How To Buy The Right Skateboard Bearings
One of the key pieces for your set up, since they are basically the ones that make the wheels roll! You won't have to worry about the size of the bearings since they all have the same! Quality and material are the factors you will need to look out for, since it WILL make a huge difference! It provides your wheels the capacity to roll, so we recommend to always get the best quality. Cheaper bearings can get deformed or break completely under the pressure of skateboarding and trust us, it will not be pretty! Inexpensive bearings may also not be sealed as well, resulting in dirt and debris in your bearings that will slow your board or have it completely stop after riding it for a week or two.
The prices can vary from whether you decide to get ceramic or steel, if you are just starting out, this guide will help you understand better and make an informed choice, first thing to keep in mind is the ratings of the bearing which will indicate its quality, check this chart and you will know what this means!
Bearings are measured by an ABEC rating. The higher the ABEC rating, the more accurate and precise the bearing will be. This rating system goes from 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The ABEC rating does not specify many critical factors, such as load handling capabilities, ball precision, materials, material Rockwell hardness, degree of ball and raceway polishing, noise, vibration, and lubricant. Due to these factors, an ABEC 7 classified bearing could not perform as well as an ABEC 3 bearing would
Here are some specifications about the different ABEC levels of the bearings, this will give you a pretty good idea of how they will perform once they are mounted on your board:
- ABEC 1: They tend to be the least expensive, crude, and the least accurate. The quality of the steel is not very high.
- ABEC 3: Generally inexpensive and does not roll smoothly or quickly.
- ABEC 5: Standard for most types of skateboarding. This rating gets you a fast speed at an affordable cost.
- ABEC 7: Very fast, smooth, and cost slightly more.
- ABEC 9+: Probably the fastest! Recommended for downhill skating and skaters that want to move insanely fast.
If you are just beginning to skateboard we recommend you get the regular standard ABEC 5 bearings, which will provide the best price/performance balance of the whole selections, don't go buying the cheapest ABEC 1 or your wheels could stop rolling properly after a few rides! And don't try to get greedy and get the ABEC 7’s or 9’s! If you are not an experienced skateboarder, you might misuse them and wear them out or even break them and they are NOT cheap!
Dissection Of a Skateboard Bearing
All of the components of a skateboard are critical for its performance if just one little piece is off, it might cause the board not performing properly and even get you hurt.
Bearings are 8mm (core), 22mm (outer diameter), and 7mm (width) so yeah, they are pretty small and when you see them you just see this little ring, little knowing that it is what actually allows for your wheels to roll!
They are composed of 7 pieces, all inside of the “little ring” lets get into the anatomy of the bearings!
C-ring: Thin ring that fits into a groove on the outside of the bearing locking the shields in place.
Bearing Shield: The medium-sized ring on the side of the bearing which mains function is to prevent dirt and other contaminating materials from reaching and affect the ball bearings.
Outer ring: The round metal exterior that holds all of the other parts together.
Inner Ring: The smaller metal ring that fits within the outer ring. When you slide your bearing/wheel setup onto the axles, the inner ring is what the axles fit through.
Steel balls: Set of 6 or 7 steel or ceramic balls that rest in the ball retainer. These are the most important part of the bearing, as they allow the bearing casing to spin around them, and this is also one of the factors that could affect the price of the bearings, keep this in mind when you see the price tag for steel or ceramic bearings!
Ball Retainer: AKA Delrin crown, it holds the individual ball bearings in place, while still allowing the casing to spin around them.
Rubber seal: The soft rubber ring on the outside of the bearing that helps in protecting the bearing interior from dirt and other contaminating materials.
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Material Of The Bearings
It is most common to find bearings made out of steel, but keep in mind that the quality of the outside and inner components canchange from brand to brand. It's common to hear inexpensive bearings are made out of cheaper materials and more expensive ones contain better sealing, more inner ball bearings, and higher-quality metals. You can really feel the difference if you skate with cheap bearings since they are more likely to rust and stop working after a few weeks of use, try to invest in a medium range bearings that will provide quality at a very good price.
There are many features to stand out from ceramic bearings, they are extremely smooth, produce very little friction, and won't expand in the heat. They also tend to be more expensive than your regular steel bearings ranging $70-$100 compared to regular steel bearings which could start from $15 bucks.
There are many people that debate over this matter and some even state that it is not something you should spend money on and claim that it is basically a luxury you are paying for and not something that could actually make your skateboarding better.
These bearings have ceramic balls, and more of them than the regular steel ones, but all of the other parts are still made of steel. However, the steel and sealing tend to also be of much higher quality in ceramic bearings.
Basically, the decreased friction and smooth ride you get with ceramic bearings is due partially to the ceramic balls inside, but also the higher quality steel outside. This combination of materials is why ceramic bearings tend to be pricier.
There are many fans out there that will not change to steel once they have tried ceramic ones, these leaves a lot of questions unanswered but we do can tell you that technically, ceramic bearings WILL give you a smoother roll and they are much more easy to maintain than the steel bearings and you will not have to exchange it as much!
So if you have the money to buy them, go do it and think of it as an investment also, since one set of ceramic could outlast 2 or even 3 of the steel mid range price!
Bearings Complements (optional)
Speed washers are thin, metal washers that are slipped over the axle between the nut and the bearing, and the hanger and the bearing. Their function is to reduce friction in order to help the wheel turn faster. They serve as a buffer between the nut and the bearing, which allows your wheels to rotate quickly while also protecting the bearing from damage.
Speed washers are an optional addition, but if you are planning to skateboard at high speeds we highly recommend you make the investment. You can replace them as often as you need it; it really depends on how much use you give your board as any other component of it, but a clear sign is when you are seeing rust in any of the metal pieces of the board that are not washed up, its is time for a replacement!
They are small metal cylinders made from steel, aluminum, or other types of metal that fit into a skateboard wheel between the bearings. Their main function is to make you turn smoother by distributing the weight in your bearings and extend their lifespan.
Bearing spacers are usually inexpensive, and can be made from steel, aluminum, or other types of metal. They are totally optional and depending on your preference and skateboarding style they are definitely a good investment if you want to slide, do a lot of tricks, and you are an overall ruff skater that does alot of high drops.
You can find them in different sizes so you might want to look into it before getting them if you decide to do so. Keep in mind the axle diameter spacer width, for example, 8mm x 10mm is a very common bearing spacer size. The first number (8mm) refers to the diameter of the axle, and the second number (10mm) refers to the overall width of the bearing. Most truck axles are 8mm in diameter.
To install bearing spacers, begin by sliding in your first bearing. Then flip the wheel over and press the bearing spacer in. It should be held firmly in the wheel core; if it moves or rattles around when putting it, it's a sure sign that they are too small. Once the spacer has been pressed into place in the center of the wheel, slide the other skateboard bearing into place and BINGO!
These 2 components are not at all necessary for proper skateboarding, this is more if you already have plenty of experience skateboarding and want to invest in a little something extra to have you bearings adjust to your skateboarding style!