Skateboard Bearings Guide
One crucial aspect of skateboarding is choosing the right bearings, which can make all the difference in your ride. In this guide, we will explore skateboard bearings and provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to pick and install them. We will cover skateboard bearing parts, materials, and ABEC ratings. By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of skateboard bearings and how to choose the right ones for your ride.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Skateboard Bearing Parts
Before we talk about the different types of bearings, let's talk about what they are made of. Skateboard bearings are made up of several components, including balls, inner and outer races, retainers, shields, and bearing spacers. Each of these parts plays an important role in the functionality of the bearing and affects the overall performance of the skateboard. In this list, we will discuss the function of each part and how it contributes to the smoothness and speed of your ride.
Skateboard bearings have six to seven balls that roll freely along a track formed by the inner and outer races. These balls are held in place by the retainer. The rolling and rotating balls are the heart of how the bearing works. Fewer balls mean less friction and more speed.
Inner and Outer Races
The races form the track for the balls to roll and also create the inner and outer walls of the bearing. The inner race fits onto the axle, and the outer race sits inside the wheel hub. The balls roll in between the two races, allowing the wheel to spin smoothly.
The retainer keeps the balls in place, equally spaced apart from each other, and reduces friction while increasing strength. Retainers can come in various designs and materials, including nylon, steel, and brass.
Shields cover the sides of the bearing to help protect the balls from dust and debris. Some bearings have shields that are removable for easier cleaning. Some bearings come with one or zero shields for reduced friction.
Some sets of bearings come with bearing spacers, which are small cylindrical pieces that fit on the axle, between the bearings in the core of the wheel. These spacers are meant to keep your bearings properly aligned and allow you to fully tighten your axle nut without restricting the spin of the wheel. Bearing spacers are optional for most types of skating, but if you want to powerslide on soft wheels, they can reduce vibrations and make your slides smoother and easier to control.
Types of Skateboard Bearings
Steel bearings are the most common and widely used type of skateboard bearings due to their durability and affordability. However, the quality of steel can vary depending on the grade, with higher-grade steel in premium bearings providing faster speeds and greater durability. The primary disadvantage of steel bearings is their susceptibility to rust when exposed to moisture. Therefore, it is important to keep them well-oiled and avoid skating in wet conditions to ensure their longevity. If they do get wet, adding extra lubrication, rolling them, or drying them quickly can help prevent rusting.
Ceramic bearings are another option that has been gaining popularity in recent years. They are harder and less deformable than steel bearings, which makes them less susceptible to wear and tear, and also results in less friction at faster speeds. Additionally, ceramic bearings do not rust when exposed to moisture, making them ideal for cruisers and rain boards.
However, ceramic is a brittle substance, which makes ceramic bearings prone to breaking when skated under high impact. As a result, they are better suited for low-impact skating and commuting rather than big gaps or stair sets. Even though the balls in ceramic bearings do not rust, the steel races still can, so it is still important to avoid water whenever possible.
Titanium is lightweight, durable, and highly rust-resistant. Bearings made from titanium perform similarly to steel bearings but can last longer due to titanium's strength and resistance to corrosion. Like steel bearings, keep titanium bearings lubricated to reduce excess friction.
What are ABEC Ratings?
The ABEC rating is a system developed to measure the tolerances and physical limits of ball bearings used in very fast-spinning machinery. ABEC ratings are shown on almost all skateboard bearings, but a higher rating doesn't necessarily mean it is better for skateboarding. There are many factors that are not included in the ABEC rating system, such as impact handling, lateral stress handling, materials, lubricant, noise, and vibration. A higher rating means a bearing has the capability for greater speeds, but even the world record speed on a skateboard is not fast enough for the ABEC rating to make a difference in skateboarding roll speed.
TIP: The best skateboard bearings are clean, well-oiled bearings. If you want to go fast, keep ‘em clean! Check out our how to clean bearings article to learn more.
Still Have Questions?
If you're still curious about bearings or just have questions, rest assured that we have the resources to help you out. Our customer service team is highly knowledgeable and can answer any questions you may have about these shoes or other skateboard equipment. You can easily reach out to them by phone or message.
Additionally, if you are in Portland, Eugene, or Bend, feel free to visit one of our local shops and speak to one of our friendly and helpful retail employees. They'll be more than happy to assist you and provide any information or guidance you need. Don't hesitate to reach out to us - we're here to help!
Call us toll-free at 888.450.5060
Text us at: 888.450.5060
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Saturday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Pacific Time