Why Are My Skateboard Wheels Slow? (Reasons And Solutions)

Your skateboard is likely to be slower at one point or another. At that time, you will be wondering why are my skateboard wheels slow and how can I fix them. While the solution is simple, there could be a number of reasons for that to happen. Most of the time, the issue can be easily solved by replacing wheels or bearings. However, there are also other factors that could be causing this. So, if you are feeling frustrated for not getting the needed speed while skating, keep reading to find the reasons as well as the solutions.

Why are my skateboard wheels slow and how can I fix it?

how to fix slow skateboard wheels

Having a sluggish skateboard is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if it is affecting your skating abilities or you want more speed from your skateboard, this can be quite annoying. Don’t worry, the problem is not so hard to fix. Keep reading, and you should be able to find the solution to your problem. 

Clean your wheels bearings if they are dirty 

how to clean skateboard wheels and bearings

If you have purchased a used skateboard or have been skating for a while, you may want to clean your skateboard’s bearings to solve the slow wheel issue. Or you can replace them entirely if necessary. 

Dirt, as well as dust, accumulates and creates friction, which makes the skateboard slower. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much dirt has buildup on your bearings until you clean them. 

You may not need the costliest bearings there are, but you do need quality bearings because quality matters. It does make a difference. 

Cleaning your bearings is quite an easy task and takes about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the method you use. Follow these steps to clean your bearings. 

Required tools: 

  • Razor blade, toothpick, or thumbtack
  • Plastic container with lid
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Paper towel
  • A ½” wrench or skate tool

Follow these steps: 

  1. Take off the wheels and remove the bearings using the truck axle.
  2. If the bearings are shielded, then you can pop them with a razor blade, thumbtack, or toothpick. 
  3. Put Isopropyl alcohol in a lidded container and soak the bearings in it. You can even use nail polish remover. 
  4. Leave them to soak for about 15 to 30 minutes and in the meantime, gently shake them. 
  5. Take the bearings out of the container and wrap them with a paper towel. Then, firmly shake them to get rid of the residual dirt. 
  6. Apply two or three drops of Bones speed cream or silicon lube
  7. Affix the shields and put in the bearings on your wheels. 
  8. Take a few spins with your wheels to allow the silicon lube to spread evenly.   

This should make your skateboard faster and you will be able to notice the difference. Repeat this cleaning every 3 months to keep your skateboard at top speed. 

Your skateboard wheels are wrong for the surface

Small and super hard wheels won’t go fast on rough terrains. Skate parks and concrete terrains are ideal for them. 

You should consider getting softer wheels if you are riding on rough roads. This will enable your wheels to absorb bumps and shocks your skateboard encounter when you ride. A slightly softer and larger wheel can also make a big difference. 

If you ride 99A+ wheels on wood or concrete, you will be able to go fast but if you ride with soft 92A wheels on the same terrain, you won’t go as fast. Soft wheels will make you slow as they stick to the surface. However, riding with them is more comfortable, so you need to consider what you want and find a proper balance. 

The Axle Nut could be too tight 

The axle nut on your skateboard could be tight, and this might be the reason you are running slow. While it is easy to tighten the skateboard truck axle, you may have gone too far. 

If the axle nut is over-tightened, it pinches the bearings, which causes a lot of friction and could even damage the bearings. 

Related skateboard bearing lifespan: How long do skateboard bearings last?

Loosen them a bit to allow the wheels to spin without restrictions. Give them a spin and see how long they keep going. They don’t have to run for a minute but at least more than 20 seconds would be ideal. 

Ensure that there are spaces between the bearings. So that when you will attach the axle nut, they won’t get crushed. 

When attaching the axle nut, halt whenever you find resistance. See if you can generate proper spin on the wheels. If you can, it should be fine. But if they are not making a proper spin, turn your skate tool slightly clockwise. This will give your wheels some room to spin. 

The wheel size is wrong 

Typically, a bigger wheel covers more ground in fewer rotations than a smaller wheel. So, you will be going faster with a bigger wheel. However, don’t overdo it. You can add longboard wheels to your skateboard but attaching big 75mm wheels aren’t ideal for skateboarding. 

And if you want to do the usual or even advanced skateboard tricks, you want to stay below 56mm. For flat ground and technical street skating, 56mm is already more than enough. If you want more speed, the better option would be 54mm. 

Bigger skateboard wheels are loved by bowl riders as it allows them to gain lots of speed and keep their momentum. Bowl riders also ride 60mm wheels. 58mm or larger wheels are also used by Vert skaters because they provide more speed and they want it. 

60m to 70mm wheels can make a difference if you are looking for a comfortable skating experience. 

Your wheels need to be replaced

You already know that smaller wheels can slow down your skateboard significantly and if the urethane of your wheels is mostly gone, you might want to replace the wheels of the skateboard. 

Since wheels wear out gradually, you might even fail to notice that your skateboard has become slower than before due to this. You start riding with 56mm wheels, but it may become 45mm wheels after a while of riding. 

What you can do to avoid this is to invert the placement of the wheel and cross-swap them regularly. This will protect one or two wheels from wearing out too fast, so there won’t be a huge size difference and unstable rides. 

And if they wear out, your wheels will become smaller and skateboard slower. This will require you to push harder and more often to maintain speed. Also, see if there are any flat spots on your wheels. 

Feeling a bit bumpy on your rides or feeling something stuck under the wheels could mean you have flat spots. They cause discomfort and can be the reason for more friction. Plus, it can even make your skateboard slower. However, flat spots don’t typically affect your speed, unless the situation is really bad. 

Not using speed washers

Tiny rings outside of your bearings are called speed washers. They assist to decrease friction between the axle nut and axle. In addition, they reduce the build-up of heat and prevent the wearing out of your bearings. 

If you are not using speed washers, you might not tighten the axle enough, resulting in slower rides. Speed washers come with trucks and they are really cheap. But, they are really small, so it is not uncommon to displace them. 

Some cheaper skateboard models don’t have speed washers. So, if you also are not equipped with speed washers, purchase a set. You only need a few seconds to put them in. 

  • Over the truck axle, put a speed washer.
  • Now, put the wheel.
  • Put one more speed washer.
  • Tense the axle nut. 

Once you feel any sort of resistance, avoid turning the skate tool. Once you do, slightly turn the skate tool counterclockwise. This will allow your wheels to spin freely. 

Wrong bearings 

You don’t need to have the most high-end bearings, but you might have chosen cruiser or longboard bearings. Bearings such as Zealous are good for cruising and longboarding but not so ideal for skateboarding. 

They build up speed slower and you need bearings that can pick up the speed faster for skateboarding. Once you get the speed, they are more capable of keeping the momentum better than skateboard bearings such as Bronson or Bones. 

When you are riding in smaller parks, these types of bearings can frustrate you because there isn’t enough space to ride up to your best speed. 

Just purchase the typical skateboard bearings. Add spacers to them. Also, avoid getting no-name brands. 

Final thoughts

If you were wondering why are my skateboard wheels slow, now you know what could be the reasons and how you can fix them. It is mostly dependent on the parts you pick. Sometimes you don’t have a say in that, but it can make your skateboard wheels slower. The most common problem that makes the wheels slower are the dirty bearings, so first check that and try the solution before you try any other.