Sometimes you’re pushing your skateboard or cruiser and something feel off. It feels sluggish, requires more effort to keep your speed, and slows down sooner than it used to. Those who just bought new wheels or even a complete skateboard might wonder how to increase the speed without sacrificing stability.
Here are 9 ways to make your skateboard go faster:
- Maintain your bearings regularly
- Get larger wheels
- Get quality bearings
- Use harder wheels
- Ride a smoother surface
- Push your skateboard properly
- Learn how to pump
- Remove the shields from your bearings
- Loosen the truck axle nuts
Now before you go out and buy new gear to speed up your skateboard, make sure to read the rest of the article. Sometimes the solution isn’t as simple as it looks. Very loose trucks, for example, can cause speed wobbles and get you thrown of your board. How fast your skateboard can go depends on the setup.
How To Make Your Skateboard Go Faster
There are a couple of caveats which I’ll cover in this article. Getting harder wheels will make your skateboard go faster on smooth and hard surfaces, but slower on rough roads. Quality bearings matter to some extent, but buying ceramic bearings is quite pointless.
So let’s look at the solutions and find out when they work, and when they don’t. Let’s start with bearing maintenance.
1. Maintain Your Bearings Properly
The fastest bearing is a new skateboard bearing, or a well maintained skateboard bearing. Even though the wheels are the main factor when it comes to skateboard speed, rusty old bearings really slow it down.
When you ride dusty or wet areas your bearings should be cleaned regularly. If you neglect to do so they will deteriorate. Bearings aren’t the most expensive part of your skateboard, but replacing them every 3 months is a waste of money.
In order to clean your bearings you need to remove them from the wheels. Depending if you have open or closed bearings, remove the shield with a thumbtack.
- Get isopropyl alcohol (nail polish remover also works) and place the bearings in a plastic container, preferably with a lid.
- Add the alcohol solution to the container and make sure the bearings are submerged.
- Let them rest for 15 minutes
- Shake the container around to remove the dirt and dust.
- Place the bearings on a paper towel so the residual alcohol and dirt gets absorbed. Wrap them and shake them inside the paper towel. Remove the rest of the dirt by hitting the bearing on the paper one by one.
- Dry the bearings and add a couple of drops of silicon lubricant, like Bones Speed Cream.
Note that as soon as you cleaned your bearings for the first time, you need to do it more often. The alcohol often removes the grease which will increase friction. Adding a few drops of silicon lube will help to avoid cleaning them every month and keeps them roll smoothly.
2. Get Larger Wheels
When it comes to how fast your skateboard is, wheels are the most important factor. Larger diameter wheels accelerate slower but will make you go faster when you’re up to speed. Small street skating wheels (usually between 48mm and 53mm) aren’t as fast as large 56mm-60mm wheels, depending on the surface you ride and their hardness.
Here’s a graphic that shows the correlation between diameter and speed. Here’s how it works:
Larger wheels have more leverage against the trucks axle. They will overcome the axle friction faster compared to smaller wheels. The bigger the wheel, the further away the edge it is from the axle. The increased distance give the wheel more leverage when it rotates.
When, for example, you ride a BMX bike (smaller wheels) you’ll notice that you accelerate fast but have limited speed. A mountain bike with larger wheels covers more distance with each rotation. The same principle applies to skateboard wheels. You will cover a larger area with less rotations and less axle friction.
Before you decide to slap 65mm wheels on your skateboard, think again. While it will make your skateboard faster, it will be hard to do technical tricks. If you own a cruiser or longboard, bigger wheels might be a good idea.
As a street or park skateboarder going from 49mm to 53mm can already make a huge difference. This won’t affect your ability to do tricks but will give you more speed. Keep in mind that hardness (durometer) and the surface you ride also play a part, more about that later.
3. Get Quality Bearings
While some websites recommend ceramic bearings to try to earn a commission, I would advice against buying them. Ceramic bearings are a waste of money and will not make you go noticeably faster.
I do recommend buying quality skateboard bearings from reputable brands like Bones or Bronson. The most important thing is to avoid no name bearings under $10. new bearings are always super fast, but depending on the quality, the become slower over time.
I recently skated new cheap Mini Logo bearings and they are just as fast as my ceramics. Sure Mini Logo bearings will quickly become slower, while more expensive bearings will give you the needed speed for a much longer time.
More expensive bearings like Bones Super Swiss or Bronson G3 just last longer than standard Reds or G2’s. They deal better with impacts than cheap bearings and require less maintenance.
4. Get Harder Wheels
If you ride concrete skate parks or smooth hard surfaces make sure to get harder wheels. I know my Bones SPF 84B wheels are ridiculously fast on concrete, where my 97A spitfire Full Conicals are more grippy and noticeably slower.
If you ride concrete skate parks, check how soft your wheels are. It could be that your wheels are just to sticky and slow down faster when you push your skateboard. If you ride rougher surfaces you will benefit more from a softer wheel, there is a balance when it comes to hard vs soft wheels.
Usually 99A is a safe bet, the are still fast enough for skate parks and deal better on slightly grittier surfaces. They won’t bounce around when you work on your technical tricks, and still provide the needed speed. Let’s dive more into this subject.
5. Ride a Smoother Surface
Ever tried to ride on gritty asphalt with hard wheels? It’s absolutely a terrible experience, it will vibrate so much that you’ll almost lose your dental fillings. It’s hard to balance on your skateboard and you’ll slow down right after you push. The rougher the surface, the more resistance limiting how fast you can go.
Rough surfaces require softer wheels that absorb vibrations, a slighly larger (and softer wheel) will also make your ride much more comfortable. For those that don’t have access to a skate park and crappy pavements or roads, a softer and bigger wheel will make your skateboard go faster.
6. Improve Your Pushing Technique
Sometimes improving your pushing technique will make you go faster. Even your skateboard stance can make a difference. Mongo pushing a skateboard ,for example, will cause you to lose balance and requires more time to accelerate.
Make sure when you push, your push foot is actually making you go forward efficiently. If you use your entire foot when you push forward you will actually slow down. Often new skater put to much weight on their push foot when making contact with the ground. Only use the front part of your foot to push, and avoid stomping the ground. By just pushing with the toe area you will go faster.
7. Learn How To Pump
For those who love to skate transition, speed is vital. Properly pushing is one thing, pumping at the right time will make your board go faster and helps to keep momentum.
Pumping is all about timing and finding the right angle. Make sure you bend your knees when you hit the sweet spot of a transition and extend your knees. This will give you a speed boost if you time it correctly. It requires practice but it isn’t hard to learn.
Just start on smaller object like a bank or medium quarter, from there you could try to pump a bowl. Ask your peers for tips, and try to observe and learn.
8. Remove the Shields From Your Bearings
A while ago I noticed a trend where skaters removed the shield from their bearings. According to them is makes bearings faster and increases the speed of your skateboard.
This only works when the shields are bent inward and rubbing against the ball bearings causing friction. When you decide to remove the shields from your bearings be aware that dirt will build up quicker. This will require to clean your bearings more often because dirt and dust will have an easier time getting in because there is a bigger gap.
9. Don’t Over-Tighten The Axle Nut
Lastly, check if your wheels still have room to spin and use speedwashers to reduce friction. If you don’t use speedwashers, the axle nut will sit directly on top of the bearing which causes a lot of friction.
Not only does is slow down your skateboard, it can also damage your bearings making your skateboard even slower. Don’t forget to add spacers between the bearings, while they don’t contribute to speed, the do prevent you from crushing your bearings when tightening the axle nut.
Skateboards have a speed limit depending on the type of setup, sometimes a skateboard is slow because of gear issues. With just a few simple tweaks you can already significantly increase the speed of your skateboard. Sometimes it’s about getting better gear or proper maintenance, but don’t rule out your technique.
Pushing the right way, pumping a transition at the right time, and even your stance can affect how fast you ride.
It might take some time to find a balance between speed, the right wheel size, and the area you skate. Try some setups from friends and see if you notice a difference before you decide to buy new gear.