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Whether you have been skateboarding for years or are just getting into this sport, you should be sure you know the different parts of a skateboard. Since it is the only tool or gear you need to get started (along with pads and a helmet), it pays to understand the anatomy of a board, and what parts are the most significant.
In this guide, we are going to look at the parts known as bearings and explore 16 of the best options in the market. What makes a good bearing, well…good? We cover that a bit later, but you should know that a good bearing depends on the kind of skateboarding you want to do, the amount of maintenance you’re willing to provide and your budget. Let’s look at the most highly recommended, then we’ll dig into the overall topic of skateboard parts and bearings, specifically.
From one of the best-selling brands in the world of skateboard bearings, these are considered one of the most precise and high performance options available. Bones does not use that ABEC rating but instead says whether or not a bearing is “Skate Rated”. Why? According to the company, they do this because, the “ABEC rating system is not intended to be the only criteria used for selecting bearings for use in specialized applications like skating.”
Explaining that most skateboard bearings will never spin beyond speeds of 4700 RPM, and mostly under 2000 RPM, high precision or tolerances. This is why they look to test behaviors that ABEC doesn’t, including side loading, materials, impact resistance, lubrication, grade of ball, retainer type and much more. These unexamined elements are what go into the Bones’ Skate Rated bearings, and every product (including the Reds) will have their Skate Rated sticker on the label.
The Reds have a removable shield to make cleaning easy and use high speed nylon ball retainers to give far better performance. The races are made of long-wearing steel and these bearings arrive pre-lubricated with racing lubricant and are in a standard 22mm/8mm diameter. They do not include the spacers as you need to choose spacers based on your wheels.
An industry standard, they are one of the most popular options, and offer long service if you clean and maintain them properly.
Enjoy the usual Bones Skate Rated quality and performance with a bit more precision design and a few appealing extras. This set of ate comes with handy speed washers for easy installation, cleaning and upkeep as well as a set of spacers sized to match the Swiss-designed bearings.
Crafted of premium steel, they will not wear out easily. They arrive pre-lubricated with racing cream lubricant and fitted with non-contact, single side shields on each bearing. The standard 608 RS size, they feature nylon ball retainers and include a lifetime warranty!
They are given the name Super Reds because they are meant to hold up against the toughest use and abuse. Designed for all skateboard styles, they receive a surface finish to help improve their speed and performance, and the steel used for them is a bit higher than other products by the same firm. Noted for being longer lasting, quieter and smoother in performance, they are a great bump up from the usual bearings.
This set of eight skateboard bearings is noted as one of the fastest of the premium 608 RS bearings. Made of titanium for amazingly long wear, they promise an ultra-smooth and super-fast ride. They arrive pre-lubricated with specialized lubricant that guarantees not only a near silent operation, but also some of the greatest spinning speeds with plenty of durability.
Unlike the Bones brand, the Heady Shake skateboard bearings do rely on ABEC ratings. They receive an ABEC 9, which is the highest in the industry. Paired with the premium titanium coating and their corrosion resistance, these bearings ensure optimal rides.
They have an unbeatable temperature range and feature a double strength nylon retain and a single side rubber shield. Each comes with properly sized spacers and offer some of the longest spin times thanks to the use of durable and nearly indestructible titanium. They have a price that reflects the high quality materials, but if you want something meant to last and perform, these are a good choice. They are also well-suited to all skateboard styles.
Yellow Jacket Premium Skateboard Bearings, Pro Longboard Bearings
Another option meant for all skateboard types (longboards, street, and so on), this set of eight bearings is rated ABEC 9. That means high performance and high speed, but it is also long-wearing thanks to the use of premium chrome steel balls, a high speed nylon ball cage and a stainless steel roller cage that arrives pre-lubricated with long-lasting racing lubricant.
A good looking choice, and available in a huge range of colors, they arrive with spacers and washers. The engraved color seals give you that blast of color, but also ensure that your bearings are constantly protected from water, rocks, dirt and debris. This makes them easy to clean and easy to use, but also lets you give your skateboard a bit of customization and color.
With a price point that is at the lower end of the spectrum, these are reliable and well-made skateboard bearings for those who want performance and easy maintenance where their skateboarding gear is concerned.
Another option from the highly rated Bones brand, these Ceramic Super Reds provide you with a lighter weight and higher speeds. Ceramics are also noted for creating much less friction, further boosting acceleration and speed, and this is true even if there is no lubricant inside of the bearing.
Another reason to invest in ceramics is that they grind dirt against the steel components, polishing rather than harming them, and ceramic is actually far harder than steel and comes without any risk of rust. So, for the higher price, you get an almost self-sustaining system with a long life and great speed.
These bearings use higher quality steel races, feature a single non-contact shield, a high speed nylon retainer to hold the ceramic balls, and each one arrives fully lubricated with a Speed Cream racing lubricant. With the company’s usual Skate Rated testing, these are a premium option for the daily skateboard rider.
Described by the manufacturer as being in a class by themselves, these Bones Swiss Ceramics bearings are at the top of the class. They use ceramic balls, which as we just learned in the previous review can actually help to grind down a lot of debris and end up polishing and improving the interior surface of the bearing.
Ceramic balls are also much lighter and more durable than steel, eliminating risks of rust, wear and slow down. They roll both farther and faster while resisting moisture and dirt. They repair issues caused by grit or debris and come equipped with a high speed nylon ball retainer for even better performance.
They are designed with a non-contact, shield on one side of each bearing to help make cleaning and upkeep easier and block debris. They arrive with four properly sized spacers and feature the company’s famous Skate Rated designation for tolerance, materials, lubricant and more. These last much longer than other skateboard bearings, so they may be a bit of an upfront investment, but the performance and life you get out of them make them a cost-effective choice.
With a tagline encouraging skateboarders to “ride the fire,” these Spitfire Burner skateboard bearings are among the highest performance options available. They feature wear resistant nylon cages and are built of high carbon chromium steel for optimal durability and heat or friction resistance. They are sport polished to a fine sheen to further boost speed and, unlike many of the other skateboard bearings we’ve reviewed, these are skateboard specific and not recommended for use with inline skates, scooters, and so on.
The set of eight bearings arrives with the house brand, high speed Spitfire Lubricant that keeps them spinning at top speeds and helps ensure they remain free of debris. One-sided shields complete the look, and at their lower price point they are a bargain find for those who do high speed or high impact skateboarding.
Another set of skateboard bearings meant specifically for use in skateboards and nothing else, this set of eight bearings is meant to offer greater durability and strength while delivering some of the highest speeds imaginable. This is achieved through the use of six larger diameter balls rather than the usual seven or eight. Using them, you can count on more rapid acceleration and consistent performance.
Made with high speed nylon ball retainers, they are fitted with non-contact rubber shields to reduce friction further as well as block debris from disrupting performance. They are pre-lubricated with the brand’s preferred Speed Cream that is a top of the line racing lubricant.
With their Skate Rated quality, this set also arrives with four properly sized spacers for ease of installation or replacement.
Bronson Speed Co, Next Generation Skateboard Bearings
The name on these skateboard bearings say it all. They are designed exclusively for skateboards and by not manufacturing a more general product, Bronson Speed Co. has boosted these bearings to the next level.
In fact, these are frequently described by experienced skateboarders as one of the most advanced. They use deep groove raceways that allow the balls to sit in channels that help with side impact damage. The raceway surfaces are also treated with a micro grooving finish that improves spin and lubrication of the balls inside each bearing, and their “balls out” tech gives a guaranteed level of high speed performance that allows the bearing to spin longer.
They feature frictionless shields that also fit tightly and more deeply into the race edges. This means no intrusive water or dirt and no loss of lubrication and with maximum impact cage design, the glass filled nylon cage keeps the balls circulating and secure.
These bearings arrive fully lubricated with high speed ceramic oil that also prolongs the lives of these bearings. Made of stainless, they are also going to last longer and resist any sort of corrosion.
Though you’ll find them at a hither price point, it is difficult to argue with the quality of these skateboard-only bearings.
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Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings
Designed for use as skateboard bearings as well as for inline skates, these Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings come with a full warranty and a design that makes them an ideal choice for speed riders. The eight bearings arrive fully lubricated races and the Endure model is coated in denser grease to ensure a longer life span and better speed.
They are not given ABEC rating by their manufacturer, but instead are noted as being designed specifically for action sport use. They can be easily cleaned and use high quality steel to ensure long performance.
To ensure we’ve covered the entire line of Bones brand bearings, we want to look at their models made for optimal performance in roller blades. Why? They are still among the Skate Rated product lines of this company, and they come in a set of 16 rather than eight. They are precision bearings and have all of the approved tolerances, materials, clearances and lubricants needed for the performance and wear desired. Should you opt to use them for a skateboard? They can be used for this purpose.
They have removable shields, but do not arrive with properly sized spacers. They are standard 608 bearings, meaning they work with all skateboards and most skates. Sized at the inner ring to 8mm, they are a good alternative to the standard Reds and Super Reds made by this same manufacturer, and the real difference is in the price point. While you won’t need 16 bearings at once for your skateboard performance, it can be nice to get a double supply of the Bones brand at a lower price.
Keep in mind that rollerblades usually have higher RPM demands with lower impact demands. If you are eager to just enjoy faster road speeds without a lot of maneuvering and tricks along the way, it is a good idea to consider these or the premium Swiss 6 Competition option we looked at a bit earlier.
At one of the higher price points for skateboard bearings, these Zealous bearings work well on all kinds of skateboards but are notably innovative as they feature built in spacers. In other words, you don’t have to deal with all of those loose parts as you mount or clean your bearings.
These are .4045″ built in spacers and .5mm built in speed rings that make upkeep easier and reduce problems with fit or installation. They are rated as some of the lowest friction bearings available and are even described as almost frictionless in testing.
They feature machine precision axle holes at the standard 8mm size, feature a white ceramic seal which can ensure your bearings remain free of debris at all times.
What really sets them apart from others (in addition to built in spacers) is that they arrive fully lubricated with Archoil Nanoceramic Grease that offers a remarkably long use and eliminates friction and corrosion over time. The technology is fascinating as the nanoceramic material is able to fill in any area of the bearings experiencing pitting or malformation. The lubricant actually seals and heals the balls and improves the long term function of the bearings. As noted, they are at a slightly higher price point, but with this comes remarkable performance.
Though these are not made by Bones, they use an identical Skate Rated indicator that means they meet the industry’s highest manufacturing methods and demands. They are designed to be strong, fast, and offer a remarkable value.
They feature dual rubber shields to block as much debris as possible from entering the bearing. Made of super finished and hardened chromium steel (races and balls), they arrive ready to perform and are lubricated with industry preferred Speed Cream. They use high speed molded ball retainers to ensure great speed and performance, and they are described as faster than previous iterations of this line.
Easy to install, clean, replace or maintain, they have been designed as a great and affordable option for dedicated skateboarders.
By Raw, the Bronson Speed Co. means that these bearings are wide open and offer a remarkable level of performance and even sound. Shieldless, they feature “audible speed tech” that a lot of skateboarders will love and which enhances the performance of the bearings.
Noted as some of the most long lasting and longest spinning bearings on the market, they are also super-fast and remarkably durable and strong. They use some real innovations in their design, and each choice seems to only boost the bearings’ performance capabilities.
To begin with, there is no shield on these bearings. Why? The design team felt that shields pop off too frequently or become damaged, and then impair performance. And even if this does not happen, the grooves for the shields allow buildup to occur, with dust and debris slowing the spin and making noise.
They have also used tungsten to coat the races as this provides each of the bearings with a slicker and faster surface. They are non-stick with no buildup of dirt or “crud” possible, and the finish incorporates a dry film lubricant that is noted for being slick and low drag.
We noted that bearings have to withstand a lot of impact, and so these bearings are made with cages constructed of fiberglass and nylon for optimal resistance to wear, and the deep grooves within the ball channels reduce angular and axial impact issues.
This maker uses no standardized ratings, though they would fall into the ABEC 7 or 9 range in terms of performance and speed. Coming in at a very reasonable price point, they include the washers and spacers for easy installs.
Meant for longboards and skateboards, this high ABEC rated set of eight bearings arrives pre-lubricated with a high speed grease and is guaranteed to run well thanks to the element protection rubber shield. Double-sided, they help to really reduce maintenance, damage and wear.
Built of steel, they feature a smooth and long-lasting spin and promise to be some of the lowest maintenance bearings you’ll own. At the more bargain priced rate, they are a great option for those who are not everyday skateboarders or those who are just beginning to do their own maintenance on their boards.
Note that these are one of the few options that do not include spacers, meaning you need to know the size required for your wheels or double check that the size is an accurate fit.
Often described as professional level skateboard bearings, these Yellow Jacket Premium Skateboard Bearings offer precision and super high speeds. They work on skateboards but also skates and roller blades, and even electric skateboards! They feature an ABEC 9 rating and are available in a huge range of colors.
Offering some of the best shields around, you can be sure that your bearings are fully protected from particles, rocks and dust. Meant to be among the lowest friction models available, they are long-lasting and durable. Arriving pre-lubricated with racing weight lubricant, they live up to the premium claims in their name
If you look at a photo of a skateboard, you see it has parts that include:
The Deck – This is the platform that you stand on and use to perform tricks and maneuvers. It has a nose and a tail, and most modern skateboards have a lift at each end of the deck. Most decks also have griptape to ensure your shoes stay in good contact with the deck. Decks can be made of different materials, such as plastic, maple or even bamboo. The length and shape of the deck varies based on the style of skating you want to do, such as a trick board, longboard, cruiser and so on.
Trucks – Underneath the deck you find the t-shaped gear known as trucks. There are two of them and they are the component that secures your wheels to your board. They can be loosened or tightened based on your preferences and doing so can let you turn slowly or very quickly. Trucks themselves have lots of little parts, including a kingpin, locking nuts, washers, axles, pivot bushings, hangers, baseplates and more. As noted, the truck is what connects the wheels, but it is also what allows you to turn rather than remain stuck in a fixed, forward path. Whenever you shift your weight while riding a skateboard, it is the trucks (and their bushings) that pivot the board.
The Wheels – Made from durable materials like polyurethane, wheels can be small and hard for street riding or larger and soft for “cruising”. Wheels also have different profiles, with the larger ones looking like rounded squares or rectangles if sliced for a profile view. You will find an amazing range of options in wheels from a bunch of different sizes to a wide array of shapes, including rounded modern wheels, older and squarer styles, and wheels with varying degrees of hardness. You must also some options with “dual durometers” or a softer outer wheel and harder inner core that are quite expensive but provide dual function. You can even get them in many different colors!
Hardware – This is not so much a single part as the various nuts and bolts that will affix the truck to the deck and the wheels to the truck, and which requires the use of an Allen key or screwdriver to mount properly. There are some bolts and decorative elements that may also be part of skateboard.
And then there are the bearings.
All About Skateboard Bearings
These are one of the most complex parts, though they seem pretty straightforward. Why are they complex? As weird as it might sound, it is their simplicity that makes them complicated!
After all, bearings are some of the mechanical world’s most important parts, and yet they must meet a wide range of demands.
Skateboard bearings sit on both sides of your skateboard’s wheels (meaning you need eight for your skateboard), and they offer smooth movement of the wheels. Though you don’t often hear this, you must also be sure your bearings are kept from rubbing up against one another through the use of a spacer. Skip this or take a shortcut and re-use the same spacers over and over, and you’ll cut your bearings’ life span by about half!
The spacers allow the axle nut to be tightened all of the way down and permit the inner rings of the two bearings to be fixed on the axle. This allows the wheel to rotate the most efficiently. The spacers are also helpful for reducing the loads put on any bearing (both “axial” and “torsional” loads). Be sure to get a spacer sized for your wheel as you end up with unbalanced wheels that are prone to wobble and inconsistent performance.
Bearings always take a huge amount of physical abuse even when paired with a properly sized spacer and wheel, and it is because they may not be designed for the kind of side to side forces they endure.
As parts originally designed for machines, they were meant to support the spinning of mechanical devices, but they also allow skateboard wheels to turn extremely smoothly, even as they take a lot of impact, side to side movement, and exposure to materials like water and dirt.
Modern skateboard bearing design has taken steps to help overcome issues due to impact and exposure.
The Design of Skateboard Bearings
Though you see lots of variation in design and looks of skateboard bearings, most feature:
Outer ring or race
Inner ring or race
Ball cage or retainer (holds the ball bearings inside)
Balls or ball bearings, with most featuring six to eight pre-lubricated balls
Shields, with some models having shields on both sides, though many argue that a single shield allows for a faster ride.
C-rings are not always included, but are helpful when mounting the shield to the bearing
A lot of the modern skateboard bearings are given ABEC ratings, but not all. This is because ABEC ratings are not a skateboard industry standard. They are a machinery standard with higher ABEC numbers meaning better performance. What you want to pay attention to is whether or not any bearing is “skate tested and approved” or given some sort of manufacturer’s skate rating. This is more informative for a skateboarder than the ABEC figures (though all data is useful!).
How can we use this information to help in the skateboard bearing selection process? Essentially, you need to look specifically for bearings that:
Are made of durable materials, with steel the preferred option (you also see ceramic, titanium, and so on)
Are sized to the standard 608 (or another recognizable size such as y-bearings, mini, and so on – also called “non-standard” bearings)
Withstand lateral (side to side) impact and/or demands
Resist damage or issues caused by dirt and water
Be easy to clean if contaminated with dirt and debris
In our list of 16 different skateboard bearing options, we included only those that meet these basic requirements. We reviewed the various pros and cons of each option, but it helps to know that our selections included only the most appropriate and preferred in design and function.
However, even if you choose the very best bearings, you may still run into trouble if you do not maintain, rotate and replace bearings as needed.
Bearing Maintenance is Important
If you talk to long-time skateboard enthusiasts, they all agree that (apart from worn out decks) it is the bearings that are the most commonly damaged, worn out and replaced part of the skateboard. It does not matter if you are doing street tricks or riding in skate parks, the bearings must be replaced and maintained.
How? It is not a difficult matter to take good care of them, and some basic tips include:
Protecting them from a lot of exposure to dirt, dust and water
Cleaning them and lubricating them often (see below)
Performing a regular spin check on each bearing periodically
Replacing them (and the spacers) only as needed
To clean and lubricate them, you just remove the bearing taking the following steps (or you can also invest in a tool known as a bearing puller!):
Prepare a space with a towel or sheet to hold the different washers and nuts as well as other parts
Remove the axle nuts and washers
With a clean rag and a degreaser, wipe the axle and washers, and set them aside on the towel or sheet
Pull the wheel to the end of the axle and use the axle’s threads to help you get a firm grasp on the inner area of the bearing
As you do this, twist the wheel away and lock the threads, but be careful not to turn the wheel or pull the bearing away just yet. Instead, when the threads grip the wheel and bearing, twist it and allow the bearing to ease out
Wipe down the bearing completely and repeat the process on all four wheels
If you need to do a more in-depth cleaning because they are failing to roll or have become clogged, you must remove the protective shield and spray the interior with something along the lines of WD-40 (never use a lubricant). Spin the balls and keep doing this until the debris is gone.
Dry the interior and then place one or two drops of lubricant on the inner OR outer case/chase and spin to work the lubricant all of the way around
Return the shield and wipe down the entire bearing
Return it to the wheel (with the shield always facing outward) and restore the wheel to the skateboard’s truck, pushing the bearing deep into the wheel
Put the washer back on the hanger and then the spacer inside of the wheel (repeating the bearing mounting process with the second, outer bearing)
Put the washer in place, tighten the wheel and adjust tightness.
Check that no lubricant is leaking, give everything a final wipe down, and you’re good to go until you see your bearings need replacement
And how can you tell it is time to do a replacement? That varies based on how you ride, but for the most part, a bearing that jams, makes a lot of noise, causes a wheel to turn slow when under load (in use with you on the board) or leads to a lot of wobble is a bearing that has to GO. And if you do one bearing, it is best to do them all (as long as the bearings have been used for some time and are not only recently replaced/installed).
And with all of that, it is time to look back at that list of the 16 best bearings available on the market. These are brands and models consistently ranked by skateboarding enthusiasts as the best, most reliable, easiest to install and more. We did make note of any pros and cons noted with the different bearings and what type of skateboarding they seem to support best. That means it is time to choose!
Making Your Choice
So, now that you have a good idea of the performance, purpose and general design of the best skateboard bearings on the market, you can choose the sets that are a good fit to your needs. You may want to consider whether a brand offers a warranty or guarantee, too. There are a lot of factors that can affect the performance of a skateboard bearing, so take your time and compare a few to see if their price is going to give you the value or performance desired.