Selecting skateboard bearings: types, characteristics, review
Any bearings for a skateboard determine the possibility of its movement. They are also responsible for the speed. Typically, skateboard bearings are supplied in a set of 8 pieces – two per wheel. In order to buy the right bearings for a skateboard, you should pay attention to its size. The standard parameters of this element include the size 8x22x7 mm or marking 608ZZ.
It is believed that ceramic skateboard bearings have greater speed and maintain it longer. However, they are somewhat more expensive than the classic steel options. Leading brands in the skate industry are improving bearing models every year, which increases their reliability and durability. To extend the life of bearings, they should be lubricated and cleaned regularly.
Often the catalog contains skateboard wheels with bearings, which allows you to choose a ready-made set with certain characteristics.
What is ABEC?
The ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) scale characterizes the quality and precision of ball bearing production. The higher the ABEC index, the higher the demands placed on the bearing production process.
Skateboard bearings are mainly found with the following markings:
- ABEC 3;
- ABEC 5;
- ABEC 7;
- ABEC 9.
It is very rare to find ABEC-1 (usually installed on the cheapest “kits from a sports store”) and ABEC-9 (this is rather exotic and has no practical basis – on a skateboard the difference between ABEC-7 and ABEC-9 is absolutely not felt).
These bearings are mainly used on skateboards for beginners. They are becoming less and less common on sale, as they do not provide the proper roll-up by modern skateboarding standards.
The advantages of these bearings include reliability and durability, as well as low price. But, if you still decide to buy inexpensive bearings, remember the disadvantages: the rotation speed is very low, the skateboard will quickly lose speed
The optimal choice for those who do not need extreme speed. Balanced ratio of price, speed, rotation duration. We recommend these bearings for beginner riders.
Also, ABEC-5 bearings are well suited for skaters with a hard skating style, as they are stronger than bearings with a higher index.
The fastest skate bearings rated on the ABEC scale. Maximum precision in the production of ABEC 7 ensures the advantages of these bearings: good acceleration and high rotation characteristics. Disadvantages include increased fragility (the downside of precision fit of balls in the bearing).
ABEC-9 Skateboard Bearings
Modern Abek 9 bearings are the best you can buy on the market. By the way, Chinese manufacturers have put ABEC-11 and ABEC-13 into use, but such precision manufacturing does not exist.
All top models of goods in this category from various manufacturers can be classified into this class of manufacturing accuracy. But as was written earlier, manufacturers no longer write this information, since ABEC is an incorrect system for measuring the class of manufacturing accuracy, and, accordingly, the resulting speed characteristics.
Why aren’t all bearings rated ABEC?
Some skateboarding bearing manufacturers deliberately avoid rating their products on the ABEC scale. For example, Bones Bearings, a leader in the world of skateboard bearings, argue that the ABEC scale is not only incorrect (for example, it ignores factors such as the quality of materials used, concentrating only on rotational speed), but is often misleading because the bearings ABEC-3s from a well-known manufacturer can spin significantly faster than ABEC-7s from an unknown Asian manufacturer (due to dimensional tolerances and different materials used).
Therefore, the same Bones Bearings (and some other brands, for example Bronson or PIG bearings) are not focused only on rotation speed, but pay great attention to the selection and quality of materials, test lateral loads, lubricant composition, etc. And their position is that they create bearings for skateboards, not for everything.
Based on this, we can safely say that skate bearings from well-known brands (Bones, Bronson, Independent…) without the ABEC marking are at least as good as the best representatives of the ABEC scale, and most likely even superior to them.
Swiss, Ceramic bearings, etc… What are they?
Many brands, regardless of whether they use the ABEC scale to mark their bearings or not, have in their assortment quite expensive Swiss, Ceramic, etc. models. What is the advantage of such bearings and is their price justified? We think these bearings are worth the money. They are faster, lighter, more durable than any analogues on the market.
The name speaks for itself – these bearings are made in Switzerland. Meticulous precision and workmanship ensure speed, smoothness and rotational retention at a level unmatched by any ABEC rated bearing. “Swiss bearings” are the standard in the world of skateboarding bearings, they are high-end. With proper care, these bearings will last for many, many years without losing their characteristics.
Ceramic bearings are very light, providing excellent acceleration. The friction coefficient is so low that excellent rotation characteristics are maintained even with insufficient lubrication. Another difference from classic metal bearings is their inability to rust. And there is another amazing fact that makes ceramic bearings a super hero in the world of skate bearings – the strength of ceramic balls is so high that when dust or dirt gets into the bearing, the balls themselves re-polish the inner ring, carrying out a self-healing process.
Most often, the “Chinese” counterfeit the expensive Bones Ceramic or Bones Swiss bearings (or any other “Bones” – for some reason they chose this particular company for their attacks). It is often very easy to distinguish a fake, but sometimes a fake is so similar in appearance to the original that you are reluctant to believe the lower price for which they are trying to sell it to you. Don’t be fooled!
Skate bearings in their fake version show the essence when riding. Since even simpler versions of other brands will drive better than these “Swiss” ones.
What does any skate bearing consist of?
Skate bearing design is consistent from brand to brand. Only the materials used and the manufacturing precision change. But it’s worth noting that some manufacturers have their own tricks. For example, FKD bearings have a boot on only one side. On the other, which is turned inside the wheel, a plug is installed on them. This minimizes friction.
In the bearing you can find:
- inner ring;
- outer ring.
There is also grease in the bearings, but it is not a structural component.