What are bearing spacers and speed washers?

January 12, 2023 | Skateboarding
Bearing spacers and speed washers: they improve the skateboarding experience and performance | Photo: Fireball

Bearing spacers and speed washers are underrated skateboard hardware items that can improve the overall riding feel and extend the lifetime of your equipment.

But the classic question remains. Do you really need spacers and washers?

Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends - a skateboard is a sum and fine-tuning of its multiple parts.

But first, let's learn what they do for your riding experience and gear and if they're worth it.

Speed Washers

Speed washers: the reduce friction inflicted to bearings

Washers, known as speed rings, are small and thin pieces of metal, usually made of aluminum or steel.

They play an essential role in reducing friction between the trucks, the bearings, and the wheel nuts altogether.

As a result, they help keep the wheels tightened and secure so that all parts of the skateboard stay solid and firm while rolling or doing tricks.

Also, they prevent wheels from getting stuck when the nuts are too tightened and reduce stress on bearings and the truck hanger's axle.

The washers have the exact size of the bearings' inner axles.

They are not critical to skateboard riding, but they make your equipment last longer and could improve performance and speed.

Speed washers can be added at any time to your riding kit, even though they are not mandatory.

They help the skateboard stay together by providing extra stability and preventing the nuts and bolts from loosening over time.

Skateboard washers have many benefits, including:

  • Protect the parts of the skateboard from rust, which can weaken the metal and cause the parts to break;
  • Keep the nuts, bolts, and screws from coming loose, which can cause the skateboard to become unsafe to ride;
  • Reduce friction between the truck and the bearings;
  • Increase skateboard stability and overall riding feel;

Bearing Spacers

Bearing spacers: they keep wheels and bearings tight and snug

Bearing spacers are small metal cylinders that are placed in between the bearings of a wheel.

They serve a particular purpose - keeping the wheel working correctly.

When a skateboard wheel spins, it needs to turn around a central axle that holds it in place.

The bearings are small metal circles on the sides of the wheel, and they help the wheel turn smoothly around the axle.

Sometimes, the wheel hardly spins if the axle is tightened too much.

Spacers help prevent this problem by sitting between the bearings and taking the pressure off the tightening axle.

They also help to evenly distribute the weight on the bearings, making the wheel spins even better.

In this way, bearing spacers help ensure that the wheels are free to rotate and not be hindered by the frame, thereby increasing the performance of the skateboard.

You may find different types of bearing spacers with different sizes, shapes, and materials, but they all work the same way to keep your wheels spinning smoothly.

When the spacers are properly installed, they can reduce friction and provide a more stable and responsive ride.

The wheels will also sit comfortably and snugly in the truck.

To use spacers, you need to remove the nuts that hold the wheels in place, then place a spacer between the bearing.

The benefits of using bearing spacers on a skateboard include the following:

  • Stabilizing the axles and wheels: Spacers help to keep the axles and wheels of the skateboard in proper alignment, which can help to maintain the integrity of these parts and improve the overall stability of the board. This can be especially beneficial when riding on rough surfaces, as it can help to reduce shaking and vibrations in the wheels;
  • Increasing the life of the bearings: By evenly distributing the weight of the rider on the bearings, spacers can help to reduce wear and tear on them and prolong their life;
  • Enhancing skating speed: By reducing friction and vibrations in the wheels, spacers can also help to increase the speed at which a rider can skate;
  • Perfect for longboards: Spacers can be especially beneficial for longboards as it helps to decrease the shaking of wheels and make the longboard more stable, which is necessary for cruising, traveling, or downhill skating;
  • Heat-resistant construction: Some spacers are made with heat-resistant construction, which ensures durability and good performance even in hot conditions;

You should try using a spacer and washer set together so you have everything you need for a smooth ride in one package.

How to Install Spacers and Washers in Your Skateboard

Installing speed washers and bearing spacers is easy.

By ensuring that washers and spacers are correctly installed and maintaining them over time, you can make the most of their benefits and prolong the life of your bearings, wheels, and trucks.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Remove the wheel from the skateboard;

  2. Remove both bearings from the wheel;

  3. Insert a speed washer in the hanger's axle;

  4. Insert a bearing in the hanger's axle;

  5. Insert a spacer in the hanger's axle;

  6. Insert the wheel and press until the bearing and spacer are mounted;

  7. Remove the wheel;

  8. Insert the second bearing in the hanger's axle;

  9. Insert the wheel and press until the second bearing is mounted;

  10. Insert the second washer;

  11. Put the nut and tighten the wheel;

In the end, you'll have a washer, followed by a bearing, a spacer, another bearing, another washer, and a nut.