Bearings : The Truth About Your Balls

''Please, please, please don’t think because your wheel spins for longer than your buddy’s that you are faster because that probably means your bearings are dry and might explode at your next session.''

Our sport even though we do hit some fast speeds just doesn’t require super-duper crazy fast abec 9 ultra-ceramic speed lubricant enriched bearings. Honestly it doesn’t.  If your skate bearing is a legit abec 5 that is probably the highest you are going to need. There actually hasn’t been much good evidence to suggest a big difference between an abec 1 and an abec 5 for instance.

The infamous ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineers Committee) rating on bearings. It is a tolerance rating and in short it means the higher the rating the tighter the components are and how precise (precision bearings). Mainly the abec rating acts as a guide for manufacturers to establish what bearing is meant for what purpose depending on their different tolerances, geometry, dimensions and different noise standards.  

Nearly all skate bearings are going to be roughly abec 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. Anything claiming to be higher than that is lying. It would cost too much money to have an abec rating of that standard done. You’re talking serious money per bearing. Even a 7-9 is pushing it and you won’t find many skate bearings ,legitimately, of this quality. You can pay to have a fake rating put onto a bearing as many skate companies do. Business is business and it needs to appeal to an unbeknown skater.

On most skate bearings you’re going to get radial play when it moves slightly from the outer ring to the inner ring. If the bearing is of a higher quality then it might not have as much radial play.

A ceramic ball will spin slower than a steel ball but maybe just last a bit longer and not rust. The Inner cage and outer rings are still the same so even the best stuff can be buggered in the rain. If you look after your equipment your equipment will look after you. A steel is all we need. 

Please, please, please don’t think because your wheel spins for longer than your buddy’s that you are faster because that probably means your bearings are dry and might explode at your next session. 

When cleaning and re-lubing your bearings its important to make sure everything stays clean, all the time, even the rubber shields need to be clean. All it takes is a little bit of dirt to get into a bearing and over time it can affect the condition.

Step 1.

Gently take out the rubber shields on either side of the bearing . be careful and use a knife or better a  thin blunt object, that way it doesn’t scratch or damage the inner and outer rings.

Step 2.

Soak the bearings in a jar of white spirit ( other chemicals work better but are dangerous and not advisable) leave them to soak for a good hour, making sure you give it a good shake now and again.

Step 3.

With soapy water clean all the rubber shields separately 

Step 4.

Take the bearings out of the white spirit and put them into some new clean white spirit and shake generously.

Step 5

Bearings should now be clean and can be dried with a hair dryer or compressor.

Step 6.

When re-lubing, a high temperature grease is better, and less likely to dissipate when wet, than oil is. If no grease is present oil is fine, put a few drops in each bearing spinning it with your finger afterwards.

Step 7.

Pop back in the rubber shields and your ready to go!


You can purchase bearings from our sponsors Vandem MFG Shop and AOB Longboards. Click the banners on the right to head straight to their websites.

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