The first time I used a spacer on one of my skateboards was after I received my pair of Surf Rodz TKP. They provide four spacers as well as eight bearing with their set of trucks. I usually wouldn’t have used them but as there was no “speed rings” on the trucks I though they must have been designed to be used with spacers. As I felt that Surf Rodz know what they are doing I used them. And now I’m using spacers on each of my wheels, here is why.
What are spacers ?
Bearing spacers are simply little metal tubes that goes on the axles, between the two bearings. They exist in different sizes, but most are 8mm long on street wheels and 10mm long on longboard wheels. They have a very simple function: they prevent the bearing from being squeezed when the nut is tightened. If they are correctly sized, they allow the bearing to sit parallel one to another.
Why is it nice ?
The best thing about it, in my opinion is that it is way easier to install wheels on my trucks. With no spacer, I’ll have to put the wheel and tighten the nut until the wheels doesn’t have enough space to wiggle but not too tight or the bearing won’t roll anymore. Sometime a wheel won’t be tight enough and then it will slide from side to side as you roll, or sometime it will be too tight and the wheel will be slowed down… With bearing spacers I don’t have to think, I put the wheel, tighten the nut and then It’s down. The wheel doesn’t wiggle at all and the bearing is rolling freely.
As they prevent the wheel form wiggling and ensure that the wheel is well fixed to the truck, they can be useful in many situations. For street or bowl skateboarding, they add stability and precision. For freeriding and downhill longboarding they can also prevent bearing wearing. The bearings should now be working in optimal conditions and spacers are making slide less stressful for bearings.
I find them particularly useful for LDP (Long Distance Pumping) because I put a lot of lateral pressure on the bearing and so lateral stability is greatly appreciated (wearing the bearing slower is also very nice). They make the trucks feel tighter and transitions from one side to another are smoother.
Should you use bearing spacers too ?
I definitely think you should. Some bearing companies offers them with their bearings, such as Bones Swiss and if you don’t have some, you can buy them for practically nothing and you can keep them forever. I don’t see any downside so I think you should at least try it. I don’t understand why so few people are using them. Maybe there are so downside I haven’t yet experienced ?
If you are using bearing spacers and think they are great too, or if you think they are unusefull/harmfull , please share you experiences bellow in the comments. I’m really interested in what other skateboards feel about them.