Bearings

Bearings

The smallest piece of the skateboard that allows for the most fun. Bearings allow the wheels to rotate smoothly on the trucks.
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Bones Reds Bearings w/ Stoked T-Tool
Bones Reds Bearings
Bones Reds Bearings
Sale priceFrom $17.95
Save $1.00
Rollerbones Roller Skate and Inline Skate Bearings, 16-Pack
Bones Big Balls Bearings
Bones Big Balls Bearings
Sale priceFrom $24.95
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Bones Super 6 Swiss Precision Bearings
Save $6.00
Bones Reds Bearings [Open Box]
Bones Reds Bearings [Open Box]
Sale price$11.95 Regular price$17.95

Skateboard Bearings

Frequently Asked Questions

There is not a single "best" skateboard bearing that all skaters can agree on. Defining which would be the best would be like defining which fast food chain makes the best burger. Everyone is going to have an opinion. However, there are some things you can look for that will provide more guidance.

  1. Price - This is always a factor in a purchase. Price helps determine value for money, so a lower price for a higher quality bearing is ideal.
  2. Style - What kind of bearing type do you want? Built in? Regular? No seals? All of these things will factor in to what the best skateboard bearing is for you.
  3. Speed or Longevity - There is a trade off between the long lasting durability of grease lubricant and the high speed of oil lubricant. Which do you prefer?

Skate shops might be quick to say yes, but the reality is that it depends on how terrible your current bearings are. If you are still using the stock bearings from your pre-built complete from Walmart, a bearing upgrade could make your entire skateboard feel brand new and way faster.

But if you just bought a complete for $150-ish and only rode it 10 miles, new bearings are most likely not going to be a huge improvement.

However, you can always swap to another bearing for reasons other than speed. For example, maybe you want a bearing with grease lubricant instead of oil. Or a bearing with better seals. Or a built in style bearing. All of these reasons are great reasons to swap that do not have to do with speed.

It depends on how much you abuse them! Typical life of a skateboard bearing that is being used every day could be 3-6 months or 3-5 years.

For trick skateboarding, skateboard bearings are probably going to be your second most replaced part, only topped by the deck itself. Expect a life of about 6-9 months.

For longboard / cruising skateboarding, your bearings could last years as long as you keep them away from dirt and water.

For downhill / racing, bearings typically last about 6 months with heavy slides, etc. Ball bearings don't take axial loads that well (even with spacers) and if you want to keep them in top performance, replacing fairly often is a must.

Bearing Maintenance

We like this video from RatVision:

We made a video for you. You're welcome.

Yep, probably. We do not recommend riding in water unless you don't care about parts getting wrecked.

Rain or water is going to wash out oil lubricants from your bearing and cause the bearing parts to wear and corrode faster. Rain water also is going to have lots of dirt mixed in it. Blend dirty water with washing out the lubricant and you're gunna have a bad time.

Skateboarding in the rain can be fun though, so if you want to do it, just make sure you swap the bearings for some cheapies or clean the bearings afterwards and re-lube or they could rust.

Bearing Manufacturing

Skateboard bearings, and all skate bearings for that matter, are typically made from three materials: metal, nylon, and buna rubber. The metal can change depending on the model, but it is most commonly chrome steel, a type of stainless steel.

There are also ceramic bearings. This refers to the ball bearings within the bearing being a very hard and smooth ceramic material. These bearings will be able to rotate at higher RPM than regular steel bearings with less heat.

However, they are usually 2-3x the price and the inner and outer races will still be steel.

There are 5 main parts of a skateboard bearing (or any kind of skate bearing).

  1. Inner Races - The inner ring track that the balls roll on.
  2. Outer Races - The outer ring track that the balls roll on.
  3. Balls - Ha balls. These are the little balls that actually do the rolling.
  4. Seals / Bearing Shields - These protect the balls from the elements.
  5. Retainer / Crown - This keeps the balls evenly separated so that they distribute the load evenly to each other.
Bearing Parts Exploded

You could also add lubricant as the a sixth "part", but this is not really a part so we will leave it off the list. It is, however, very important to the functionality of the bearing.

ABEC ratings come in odd numbers as follows ABEC 1, ABEC 3, ABEC 5, ABEC 7, ABEC 9. The higher the number the higher tolerances in the manufacturing. However, a rating of precision will actually tell you next to nothing about how the bearing performs in a skateboard. This is surprising to many because so many brands tout their high quality "ABEC 7 bearings" as an example. The truth is: ABEC ratings are not relevant to skateboarding applications. Read more about why ABEC Ratings don't matter here.

Many top skateboard brands have recognized this. Bones Bearings, for example, call all Bones Bearings "Skate Rated". This basically means they are designed for skateboarding, not some precision machining application. The needs are different, so too is the criteria.

If a company gives you an ABEC rating, I actually recommend staying away from the brand as this is a good indication they do not understand how bearings work.

A Swiss bearing just has to be made on a Swiss lathe. It does not officially have to be made in Switzerland, though most of the time if the company calls it a Swiss bearing, it is made in Switzerland.

What's so special about Switzerland? They've gained a reputation around the world for precision machining. This stems a lot from watch manufacturing, but it also applies to other precision parts, such as bearings.

You can expect Swiss bearings to be super pricey, but also just about the highest quality on the market. Just buy from a reputable brand like Bones Swiss so you know you're getting the real deal.

Bearing Components

The short answer: No. You can skate without spacers. However, spacers will keep the bearings parallel in a way that imprecise urethane skateboard wheels just can't.

For that reason, we recommend using spacers if you want your bearings to roll at their best.

You can read more about why bearing spacers really matter here.

Speed rings or speed washers are little washers that give the bearing a little space buffer from the truck hanger and the axle nut. They're just there so that the moving parts of the bearing do not rub on any components of the skateboard truck.

Like spacers, they are not strictly needed, but they can increase the performance of the bearings.

Ceramic skateboard bearings are usually the same as high quality steel skateboard bearings, except they have ceramic balls. These balls are harder and smoother than steel balls, so they have less friction. This allows them to spin faster with less lubricant. However, the inner and outer races are still made of steel, so they can still be damaged just like a normal steel bearing. Keep this in mind when paying 2-3x the price of steel bearings.

Also ceramic bearings only really show top performance at higher speeds, so you will want to buy them if you are racing.

There are a few reputable bearings like Bones Super Swiss 6 and Bones Big Balls that use larger ball bearings that claim to achieve better acceleration and speed. Honestly, we find it hard to tell objectively if they are worth it over regular 7 ball bearings, but many people love them.

Built in bearings are skateboard bearings that already have the spacers and speed rings "included" as part of the inner race. This means you can install the bearings in your wheels without the additional parts.

Bones Race Reds inside a These Wheel
Bones Race Reds inside a These Wheel

Built in style bearings are most popular for longboard skateboards because they make changing wheels faster. Also longboarders tend to care more about the top speed of their bearings. Bearings with spacers / speed rings already part of the build just makes sense.

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