Better with Age: How to make your skateboard age gracefully

Everyone who skates eventually finds themselves in need of new parts. Depending on how you skate, certain components will wear out faster than others... And they all wear out. In fact, a worn out component is a point of pride for a skateboarder. It shows that you’re skating hard. But, damaging components in non-skating ways sends them to an early grave, and replacement costs add up quickly.




Even when well-cared for, skateboard parts have a limited lifespan. If you ignore your components, they will not last. Luckily, taking care of a skateboard isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t require a garage full of tools. With a little common sense and elbow grease, your Yocaher skateboard will last longer and always ride its best.


Part 1: The Deck



Learn to stop


There a few different ways to stop on a skateboard without damaging it. You can hang your back foot off the deck and drag it on the pavement, using the friction to slow your roll. You can also hop off and run to a stop in emergencies. But, whatever you do, never scrape the tail on the pavement to slow down.



Pressing on the tail and scraping it wears it down, sharpening it to a point that skaters call a razor tail. The first result of razor tail is diminished pop. After that, chips are bound to follow. Your board will take plenty of abuse as you learn new tricks. Don’t compound the problem by scraping the tail.


Keep it dry


Water is the enemy of all skateboard parts, but it will damage a deck before it does the rest of the components. Decks are made from crisscrossed layers of maple, which expand when they absorb water. This process weakens the epoxy that holds the deck’s layers together, causing the plies to split apart. The board will be spongy and unusable.





Unlike the other components, which are closer to the ground, decks don’t usually get wet enough from riding through puddles to cause damage. Rather, most decks ruined this way were either left out in the rain or fell into a body of water. Always bring your board inside when you’re not using it, and don’t skate where you risk getting the deck submerged.


Protect it from heat


Yocaher skateboards are tough, but no skateboards can survive extreme heat. The wood in the layers expands when heated, and high temperatures can weaken the epoxy. The layers can then split apart. Do not leave your board out to bake in the sun for extended periods of time, and never leave it in a sweltering car. Bring it inside when you go in, and store it safely.



Ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays is another unseen board killer. Left out in direct sunlight for too long, a board will get roasted by UV light. The exposed layers will begin to shrink and crack, and the deck will lose that new-board pop. Leave the board in the shade when you’re resting during a session, and bring it inside when you’re done skating.


Do not abuse it


Learning new tricks is not an exact science. As you progress from ollies to kickflips and so on, your board will inevitably bang into the pavement at all sorts of interesting angles. These bumps and impacts will gradually weaken the deck, and eventually it will need to be replaced. Don’t rush that process by needlessly slamming the board into things.





Just a little carelessness can cause permanent damage to a deck. Tossing your board around like you don’t care about it will eventually weaken it. Throwing it in anger because you can’t land a trick will destroy it. Skateboarding is expensive enough without adding to the cost by destroying a perfectly good deck. Appreciate and care for your board, and it will reward you with extra useful time skating.


Part 2: The Bearings




Clean them regularly


The bearings are the only constantly moving part on a skateboard. As they roll, they operate close to the ground, often in dusty conditions. The shields on the bearings keep most of the debris out of their inner workings, but a bit of funk inevitably seeps through. When it does, it causes two issues. First, it mixes with the lubricant and slows the bearing. Second, it damages the surfaces of the balls and races.


You can’t keep all that grime out of the bearing, so the only option is to clean them. Many skateboarders use a solvent-based, water-displacing lubricant for cleaning. These products do not make good lubricants, but they work well for removing old grease and bits of road grime. Let the bearings soak in the solvent, then spin them in both directions and wipe them before allowing them to dry.


Lubricate them often


Yocaher bearings are packed with a high-speed lubricant that allows them to roll their fastest and break in smoothly. However, no lubricant for bearings will last forever. Bearings’ constant use causes heat that eventually degrades the lube. Once it is gone and the bearings dry out, the metal parts are free to contact one another. The result is more heat than the bearings can withstand, and they break.




It is more important to lubricate the bearings than to clean them. If you can only do one, opt for lubricating. Use a non-solvent oil, such as sewing machine oil. Certain additives may help the oil stay in place, but be sure that these additives will not damage the plastic cage that holds the steel balls in place. There are lubricants available that are intended for skateboard bearings.


Keep them dry


Again, water is the enemy of all skateboards. Riding through puddles may look like fun, but the damage to the bearings can be almost instant. The water washes off the lubricant, leaving the exposed metal free to rust. It isn’t uncommon for boards ridden in the rain to have locked-up bearings the following morning. Never ride through puddles.



Rotate them


Bearings take a lot of punishment, but the bearings in certain positions on the board take more abuse than others. It all depends on how you skate, and everyone skates differently. Bearings can get grooved in the direction they roll most. The outer bearings can also build more pressure during turns than the inner ones.


To combat uneven wear in your bearings, rotate them around the board from time to time. The easiest method is to remove them all for cleaning at the same time. You’ll never get them all back where they were before, so rotation is ensured.


Part 3: The Trucks




Adjust the hardware


Loose mounting hardware can cause several problems. The most immediate issue is that the trucks wobble during use, causing imprecise steering and a noticeable rattle. Over time though, the loose bolts will widen the pre-drilled holes in the deck. The trucks will then always be loose, and stress cracks around the baseplates are sure to follow.





Tighten the bolts regularly. Use a securely fitting screwdriver and a 3/8-inch wrench or socket. Never use pliers, which will round off the nuts. When you tighten the bolts, hold the screwdriver tightly and turn the nut. Turning the screwdriver can cause the bolt heads to strip. Most importantly, do not over tighten the bolts. Stop when they are flush with the grip tape.


Mind the bushings


The bushings are the urethane spacers mounted onto the kingpin. They enable the board to turn smoothly, and they also help it go in a consistently straight line. Tighten the kingpin until the board turns to your liking, but don’t overdo it.





With too much pressure on them, the bushings can split, causing the board to lean to one side. The result is a board that turns on its own. The result is a rider who is always leaning the other way to counteract the turn. That’s a complicated way to ride.


Rotate them


Most skaters do certain tricks more than others, and most prefer turning to one side or the other (backside or frontside). Repeated grinds and turns cause the trucks to wear unevenly. Either vary your tricks or make a habit of switching the trucks’ position on the board.


Move the front truck to the rear and vice versa. When you do, you will notice that the board feels strange. That’s because the trucks are grooved into their positions. Adjust the kingpins as necessary, and give it some time. You will adjust to the new sensation.


Part 4: The Wheels






Rotate them


The polyurethane used to make skateboard wheels is a marvel of modern engineering. The stuff is used for many demanding applications besides skateboard wheels because it is tough and long lasting. However, urethane does not last forever. Skateboard wheels need rotating.



As you ride your board, it is inevitable that wheels in certain positions will wear faster than others. One may get smaller more quickly than another, or some may start to cone. Move the front wheels to the back and the ones on the left to the right. Also, flip them so the side that was facing inward now faces outward.


Avoid flat spots


The only permanent damage usually done to a skateboard wheel is the dreaded flat spot. If your board sounds like a drum roll as you ride, one of your wheels has a flat spot.




The only fix for this issue is not to allow it to happen in the first place. Power slides are fun, but keep them to a minimum, and make sure the obstacles you slide on are waxed. If your board is making a “burt!” sound when you slide, you need wax.


Conclusion


The takeaway is that your skateboard needs your care. If you put a bit of time into cleaning it and lubricating the bearings, it will last much longer than it will if you abuse it and ignore it. Above all else, keep your skateboard away from the evils of water.




A new complete setup is an awesome thing. It leaves you all tingly inside, but it will not function like a board that has seen some use. As they break in, trucks turn more smoothly and bearings roll faster. A gently used skateboard really is more valuable than a new complete.