Bearings for longboards and skateboards
Why you need bearings
Your board isn’t going anywhere without bearings. For something so simple, bearings have a huge influence on skateboard and longboard performance. Manufacturers sell them in packs of eight (two bearings for each wheel), but don’t worry - choosing bearings is much easier than choosing trucks, wheels or decks. There are no tricky durometer ratings or sizes to worry about – all bearings are the same size and fit in any skateboard or longboard wheel.
ABEC is a rating of how precisely manufactured a bearing is: the higher the rating, the lower the bearing production failure rate. The idea that ABEC has anything to do with bearing speed is unfortunately not true. A higher ABEC rating (higher precision) just means a bearing is better made and will last longer. Lower ABEC ratings mean your bearings will deteriorate faster, but ABEC 5 and ABEC 7 both work just as well as one another and are just as fast. An ABEC rating is a standard – it lets you directly compare products from different manufacturers.
Steel or Ceramic?
Longboard and skateboard bearings are round casings containing eight or nine lubricated bearings depending on whether they are steel or ceramic. They help to spread the weight of the rider and reduce friction between the truck and wheels. Durable and reasonably priced, steel bearings are the most widely distributed bearing style.
Large amounts of friction between the trucks and wheels will make metal bearings heat up and expand, which can cause them damage. That’s why proper, regular maintenance of your bearings is so important. The effects of friction are far less damaging to ceramic bearings so, naturally, they last a lot longer.
Shielded or Sealed Bearings
Sealed bearings are best for outdoor riding because they keep grit and dirt out. Shielded bearings are designed for indoor skating as they are liable to get dirty very quickly. Both types of bearing can be opened up for cleaning but shielded bearings are far easier to open and clean than sealed bearings.
Installing your bearings
Installing your longboard or skateboard bearings is nice and simple: just press them in to your wheels with your thumbs and only your thumbs - never use a tool as you may damage them or your wheels.
Tip for installing bearings
Looking after your bearings
To make sure your bearings last a long time and stay in tip-top condition, do your best to keep them free from sand, dirt and moisture. You should clean your bearings regularly to minimise wear and tear. If your bearings come into contact with water, dry them as quickly as possible. Rust only takes a few hours to set in and will kill your bearings. Even a puddle is enough to let the evil rust gremlins in.
A few cleaning tips:
- First clean off any dirt from the outside of your bearings then take off the sealing washer and locking ring.
- Using a toothbrush, clean out the filth from the inside of the bearings. You’ll be amazed how much dirt can accumulate in such a short period of time. You can use cleaning products to get every last bit of dirt out of each bearing.
- Test your bearings: hold your bearing by the inner ring and turn the outer ring with your other hand. If there’s still dirt in your bearings you’ll hear a crunching, grating noise and you’ll need to repeat the process with your toothbrush and cleaner.
- Finally, lubricate the bearings with grease to make them run smoothly again. The best way is to take all of your bearings out of your wheels, pop them in a plastic bag with the grease and give them a gentle shake.
- Before you hit the streets again, put those sealing washers back on! Then just press your bearings back into your wheels, grease up the outer metal part and let loose!