Does Skateboard Bearing ABEC Rating Matter: Unveiling the Truth

Explore the fuss about ABEC ratings for skateboard bearings, debunk myths, and find what truly matters. Redefine your skate experience.

Does your skateboard’s ABEC rating matter? If you’re highly attached to shredding at your local park at lightning speeds, you’d probably say, “Yeah, dude!”. It’s commonly thought that higher ABEC ratings equate to faster, higher-quality bearings. But hold up; it’s time for a plot twist. In this post, I will explain what matters regarding those tiny metal round things we call bearings. Through some personal experience, I’ll dissect why expensive ceramic bearings might not be your best buddy. You’ll also see when and why ABEC ratings may or may not count. Bonus: There are some solid bearing choices chucked in just for you.

Does the ABEC rating of a skateboard bearing matter? Despite what the playground legends may have led us to believe about skateboarding, ABEC ratings don’t have much kick. A high ABEC-rated bearing doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will be bombing hills faster than your dawgs.

What is ABEC?

Let’s jam from the top. ABEC is an acronym for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, Rockefeller, by the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA). It’s a rating system used to measure the dimensions, precision, and performance of bearings. ABEC uses odd numbers to categorize bearings: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. The bigger the number, the tighter the tolerances, and theoretically, the more efficient and faster the bearing.

A snapshot of some skateboard bearings. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel
A snapshot of some skateboard bearings. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel

The deal with the ABEC ratings is that they mainly cater to ball precision and tolerance – great for machines but not so much for your skateboard setup.

The deal with the ABEC ratings is that they mainly cater to ball precision and tolerance—great for machines but not so much for your skateboard setup. It doesn’t consider aspects crucial to skateboarding, like side loading, impact resistance, or clearance between the balls and the races. Your ABEC-7 bearings won’t serve you any better when you’re pulling a kickflip.

Skateboarding isn’t, and should not be, a game of stats. The heart of skateboarding lies in how you feel when you’re on your board, gliding down the street, and trying a new trick. It’s about how much you can push and pump, not the theoretical speed of your bearings.

My favorite bearings (at the moment):

Bones REDS Skateboard Bearings

Does skateboard bearing abec rating matter: unveiling the truth | 61lvdnz8fzl. Ac sl1000 | skateboard salad
My favorite bearings (at the moment):

Bones REDS Skateboard Bearings

I have been buying Bones REDS since I started skating. They are probably the most commonly used bearings out there, and for good reason; they just work! (And they don’t break the bank.)

What are some essential features to consider when selecting skateboard bearings?

  • Impact resistance: If you’re super amped to hit big features and parks, you’ll put some serious strain on your bearings. You’d want something equipped to take the punch, not just break under the impact. Here, quality is key, even if that means going for a less precise but more robust bearing.
  • Price vs. quality: It’s not always about picking the most expensive skateboard setup from the store. Spending more than $40 on bearings isn’t always a smart move. Take, for example, the Bones Reds. They aren’t the most durable, but they’re a solid choice. They offer a pretty bomb-proof, quick with age, and not badly priced ABEC-9 bearing.
  • Rubber shields: Being able to pop off the shields of a bearing is a pretty dope feature. Unshielded bearings, like these heavy-hitter Bronson Raws I reviewed, are self-clearing and great for dusty environments.
  • Skate style: Your skate style plays a significant role in what bearings will best meet your needs. For cruisers, you don’t need expensive bearings. Just get a set of Zealous bearings, and you’re set to shred!
A snapshot of bearings with different colors. Source: zoty bearing youtube channel
A snapshot of bearings with different colors. Source: zoty bearing youtube channel

Do higher ABEC-rated skateboard bearings make a difference?

The impact of higher ABEC-rated skateboard bearings on performance is a common question in the skateboarding community. ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineers’ Committee) ratings are a standardized system used to measure the precision and tolerances of bearings. Still, they don’t necessarily indicate the overall quality or suitability of bearings for skateboarding.

The impact of higher ABEC-rated bearings can vary depending on a skater’s skill level. Beginners may not notice a significant difference between lower and higher ABEC-rated bearings, while experienced skaters might have a more discerning preference. Those with higher ABEC ratings tend to be more expensive. Skaters should weigh the costs against the benefits and consider their needs and preferences.

My opinion:

To me, as an intermediate skater and all-around skateboarding lover, it’s not so much about gimmicks or numbers. It’s way more about the overall experience, the ride quality, the flips and tricks, and just the pure thrill that comes with it. So, my take? Forget about ABEC; get a beginner-friendly skateboard setup and focus on shredding the park!

“Skateboarding isn’t, and should not be, a game of stats. The heart of skateboarding lies in how you feel when you’re on your board, gliding down the street trying a new trick.”

Advantages and disadvantages of ABEC-rated skateboard bearings

Choosing the bearings for your skateboard because they’re high-ABEC-rated can seem like a solid choice. But is it always true? Let’s list out the advantages and disadvantages and find out.


  • They offer tighter tolerances.
  • They could handle high RPMs.
  • They promise theoretical efficiency and speed.


  • It is not designed for side loads, which are common in skateboarding.
  • Not great at handling impacts, which, again, is inevitable when skating.
  • They are likely to be more delicate and less durable than lower-rated ones.
  • Their significant difference on a skateboard is barely noticeable.

If you are a visual learner, check out the video below from YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some fresh queries that don’t just echo what’s on every skateboarding blog. Let’s dive into some unique questions and their answers related to skateboard bearings.

What does skate rating mean when it comes to skateboard bearings?

Skate Rated is a marketing term often used by brands like Bones. The term implies that these bearings are better suited for skateboarding as they are designed to better manage impacts and load from all directions. It’s a claim that these bearings, even though less precise, respond significantly better to the forces occurring during skating than high-precision bearings.

What are other rating systems equivalent to ABEC?

Well, guy, there’s an equivalent to the ABEC rating under ISO 492. The ABEC ratings have their correspondents as follows:

  • ABEC 1: ISO Class 6X
  • ABEC 3: ISO Class 6
  • ABEC 5: ISO Class 5
  • ABEC 7: ISO Class 4
  • ABEC 9: ISO Class 2

These ratings, just like ABEC, focus on ball precision and tolerance.

Are ABEC-11 bearings a thing?

Technically, there isn’t an official ABEC-11 rating. When you see it, it indicates that the bearing exceeds the precision rating of an ABEC-9 bearing, but there isn’t a specific set of parameters it must adhere to.

How can I make my skateboard bearings last longer?

Regular cleaning and lubing can help your bearings last longer, especially if you’re hitting the park in a dusty environment. Popping off the shields of the bearings, like in some, can also help with self-cleaning. Regular inspection of bearings for wear or damage can ensure a longer run for them as well.

Final thoughts

Thinking back to my early days at the park, I can resonate with anyone who puts a lot of stock in ABEC ratings. But as we’ve seen, ABEC ratings aren’t the be-all and end-all. High ABEC ratings—sure, they sound great—but when you’re shredding the park or carving through the bowls and pools, you need something tailored for skateboarding, not machinery.

Now it’s your time to shine. Are you on the high, precision-loving ABEC side, or do you wave the practical, skate-rated flag? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more skateboarding tips and tricks. Thanks for reading, and keep shredding!

Key takeaways

This article unearthed the truth behind skateboards bearing ABEC ratings. Here are some key takeaways:

  • The ABEC rating measures bearing precision, not necessarily quality for skateboarding.
  • High-ABEC-rated bearings aren’t as crucial to skateboarding as initially thought.
  • Consider impact resistance, price vs. quality, rubber shields, and your skate style when selecting bearings.
  • The term’ Skate Rated’ indicates bearings designed to handle skateboarding conditions.
  • ABEC-11 isn’t an official rating, but it implies exceeding ABEC-9 precision.

Helpful resources

Steven Portrate
Written by Steven Sadder, Staff Writer

Hey! I'm Steven, a lifelong skater, and proud New Yorker. I’ve been skating since I was a teenager. I may be a bit older now, but I'm not slowing down. Follow me for skating tips and latest gear reviews.

Nick eggert.
Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

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