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How Tight Do My Skateboard Wheels Need to Be?
Over-tightening your skateboard wheels reduces speed, hinders performance, and can even prevent the wheel from spinning entirely.
Wheels too loose? Then you run into the dangerous chance of the axle nut falling off, followed by your wheel, followed by a run-in with your skin on the concrete. Yeah, eating it is part of skateboarding, but in this instance, we can avoid it!
So, how tight should my skateboard wheels be? I gotcha covered, my salty people!
And if you missed it, check out my guide to skateboard wheels for the entire run-down on the subject, including how to size skateboard wheels, hard wheels versus soft, and tons more.
How Many Wheels On a Skateboard
There's four wheels on a skateboard, connected to each side of your two skateboard trucks via an axle nut. This means you'll have to check each axle nut independently to ensure every wheel is tightened correctly, aka, four times!
How to Tell if Skateboard Wheels are Too Tight/Loose
You first need to know how to spot when skateboard wheels are too tight or loose to know when they need adjustments, and it's ridiculously easy to do so.
Give your wheel a spin with your hands. If the wheel doesn't spin at all or spins for a very short time, then chances are your wheel has been tightened too far.
The only other cause for unresponsive wheels would be rusted bearings (indicative of a skateboard damaged by water), so if the wheels don't spin better after they're loosened, you'll need to look into a bearing cleaner or new bearings.
TIP: Don't use WD-40! Try this, instead.
On the other end, your skateboard wheel is too loose if you can move the axle nut with your fingers or if the wheel noticeably wiggles back and forth on the truck's axle when you tug on it.
If you're skating and things feel wobbly, it's most likely from loose trucks, but it could also be from a loose wheel, so always stop and give them a run down.
So, How Tight Should My Wheels Be?
The perfect wheel tightness is the point at which the wheels are fully and safely secured to the axle but with just enough leeway to allow the bearings to spin freely. When you spin the wheel with your hand, it should fly around that axle beautifully and uninterrupted. With good, clean bearings, we're talking for a minute on a single spin!
To make sure the axle nut is tight enough, it should appear, feel, and be tight on the axle. You shouldn't be able to move the axle nut with your fingers.
When you jiggle the wheel, it shouldn't move more than about the thickness of a 5c coin- as in, just enough room to where the bearing isn't pressed against the axle and can therefore move freely but attached safely and secured.
How to Tighten Skateboard Wheels
To tighten your skateboard wheel, you're either going to need a skate tool or an axle nut socket. Place the wheel on the truck, sliding the truck's axle through the bearings, then add your washer, and begin by hand tightening the axle nut towards the right. Repeat with all four wheels!
Most every skateboard truck axle is 8mm, which means axle nuts with 5/16" threads, so if you don't have a skate tool, you'll need a socket set that fits this size to finish tightening the wheels.
1. Start by Tightening The Axle Nut Completely
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I like to start by tightening the axle nut completely down until the bearing is pushed against the axle. This means tightening the nut until it takes noticeable pressure to continue. Basically, when you spin the wheel, it shouldn't move! This creates a great starting point and ensures the bearings are secured in the wheel.
2. Slowly Loosen the Axle Nut
Now, you should begin to loosen each axle nut with small rotations. After a small rotation to the left, spin the wheel. Doesn't move yet? Loosen it more and spin it again.
Now the skateboard wheel spins just a little? You're almost there! Keep going with the ultra tiny adjustment until, alas, you've reached the magic spot, and the wheel can rotate freely!
3. Practice Consistent Maintenance
After a couple of sessions, take a few seconds to check your wheels and all other hardware to ensure everything is tight and working right. It'll save ya an annoying trip to the skate shop or a bloody knee, that's for sure.
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Live rad, stay salty.
- Ash, Dev & The Salty Shreds Fam.