Over time, your skateboard will become slower and usually the solution is quite simple. Even though replacing bearings or wheels often solves the problem, there could be other factors that come into play. Not getting the needed speed can be frustrating, especially in confined skate parks or when you just want to go for a long cruise.
Here are the most common reasons your skateboard is slow:
- You need to clean your bearings
- The axle nut blocks your wheels
- The surface is unsuitable for your wheels
- You picked the wrong wheel size
- Your wheels need to be replaced
- You have a low-quality skateboard
- You pushing with all your weight
- You’re missing speed washers
- You Push Mongo
- You got the wrong bearings
We’re going through all the common problems one by and obviously looking at workable solutions. Sometimes it is just one issue, but it also can be a combination of factors that slow down your skateboard.
- Why Your Skateboard Is Slow and How to Fix It
- 1. You Need To Clean Your Dirty Bearings
- 2. The Axle Nut is Too Tight
- 3. You Ride the Wrong Wheels on the Wrong Surface
- 4. You Picked the Wrong Wheel Size
- 5. Your Need To Replace Your Wheels
- 6. You Have a Low Quality Skateboard
- 7. You Push With All Your Weight
- 8. You Didn’t Use Speed Washers
- 9. You Push Mongo
- 10. You Got the Wrong Bearings
Why Your Skateboard Is Slow and How to Fix It
Having a slow skateboard might not always be a bad thing until it affects your skating abilities. Slowing down too fast before you kickflip a bank can be frustrating, but often the problem is easy to fix. I started with the most common problem and added a few that are less obvious.
1. You Need To Clean Your Dirty Bearings
If you have been skating for some time or bought a used skateboard, the bearings might need some good cleaning or be replaced entirely.
Dirt and dust buildup and cause friction, resulting in a slower skateboard. Sometimes you don’t even notice how much dirty bearings slow down your skateboard until you cleaned them or even replace them entirely.
While you don’t need top-notch skateboard bearings, quality bearings make a difference. Cleaning is quite simple and takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on which method you use. Here’s how you clean your dirty bearings:
- Thumbtack, razor blade, or tooth pick
- paper towel
- Plastic container with a lid
- Isopropyl alcohol
- A skate tool or 1/2″ wrench
- Take off your wheels and use the truck axle to remove your bearings, this is the easiest way.
- If you have shielded bearings, pop them with a thumbtack, razor blade, or even a toothpick.
- Put them in a container with preferably a lid and soak them in isopropyl alcohol. Nail polish remover also works.
- Leave them for 15 to 30 minutes and after that, gently shake them around.
- Place the bearings on a paper towel, wrap them, and shake it firmly to remove the residual dirt.
- Apply silicon lube or Bones Speed Cream, just a few drops (2 or 3) are fine.
- Attach the shields and insert them in your wheels.
- Give your wheels a few spins so the silicon lube can spread around evenly.
This should fix the issue and make your skateboard faster. You will notice the difference, make sure to repeat this process every 3 months or so.
There is a downside to cleaning your bearings. Skateboard bearings come with a special grease and isopropyl alcohol will dissolve the grease partially. This means you need to lube your bearings regularly since the original grease is gone. Not a huge issue and better than buying new bearings every 3 months.
2. The Axle Nut is Too Tight
One of the most common problems is how tight the axle nut on your skateboard is. Tightening your skateboard truck axle is really simple, but you may have tightened them too much. When you over tighten the axle nut, it pinches the bearings causing lots of friction and might even damage your bearing.
Try to loosen them just a bit and see if your wheels can spin more freely. They don’t have to spin for minutes, but at least for longer than 20 seconds. Make sure you have spacers between the bearings to prevent them from being crushed when you attach the axle nut. You wouldn’t be the first to ruin a brand new bearing.
When you attach the axle nut, stop when you feel resistance. Check if the wheels can spin properly. If they do, you should be fine. If they don’t, turn your (skate) tool a tad counter clockwise to give the wheel some room to spin.
Cheap complete skateboards often have this problem, but just loosening up the axle nut a bit is probably not going to fix the problem with a cheap Amazon board, more about that later.
3. You Ride the Wrong Wheels on the Wrong Surface
This is a bit of a tough one because it’s hard for me to determine where you ride your skateboard. Keep in mind that super hard and small wheels won’t go fast on rough roads. They are better suited for (concrete) skate parks.
If you ride rough terrain, consider getting softer wheels. This will help to absorb all the shocks and bumps you encounter when riding your skateboard. A slightly larger (and softer) wheel could also make a huge difference. Check out my hard vs soft skateboard wheels article to learn more.
If you ride soft 92A wheels on concrete or wood, you won’t go as fast as someone who rides hard 99A+ wheels. Softer wheels stick to the surface and will slow you down. They offer a more comfortable ride, so you need to find a proper balance here.
4. You Picked the Wrong Wheel Size
Basically, a larger wheel requires fewer rotations and covers more ground compared to a smaller wheel. It will make you go faster, but you shouldn’t overdo it. While you can attach longboard wheels to a skateboard, huge 75mm wheels aren’t meant for skateboarding.
If you still want to do basic skateboard tricks or even advanced tricks, you don’t want to go over 56mm. 56mm is already a stretch for technical street skating and flat ground. You’ll be better off riding 54mm if you want more speed.
Bowl riders love bigger skateboard wheels because you need lots of speed and want to keep momentum. It’s not unheard of to ride 60mm wheels in a bowl or pool. Vert skaters also often ride 58mm wheels or bigger because you just need the speed to make it to the other side.
If you just want a comfortable ride and cruise around town, bigger wheels (60mm to 70mm really make a difference. If this is you, check out my best wheels for cruising article. These wheels will give you the speed you’re looking for. They also require riser pads.
5. Your Need To Replace Your Wheels
Closely related to the previous issue, smaller wheels slow down your skateboard a lot. In the image above, you can clearly see the urethane is mostly gone and it might be time to replace your skateboard wheels.
You might not even notice that your skateboard is a lot slower than it used to be because wheels wear gradually. you start with 56mm wheels but after a while you are left with 45mm wheels.
The best thing to prevent this is to cross swap and invert the wheel placement regularly. This will stop one or two wheels from wearing quickly, avoiding a huge size difference resulting in an unstable ride.
Here’s another example of a skateboard wheel that really needs to be replaced. A new wheel vs one that has hardly any life left. It won’t be hard to guess that the smaller wheel is much slower.
As aforementioned, a smaller wheel will make your skateboard significantly slower or at least require you to push more often and harder to maintain speed. Lastly, check your wheels for flat spots.
If your ride feels a bit bumpy or you feel like there is something stuck under your wheel, you could have a flat spot. They cause more friction and some discomfort and might even slow down your board. It’s a bit of a stretch though, flat spots shouldn’t noticeably affect speed unless it’s really bad.
6. You Have a Low Quality Skateboard
Every second a kid gets a crappy skateboard from their parents while believing they bought a great skateboard because of the 5-star rating on Amazon.
If you have a skateboard than came wrapped in plastic you’re one of the victims that got a cheap $30 skateboard. There is no single fix and you need to replace the parts slowly or get a new complete skateboard.
My suggestion here is to replace the wheels and bearings first, this will make a huge difference. Start saving money and slowly replace the rest of the skateboard parts. Once you replaced your skateboard deck, throw the crappy knock off in a bonfire. That’s probably the most joy you get out of it anyways.
Make sure to avoid the worst skateboard brands, it’s very frustrating to ride a mediocre skateboard and sometimes even dangerous.
7. You Push With All Your Weight
Sometimes your pushing technique can be the issue. In this case, it’s not your skateboard that is slow, it’s you pushing the wrong way. Beginners often stomp their push foot instead of gently pushing with the front area of your foot.
This means you transfer too much energy when you come in contact with the ground, resulting in less efficient pushing.
It could also be that you don’t extend your push leg enough. When you push you sort of simulate falling over slightly and extending you leg forward as much as possible. If you push the right way, it will make you go faster with less effort.
In order to push a skateboard properly do the following:
- Keep the toes of your front foot on or near the front bolts, the exact placement is personal preference.
- Take your back foot of your skateboard and place it ahead of your front foot. Further out is better if you can keep your balance.
- When you place your push foot ahead, make sure that you don’t touch the ground entirely, just the part like in the image above. Make sure you don’t put all your weight in it.
- Once you touched the ground gently, push yourself forward.
If you use too much energy on your push foot, you might actually slow down. You’ll lose momentum, not to mention it takes much more effort to push with all your weight on your back foot. Check this video by VL-Skate which explains how you push properly.
8. You Didn’t Use Speed Washers
Speed washers are tiny rings that you place on the outside of your bearings. They help to reduce friction between the axle and axle nut. They also reduce the build up of heat and prevent your bearings from wearing.
If you don’t use speed washers, you might tighten the axle not too much resulting in a slower ride. Speed washers are really cheap and come with your trucks. The problem is that it’s very easy to displace them because they are so small.
Another issue I noticed is that sometimes cheaper complete skateboards don’t have speed washers. Check if you have them. If not, make sure to get a set (8 to be exact), it only takes a few seconds to place them.
- Place a speed washer over the truck axle.
- Now place your wheel.
- Place another speed washer.
- Tighten the axle nut.
Stop turning your skate tool once you feel a bit of resistance. Once you do, turn your skate tool slightly counterclockwise to allow the wheels to spin freely.
9. You Push Mongo
Pushing mongo means you use your front foot to push while balancing on your back foot. It isn’t that bad, but looks a bit awkward and unstable. There are many reasons why pushing mongo on a skateboard is not advised. It’s easy to unlearn, but requires some practice.
It is a bit of a stretch because to conclude pushing mongo will make you go slower, but it does in certain circumstances. You can go full speed when pushing mongo when there is enough room to ride, at least when you are used to it.
Pushing mongo is very inefficient and requires more time to position yourself properly on your skateboard. Because it requires more time, you will have less time to get up to speed and do a trick. When the space is confined and only can push a few times before you reach an object, it will slow you down.
10. You Got the Wrong Bearings
While you don’t need super expensive bearings, you might have picked longboard or cruiser bearings. Bearings like Zealous are great for longboarding and cruising but not so much for skateboarding.
The thing is, they speed up slower and for skateboarding; you need bearings that accelerate fast. Once you’re up to speed, they are better able to keep their momentum compared to skateboard bearings like Bones or Bronson.
These types of bearings are frustrating when you ride in smaller parks and there isn’t much space to get up to speed. Just get regular skateboard bearings and don’t forget to add spacers. Avoid no name brands and preferably buy them at your local skate shop.
Getting the right skateboard setup for the right purpose takes some time to figure out. Sometimes your skateboard is super slow in a skate park, but fast on rough roads. It all depends on the parts you pick, and sometimes you didn’t even had a choice.
I hope I was able to help you out, the most common problem is dirty bearings, but there are way more options to make your skateboard faster.
Thanks for reading!
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.