If you are a serious skateboarder, it is important to buy good skateboard bearings. The first thing you will hear about skateboard bearings is the ABEC rating.
The ABEC rating is a system that measures the physical limits and tolerances of ball bearings in high-speed spinning machinery. ABEC ratings are 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. 1-rated bearings are the lowest quality, and 9-rated bearings are the highest quality.
While the ABEC rating is worth knowing when you buy skateboard bearings, a higher rating does not mean you will skate better or faster. There are so many factors that affect bearings for skating that ABEC does not address, such as impact handling, lateral stress, materials, lubrication, noise, and vibration.
A 9-rated bearing means it can spin faster and smoother, but even the fastest skateboarder on earth is not fast enough for a 9-rated bearing to make a difference in speed.
A good general tip is the best bearings for you are clean and well-oiled, no matter the ABEC rating.
The next thing to know when shopping for cool skateboard bearings is what they are made of. Steel is the most popular choice. Steel is popular because it is durable and affordable. Higher grade steel in more expensive bearings will make them faster and more durable.
One disadvantage of steel is it can rust when they get wet. That is why it is important to keep your bearings clean and oiled after every skate, especially if you skated in a wet environment. If you ever get your bearings wet, put in some extra oil. You also can put them by a heater so they dry fast and do not rust.
The other major type of bearing is ceramic. They are tougher than steel and do not deform under stress. They are heat resistant and will not expand as much. This means less friction at high speeds. Ceramic bearings also do not rust. They are great for people who skate often in wet environments.
The disadvantage to ceramic bearings is they are brittle. They can break if you skate in a high-impact way. So, ceramic bearings are good for commuting and low-impact skateboarding, but you probably don’t want ceramic if you are doing big jumps.
Generally, you want good-quality bearings without breaking the bank. And as always, you will always do better with a set of clean, well-oiled bearings, whatever type you choose. Happy skating!