Basically, bearings are those metal rings, shields with metal balls that fit inside your wheels to help mount them onto the axle.
Bearings’ main job is to help your wheels roll smooth and quiet. As we told you a little earlier, bearing sizing is universal. You’ll find an 8mm core, a 22mm outer ring, and a 7mm total width on all bearings available on the market right now.
There are around 7 rings (hey, what’s up, Ariana Grande!), rubber seal, and 7-8 balls that make up your bearing. All of these are neatly stacked and assembled to fit each other nicely like a hamburger but with much more precision.
If you still can’t imagine how big bearings are, think of your pennies and dimes. A stack of 5-7 coins is probably a good parallel to your bearings.
Normally, you’ll need 2 bearings per wheel for your board. You’d stack them up like veggies on a skewer: that’s 1 bearing – 1 wheel – 1 bearing and bum! Press them down so the bearings sit nicely into the wheels. Finally, there are axle nuts to hold everything in place on the rod.
3 Important Parts to Remember
Now, you don’t have to remember all the parts of the bearings. We think there are 3 most important parts you should keep in mind when buying your bearings. In short: the outer ring, the inner ring, and the ball retainer.
The outer ring (22mm) is usually made from steel, titanium (coat), or ceramic. It is the part that has direct contact with the wheel and withstands a high amount of pressure. So, you’d want to make sure to choose one that can withstand the most aggressive interaction.
Many bearings will also have shields on the outside. This is a great feature because it guards your bearings against dust, dirt, moisture that could potentially ruin their precision.
The inner ring (8mm) is the metal ring that sits directly on the axle. It keeps the wheels in place for years.
Ball retainer is the part the hold your 7-8 balls in place. Check carefully that the retainer is high-quality and well-made. This will make sure the bearings will last for much longer and keep your wheels rolling nicely.
Some Best Bearings Brands
When it comes to choosing a good bearing brand, it can be tough for beginners to select the right one. Over the years, we’ve collected and reviewed dozens of brands. We’ve distilled which ones are good and which ones are crap.
Here are some of the best bearings brands that you can trust and check out:
- Sector 9
- Heady Shake
- Yellow Jacket
Keep these names in mind the next time you shop for your bearings. They have shops right on Amazon so you can order from them directly. Some even have local stores and dealers, so be sure to check those out if it’s near your city.
The ABEC Rating
Bearing tolerance is measured on an ABEC scale. This scale is created by the American Bearing Manufacturers Association. It goes from 1 to 9+.
Here are some of the characteristics of the bearing:
ABEC 1: cheapest, very crude, not highly precise, not very fast
ABEC 3: quite cheap, do not roll very smoothly
ABEC 5: decent price, the standard for many boards, fast
ABEC 7: very fast, quite expensive
ABEC 9: extremely fast, smooth, very expensive
ABEC 11: ultra-fast, ultra-smooth, ultra-quiet, highest price
If you’re looking for longboard bearings:
Our best recommendation is to get those that are from ABEC 7 and above. This is because longboards tend to suck at very slow speeds. Because a longboard is heavy and bigger than most boards, it can feel like a heavy drag when going slow. That’s why fast bearings will come in handy.
Also, we generally don’t recommend getting extra spacers on your longboard bearings. Spacers are those metal cylinders that you can add between your wheels and bearings.
Because most of the time when you longboard, you won’t make lots of sudden stops or sharp turning. Getting spacers, in this case, would be quite unnecessary and would cost extra time and money to maintain. Spacers between your wheels and bearings may prevent the wheels from rotating properly sometimes.
As for speed washers (aka speed rings, bearing washers), we’d totally recommend getting those. They sit between your bearings and the axle nuts and hangers. Their main purpose is to reduce friction that may wear out the components.
If you’re looking for skateboard bearings:
You can choose ABEC 7, ABEC 9, ABEC 11 or skate-rated bearings. Because you’ll be doing a lot of sudden stops, deep carves, or sharp turns when skateboarding, we’d definitely recommend getting some spacers.
This helps stabilize your bearings so you can use your skateboard aggressively without the fear of wobbly wheels, misalignments, damages to the bearings.
You can add washers if you like. These little extra additions will greatly improve the performance and longevity of your skateboards’ wheels.
Keep in mind that longboard bearings are basically the same as skateboard bearings. The 3 parts you should remember are the inner ring, the outer ring, and the ball retainers.
What are some best bearings brands again? Exactly, they are Bones, Zealous, Nordik, Sector 9, etc.
Also, if you’re buying longboard bearings, you may want to choose those that are ABEC 7 and above. A spacer may not be needed in this case. You can add washers to increase the performance of your wheels.
If you’re looking for skateboard bearings, choose those that are skate-rated. You should add some spacers to stabilize the bearings. Adding washers is also a great idea.
We hope you’ve found this info helpful. Happy boarding!