Saturday, 22 December 2012

Skateboard Bearings - Keep em clean don't treat em mean!

Bearing Maintenance » How to properly clean your skateboard bearings

I never liked cleaning my room, my flat or my house - especially the bathroom. Actually, I'm no fan of cleaning in general. It takes time and energy that I could better spend bouncing my head off various ramps and such. But when it comes to skate bearings, you have to clean them. More importantly, you need to clean and maintain them correctly.

You can hose off your car, but it’s a lot better to actually wash it properly. The same concept holds for dogs - you can hose them off, but they'll only smell like "wet dog", which is only a step above smelling like dog crap. But this article isn't about dog crap or how to get it off a rug after you’ve stepped in it. That's a different article for folks interested in dogs and how to deal with poop.

Spitfire - Cheapshot Bearings

Whether you went with a cheap (but good) bearing for £9 or broke the bank on a set of Bones Swiss, keeping them clean will make them last a long time. Most skate environments are dirty with dust, mud, water, or the aforementioned dog crap... you name it, you've probably ridden through it. And whatever it was, part of it will work its way into your bearings. You'll be able to tell when the bearings become noisy or the spin is uneven. If you ride through crap, clean your bearings right after your session, not after all the crud has had a chance to settle in and cause rust or other damage.

Go on....Break the bank!
The fundamental reason behind cleaning them is friction. Friction is caused by the internal motion of the balls inside the bearing housing and causes heat. Heat makes the oil dissipate. As the remaining oil mixes with the dirt and crap, your ride gets noisy and worse. Don't bother adding more oil to your bearings without first cleaning them. It only helps for a short while before the damage ensues.

Here's the good news. If you regularly clean your bearings, when they become dirty, one set can actually out last a few sets of wheels.

So, being a responsible adult - at least we assume you're an adult as you're still reading and haven’t used up your 30 second attention span most under 16s have - you know about the necessity of cleaning things. Just the way you're anal about cleaning the engine compartment of your Volvo by checking all the fluids, pressures and brick-a-brack; the same applies to your skate. Fortunately, your skate is much less complex than a bloated over-priced Swedish tank.
Visual Inspection of Skateboard Bearings

Skateboard bearing

Pictured at left is a standard skateboard bearing. The rubber protective gasket or ring (yellow ring) keeps most dirt and grime out of your bearings.

Inside a skateboard bearing

The individual bearing balls sitting in the raceway track just beneath the rubber ring. The larger image shows ceramic bearings. The smaller inset shows standard steel bearings. In each image, you'll see the inner and outer steel walls against which the bearing make contact and spin as your wheels roll.

skateboard bearing raceway

The retainer (shown removed from the bearing housing) has a series of "cups" that hold and separate the individual bearings.

Cleaning Products (solvents)

Citrus based cleaners work well, but can leave a residue behind. Solvents work best, but are very flammable. Have a smoke away from your cleaning project and your dog. Rover probably craps on the carpet because he hates the way you smell.
Solvents that will do a good job are: carburettor cleaner (found in auto parts stores); kerosene, acetone or lacquer thinner. Minimum 90% pure alcohol (found in hardware stores).
Cleaning Process for Skateboard Bearings

Spectator so happy Danish had clean bearings he Hi Five'd him!
Since your bearings are encased in a round insert - that fits nicely in your wheels - its not completely obvious how to take them apart or what you need to clean. You might think rubbing Windex and a napkin around the outside seems logical, but that would make you... dumb. Cleaning the outer casing might make you feel useful, but it won't change your ride. The noisy (or crunchy) sounds are caused by the grit and dirt inside the bearing.

Remove the bearing from your wheels. Some inexpensive skate tools have a bearing remover. Do not use a hammer and screwdriver to pound out the bearings. If you do that, there's really no point in cleaning them.

Carefully remove the rubber ring on the outside of the bearing. You can use a bent paper clip or craft-knife to pry it up. Don't go wild and damage the ring, it insulates the bearings from dirt.
Clean the rubber ring with soap and water, not solvents (solvents may damage it), and allow it to dry. If you use a cloth to dry it, use a lint-free one - not a tissue or napkin - got it?
Re-coat the ring with a light oil.
Push out the ball-retainer with a paper clip by pushing in between the balls. Do this carefully, from the back side, so you don't touch the balls or their cupped seats. Scratches or abrasions to either can upset the internal flow.
Place the bearing housing, still containing the individual ball bearings, and raceway into a metal can or pot.
Add your chosen cleaning solution to the metal can or pot (or the posh Bones bearing cleaner can thingy). You only need to add enough to cover you bearing components.
Gently agitate the container by swishing it in a circular motion. Let the solution do the cleaning, you don't need to wipe or scrub the components once in the cleaning solution.
Pretty Bearings!
As you notice the solution becoming darker (this happens as grime is removed from your bearing components), pour off the solution and add clean solution. Continue this process until the cleaning solution remains clear. This is when your cleaning process is complete. This soaking period can be completed in 5 or 10 minutes. There is no advantage to soaking longer or overnight. The solvents will work quickly.
Ross Zajac... on clean bearings....Phew!
Once clean, remove all the components from the solution and dry immediately. A hard flat surface works best for drying.  Paper towels to soak up the excess cleaning fluid so you can better determine when the components are really dry. You may want to use a can of compressed air to ensure no moisture or dirt remains.
Place the raceway, with the bearings (evenly spaced) into their cups, back into the bearing retainer.
Add a modest amount (only 2 or 3 drops) of light weight skateboard bearing oil/lubricant. There is no need to put a drop on each ball bearing or try to evenly coat all the surfaces.
Put the rubber shield back in place, making sure there are no gaps or creases. Rubbing your finger around the seal will remove creases.
Now reassembled, hold the bearing between your thumb and finger and give it a spin. This will distribute the oil to all moving parts and surfaces. You should hear a pleasant hum as opposed to the crunchy sound you heard before this operation began.
Apply a thin film of oil to the outer surfaces of the bearing housing. This will keep it from rusting.
Pop the bearings back in your wheels using a skate tool or bearing press.

Go Skate!

Some bearings require a break-in period after cleaning. This simply means that the full benefit of cleaning may not be noticed until you ride for a half hour or so.

Ste on super fast clean bearings!!!!


This is a tip or suggestion of something you should not do.

Never remove the rubber gaskets/shields (rings) unless you're cleaning your bearings!

I've actually read several pro skaters recommending the removal of these to make your ride louder. Louder!?! Are you for real? Remember when you were eight (Reuben) and you put cards in the spokes of your bicycle tires to make it sound like a motorcycle? Remember putting replacing them with something stiffer to sound like a Harley? OK. Do you remember the first person who told you your bike looked stupid and sounded like stale cardboard? Hence, this turned out not to be a good idea. I'm pretty sure these guys all have their own bearings out and if you buy more of their bearings.......well you get the picture :)

That rubber ring is your poor little bearing's only defence against dirt and grime getting into the actual ball bearings. So, if you need the rush of a loud noise, I suggest you try making some sort of noise with your mouth. You'll look like an idiot, but your bearings will thank you.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

How to Choose the Right Skateboard Wheels Shopping for a set of wheels can be a frustrating experience for beginners and advanced skaters alike because wheels are often marketed in a deceptively simple way. Skateboard catalogues often omit important product information and consumers are expected to make purchases based solely on graphics or brand trust. Furthermore, even if you did see detailed product information, would you know how it affects performance?
The best wheels on the market?
Contrary to popular belief professional skateboard wheels are made from polyurethane, not urethane. Urethane is a compound made from isocyanate and ammonia and is mostly used in pesticides, medicines, and other chemicals. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is made from polyisocyanate and polyol. Polyurethane can be found almost everywhere, and its uses range from adhesives, foams, sealants, etc. The hard-plastic form of polyurethane used in skateboard wheels is called a polyurethane elastomer. Pure polyurethane is clear and transparent but it is often mixed with different plastics and dies to achieve the wide range of colours found in skateboard wheels. Therefore, opaque coloured wheels wear out and perform differently than transparent or lighter coloured wheels because they are less pure. There are many factors that contribute to performance loss. Uneven wear, development of flat-spots, and decrease in size are likely the biggest contributors to decreasing speed and performance. In addition, over time polyurethane loses its rebound properties, causing the bearings holes to expand and lose the tight bearing fit. Over time, polyurethane also reacts with light and becomes clouded and yellowish, but such discolouration does not seem to degrade the performance beyond noticeable levels. Considering the purity of the polyurethane, how you skate, where you skate, and how often you skate, your wheels could last anywhere from a few minutes to many decades. It is very vital that you choose your wheels considering the type of terrain where you will be riding. Once you have determined where you will be skating most often, you can then consider the following properties: Durometer (hardness) The number/letter rating used in the polyurethane industry is a bastardised version of the Shore® durometer rating. The Shore® rating is defined and controlled by a testing organisation called CCSi ( It goes from 0 - 100 / A, B, C, D, O, or OO. So a 99A wheel is also sometimes referred to as 99 Shore A.
Soft Longboarder wheels
Skateboards do not require a high level of precision so more often than not the durometer is merely estimated by the wheel manufacturers. In the early 90's when wheels formula's started exceeding 100A ratings, instead of using B, C, or D letters, many manufacturers started marketing their wheels with a 101A rating (which technically speaking does not exist). Now with the growing popularity of super hard and dual-durometer wheels, some manufacturers are marketing their wheels with random Shore® letter ratings. Worse yet, many manufacturers feel the rating confuses people and have stopped mentioning it all. Table of Shore® Conversions A B D 100 85 58 95 81 46 90 76 39 85 71 33 80 66 29 Advantages of hard wheels (ex: 100A, "101A"): go super ultra fast in super-smooth surfaces, such as marble, shiny-smooth cement, linoleum, wood, metal, half-pipes, and mini-ramps enable you to perform sliding tricks, such as blunts, lipslides, and grinds
UK street wheels from Manchester
Disadvantages of hard wheels: wear out and develop annoying flat-spots before you have any fun do not absorb impact and vibration not suited for your average street surface make noise like you wouldn't believe Advantages of medium-hardness wheels (ex: 95A, 97A, 99A): perform and go acceptably fast in both smooth and not so smooth surfaces suited for a wide range of terrains, from street asphalt to linoleum absorb some impact and vibration make an aggressive "fart" noise when performing slides or slide tricks grips more than hard wheels on very slippery surfaces like dusty linoleum skateparks Disadvantages of medium-hardness wheels: slide OK, but can't quite make blunt or nose-blunt slides; need to cheat by waxing can never go super ultra fast at smooth skateparks lose rebound and start going slow sooner than hard or soft wheels Advantages of soft wheels (ex: 80A, 88A, 90A): go super ultra fast on rougher terrains, such as asphalt and cemented sidewalks absorb impact and vibration do not make much noise Disadvantages of soft wheels: do not slide at all (grip can sometimes be a desirable thing) do not go fast in super smooth surfaces Suited mostly for cruising and longboarding, not for performing tricks Size Both the width and the diameter are very important considerations when choosing a wheel. However, the only measurement likely to be mentioned is the diameter (in millimetres). If purchasing through a magazine or on-line catalogue the width is usually left to the imagination even though it severely affects weight and durability. Thin wheels develop flat spots very easily and feel inappropriate on wooden ramps.
Bones wheels by Powell Peralta
The average wheel diameter found in most skateboards is between 50mm and 60mm. For street you might want to consider a wheel between 52mm and 55mm because you don't want it to wear out and become small too fast when skating rough asphalt. Bigger skaters tend to prefer bigger/faster wheels, but the drawback is added weight and height (especially the latter), which severely affects flip tricks and Ollie's. In the mid 90's extremely small 39mm wheels became popular for some time. Smaller wheels provide a super low centre of gravity, which is horrible for Ollie's, but excellent for flips (especially pressure flips) and tail scraping tricks, such as 360 flips and impossibles. The major drawback is that small diameter wheels are agonisingly slow because they have to rotate many times more than larger wheels to cover the same distance. Longboarders and Luge Riders are often equipped with soft (88A or softer) and huge wheels (70mm and up). Dirt skaters need special rubber wheels (100mm and up) with traction treads (tires). Core Some wheels combine the benefits of different durometer wheels with an inner-core. The theory is that if you have a hard outer-core and a softer inner-core, you have a wheel that can do sliding tricks and absorb some impact. On the other hand, a softer outer-core and a harder inner-core allows for a more durable soft-feeling wheel which has a good bearing fit. Some companies make some obnoxiously hard wheels with super ultra hard outer core and an even harder (or metal) inner-core and the result is something that is almost unrideable in anything other than high gloss marble. This is not funny.
Spitfire 'Firelights' Hollow core
Colour Transparent wheels have the purest polyurethane and they outlast any other coloured wheels by far. The drawback is that they grip a little much for some, so the most popular choice are white wheels. White wheels seem to have the perfect mixture of plastic and polyurethane to provide controlled slides and still be fairly durable. In my experience, the least durable wheels are wheels with multiple colours, strong fluorescent colours, or black. In the mid 80's using each wheel of a different colour became a common practise which looks really cool. However, this is not a good idea because each wheel wears out and performs differently. Conclusion When buying wheels be aware that many manufacturers and retailers leave out important wheel properties to make the catalogues more appealing to beginner skaters. Indeed, sometimes the only thing not left to the imagination is the brand and the price (which is usually the same for every wheel on the same page). This can be a frustrating thing because there are much more important characteristics to consider when buying wheels than just brands or graphics. To get the most speed, performance, and durability, you must select a wheel that is appropriate for the type of terrain that you will be riding.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Oakley Crowned UK Champ/Team Tour

Well we had more T’s drop this month with the New Andy Pink scribble design docking at the port. Andy currently designs full time for Smooth inc and we were very happy for him to offer up his services! 

Of course the big new last month was that Skateport currently have the Independent UK Vert series champion on their team!  Oakley Liddell beat a host of huge UK Vert names (Sean Goff, Jake Anderson, Sam Bosworth and Sam Beckett) to sit on top of the pile at the end of the tour! He really did wow the crowd in the final leg with his explosive style getting huge cheers from the spectators!

Ollie Blunt

Finger Flip to tail

We had the premier of the Death Skateboards New movie ‘Ordinary Madness’ at the premier suite with Nick Zorlac and crew in tow…it was a really good turn out and we had a fun but soggy session at the park after. The Death boys really lived up to their reputation with a ‘ahem’ game of lazer bowling after the sesh ;) !

Our Boy Jake Anderson is currently filming ‘A day in the Life’ which will focus on his invitation the Vans ‘Warped’ tour where he will get to skate with the likes of Steve Caballero  and Christian Hosoi.
We had our first Joint tour abroad over the end of October and beginning of November with Super Toxic Urethane and Muckefuck. Unfortunately Skateport and Muckef*ck’s Lee Blackwell didn't get his passport through in time and he was stuck back in Blighty! In fact the only other Muckefuck rider who came (Ben Grove) had just a few days before smashed his shoulder up really badly. Of course within the first 2 days he had sufficiently aggravated it to have to go home for hospital attention.

We toured the Netherlands and I'd like to give a huge thank you to Rob Rouleaux who works at Amsterdam Central skatepark (Check it out, it's like a street league course!). He worked really hard to make time for us in his busy schedule so he could treat us like kings and show us all the secret street spots in the Netherlands! Now I’d love to tell you about the mad sh*t that went down but I really can’t as Sidewalk sent a photographer to cover the tour for an article and we can’t release any footage or tricks that went down until after the article early 2013…… Let’s just say it’ll be worth the wait!!  

As for off the board shenanigans let’s just say we will never be leaving Haydn alone with a mouse EVER again…  


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Well it’s been a really busy month hence a very quiet time on the blog front!!

Lot’s of news regarding products and riders!

We have a new and very talented graphic designer on board in the shape of Kate Timney. We have been absolutely blown away with the standard of work she has produced in a relatively short space of time!


Our rider ranks are swelling even more with the addition of the skater’s skater ‘Dewy’. I’m sure you’ll agree his welcome edit is full of some super tech/switch manoeuvres! This incredibly underrated lip technician had us drooling in the Skateport office!!

We have pencilled in 31st March 2013 as the launch date for 3 new graphics to add to our deck range. We will also hopefully have 2 new collaboration decks to bring you before this with ‘Karma skateboards’ and Super Toxic Urethane’ respectively. Just got to dot the i’s and cross the t’s before we can move forward with this!!

We will also have a new jumper range available Early October. Following up for Christmas we should have a new range of beanies and zipped hoodies to keep you nice and warm!

If that isn’t quite enough we will be stocking our very own allen key hardware by the end of the month. This would have happened sooner but we have been trying to find a way to produce top quality bolts for a while and we think we have the right source now.

If you are free on Sunday 14th October, Skateport have 2 skaters (Oakley Liddell + Jake Anderson) competing at the final leg of the UK ‘Independent Vert Series 2012’ What makes this a little bit spicy is our very own Mr Liddell is in direct competition with Superdead rider ' Andy Scott’ for the overall title (after Sean Goff recently broke his collar bone)!!!

We are going to organise a coach  so we can support the guys in force. Of course you can't go to Ramp City without having a skate so after the comp it'll be mad one! Here is the link for payment and travel details: 

Also this month we introduced a limited edition Skateport Griptape to tide us over until the (even if I do say so myself) awesome new feature grip becomes available mid October. As you can see the grip pays homage to the Shake Junt grip...... so 'Shake Port' is born ;)

Click here to order your Grip.
Till next month….

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Well they say it's all about networking and after the X-zone comp Graham from the afore mentioned and Dan from Skateport appear to be brewing something huge on the competition front.....I'm not even exaggerating, this could be massive for the North West.....and eventually the UK! WATCH THIS SPACE.
Also we have decided to run a summer holiday competition for best location photo of Skateport grip! Inspired by Mr Felix Saunders! Well in Felix :)
How could I not put this rad little photo by Skateport local into the blog!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Big shout out to Graham Entraprenur Hankinson and co. for getting the Xzone Skatepark together and organising a rad comp today! As far as the comp went it was Skateport's team rider Chris Langford who won the street jam and the game of SK8 and then took 2nd in the mini ramp! Well done mate!! Also a big shout goes out to Skateport favourite Tom Fisher for 3rd in the street and 4th (1 point off 3rd) in the mini ramp! Of course it may all have been different if our other rider in the comp Ross Zajac hadn't given himself a 4" gash in the head (Gnarly footage coming soon!!) in the warm up and spent 4 hours of the day in A&E oops!! To rub salt into the wound Ross came back just in time to see the prizes being handed out ha haaa! He seemed fine with his newly super glued head and was glad no shaving occoured! He said he's gonna be in a little more careful at Boardmasters next week. Although there was a rumour Chris was waxing the floor just where Ross slammed ;). We then all piled outside to have a rad little session on an old Mercedes that had been altered to have a removable grind bar on the back bumper, SICK! 

The whole gang just after the cat bar session!

The park itself is on the smaller side but well worth a visit as A) It's designed by skaters B) Lots of the park has movable sections which makes for inventive sessions C) We live in the UK and Its INDOORS! E) We should support as many parks as possible and make an effort to visit new  ones!! As well as Tom big shout out to the injured Sean Mollan (thanks for coming anyway!) Matt Williams, George Grice, Charlie Grassick and Josh 'The Mimsinator manny King unit of height' Mimms of which only Matt left not injured such was the ferocity and effort that was put in on the day!

As we all got in the car exhausted from the session we mustered up the strength to chat about the session and various ladies parts. We thought the day was over, how wrong..... as we pulled up to a set of lights Chris casually says 'Shall we check if that guys dead?' 
We decided we should so we parked up. On closer inspection we found he wasn't a drunk as at first thought! We were all convinced that the majority of us had popped our 'seeing a dead body' cherry! However with a very daring check of the pulse from big T it turned out he was alive! Chris was really pleased! So after the police took over at the scene we departed with one hell of a day to digest.

Well see you all at Boardmasters a week on Wednesday!! Chris and Ross are also reppin' SuperToxic Urethane!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Skateport and Super Toxic Urethane's Chris Langford & Ross Zajac will be Joined by Skateport Southport's very own hesh Pirate skater Sean 'Captain Jack' Mollan for a demo at St Helens brand new Xzone Skatepark on Sunday 29th July to mark the grand opening! Demo starts at 11.30am with more activities through the day!! See you there

12noon till 1pm
Then 8 - 14yrs street comp 1-2pm
14yrs + 2-3pm
General skate 3 -4pm
8 - 14 yrs miniramp comp  4-5pm
14yrs + 5 - 6pm