Whether you are looking to ride the streets on a skateboard or explore in nature with a longboard, having the right bearing can often be the difference between an optimal ride and one that is less than stellar.
But this begs the question – Are skateboard and longboard bearings actually similar, or do they have enough differences to warrant purchasing appropriate types for each board?
This article will explain everything you need to know about which type of bearings best fits your needs, so keep reading and learn more about whether skateboard and longboard bearings really are equal.
Basic Function of Bearings:
Before we dive into the differences, let’s start with the basics.
Bearings are designed to reduce friction between the wheel and the axle, allowing the wheel to spin freely.
This functionality is essential for both skateboards and longboards.
Whether you’re a skateboarder doing tricks in the park or a longboarder cruising down a hill, the quality of your bearings can significantly affect your ride’s smoothness and speed.
Common Features of Skateboard and Longboard Bearings:
Bearings for both skateboards and longboards adhere to a widely accepted standard size, which is the 608 bearing. This standardized size simplifies the manufacturing process and allows for interchangeability between different brands and types of wheels. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the 608 bearing’s dimensions:
- Inner Diameter: 8mm
- Outer Diameter: 22mm
- Width: 7mm
The 8mm inner diameter is crucial because it ensures a snug fit on the axle of most skateboard and longboard trucks, providing stability and reducing play in the wheel’s rotation. The 22mm outer diameter corresponds to the size of the bearing seat in the wheel, securing the bearing in place. The 7mm width refers to the thickness of the bearing, fitting nicely within the wheel’s core.
This standardized sizing system simplifies the process of replacing or upgrading bearings since you can readily find 608-sized bearings for both skateboards and longboards, making maintenance and customization more accessible for riders.
The ABEC rating ranges from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest), with odd-numbered ratings like ABEC 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. While ABEC ratings are commonly associated with bearing quality, it’s essential to understand that a higher ABEC rating doesn’t always equate to a better bearing for skateboarding or longboarding.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of ABEC ratings in the context of skateboarding and longboarding:
- ABEC 1-3: These bearings have lower tolerances and may provide a bit more friction, which can be desirable for skateboarders who require enhanced control during tricks and maneuvers.
- ABEC 5-7: Bearings within this range offer a balance of smoothness and control, making them suitable for general use in both skateboarding and longboarding.
- ABEC 9: Bearings with an ABEC 9 rating are engineered for high precision and reduced friction. These bearings are often favored by longboarders who prioritize speed and smooth rolling.
In practice, the choice of ABEC rating depends on the rider’s preferences and the intended style of riding. Some skateboarders prefer the control offered by lower-rated bearings, while others opt for the speed of higher-rated ones. Longboarders often lean toward higher-rated bearings for downhill racing but may choose lower-rated ones for technical or freestyle riding.
Bearings are typically constructed from two primary materials: steel and ceramic. Both materials have their own advantages and are available for skateboard and longboard bearings.
- Steel Bearings: Steel bearings are the most common and budget-friendly option. They are suitable for most applications and are known for their durability and reliability. The steel used is often chrome steel or stainless steel, both of which offer good resistance to corrosion. Steel bearings are a versatile choice for riders seeking dependable performance without breaking the bank.
- Ceramic Bearings: Ceramic bearings are made with ceramic balls (usually silicon nitride) instead of steel. They are favored for their exceptional durability and resistance to corrosion. Ceramic bearings are known for their reduced friction, which translates to smoother and faster rides. While they can be more expensive than steel bearings, their longevity and performance benefits make them an attractive option, particularly for longboarders looking for top-tier speed and efficiency.
Differences Between Skateboard and Longboard Bearings:
While skateboard and longboard bearings share many similarities, there are some key differences to consider:
Speed vs. Control:
One of the most significant distinctions between skateboard and longboard bearings is the trade-off between speed and control.
Skateboarding often involves intricate tricks, flips, and technical maneuvers that require a high degree of control over the board’s movements.
For this reason, some skateboarders prefer bearings with lower ABEC ratings, typically in the ABEC 1-3 range. These lower-rated bearings offer a bit more friction and resistance, which can be advantageous when performing tricks.
The added friction allows skaters to have more precise control over their board’s movements, aiding in tricks such as kickflips, ollies, and grinds.
In contrast, longboarding is more focused on cruising, downhill racing, and covering longer distances. Speed and stability are of utmost importance for longboarders.
As a result, many longboarders opt for bearings with higher ABEC ratings, often in the ABEC 5-7 range or even ABEC 9. Bearings with higher ABEC ratings have tighter tolerances, resulting in reduced friction and smoother rolling.
Longboarders appreciate this smoothness as it allows them to maintain higher speeds with less effort and ensures a stable ride.
The riding styles and preferences of skateboarders and longboarders also influence their choice of bearings:
- Skateboarders: Skateboarders engage in various tricks, jumps, and technical maneuvers in skate parks or street settings. They often prefer smaller and lighter bearings, which contribute to the overall agility of the skateboard. Lightweight bearings enable faster and more controlled spins, essential for performing flips and tricks. These bearings may be of lower ABEC ratings for added control, as mentioned earlier.
- Longboarders: Longboarders, on the other hand, focus on covering longer distances, downhill runs, and cruising. Stability and speed are paramount. Many longboarders opt for larger and heavier bearings that enhance stability and speed. The additional weight in these bearings helps maintain traction on the road, while the larger size provides better stability at higher speeds.
The maintenance requirements for skateboard and longboard bearings can differ due to the varying conditions these boards encounter:
- Skateboard Bearings: Skateboarding often involves exposure to dirt, dust, and debris from skate parks, streets, and grinding surfaces. As a result, skateboard bearings may require more frequent cleaning and lubrication to prevent dirt and debris from affecting their performance. Routine maintenance, such as cleaning and regreasing, is essential to ensure the smooth rotation of skateboard bearings.
- Longboard Bearings: Longboarding usually occurs on smoother surfaces like roads or bike paths, which are less abrasive and dirty compared to skate parks. This means that longboard bearings generally require less maintenance. Longboarders may need to clean and lubricate their bearings less frequently, thanks to the reduced exposure to debris and harsh conditions.
Longboard bearings may need to withstand greater loads due to the larger decks and the potential for higher speeds associated with longboarding.
To accommodate these demands, some longboard bearings are specifically designed to have a higher load capacity.
This means they can endure the increased forces applied during downhill riding, maintaining their structural integrity and performance under these conditions.
When it comes to bearings, skateboard, and longboard types are usually interchangeable as they have similar sizes, materials, ABEC ratings, and performance capabilities.
While there may be some slight differences between the two types of bearings, these differences tend to be minor and won’t affect riding performance too much.
It is ultimately up to personal preference when it comes to whether a rider opts for skateboard or longboard bearings.
As long as the bearing is of good quality and fits the wheel, it should work perfectly fine for either sport.
So next time you’re thinking about upgrading your bearings, remember that skateboard and longboard types are often interchangeable.
Can you use skateboard bearings on longboard?
Yes, you can use skateboard bearings on longboard. Skateboard and longboard bearings are typically made from steel or ceramic and measure 7 millimeters in diameter.
Are skateboard bearings faster than longboard?
Skateboard & longboard bearings tend to have an ABEC rating which is a standardized rating system used to measure a bearing’s precision and accuracy. The higher the ABEC rating on a bearing, the faster it can roll and turn while maintaining its smoothness.
Do all bearings fit all longboard wheels?
Yes, all bearings will fit all longboard wheels as long as the diameter and size of the bearing is compatible with the wheel. However, it’s important to make sure that you purchase quality bearings that are rated for your weight and riding style.
Do all bearings fit all skateboard wheels?
Yes, all skateboard wheel bearings fit all skateboard wheels. However, it is important to note that not all bearings are the same size. The size of the bearing you need depends on the size of your wheel and truck axle.