Skateboarders all around the world have one common thing – they all need good skateboard bearings to keep their ride rolling.
If you’re new to skateboarding, you may be wondering if skateboard bearings are universal or specific for different types of boards.
In this guide, I will uncover what makes a bearing universal and how it can benefit differing board designs.
I’ll also break down why some bearings fit certain types of skateboards better than others and the best practices when choosing your bearings.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of skateboard bearings.
Are skateboard bearings universal?
Skateboard bearings definitely are universal.
With the same size components, a set of skateboard bearings can fit into virtually any skateboard wheel regardless of what type or brand it is.
Whether you ride longboards, street decks, cruisers or mini boards, if you have the right bearings for your wheels there should not be an issue installing them and enjoying a seamless ride.
As long as you label and organize your hardware correctly, swapping out skateboard bearings can easily become a regular maintenance task with interesting and varied results.
Skateboard bearings and their purpose:
Skateboard bearings are small metal circles with steel balls inside them.
They act as a link between the wheels and the axles on your board, allowing it to move smoothly and easily across the pavement.
The bearings are made up of two components – an inner bearing race and an outer bearing race – which fit together like two halves of a ball-bearing.
The inner races have several steel balls in them that roll around when the wheel spins, providing almost frictionless movement along the axle.
How Do Bearings Affect Performance?
The most important thing about skateboard bearings is how they affect performance.
The better quality your bearings, the smoother your ride will be. This is because high-quality bearings can help reduce friction between your wheels and your deck – meaning you won’t have to push as hard to get going or keep moving at speed.
Higher quality bearings also tend to last longer than cheaper ones, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them as often either.
Good skateboarding bearings can help improve overall control over your board by reducing vibrations caused by uneven surfaces or bumps in the road – making it easier for you to stay in control no matter what surface you’re riding on.
Different types of skateboard bearings:
When selecting bearings for your skateboard, it’s important to understand the different types available and which type best suits your needs. Let’s break down the different types of skateboard bearings so you can make an informed decision.
The most common way to rate the quality of skateboard bearing is by using ABEC ratings.
The ABEC scale runs from 1 to 9, with 1 being lowest quality and 9 being highest quality. Low-ABEC bearings are great for cruising around town or short trips.
However, if you’re looking for top-tier performance then look no further than high-ABEC rated bearings.
High-ABEC rated bearings are designed for optimal speed and durability, making them great for downhill skating or any other activity where speed matters.
Ceramic skateboard bearings are made from a combination of ceramic materials that give them more strength than traditional steel bearings.
Ceramic bearings are known for their lightweight design, which allows them to accelerate faster than traditional steel bearing while also providing a smoother ride overall.
Because ceramic bearings don’t corrode as easily as steel bearings, they are ideal for use in wet conditions such as rain or snowboarding on wet slopes.
Ceramic bearings require less lubricant than steel bearing and provide better protection against dust buildup due to their smooth surface design.
For those who want the best of both worlds between low-ABEC and high-ABEC rated skateboarding bearing, hybrid bearing offer a good compromise.
Hybrid bearing take elements from both low-ABEC and high-ABEC rated bearing designs to provide riders with maximum performance at an affordable price point.
They typically feature stainless steel balls in conjunction with hardened chrome rings that help reduce friction while still providing excellent acceleration capabilities compared to other types of a skateboard bearing available.
Factors to consider when choosing skateboard bearings:
With so many factors to consider, such as design, materials, and performance indicators, it is essential to know what you are looking for to make the right choice.
ABEC Rating System
One of the most critical factors to consider when buying skateboard bearings is the ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) rating.
This rating system tells you about the precision and tolerance level of a bearing. The ABEC scale ranges from 1 to 9, with odd numbers – 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 – representing increasing bearing precision.
While higher-rated bearings may provide more accuracy and higher tolerances, you should not solely rely on the ABEC ratings alone, as they do not directly measure factors such as speed or durability.
However, using the ABEC ratings as a starting point can help you understand the bearings’ general quality.
Another essential aspect to consider when selecting skateboard bearings is the material they are made from.
There are two primary materials used for skateboard bearings – steel and ceramic. Steel bearings are more common, affordable, and provide a decent performance.
They are often made from chromium steel alloy and can handle most skating conditions. On the other hand, ceramic bearings are more expensive but offer higher performance.
Constructed with silicon nitride, ceramic bearings are highly durable, stronger, and lighter than steel counterparts.
They also generate less heat and friction, which means they can maintain speed better and last longer.
Proper lubrication is crucial for the smooth functioning and longevity of skateboard bearings. Bearings come with either grease or oil lubrication.
While grease is thicker and provides better protection for your bearings, it might lead to slower speeds in the beginning.
However, bearings with grease often allow a longer lifespan and lesser maintenance. On the other hand, oil lubrication allows for fast speeds and smooth movement but requires more frequent cleaning and re-application.
It comes down to personal preference and how often you are willing to maintain your skateboard bearings.
Bearing Spacers and Speed Rings
When choosing skateboard bearings, it is important not to overlook bearing spacers and speed rings.
Bearing spacers are small metal cylinders placed between the bearings, helping maintain their position and reducing friction on the bearings during turns, leading to improved speed and maneuverability.
Speed rings, on the other hand, contribute to a smoother ride by reducing friction between the bearings and the skateboard’s axle nuts.
Although most skateboard bearings come with built-in spacers and speed rings, adding them to your setup can provide added benefits for enhanced performance and longevity of your bearings.
Compatibility and Ease of Maintenance
Lastly, before purchasing skateboard bearings, it is essential to ensure that they are compatible with your skateboard wheels and trucks.
Most skateboard bearings come in a standard size (608) and are designed to fit any skateboard wheel. However, it is always recommended to double-check compatibility.
Look out for bearings that are easy to maintain and clean. Some bearings come with removable shields, making cleaning and lubricating them a breeze.
Proper maintenance not only improves the performance of your skateboard but also prolongs the life of your bearings.
To wrap it up, yes skateboard bearings are universal! Although there are different sizes of bearing, most boards use the same standard size so that any aftermarket bearings can fit.
This means that you don’t need to worry about whether or not the bearings you’re purchasing will work with your setup, just check that they are compatible in terms of size and design.
It is important to note, however, that certain skateboard wheels may require special sized bearings and it’s best to double check if you’re unsure before buying.
As always, do your research and make sure what you’re buying is right for your board. Skateboarding should be a fun and safe experience – roll on!