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Old June 20th, 2015, 02:40 AM   #25
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Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 17

Originally Posted by matguy View Post
I would say both of those are pretty thick for a skate bearing. I know, I said grease probably slows a small enough amount that you wouldn't notice, but now I'm saying a thicker oil is too thick... But, it's the way they end up working when getting worked through the bearing. A grease, when applied correctly, should lightly cover the contact surfaces and then get stuck in non-contact areas; only spreading when the bearing heats up. An oil is constantly viscous, so it'll always move around, so it won't just stick in the non-contact areas. It is coating everything all the time and adding its drag as it flows through the cages and races. The thicker the oil, the more drag.

The theory that a good race oil for bikes is good for skating isn't fully sound since most bike bearings (other than the chain tensioners on a derailleur) spin pretty slow compared to the speed a skate bearing spins. Outdoor skaters can often go pretty close to a bicyclist's speed (well, a real good skater against a decent bicyclist, and for our purposes it's close enough.) Compare wheel sizes. The circumference of a (20") bicycle wheel is about 5 times longer than an inline speed skater's wheel. 8.5 times a PowerPlus wheel (random good quad speed wheel.) That means that your skate wheel spins about 8.5 times for each rotation of a bicycle wheel, so the drag from bearings makes a bigger difference for us.

You're certainly not doing any damage by using such a thick oil, but you're not getting the spin you seem to be after, either. While that kind of illustrates my point about what we actually notice from a bearing, I would use a thin oil.

Now, on the other hand, don't use a temporary lubricant like WD40. Sure, it'll spin great for a short amount of time, but WD40 breaks down quickly and doesn't keep lubricating.

I use TriFlow, though there are lots of thin oils that work well (it was what my local store had when I bought the can... about 10 years ago.)

Also, you don't need much at all, especially if you're cleaning and lubing often. Just a couple small drips on to the race of each bearing is usually perfect. You should be able to hear the "Skssss" sound of a dry bearing being spun in your hand quiet down with as little oil as possible. I use the pick side of the little plastic dental floss/picks to drop in a little dab directly on to the races, push the nylon cage/retainer out of the way if needed.

Too much oil and it'll just leak out and get all over your wheels. If you're lucky it'll just make your hubs greasy, otherwise it can get on your wheels and the floor. Or it'll leak in your skate bag; that's always fun.

If you do put too much in (or just worry that you might have), wipe them down with a paper towel (or rag you don't care about; wife reaction may vary) you can lay them flat on a chunk of thick cardboard, open side down, and see which ones leaked (you might want to put it on a plate or something if there's a possibility it might leak through.) If there's a leak spot under a bearing, that was too much. If the leak spot is larger than the bearing or even still shiny, you put in way too much.
Thank you for all the tips. I'll look into getting some 0w20 oil, that should do it.. The Phil Wood works awesome on my bikes, but I do see your point about the rotation speed. I use 2 drops per bearing, I put one on each side and then let it work itself in from there. I barely use any at all. I'm not trying to get a super spin from them, just a little better than grease while still making sure I am not wearing the bearing out.
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