I know when I started derby and before I had bearings for every set of wheels I searched the internets far and wide trying to figure the best way to clean my bearing the week before a game but after a 12 mile beach skate so I thought while I was switching out my bearings to test out some new ones I would also document me cleaning and changing my bearings. Hopefully this will help someone out there who is still unsure of what to do.
First let me introduce my skates. I love them very much. They are the Riedell Torch package in red with red croc tongue and silver and white accents. I switched out the tile biter wheels that came with them for the Atom Juke 2.0. I have slowly seen more and more skaters getting them in the past 6 months. They fit my narrow feet really well.
So first I get everything I need set up, you will need:
- Skate tool
- Paper towels/ a rag
- A place you don’t mind getting a little messy
- straight pin or dental pick(do not use for your mouth)
- Mineral Spirits or other cleaning liquid
- Bearing Lube (I use Speed Cream)
- Bearing cleaning unit (I have this but now use something different)
- Bearing puller (if you don’t have one you can use your skate)
I dismantled my skates like the last picture above. I set aside the wheels from each skate into two piles so I know which came from which. I also group the inside wheels together and the outside wheels together so when I put them back on I can put the outside wheels on the inside and the inside wheels on the outside. I can tell which are the outside wheels because they have orange on them from our banked track but most people will do some sort of numbering or lettering system.
Ew gross. My wheels are covered in other peoples dead skin and dirt and everything else you don’t want to think about being on the floor when you are doing crunches. So I pull as many bearings out as I can with my bearing puller then ask the boyfriend to pull the rest out. If I am lucky he will just do it for me. Mostly to show off his muscles. I really want this bearing puller, it seemed so much easier to use but I haven’t gotten around to purchasing it.
Since the bearings I was using do not have removable guards I don’t have pictures but if your bearings have the plastic shields you want to remove them before you clean them. Use your straight pin or dental pick to carefully lift up the side and they should just pop out. Now your bearings are naked and you should see the actual ball bearings inside. Those do not come out.
Use this time to look at your wheels. Do they have chunks missing like mine? That is probably not a good thing. I am very sad that these wheels all have missing chunks or splits in the sides. Atom wheels why are you doing this!?!?!?! It makes me sad.
Then I throw all of my bearings into a Ultrasonic parts cleaner I got at Harbor Freight filled with the mineral spirits. WAAAAYYY cheaper than the jewelry cleaners and does the same thing. The ones I have has an automatic timer for 3 minutes. I set it and forget it! If you don’t have one, put your bearings in the bearing cleaner I linked to above or any other container you can tightly close, fill about half way with mineral spirits and shake for about a minute.
Gross. The mineral spirits is now filled with all of the gunk and dust my bearings have accumulated in 3 months.
DISCLAIMER: My cleaner says to NOT use flammable liquids in it, I clearly didn’t read the directions. Mineral Spirits are flammable. In the future I plan to use citrus cleaner. Please do not light your house on fire because of me.
Once they are cleaned and dry put a drop of bearing lube in each bearing. Give it a quick spin to get the lube everywhere (that’s what she said) then pop your covers back on.
Since I was just changing my bearings, I didn’t have to actually clean them but I am forgetful and didn’t want to put them in another set of wheels all dirty.
Yeah! Time for new bearings!! I love trying new things. I am testing these Psycho Bearings out to see if I like them enough to recommend them to the rest of my home team, the Psycho Ex-Girlfriends. (fitting right?)
I use my bearing tool to pop the bearings back into my wheels after they are dry from the soap and water bath I gave them to remove all of the sticky stuff from our floors and wherever else I skated. The whole time I am trying to keep them in the order I took them off so I can put them on in a new rotation. It’s kind of like rotating the tires on your car.
Once my wheels are on in their new order I am ready to roll!
I do not recommend doing this the day of or the day before a bout. I find that it can take a practice or two to adjust to the sudden quickness I gained from cleaning my gear. SO far the new bearings are working well. No break in period like the one I had with the Kwik bearings I had in before. We will see how I like them after a little more time.