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Skateboard bearings are highly engineered circular components that allow the skateboard to move at high speeds while supporting heavy loads. The bearing is made up of an inner ring and an outer ring. In between these rings are small metal balls called ball bearings. The ball bearings are what allows the wheel to perform more revolutions than it otherwise would as they reduce friction. Most ball bearings for skateboards are rated on the Abec System.
The Abec system measures the tolerance of a ball bearing. Essentially, it determines how precise a bearing must be. The Abec system uses a rating of 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9+.
Abec 1: Ball bearings machined with the lowest level of precision. Because they are the least accurate, having the highest tolerances, they are the least expensive.
Abec 3: More tolerance than Abec 3 but still considered somewhat cheap and of lower quality. more expensive than Abec 3 quality, but still not considered expensive.
Abec 5: Much more acceptable tolerance levels. By far the most popular level of ball bearing found on skateboards. The tolerance is high enough to deliver a quality product but still is not prohibitively expensive.
Abec 7: More costly than Abec 5 level bearings because tolerances are even lower. These bearings provide a smoother ride but are more expensive. For quality Abec 7 rated bearings at a competitive price you can check out shralpin bearings.
Abec 9: The most expensive and with the highest precision. Tolerances are lowest at 9+.
It is important to note that the Abec system only determines how precise the ball bearings need to be. They do not measure other factors that may prove to be critical for skateboarding such as load-bearing, material quality, lubrication, material Rockwell hardness, and others.
For this reason, not all brands use the Abec system. For example, Bones Bearings use their own system and do not follow the Abec system. Their system, called Skate Rated, takes into consideration the previously mentioned qualities that the Abec system does not. Bones Bearings argue that the Abec system does not take into consideration the many factors required in making a good bearing for the specific application of skateboarding. While this is true, nearly all manufacturers of skateboarding bearings use the appropriate weight-bearing materials.
If you are someone who enjoys the thrill of skateboarding, rushing down the road on your board while the wind blows in your face, you should know about your skateboard bearings.
A board isn’t going to function at all without bearings, and sooner or later they’re going to wear out. So, if you don’t know what your board’s bearings are all about, it’s time to learn.
If you’re new to assembling skateboards or replacing parts on your own board, you may not know exactly what skateboard bearings are.
Bearings are those little circular items on the axles of your board. They allow your wheels to roll, so without them you’re going nowhere. The bearings also help determine just how fast and smooth your wheels will rotate. The bearings of your skateboard consist of five parts that they need to work correctly. These parts are the shield, the balls, the retainer, and the inner and outer races.
When you are putting your skateboard parts together, you will notice where your bearings will need to go. Two bearings fit inside each wheel, for a grand total of eight bearings on the board.
If you have been studying up on skateboard bearings, you may have noticed the abbreviation “ABEC 11” in your reading. ABEC actually stands for the “Annular Bearing Engineering Committee” which is an offshoot of the American Bearing Manufacturers’ Association (otherwise known as ABMA).
The number at the end is a precision rating. These ratings actually stop at “9+”, so there technically is no such thing as ABEC 11.
It is important to remember when choosing bearings for your board that you know what each rating means. The higher the ABEC rating of your bearings, the more accuracy and precision you will get out of them.
An ABEC 7 rating indicates that the bearings should be quick and ride smooth. They tend to be on the expensive side, however. Depending on how aggressively you skate, you may risk damaging your bearings, so be careful while riding because most of these higher rated bearings do not come cheap.
Be wary of some of the cheap, foreign-made bearings that are rated ABEC 7. There is a reason that they are so cheap, and they may not be deserving of the rating they are given.
Remember, just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Pay attention to the rating and decide if it is worth the amount of money the manufacturer is asking for it.
There are many great skate brands out there that make solid and affordable bearings, and they can be found online or in your local skate shop. For affordable, quality bearings, check out Shralpin and similar brands to get the best bang for your buck.
Now that you know a little bit about bearings and some of the information you need to find the best ones for your board, you’re ready to get out there and skate!
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