Top 3 Lubricating Oils For Skateboard Bearings in 2023
Almost everyone who owns a mechanical device knows that parts in contact tend to wear and tear without a lubricant. Skateboards have bearings that are attached to wheels and enable the wheel to roll smoothly and spin freely with limited friction. These bearings need to be maintained occasionally by cleaning and lubrication to remove debris and enable the skateboard wheels to function smoothly.
What Are Lubricants?
Lubricants are substances (usually liquids but may be solids, semisolids, or gases) introduced between two moving surfaces in contact to reduce the friction and wear between them. Oil and grease being the most common, lubricants play a vital role in the science of tribology.
Tribology is the study of the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion and encompasses the study and application of friction, lubrication, and wear.
Lubricants are formulated from a range of base fluids and chemical additives. Typical lubricants contain 95% base fluid (most often petroleum fractions called mineral oils) and less than 5% additives.
Lubricant base oils have a boiling point range between 287°C to 565°C consisting of hydrocarbons with 18 to 40 carbon atoms. The base oils are produced from refining crude oil (mineral base oil) or through chemical synthesis (synthetic base oils) in a factory. The suitability of base oil is determined by the concentration of base oil molecules as well as how easily these can be extracted.
Base oils cannot satisfy the requirements of high-performance lubricants without additives which are synthetic chemical substances dissolved or suspended as solids in oil. They have 3 basic roles
- Enhance existing base oil properties with antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, antifoam agents, and demulsifying agents
- Suppress undesirable base oil properties by adding pour point depressants and viscosity index (VI) improvers
Impart new properties to base oils, such as extreme pressure (EP) additives, detergents, metal deactivators, and tackiness agents.
What Are Skateboard Lubricants?
Skateboard lubricants are liquid substances applied to skateboard bearings to reduce the effect of friction on the wheels of a skateboard during use. This enables the skateboard to roll freely, preventing excessive heat generation and eventual wear and tear. Skateboard bearings are lubricated by elastohydrodynamic lubrication. This occurs when two surfaces in contact are separated by a film or fluid. Because the ball bearings are separated from having contact between themselves and the walls of the casing, the friction is drastically reduced.
The most important way of characterizing skateboard lubricant base oils is by determining the dominant type of chemical bond holding the molecules together. This could be aromatic, naphthenic, and paraffinic.
Uses of Skateboard Lubricants
Skateboard lubricants perform the following tasks
- Prevent contact between moving parts
- Reduce friction
- Transfer heat
- Carry away contamination and debris
- Transmit power to the wheels
- Protect against wear
- Prevent corrosion
- Reduce noise
What Are The Factors to Consider When Selecting Skateboard Lubricants?
Skateboard Lubricants should have the following properties
- Viscosity: This is the resistance of a lubricant to deforming stress. This is the most important property of lubricants because it determines the amount of friction that will be present between sliding surfaces. It also determines the thickness of lubricant film required to prevent wear as a result of solid to solid contact. Viscosity is measured with a viscometer and it determines the flow rate of the lubricant under standard conditions. The higher the flow rate, the lower the viscosity.
- Viscosity index: This is a property that measures the change of the viscosity of the lubricant with temperature. The lower the viscosity index, the more the viscosity is affected by changes in temperature.
- Pour point: This is the lowest temperature at which a liquid will flow under defined conditions. It is a rough indication of the lowest temperature at which oil is readily pumpable. It is measured with the use of a pour point analyzer.
- Flashpoint: This is the lowest temperature at which a liquid will form an ignitable mixture with oxygen. The flashpoint of the lubricating oil should be higher than the operating temperature. It is measured with a flashpoint analyzer.
- Fire point: This is the temperature at which a liquid will continue to burn after ignition for at least 5 seconds. The fire point is always higher than the flashpoint. This property is measured with a fire point analyzer.
- Volatility: This is the temperature at which a lubricating oil evaporates when exposed to a high enough temperature for a long time. Ideally, the lubricating oil skateboard bearings should have low volatility at the operating temperature. If it has high volatility, it means that you will need to replace the lubrication more often.
- Oiliness: This is a property of lubricating oil to spread and attach itself firmly to surfaces. It is ideal for a skateboard lubricant to be high for better lubrication.
- Demulsibility: The lubricating oil should not form an emulsion when brought in contact with water. The emulsion leads to a collection of dust and dirt which will increase friction, wear, and oxidation. For ideal operation, skateboard bearings should be demulsible.
- Corrosiveness: The lubricating oil should not attack the surfaces chemically. The oil should prevent corrosion and it should not contain sulfur.
What Are The Top 3 Skateboard Lubricants?
The Bones Speed Cream
The bones speed cream is a very popular skateboard-bearing lubricant with a high rating. It uses proprietary synthetic materials for the base oil. It has low viscosity and high corrosion resistance.
The bones speed cream has excellent detergency. As dirt and dust accumulate on a skateboard bearing, friction, heat, and noise increase, which reduces the lubrication efficiency of the lubricant. The bones speed cream does a great job of preventing small particles from getting stuck in the bearings, this prevents wear and increases the lifespan of your bearings.
It has low volatility this means that your skateboard will not spontaneously catch on fire. After applying the lubricant to your bearings, you will notice an appreciable increase in the speed of your board, as the wheels spin more freely.
The container of the lubricant does not have a pointed tip, this means that you need to disassemble your bearings then carefully apply the lubricant to prevent spillage. Two drops will be okay for most skateboard bearings. Check out this lubricant on amazon.
My top pick: The Liberty Oil Synthetic Lubricant
The liberty oil synthetic lubricant is very similar to the bones speed cream lubricant. The major difference has to do with the packaging. The liberty oil synthetic lubricant comes with a 1.5 inch 18 gauge stainless steel tip pharmaceutical-grade applicator. This allows you to precisely apply lubricants to your bearings without needing to lose your bearings. This saves you time and prevents spillage which makes this lubricant last longer.
The liberty oil synthetic lubricant has superior extreme pressure and anti-wear properties. This increases your bearing lifetime and minimizes your downtime.
2 drops of liberty oil synthetic lubricant applied to your skateboard bearings is usually all that is required to eliminate friction and keep your wheels spinning. Check out this lubricant on amazon.
The Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant
The Tri-flow is quite similar to the previous skateboard lubricants described above, the major difference is its very high volatility. This makes it ideal for people who ride their skateboards, such as pro skateboarders who perform intense tricks. When you use your skateboard a lot, the temperature of the bearings increases. This can lead to slow evaporation of the lubricants applied to the skateboard bearings. The tri-flow lubricant was designed for pro bike riders and can last for months, when applied to skateboards, without needing to relubricate your bearings more often, compared to the other skateboards.
The major drawback of the Tri-flow superior lubricant is the use of small amounts of harmful chemicals such as Teflon which has negative side effects on your health. For example, increased blood cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, hereditary diseases, and increased chances of preeclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnant women.
In general, it is used by technical people and if you want to use this lubricant, you should take proper precautionary measures as described in the container. The lubricant works extremely well and has the property of detergency which prevents dust and dirt from adhering to your skateboard bearings. Check out this lubricant on amazon
How to clean and apply lubricant to a skateboard?
It is important to clean your bearings before applying lubricants to your skateboard. There are various methods of doing this, but the best and easiest method is to use the bones skate-bearing cleaning unit. This allows you to evenly clean your bearings without having to touch chemical solvents on your skin. Get the bones cleaning unit on amazon.
It is safe and very to use. You just need to unscrew the wingnut and bearing spacers. You place the bearings onto the bearing holder and put the spacers in, to keep the skateboard bearings apart. After all the bearings are in place, you screw the wingnut and place the bearing into the container with the cleaning solvent and shake it around vigorously. This is extremely safe and it is kind of similar to the process of making a cocktail shake drink.
After shaking it for a while, all the dust and dirt will dissolve and settle on the floor of the solvent. You can then remove the bearings, clean them with a paper towel and leave it to dry for a while.
After sitting for a while and all the moisture is evaporated, you can then apply the lubricant onto the bearings and spin it to allow the lubricant to enclose all the bearings. Just 2 drops of the lubricant will be enough. It is not a good idea to use WD40, it will evaporate easily and will not provide proper lubrication to your skateboard bearings.
It is not a good idea to use WD40, it will evaporate easily and will not provide proper lubrication to your skateboard bearings.
After lubrication is done, the bearings should spin freely you then reassemble your skateboard wheel and go skateboarding. That's it, congratulations, you have successfully applied lubrication to your skateboard bearings.