What are the differences between skateboard bearings? Which Abec to choose? what kind of balls? Are all skate bearings standard? We will explain everything to you...
Inner ring diameter :
Depending on the type of trucks, the axle diameter may vary. As a result, there will inevitably be a variation in the diameter of the compatible bearing inner ring.
In 99% of cases, skateboard & roller skate trucks have 8mm diameter axles. Thus the bearings that are considered standard have an inner ring with a diameter of 8mm.
In some rare cases, longboard trucks may have 10mm diameter axles. In this situation it will be imperative to opt for bearings with an internal ring of 10mm. This axis format is less and less common. Some examples of trucks with 10mm axles: some models of Surf Rodz, old Bear Smokey, Randal Comp 10mm.
In roller skating, some skates adopt 7mm diameter axles. This format, which is not widespread in Europe, requires specific bearings with a 7mm internal ring.
The Abec rating
The precision of skate bearings is classified by a standard called “Abec” (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee). In theory, the higher the Abec, the more the bearing will have a precise finish and will therefore be faster.
The classification goes from Abec 3 to Abec 9, then “Swiss rated”.
Be careful: Don't let yourself be blinded! The Abec classification is not based on any standard and from one manufacturer to another the quality can vary enormously. It is not uncommon for an Abec 5 from one brand to exceed the Abec 7 from another company.
Our advice: The Abecs can serve as a benchmark of quality when you stay in the same brand.
The Abec classification is an industrial rating, and does not take into account vibrations and shock resistance which are essential parameters in skateboarding.
The more a bearing has a precise finish, the faster it will be. On the other hand, a very precise bearing will also be more fragile and requires more regular maintenance.
Some of the best manufacturers of skateboard bearings such as the world leader Bones have chosen not to use the Abec ratings, judging this rate too misleading.
With or without Built-in spacer?
To get the most out of a bearing, it is strongly recommended to use spacers and speed rings. This will make it possible to perfectly wedge and align the bearings in the wheels and thus improve the behavior of the skateboard, spare the wear of the bearings, make the glide more fluid, limit fouling. These are even more important when using soft and/or large diameter wheels.
Some so-called “built-in” bearings have integrated half-spacers as well as a small shoulder acting as a speed ring. This is very popular type of bearings for longboarding. It has the advantage of not having to bother with spacers and speed rings, everything is already integrated!
The half-spacer generally measures 5mm. Built-in bearings are only compatible with wheels with 10mm spacing between bearings, which is the case for almost all skateboard and longboard wheels. This format is not compatible with roller skate wheels and Kryptonic brand wheels (8mm spacing). It is also not recommended to use built-in bearings on aluminum core wheels.
The classics bearings do not have integrated spacers and are compatible with all skateboard or roller skate wheels.
A skate bearing consists of 6 to 7 steel, titanium, or ceramic balls.
Some bearings have 6 balls, which: Limits heating (and thus expansion); Accentuates solidity
The most common is 7 steel balls, which is an excellent value for money format. The quality of steel ball bearings can vary greatly from one range to another. Steel balls have the advantage of being excellent value for money, but have the disadvantage of being more sensitive to moisture and rust. Therefore, it is important to avoid riding under the rain and dry / lubricate your bearings if they have been in contact with water.
Ceramic balls bearings have the advantage of heating less and are more resistant to abrasion and corrosion. The expansion and deformation of the balls is almost non-existent, which optimizes performance. Ceramic balls are less sensitive to moisture since the balls do not fear rust (be careful, the rings and the cage are generally made of steel!). Ceramic bearings are more fragile in the event of violent shocks.
Titanium balls bearings are light, strong, and less susceptible to moisture. Their performance is similar to that of steel balls, but the strength is increased due to a better tolerance to humidity.
In order to limit the entry of dust and moisture into the bearings, those ones are protected on one or both sides by one or more nylon or metal shield(s).
Single shield limit heating, but are less waterproof.
Conversely, double-shielded bearings are more sealed but heat up more.
Metal shields hold better but are susceptible to rust and can bend.
Nylon shields are more waterproof and flexible.
Made of nylon or metal, the shields can, on certain models, be disassembled to allow a complete in-depth cleaning.
To preserve your bearings, avoid at all costs riding in water or dust. If your bearings have taken on moisture, take care to dry them as quickly as possible, otherwise corrosion will have the last word.
To maintain good performance, remember to re-lubricate the balls regularly with a suitable lubricant such as Bones Speed Cream or Riptide Speed Lube.
When the bearing loses speed or jams, it is high time to move on to the cleaning phase.
There are 2 options for this:
- Easy cleanning: Use a bearing lubricant & cleaner such as Skanunu. In this case, there is no need to disassemble the bearing.
- Deep cleanning: Remove the shields and soak the bearings in acetone (preferably use a specific bottle); then dry the bearings, then re-lubricate the balls with a specific product such as Bones Speed Cream or Riptide Speed; Reassemble the flanges. This cleaning is the most thorough and if done well, gives a second life to the bearing. (it is also possible to use an ultrasonic bath to remove all impurities from the bearings beforehand)
Install and uninstall bearings in the wheels
Tools to install & uninstall bearings in the wheels