Wheels not turning on your skateboard as well as you think they should? It could be that the issue has to do with your bearings.
High-quality bearings are necessary for the smooth and effective turning of your skateboard wheels.
Without them, not only will you have to push super hard, but you could risk damage to your skateboard and jeopardize your own safety.
Let’s learn about the importance of high-quality skateboard bearings in-depth.
What Are Skateboard Bearings?
We’ll start with the basics. If you are new to skating, you might not yet be familiar with all the parts that comprise your skateboard.
Skateboard bearings are small, round parts which facilitate the spinning of the wheels on the axles. There are two bearings in each wheel for a total of eight for your skateboard.
Each bearing in turn has a number of parts:
- An inner ring is contained by an outer ring.
- Between the inner and outer rings, there is a ball cage.
- The ball cage contains a set of balls.
- Most bearings are covered by parts called “shields.” The shields help keep water and debris away from the inner parts.
- “Open” bearings do not feature shields.
Skateboard Bearings Need Regular Replacement
The bearings on your skateboard are subject to ongoing wear and tear. Over time, their quality declines with use.
That means that you will eventually need to replace your original set of skateboard bearings. How soon you need to do this depends on how often you skate and what condition the bearings were in to begin with.
The conditions you skate in also can make a difference in how long your bearings last. If you routinely skate through puddles, that is not good for your bearings. If you skate in dusty environments, all that particulate will also lead to abrasion.
Poor-Quality Skateboard Bearings Can Lead to These Problems
Here is what you can expect if you continue to skate on bearings which are in poor condition:
- You will need to push hard. Skating will neither be as smooth nor as fast as you would like.
- Parts of the bearings can break off.
- If the bearings break, your wheels may be harmed.
- You could take a spill which might otherwise have been avoided.
When it comes time to replace your bearings, you will find yourself with a range of options. Some bearings are manufactured with a higher degree of quality than others.
It is worth it to invest in high-quality bearings because they will perform better and last longer.
If you go with low-quality bearings to save money in the short term, chances are good that they will cost you more in the long run.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for High-Quality Skateboard Bearings
Now that you know why high-quality skateboard bearings are important, let’s go over some recommendations for purchasing bearings that will offer you solid performance at a reasonable price.
1. The ABEC rating system.
One thing you’ll notice when you are comparing bearings is that they come with ABEC ratings from the Annular Bearing Engineers Committee. These ratings are ABEC-1, ABEC-3, ABEC-5, ABEC-7 and ABEC-9.
Bearings manufactured with higher degrees of precision receive higher ABEC ratings. In other words, ABEC-7 and ABEC-9 are smoother than their counterparts with lower ABEC ratings. Hypothetically, this should make them faster.
But the problem with the rating system is that it doesn’t really account for the fact that nobody can skate fast enough for the superior precision to impact performance at the highest ABEC levels. In fact, ABEC-9 bearings also are prone to damage, and therefore not the best option.
For this reason, most skaters stick with bearings that have the ratings ABEC-3, ABEC-5 and ABEC-7. ABEC-3 bearings are not as smooth as ABEC-5 or ABEC-7 bearings, but they are less expensive, and therefore may be suitable for a beginner.
2. Steel vs. Ceramic
You will notice that skateboard bearings are available in both steel and ceramic, and that the ceramic bearings are more expensive than the steel ones. Should you shell out the extra cash for ceramic?
The appeal of ceramic is superior durability. Ceramic bearings can hold up if you are zooming down hills, and they can take an incredible amount of wear and tear without requiring replacement.
With their high cost, they are only worthwhile in a few situations:
- Ceramic bearings may be worth it if you are into high-speed skating.
- You might want to get ceramic bearings if you live near the sea and don’t want the salt air to degrade steel bearings.
- If you skate daily (i.e. to commute), it might make sense to invest in ceramic bearings since you spend so much time on your board.
If none of the above apply to you, you should be just fine getting steel bearings.
3. Open vs. closed bearings
As mentioned earlier, bearings may include shields or not. Which should you buy?
If you want to maximize speed, consider open bearings without shields.
If, on the other hand, you want quieter, longer-lasting bearings with better protection against the elements, stick with bearings that include shields.
Also, it is useful to note that it is possible to remove the bearings from the wheel. That means that you can replace your bearings without replacing your wheel or vice versa.
Clean and lubricate your bearings on a regular basis. Doing so will rejuvenate their performance and help them last longer.
High-Quality Skateboard Bearings Allow for a Smooth, Safe Experience
You now should be able to identify the difference between low-quality and high-quality bearings.
If your bearings are worn-out or if you purchased a skateboard with inferior bearings, replacing them will allow you to get better performance out of your board while protecting your wheels and reducing the risk of injury.
Weigh the pros and cons of ceramic vs. steel, open vs. closed design, and different ABEC ratings, and choose the product which best fits your needs. It probably won’t be the cheapest on the market, but it likely won’t be the most expensive either.
Categories: Skateboard Bearings