What are Bearings? The Essential Guide to Skateboard Speed

Discover the essential role of skateboard bearings! Dive into their mechanics, importance for speed and smooth rides, and tips for maintenance.

Do you ever wonder what makes your wheels do those smooth whirls and twirls? You take off down a hill, and boom—you’re reaching insane speeds! What exactly is behind this? Well, it’s not just the wheels or your bravado that’s making all that possible. It’s one of the most underappreciated parts of your skateboard: the bearings.

What is a skateboard bearing? These donut-shaped metal devices minimize friction, letting your wheels spin faster and smoother.

Why are bearings critical on a skateboard?

Consider this: You, your buddy, two skateboards, and a downward slope. The only difference? It’s the bearings in your skateboards. You have high-quality bearings, while your buddy? Not so much. You take off, and suddenly, you’re streaming ahead, leaving your buddy choking on dust! That’s the power of high-quality bearings. Remember, you get what you pay for in bearings.

A close up image of a skateboard's bearings. Source: pexels
A close up image of a skateboard's bearings. Source: pexels
My favorite bearings (at the moment):

Bones REDS Skateboard Bearings

What are bearings? The essential guide to skateboard speed | 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.)

How does the ABEC rating help?

Now, going through my own journey, I had a helluva time picking bearings. This whole thing felt like a whirlwind of options and numbers. So, what’s the deal with ABEC ratings, then? ABEC, which stands for Annular Bearing Precision Committee, is a rating system used for any bearing, but in our case, skateboard bearings.

It measures tolerance and precision, the sort of stuff you’d need if you were attempting a slam and, as Ricky Bobby would say, “I wanna go fast!”. ABEC ratings range from 1 (lowest precision and tolerance) to 9 (high precision and low tolerance) for fast and furious skateboard bearings.

Why should I pay attention to bearing spacers and washers?

Bearing Spacers are weight distribution heroes, reducing the load on each bearing for smoother, more stable turns and a longer lifespan. It’s definitely not something to sneak past when building your setup! If you hear a rattling sound, you might need bigger spacers.

Washers are tiny pieces that act as a defense system, protecting bearings from further nut and truck friction. They also make your wheels faster, so don’t skip on them!

Steel vs. ceramic, which one should I choose?

Next, you’ve got the soul of the bearing: Steel vs. Ceramic. Skate bearings usually use steel or ceramic. Here are some wisdom nuggets before you make your decision:

  • Steel bearings are cheaper, but you’ll lean towards ceramic if it’s the quality you’re after.
  • Ceramic bearings tend to spin faster; they’ll last longer at the expense of a few extra bucks.
  • Ceramic balls encased in steel—the combo you’ll find in ceramic bearings — offer a superior quality ride. Plus, they win the battle against a skateboarder’s nemesis: rust.

Here’s a quick rundown of the key differences between these two types of bearings. This table summarizes steel and ceramic bearings’ main properties and characteristics, making it easier to weigh in and decide the best pick for your skateboard ride.

PropertySteel BearingsCeramic Bearings
MaterialHigh-quality steel and ceramic ballsHigh-Quality steel and ceramic balls
CostCheaperMore Expensive
Rust ResistanceNoYes
A side-by-side comparative analysis of the properties and performance of Steel and Ceramic bearings

For all of you on a budget, start with steel bearings (especially ABEC 9). If you’re in it for the long haul, the ceramic bearings will stand by you through thick and thin!

Does picking the right bearing matter in real life?

Here’s the thing: I’m no expert; I’m just a guy who loves skateboarding. But I remember my first ride with top-notch ABEC 9 ceramic bearings—it was like someone gave my skateboard wings! This was definitely a break from my previous runs with steel bearings.

Image of a black skateboard's nose on a concrete surface. Source: pexels
What are bearings? The essential guide to skateboard speed | image of a black skateboards nose on a concrete surface pexels | skateboard salad

My takeaway? A good bearing is almost like a secret ingredient for your skateboard recipe. You can always refer to the skateboard bearings guide to help make that critical choice. As a beginner, you’ll be fine with steel bearings, but consider upgrading if you want to take your skateboarding passion up a notch.

“Skateboards, like a magical carpet ride, become an extension of our bodies…but only when equipped with the right kind of wheels and bearings!”

Are you curious about more skateboarding tech essentials? Click on Best Skateboarding Wheels, Are Aluminum Trucks Good for Skateboarding and Weight Limit of Skateboards to dive deeper into the impulsivity and creativity of skateboarding culture.

What else can I do to improve my skateboarding experience?

Like regular board maintenance and repairs. A good start would be understanding the signs of when to change your skateboard wheels or bearings. Check out when you should replace your skateboard wheels and when to replace your skateboard bearings. Also, it’s a good idea to periodically loosen or tighten your trucks based on your comfort level. Do you prefer a stiff or flexible ride? Personalize it!

Before we wrap up, here’s a handy cheat sheet to guide you through managing your skateboard bearings. It perfectly balances preventative care and efficient usage for an exceptional ride.

Invest in a quality bearing depending on your need for speedIgnore the ABEC rating
Opt for Ceramic bearings if your budget allowsGet them wet
Give a thought to spacers and washers for a smoother rideAssume all bearings are the same
A quick guide to optimizing the use and care of your skateboard bearings.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch the video below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Curiosity fuels skateboarding, and we love our skateboarding enthusiasts full of questions. Let’s tackle a few more usual head-scratchers.

Can I mix and match steel and ceramic bearings in my skateboard?

Well, you could, but why create disparities in an otherwise harmonious universe on four wheels? Mixing might result in an uneven skate experience due to the varying features of steel and ceramic. A simple rule: Stick to a single-bearing type for the best ride.

How often should I change my skateboard’s bearings?

A change in skate bearings depends on several factors – frequency of use, riding conditions, care, and the quality of the bearings. A high-quality ceramic bearing could well last years of skating with proper care. However, if your board feels slower than usual or skates unevenly, the pointy finger usually lands on the bearings. For deeper insights, check out when to replace your skateboard bearings.

Do bearings have different sizes to choose from?

Interestingly, bearings come in a universal standard size of 8mm (inner diameter), 22mm (outer diameter), and 7mm (width). So, regardless of your wheel size, the dimensions of the bearings remain constant. Isn’t that gnarly?

Is maintenance a big deal for skateboard bearings?

Definitely! Maintenance and regular clean-ups extend the life of your bearings and keep your rides smooth and fast. The good news is it’s not a big chore. A bit of lubricant and wiping off the dirt and grime regularly could keep your bearings in top-notch condition for longer. And remember, happiness is a well-maintained skateboard!

Final Thoughts

And that’s your tour of the world of skateboard bearings, from ABEC ratings to why steel or ceramic matters. You’re undoubtedly equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision about which bearings to opt for. So, the next time you meet up with your boarding crew, prepare to be the bearings guru with all the inside info!

So, did I manage to glide through all your bearing-related queries? Let me know your thoughts, questions, or even a hot-bearing joke in the comments section! I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, why not share it with a fellow skateboarder? For more skateboarding tips and tricks, check out the rest of my blog. Thanks for reading, and it’s time to grab your decks and hit the concrete!

Key Takeaways

This article covered a comprehensive guide to skateboard bearings. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Skateboard bearings are crucial for smooth and fast skate rides.
  • The ABEC rating of a bearing measures its tolerance and precision.
  • Bearings can be steel or ceramic, each with its own pros and cons.
  • Bearing spacers and washers play a significant role in enhancing ride quality.
  • Regular maintenance can significantly increase the lifespan of your bearings.
  • Bearings can’t be mixed and matched as they come in a universal size.

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.

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