. They will slower your wheel speed. Medium grease will do but the most suitable is light grease or proprietary formulations such as speed grease. White lithium grease such as used for motorcycles is also suitable. Molybdenum grease is too expensive and not required. If you don’t have suitable grease, machine oil will do but the effects are not as long-lasting because oil does not grip well and gets flung off due to the centrifugal force. Don’t forget to apply a light coating on the sides of the bearings.
Putting It All Back
This part is far simpler than taking it all apart. Just follow the order without using undue force. The shields click back into position, and all the various components fit back smartly. Check the truck mountings also for any looseness. Tighten the axle nut taking care not to overdo it.
The health of your bearings dictates the overall performance of the skates as pointed out before. If after cleaning the bearings, you are still facing problems, it is best to have the bearings changed. Now that you know how to go about lubricating the bearings, it is one step simpler to change the bearings.