How to make your longboard last
Do you remember the jittery feeling you had when you first got your hands on your Yocaher longboard? The long wait after you ordered it, which seemed to last forever, punctuated by the thrill of its arrival at your door....
That indescribable feeling when you first rolled down the pavement. Well, that feeling is fleeting.
In the moment you began riding your longboard, wear and tear started chipping away at its parts. Some components are more durable than others, but none lasts forever. Sooner or later, every longboard part will outlive its usable life. However, there are a few things you can do to make a longboard last longer. Just follow the suggestions on this list, and your Yocaher longboard can reward you with years of excitement and service.
Part 1: The Deck
Keep it dry
Most Yocaher longboard decks are constructed from layers of hard rock maple, which are pressed together with a special epoxy adhesive. This process produces boards that are incredibly strong, yet surprisingly flexible. However, wooden decks have an enemy, and that enemy is water. Whether it be from rain drops or puddles, getting a deck wet is the absolute worst thing you can do to it.
Suppress the temptation to roll through puddles on your longboard. The damage you can do will be permanent and irreversible. Steer around puddles as you ride, and never ride in the rain. Once you soak your board, the layers can split, and the board will lose a great deal of its strength. Split longboards are dangerous and, frankly, not very fun.
Another enemy of longboards is road grime. Sure, it isn’t as damaging to a deck as water is, but it will still cause problems if you let it build up for long periods. The funk that your board collects can damage the graphics on the bottom, causing the paint to peel if left alone. Oily grime can also weaken the epoxy holding the layers together.
Never use chemicals to clean your deck. Simply use a damp rag to wipe it clean, then dry it immediately. Make a habit of cleaning the board often. Try to remember the feeling you had when your longboard was new. Keep that sense of pride in it, and treat it like it’s one of a kind. In return, your deck will last you much longer, and it will look better while doing so.
Do not abuse it
Another thing you can do to make your deck last is to simply take care of it. That means never tossing it around and never slamming it into things. When you put it away, set it down in a place where it won’t get smacked by hard objects. And, always set it carefully in the car for transport, rather than tossing it mindlessly into the trunk.
When decks take constant abuse, they develop little dents and dings. Often, these marks are on the cross section between the layers. Soon enough, hairline cracks will form in one or more layers of the deck, leading eventually to larger chips. Yocaher longboards can withstand a lot of hard use, but abuse can destroy any deck.
Protect it from heat
Abuse will shorten the life of your deck, but so will neglect. One of the most common culprits in shortening a longboard’s life is heat. Extreme temperatures can soften and weaken the epoxy that holds the deck together, resulting in splitting just as if the board had gotten wet. Limit the amount of time your longboard stays locked in a hot vehicle.
Also, do not leave your deck exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. Of course, no harm will come from normal use on sunny days. The problem arises when a board is left outside to get bombarded by the suns rays for days at a time. Not only can the heat damage the epoxy, but the UV rays will degrade the outer layers. Soon, they will crack and split, ruining the deck.
Part 2: The Bearings
Keep them dry
Without question, the absolute most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your bearings is to keep them away from water. Riding through puddles is the most common way bearings get wet, but anytime they are submerged in water the bearings are at risk. Never ride through puddles.
Water washes off the lubricant that keeps the metal in the bearings from rubbing together. The heat from the resulting friction can damage the balls and races, and the rust that follows will cause them to seize. If you do get your bearings wet, clean and lubricate them immediately.
Clean them regularly
The metal shields on precision bearings do a good job of keeping grime and debris out of the races. However, the shields are not a perfect barrier. There is a tiny gap between the shield and the inner and outer races. Larger bits of debris cannot pass through that space, but dust and road grime can. Once inside the bearing, that foreign matter mixes with the lubricant, thickening it and sticking to the balls and the race surfaces.
(image source and credit to: https://lushlongboards.com/workshops/how-to-clean-bearings/)
To lessen this problem, clean your bearings regularly. Soak them in a water displacing lubricant, then clean them thoroughly with a nylon brush. An old toothbrush works great. Spin the bearings as fast as they’ll roll in both directions before setting them on a paper towel to dry. This can be a messy process, so don’t do it on the living room floor. It’s best to clean the bearings outside to avoid a buildup of fumes from the cleaning product.
While petroleum-based, water-displacing spray works well for cleaning, it usually makes a poor lubricant. The solvents in most of these products can deform the plastic crowns that hold the balls in place inside the bearing. It also tends to evaporate, leaving the metal unprotected. Instead, use a solvent-free oil for lubrication.
There are some lubricants on the market that are intended specifically for skateboard bearings. These lubricants usually work extremely well, but you can also use sewing machine oil or gun oil. Lubricants containing coatings – such as Teflon – usually outlast oils without such additives. Just remember to lube the bearings often, even if you do not clean them. But, don’t overdo it. If the lubricant splays on your wheels as they roll, you’ve used too much.
Regular lubrication can keep bearings rolling smoothly, and you may be surprised to find them improving over time. New bearings simply are not as fast as broken-in bearings. However, if the bearings are always turning in the same direction and experiencing the same forces, they may wear unevenly. This uneven wear can shorten their lives and decrease their speed.
To encourage even bearing wear, rotate them around the longboard. There is no point in worrying about which bearings were in which places in the setup. When you clean the bearings, remove them all from the longboard at the same time. Clean them all together, then lube them and reinsert them in the wheels. You will never get them back in the same places they were in before you cleaned them.
Part 3: The Trucks
Make regular adjustments
As you ride your longboard, the small bumps in the riding surface jostle it. You can feel many of these bumps in your feet, but even slightly uneven surfaces cause vibrations. Over time, all this banging around will cause the nuts to back off the truck bolts slightly. The loose bolts will then allow the trucks to wobble on the board, resulting in a loss of the solid feel your longboard had when it was new.
Occasionally, take a wrench and screwdriver to the truck bolts, tightening them evenly around the board.
Go in a cross-bolt pattern, and snug the baseplates up to the deck before torquing the bolts down all the way. Importantly, don’t over tighten the truck bolts. Stop tightening them when the bolt head is flush with the grip tape. Also, hold the screwdriver still and turn the nut (with a 3/8-inch wrench) to prevent stripping the bolt heads.
As you ride your longboard, the trucks are taking constant inputs. The twitching and twisting that they go through will wear down the trucks’ components, grooving them until the trucks loose their responsiveness. The drop in performance is small, but it is noticeable. To eliminate the issue, simply swap the trucks’ positions from time to time.
When you have the trucks off the deck, take the opportunity to inspect them thoroughly. Check the condition of the bushings and the pivot bushing. Look around the pivot for any hairline cracks, and do the same with the baseplate. Better to discover damages now, than to have a catastrophic failure when you’re bombing a hill.
Don’t forget the bushings
Even trucks that are well-cared for will develop issues over time. Usually, these problems occur at the bushings, which are the urethane grommets stacked on the kingpin.
The bushings cushion turns and keep the board going in a straight line when there is no input (lean). As they age, the bushings can develop low spots on the sides where the hanger squeezes them. To combat this, simply roll each bushing 90 degrees.
Another problem that bushings sometimes present is splitting or cracking. When this occurs, your longboard will likely not roll in a straight line, seeming to turn on its own without any input. Bushing wear of this type is usually the result of over tightening the bushings. Tighten the kingpin nut so that you can still lean the board sideways to turn. Overly tightened trucks may feel secure, but the lack of steering is dangerous.
Part 4: The Wheels
Whether you like to kick out into slides or you just like carving and cruising, the wheels on your longboard will never wear completely evenly. Most longboarders have their preferences when it comes to turning and sliding.