Skateboard Bearings Guide
The Right to Bear Speed
Skate bearings are donut shaped metal devices that allow a wheel to roll faster and smoother by reducing friction. Unlike the wheels in which they fit into, all bearings have the same dimensions- 8mm (inner diameter), 22mm (outer diameter), and 7mm (width). Each wheel requires two bearings that are usually separated within the wheel by a spacer. Bearings are measured by an ABEC rating system (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9).
Tip: You often get what you pay for in bearings, the more expensive bearings will tend to last longer and go faster. Like Ricky Bobby once said standing at the top of a hill with a Magneto board, “I wanna go fast!”.
The ABEC scale for bearings is not just used in the skate industry, it actually measures the tolerance and precision of any bearing. ABEC 9’s, the best rating, provide high precision and low tolerance, which is perfect for products that spin at fast revolutions per minute (rpm). In the skate industry a rating of ABEC 9 provides the best bearings for going as fast as possible.
Tip: The ABEC scale does not factor in the quality of materials used to make the bearings, make sure you check out the material comparison below.
Materials (Steel VS Ceramic)
Skate bearings are typically steel or ceramic. Both have their advantages (cost vs. quality) because steel is cheaper than ceramic, but ceramic is known to be higher quality and less maintenance. Ceramic bearings will tend to allow for faster spinning and last longer than their steel counterparts, at the trade off of cost. Besides the ball bearings, ceramic bearings will be encased in steel. The steel used is usually higher quality in ceramic bearings. In summary, ceramic bearings cost more not only because the balls are ceramic, but the overall quality is better. Ceramic bearings are also unaffected by rust, which I helps them to last longer overall.
Tip: Ceramic bearings are the best investment for everyday and/or high impact skaters, but steel bearings (especially ABEC 9) are a great beginner option.
Bearing spacers are designed to reduce the weight distribution to each bearing by providing extra support between the two bearings. This leads to smoother, more stable turns and a longer life for the bearings. A spacer is just a metal cylinder between your bearings, 8-10mm diameter, which makes it a cheap, but positive investment.
Tip: If you can hear your spacers rattling, you may need a bigger size.
Washers are used on the outside of each wheel to separate the bearings from additional nut and truck friction. They can ultimately makes your wheels faster, while also protecting the face of the bearing.
Tip: Washers are the subjectively the cheapest part with the highest reward.
High Performance bearings
After about a year of looking for high-quality affordable aftermarket bearings, we finally gave up and just developed our own! These bearings compete against the best bearings on the market at a fraction of the price.