1. Skateboard Bearings: General Info
In order to keep your wheels rolling smoothly, you’ll need sensible Bearings.
Every skateboard wheel is equipped with two bearings. If you want, you can fill the space between them with a spacer. This small metal cylinder prevents the bearings from being forced into the centre of the wheels when tightening the axle nut and getting damaged. Spacers are particularly prudent if you have soft wheels or so-called “non-core wheels”.
The bearings you’ll find in the skatedeluxe Skate Shop fit in every standard wheel and work with every standard axle. When choosing your bearings, therefore, you don’t have to worry about the size.
Where exactly do the bearings sit in the wheel?
6. Speed Ring
7. Axle Nut
2. Skateboard Bearings: Composition & Parts
Bearings are comprised of a large outer ring and a smaller inner ring. Between these rings are small steel balls. These are what enable the wheels to turn. On either side of the rings are covers, called shields, which prevent the bearings from getting dirty. In order to keep the balls in position, they are contained inside of a so-called “ball cage.”
1. Inner Ring
2. Outer Ring
3. Ball Cage
You can also choose to skate with ball bearings without shields, which are open or semi-open. If you do skate with open or semi-open bearings, they will indeed be more susceptible to contamination, but they will be somewhat faster. Many skaters enjoy the slightly louder sound of a skateboard with open bearings.
2. Ball Cage
4. Outer Ring
5. Inner Ring
3. Fact or Myth? ABEC Rating as an indicator for high quality skateboard bearings?
„Dude, my ABEC 3 bearings are so lousy! It’d be so sick if I had ABEC 7s!“
The urban legend is that the higher the ABEC rating, the better and faster the bearings. But as is the case with most myths and legends, this one is for the most part nonsense.
The acronym ABEC stands for “Annular Bearing Engineers Committee,” and is a standard for how fine the rolling elements are. The higher the ABEC rating, the lower the tolerance for error in the manufacturing process. The rating does provide reliable information on the quality of the bearings. However, because the rpms achieved when skating are so comparatively low, the rating is all but irrelevant. The full potential of a high ABEC rating would unfortunately never be reached because of the relatively low speeds achieved in classic skating.
To put it into more specific terms:
ABEC 7 or 9 bearings can reach 20,000-30,000 rpm at their full potential. For a 54mm wheel, this would correspond to a speed of over 200 km/h. For this reason, some manufacturers now renounce ABEC rating although it can still give a rough first impression of the quality of the bearings. As far as the relevance for skating and speed goes, the ABEC rating says quite little because skateboarding impacts bearings very differently than the traditional industrial uses.
For this very reason, we have “Skate Tested Bearings” or “Skate Rated Bearings.” These are usually more resistant and have been specifically developed to meet the demands of skateboarding; for instance, the impact on the bearings when landing tricks, or the lateral forces when turning.
There are of course, always new and exciting developments in the realm of bearings. There are now skateboard bearings with parts made out of titanium, or extra-hard balls made of tempered ceramic. These special technologies offer a longer lifespan and are naturally also more expensive.
4. Skateboard Bearings: Assembly & Removal
We’ll show you exactly how to mount your wheels on your trucks and how to get the bearings into your wheels in our Skateboard Assembly Instructions and in the comprehensive video below. Make sure that you don’t use excessive force when attempting to insert your bearings, as not to damage the wheel core or bearing.
How to get your bearings back out of your wheels
If your wheels are worn out, but your bearings are still in working order, you can get them out from your wheels in a few easy steps.
• Turn your deck on its side, so that the axel is pointing upwards.
• Loosen the axle nut and remove the top speed ring.
• Take the wheel off the axle, and slightly reinsert it at an angle. Like this, you should be able to pry the bearing from the wheel core.
• Make sure you don’t apply too much force, or you’ll damage the bearing. It will take a little muscle though.
5. Skateboard Bearings: Care & Cleaning
You can do your bearings and yourself a huge favour by following a few simple ground rules.
Caring for your bearings: How To
Firstly: Water will cause your bearings to rust, so you should avoid ever letting them come into contact with water. So it’s best not to skate in the rain. It’s also better for your deck, not to mention the increased risk of injury of skating on wet concrete and ramps. Dust can also be a menace to your bearings.
Secondly: Never oil your bearings without having first cleaned them.
Cleaning your bearings – How To
We’ve now come to a very important point in terms of ball bearing maintenance: cleaning. Although it might seem tedious, cleaning your bearings will greatly extend their lifespan. A good cleaning can take your old and seemingly worn out bearings, and bring them back to the quick and smooth-rolling bearings you once knew. In order to clean them, you’ll need lubricant, a container to clean them in, and a suitable cleaning solution (ex. a citrus-based cleaner or pure alcohol). You can of course find these products in the skatedeluxe online Skate Shop.
First you’ll need to carefully remove the rubber covers, or shields from the bearings, and fill your container with cleaning solution. Now you can slide the bearings onto the screw that’s attached to the bottom of the container lid. Add the spacers and nuts to the screw as well, and then insert the screw back into the container, resealing the lid. Let the pieces soak and give them a light shake to help remove the grime. Carefully remove the pieces and let them dry. Once the bearings are completely dry, apply two drops of lubricant to each, reassemble them, and you’re ready to go! If you don’t have a special cleaning container, you can also use a small bowl.