Skateboard bearings usually have an ABEC rating that helps to rate the level of precision and durability. However, not all skateboard bearings are ABEC rated. Some are “skate tested,” meaning they are good enough for your skateboard, but we don’t have a number to gauge the quality.
ABEC is an acronym for Annular Bearing Engineers’ Committee and is the USA practice for rating tolerance and accuracy of bearings.
The ABEC standards of all bearings are established by the American Bearing Manufacturers Association.
How ABEC Ratings Work
ABEC ratings use only odd numbers starting with ABEC 1. As the ratings climb higher (to ABEC 9 and higher), the bearings become more precise and fast.
That being said, anything above ABEC 7 isn’t really intended for skateboards. I recommend getting ABEC 5 or ABEC 7, depending on your preference.
ABEC 1: the crudest and durable, least precise, and cheapest bearings to purchase.
ABEC 3: the bearings that most cheap complete skateboards come with. These work for most skateboarding that you’d do but don’t roll as smoothly or as quick as some of the higher quality bearings.
ABEC 5: these bearings are the standard bearing used in skateboarding. They provide reasonable speed and at a good price.
ABEC 7: sevens are extremely fast and smooth but come at a cost. They can also be damaged if you skate really hard or aggressively.
ABEC 9+: these bearings should only be used for downhill riding, longboards, and cruisers, etc. ABEC 9 will be the fastest bearings but are obviously the easiest to damage or break. They’re also really expensive, so if you think you’re getting a good deal on some 9’s, chances are they’re not actually ABEC 9.
Best Skateboard Bearings
The best skateboard bearings depend on what you’re planning on doing with your skateboard. However, I’ve got you covered with a cost-effective solution to everything that you could need.
ABEC 5 – Amphetamine Skateboard Bearings: the perfect all-around bearing for skating the streets or parks. These are low cost but good quality and highly durable.
ABEC 7 – CCS Skateboard Bearings: getting into an ABEC 7 is terrific for speed and smoothness, but you’re going to want to be careful so that you don’t blow out a bearing. They’re still not too expensive, but they’re fast and slightly less durable than ABEC 5s.
ABEC 9 – Yellow Jacket Skateboard Bearings: get ABEC 9’s if you’re into longboarding or cruising. Honestly, they’re not meant for doing tricks on, but they’re going to be wicked fast.
Skate Tested – Bones Reds Bearings: so this is where things get tricky. Bones do not put their bearings on the ABEC scale. Their belief is that ABEC only affects bearings at extremely high RPMs, and skateboard wheels can’t even get that fast. However, they’re still the biggest and best producers of bearings on the market. They are worth the hype.
Ceramic – Oldboy Premium Ceramic Skateboard Bearings: these ceramic bearings will launch your longboard or cruiser into overdrive. Remember: do not get these if you intend on doing tricks. They are meant for cruising and downhill only.
What Are Skateboard Bearings Made Of?
Skateboard bearings can be made out of a few different materials. However, the most common is steel or steel with titanium plating.
Steel bearings are the most common bearings. They’re the most durable and economical of the bearings. However, the quality can vary.
High-grade steel can make for fast and durable bearings. The only downside to steel is that it tends to rust if exposed to water or moisture.
To keep your steel bearings lasting a long time, learn how to lubricate them and avoid getting them wet.
If they do get wet, lubricate them or put them near a heater to dry them out quickly.
Ceramic bearings are typically harder and more durable than steel bearings. However, they’re more expensive, and rightfully so.
Ceramic bearings are heat resistant which causes them to expand less, creating less friction at higher speeds. They also do not rust when exposed to moisture. That being said, the steel races can still rust, so you should avoid water.
The only downside to ceramic bearings is that ceramic is brittle, so they can crack and break if you skate hard. They’re best for commuter boards, low-impact skating, longboards, and cruisers. I do not recommend using ceramic bearings for a trick board.
Titanium bearings are lightweight, durable and resistant to rust. Skateboard bearings made out of titanium perform similar to steel but last much longer due to the strength and resistance to corrosion.
Like your steel bearings, you should also keep titanium bearings well-lubricated to reduce friction. It will increase the lifetime of your bearings.
Parts Of A Skateboard Bearing
Skateboard bearings are made up of the following components:
Ball bearings: a set of 6 to 7 ball bearings that roll within the track. The rotating or rolling ball bearings are how the bearing works. Fewer ball bearings cause less friction but more speed.
Inner and outer races: the races form a track for the ball bearings to roll in. They also create the inner and outer walls of the bearing.
Retainer: the retainer is the component that keeps all of the ball bearings in place. Each ball is kept an equal distance from the other within the retainer to reduce friction and increase strength.
Shields: the shields cover both sides of the bearing to protect the innards from the elements. Simple things like dust and debris can take a real toll on bearings. Some bearings have removable shields for easier maintenance, lubrication, and cleaning.
Bearing spacers: only some bearings come with bearing spacers. They are small circular pieces of plastic that fit in the wheel between the bearings on either side. The reason for bearing spacers is to keep everything aligned and allow you to fully tighten your axle nut without restricting the wheels’ spin.