Roller skating is a great way to get around and have fun. But, if your roller skate wheels don’t have bearings, they will be tough to roll. This article will show you how to put bearings in roller skate wheels. We will also provide tips on choosing the correct bearings for your needs.
Roller skate wheels come in different sizes, styles, shapes, and materials. The size of the wheel is measured by the diameter of the circle formed when you draw a straight line through its center. What type of roller skate wheels are right for you depends on how you use your skates. For example, if you want to enjoy recreational skating, it doesn’t matter whether they are quad or inline-style wheels with nylon or polyurethane cushioning.
Tools and Materials
- Bearing Spacers (Socket Spacers work best)
- 14mm socket or wrench
- Hammer (optional)
A Detailed Guide on How to Put Bearings in Roller Skate Wheels
Step 1: Preparation
The first thing you want to do is mix your wheel lube. How much you use will depend on the size of your wheels, but I recommend using a 4oz cup with about 1/4 7/8 full of wheel lube. The exact measurement isn’t too important since it depends on how many bearings are used for this wheelset.
After getting the amount correct, place the wheel in between two fingers and pour the wheel lube into the center. After doing so, replace securely onto the axle and spin it around quickly to evenly distribute lubrication over the wheel. I prefer to keep them overnight to let them dry before proceeding).
Step 2: Remove Old Bearing Retainers
Once you have allowed your bearings to dry, take your 14mm socket and break off the old bearing retainers. To avoid ripping apart the wheel, I recommend using a hammer or rubber mallet to slam against the axle’s inside until it breaks loose. Be careful not to lose the bearing retainers inside of the wheel.
Step 3: Replace Bearing Spacers
Once the old bearing retainers have been removed, you can grab your socket spacer and place it into the left groove. Again, you’ll want to push them in deep and all the way flush with the axle before moving on to the next step.
Step 4: Cleaning Spacer Ring Grooves
Clean out any dirt or debris from the inside of the wheel’s spacers. By removing this, you allow room for the new bearings. Otherwise, they will get stuck when applying pressure around the edges of wheels (this can be done by dropping a few drops of thin lube in each section). If no visible dirt is present, but the area is oily, wipe with a clean towel and reapply lube before proceeding.
Step 5: Install New Bearing Race Onto Wheels
Now it’s time to install the new bearing race onto the wheel. To do this, start by placing your hub into a vice or using a c-clamp if you don’t have either of those tools. If you are tapping on the axle to drive in your bearing race, make sure something is behind it, so it doesn’t go skidding across your floor while you apply pressure.
If you aren’t going to use a hammer, I would recommend purchasing a 16mm socket for this step since many wheels use one size threaded axle for both sides (16mm). Hold your bearing race in place with an old cleaning pad between the wheel and the bearing race, so nothing gets scratched up. You will then want to use your socket spacer and place it flush on the inside of the wheel (the holes should line up).
Once you’ve done this, pull the old bearing race out and replace it with a new one. This procedure is easily reversed if you remove the new bearing race and reinstall your previous one.
After reinstalling it correctly, carefully tighten down both sides until they are secure enough not to move around when tightening/loosening your lock nuts (You WILL want to pull them later). You can use pliers or another set of hands for this step to save yourself some time. This is a crucial step in how to put bearings in roller skate wheels.
Step 6: Installing New Bearing Retainers
Once your new bearing race is installed onto the hub, it’s time to screw in the axle. Take your bearing retainer and put it into place by tightening down both sides using pliers or an adjustable wrench (This will only go on one side). Make sure everything is flush against each other before moving on to the next step.
Step 7: Installing New Bearings
When installing bearings, I always recommend having a clean area for this process so they don’t get damaged while trying to install them (This can be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol).
Once you’ve selected the proper size bearings for your wheels (Check between either between small or large spacer where you removed old retainers as this is where size matters), drop them in and use a rubber mallet to hammer it flush against the edge of the spacer, you will want to do this for both sides so that they are friendly and secure before you start driving everything into place.
Step 8: Installing Lock Nuts
Now that your bearings have been successfully installed, it’s time to drive everything into place by tightening down your lock nuts with a wrench or pliers, depending on what type of wheels you have (Always pull from inside out). If you feel resistance initially, don’t worry about it as long as you continue tightening until they stop moving altogether. Be sure not to overtighten them, as doing so can damage your bearings.
Step 9: Cleaning Out Bearings
Now that your bearings are in place, you will want to remove them one last time to clean out any excess oils or debris (Use lubricant if needed). This is when you’ll want to tap the axle against the ground after removing your bearing retainers/race.
You can also break loose your lock nuts at this point since they shouldn’t be tightened down past the end of the axle inside your wheels. Once this is done, you can re-insert them back into place and tighten everything back up before enjoying some fresh new bearings! These steps will help in how to put bearings in roller skate wheels.
You Can Check It Out to Loosen Roller Skate Wheels Without Tool
Tips and Warnings
- If the skate is an “older” model or one with a large hub, you might need to add support when taking the bearing out. This is done by using something like Vaseline and putting it on both sides of the bearing and in the hole where you’re going to put your screwdriver in. This will allow the bearing to come out without breaking but still hold up if you accidentally drop it while working with it.
- While adding back in your bearings, make sure that they are spinning freely. If they are not, then get new bearings! You may also want to take some WD-40 or similar lubricant and put it on your wheels before skating if they are too tight.
- Use your screwdriver to push the bearing down into the wheel. How much you need to push it in will vary depending on wheel type; however, moving with an angle is more accessible than pushing straight down.
- Roll the wheel between hands with plenty of oil to check for excess friction after putting bearings back in. Bearing surfaces should be smooth and quiet with good speed if correctly installed. If not, repeat the process beginning from disassembly steps or new bearings.
- Many people have different ways of taking bearings out and putting them back in. These steps are just a guideline, so feel free to improvise if needed!
- If you are having trouble getting bearings out or back in, STOP! Getting frustrated will not help you now. Instead, check if anything is blocking the bearing’s path, like dirt or rust (this should be obvious), and make sure that your skate tool is tight enough but not too tight. If it is too loose, your wheels can move inside the shell, breaking the bearings’ cup (be aware of this when putting them back in).
- When cutting down spacers to take bearings out, always remember to cut slightly oversize then sand down after removal since nails can change size during use. Depending on your preference, how much they need to be shortened; however, 1/16th inch off each time should do the trick.
- When putting bearings back in, do not put additional grease on the cups. You run a greater risk of breaking them if you do this, as it might create too much pressure and cause the cup to break.
This article is a step-by-step guide on how to put bearings in roller skate wheels. If you have never done this before or need a refresher on the process, we hope these instructions will help! Remember to always be gentle with your equipment and use common sense when working with tools. The best way for your skates to last as long as possible is by taking care of them properly from day one.
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