February 15, 2019/ / ARTICLES/ Comments: 28

The mark of a true skateboarder is less about ability, personality, or style, than it is about whether or not you tweak your setup.

It’s usually small things, like using three bolts on a truck instead of four, rubbing down the grip tape with leftover scraps to make it less sticky, and popping off bearing shields to not let dirt get stuck inside (or just make ’em louder). But for the real heads, the gear hacks go much deeper. (Like, QAnon-level deepness.)

So we hit up a bunch of skaters, TMs, and random people in the industry to find out the weirdest, most galaxy brain enhancements. If you’ve ever wondered which tricks you might be missing out on to get the most out of your setup, or whether there’s anything you can do to actually skate well, give some of these a try.

No guarantees, but at least you’ll look like you know some shit!

NOTE: Some of these methods sound too weird to be true, but all of them are supposedly 100% real.

Melted Laces

Shoe laces are the only things that break more often than boards, but there is a way to add some protection up front.

After you lace up your shoes, briefly take a lighter to the exposed areas that are going to scrape against the board. By lightly melting the nylon fibers in the laces, they’ll harden and become more durable. Not sure if lighting the rest of your shoes on fire will also give them +5 Defense but it’s worth a shot.

(from Mark Suciu)


If rubbing dirt into a freshly gripped board seems counterintuitive, you’re not alone. Toy Machine TM Mike Sinclair described it as “quite possibly one of the dumbest things [he has] ever seen.” But there is some logic behind it.

Rather than use spare scraps of grip tape to “sand” down a fresh board that feels too sticky, Billy Marks prefers to soften his grip with dirt. His patented method – throw dirt on top, shake off, and repeat – is easy enough for anyone to follow. Just be sure to do this before attaching trucks so you don’t gunk up the rest of your shit (like we did).

(from Billy Marks via Mike Sinclair)

Shoe Torture

By microwaving your shoes, you can bend the rubber in the sole and walk around in it while it’s more flexible, helping it stretch out around your foot and feel worn in in a matter of minutes, rather than days or weeks.

If your shoes have metal eyelets you might think of heating them in a 350° preheated oven, but you’ll probably end up melting them. For shoes with metal parts, better to just nuke them on multiple, really short increments (2-4 sec at a time).

The other method is to lay your shoes in the street and slowly drive over them with a car. This loosens the rubber in a way that’s a little more akin to the twisting and bending you do when you’re skating, only a little less precise. It’s science, but not rocket science.

(from Thomas Barker)

Waxy Ollies

When people complain about rough ground, they’re usually talking about how annoying it is to roll around on cracks, rocks, and sand. But some claim that the imperfect ground hinders their pop.

According to ledge tech sorcerer Ronnie Creager, the solution is to wax the edges of the nose and tail where they hit the ground. This is supposed to help the board bounce more smoothly off the pebbles and pop higher, as if you were skating buttery warehouse cement.

Other pros we talked to thought this idea was too far-fetched to work, but actually, it might just be crazy enough to work.

(from Ronnie Creager via Joey Brezinski)

Bush Maintenance

All bushings eventually get warped, and no amount of manhandling the trucks or doing more turns in on direction or the other will bring them back to normal.

To keep his board riding straight, Mark Suciu said he likes to take the bushings out every once in a while, rotate them around 180°, and put them back in. Then they get warped on the other side and even out. Sounds good, but like most skaters I’m too lazy to do anything more scientific with my trucks than bash them against the ground like a caveman.

(from Mark Suciu)

Gasoline Bearings

We’ve heard of skaters pouring hot tea directly into their bearings when it’s so cold out that their bearings start to freeze up, but this tip from Felipe Gustavo is some new-new.

When Felipe sets up a new pair of bearings, he said he first fills up a cup with gasoline and drops each bearing in to get them fully coated. Then he takes them out to dry, dips them in fresh gasoline a second time, and throws them in his wheels.

Surprisingly, Felipe said he does this not for speed, but to make them sound louder and “more raw.” Amazing what skaters will go through to completely unnecessarily mess with their gear.

(from Felipe Gustavo)

Hidden Hardware

Although some consider it a rookie move, it’s not uncommon for pros to apply their grip over the bolts. Omar Salazar has even talked openly about doing it, but it was never clear why anyone would do this. Less wear on your shoes by not sliding over metal screw heads? Faster set up time? Just hate screws?

Mark’s answer was the most honest we’d come across. He said he used to grip over the bolts simply because he liked the way it looked: “ninja style.” Alrighty then…

(from Mark Suciu)

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  1. That one guy

    February 15, 2019 2:41 pm

    I don’t know if this falls under “gear hack” but didn’t Daewon Song make certain adjustments to his bushings or something?

  2. AJ

    February 16, 2019 9:09 am

    I use 100% acetone nail polish remover to clean my bearings. It’s $2 at Walmart for a bottle. Drop them in, leave them for a few, tap the dirt out, redo with fresh cleaner and then dry them before setting them back up. Gets rid of rust too.

    • Name*

      February 16, 2019 11:26 am

      i use lighter fluid. car mechanics use that stuff to clean engines sometimes, make em nice and shiny. that’s where I got the idea.

  3. sebtonc mesflunts

    February 16, 2019 11:38 am

    1) kris markovich, re. microwaving thy shoes.
    2) grip over bolts = obnoxious as f**k!

  4. Circle to circle

    February 16, 2019 6:06 pm

    I take the extra grip and sand all over, so the grip isn’t as grippy. Kickflips on a new set up would always catch my toe on the corner of the nose when flicking. Also, as a bonus, when you sand all over, it shows you where any air bubbles are.

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