If you’re asking, are skateboard bearings universal? Then a short answer would be yes. Skateboard bearings are universal, and no matter what the size of wheel you have, all bearings have the same size and, thus, will fit all skateboard wheels.
Skateboard bearings come in standard 8mm core, 22mm outer diameter, and 7mm width. But this is only for skateboard bearings.
Bearings are in many types of wheels and machines. These are available in many sizes and dimensions. Skateboard bearings differ in the metal alloy material used; thus, the bearings’ strength, durability, and stability may vary.
And if you want to buy new skateboard bearings for your skateboard, you come to the right place. We will help you choose the correct bearings to work with your skateboards and, of course, give you a background of what skateboard bearings are, how these are maintained, and some issues that you need to consider when replacing your skateboard bearings.
What are Skateboard Bearings?
Skateboard bearings come in standard sizes. However, you’ll find bearings at different prices, from as cheap as $8 for a set of bearings to $200! Costly bearings do not mean these are the best fit for every skateboard, but it does not mean that you should use only cheap ones. When buying skateboard bearings, you should find the middle line between cost and value.
Skateboard bearings help keep your wheels spinning smoothly. There are two bearings for every wheel; thus, you have eight bearings in a skateboard. Whether you buy a complete skateboard or you want to assemble your skateboard, the number of bearings will still be the same, and so does the bearing size.
Dimensions and Characteristics
Skateboard bearings come with the following characteristics and dimensions
- Bearings dimensions – ball bearings come with an 8mm bore, 22mm outer diameter, and 7mm width
- The number of ball bearings for every bearing case – there are 6 to 8 ball bearings that are evenly spread inside a bearing case.
- Materials used – the most common material used to make skateboard bearings is steel. There are other materials, and we will discuss these later.
- Presence of spacers – some bearings come with embedded spacers.
- Most skateboard bearings come with grease to relieve friction.
The Bearing Assembly
Skateboard bearings are made of many parts. You should learn about these different parts so you can check, clean, and maintain your skateboard bearings effectively.
The bearing balls are the essential parts of a bearing assembly. These tiny metal balls roll along the inner and outer bearing races so the inner race will rotate. There are 6 to 8 ball bearings inside the race. These balls are metal and can quickly move out of the races and case. Thus, you must be careful when inspecting your skateboard bearings.
The balls are kept in a groove or a track. These remain in place so that the bearing can spin on a path. If you check your bearings and you find missing ball bearings, it’s time to change your bearings to new ones.
Inner and outer-bearing races
The inner and outer bearing races are the parts that hold the many parts together. These also provide a path where the bearing balls move.
Any direct blow to the wheels can damage the race releasing the ball bearings and affecting your wheels’ smooth movement. Change your bearings or upgrade them to more durable bearing brands when these happen.
The bearing retainers are made from nylon. As the word implies, these retain or hold the ball bearings. A retainer keeps the balls at equal distances from each other, which significantly relieves friction and poor performance.
Different skateboard bearing brands have additional retainers. Some have stronger or more durable retainers than others. Simply put, the strength and durability of a bearing depend primarily on its retainers.
Bearing shields can cover the inside part of the bearings and will keep away bits of sand, dust, and grime. During skateboard maintenance, skateboarders remove the bearing shield before applying grease to the bearings.
They also remove the shield to check the inside for any missing ball bearings or issues with the retainers and races. You should replace the bearing shield cover once you’re done with skateboard maintenance.
Meanwhile, cheap bearings don’t come with removable shields. There are also high-performance skateboard bearings with non-removable bearings. These bearings are standard in downhill racing or longboarding, where high speeds are a must.
The bearing spacers are separate from the bearing assembly and wheels. Meanwhile, many longboard and cruiser board bearings have built-in bearing spacers.
Bearing spacers are made of plastic and metal that are placed along the truck axle in between the two bearings in a wheel. There are cheap spacers and expensive spacers; the difference lies in the quality of the material and construction. However, basic skateboards don’t need costly spacers.
Skateboards need bearing spacers to protect the bearings from getting crushed and flattened when turning the axle nut tightly. Bearing spacers reduce any vibration that your trucks and wheels may produce. Also, bearing spacers will make it easier for riders to control slides and other quick movements.
Bearing washers or speed washers are not part of a bearing assembly but are skateboard trucks. Washers are small rings placed outside a bearing from the truck axle. Speed washers can reduce friction and protect the metal from chewing by the axle nut.
With durable washers, you’ll have smooth-rolling bearings. With durable washers, you’ll have smooth-rolling bearings no matter what surface you roll.
Skateboard bearings come in different materials, but the most common one is steel. Steel bearings are very common as they are inexpensive and easier to make. Steel bearings may heat up quickly but are great at reducing friction; thus, it won’t matter.
Steel skateboard bearings
Steel bearings are the most popular, very affordable, and readily available kind of bearings. However, there are some disadvantages of using steel bearings. The biggest one is that steel bearings can easily rust. Thus, you need to be careful not to skate in wet conditions, and your bearings will be okay.
Almost all good quality skateboard bearing brands are made of steel, such as Bones Reds, Bronson G2, and Bones Swiss. The price of steel skateboard bearings will be no more than $30 for a set.
When it comes to strength and lifespan, steel bearings last as long as expensive bearings. You will do well with standard steel bearings if you’re an average skater.
Ceramic skateboard bearings
One of the most expensive skateboard bearings available is ceramic bearings. These bearings may not be as fast as regular steel bearings, but these can keep their speeds longer. Ceramic bearings will never rust, and thus, you can use these even in wet conditions.
The main disadvantage of ceramic bearings is that they are not as strong as metal bearings. These can break easily, especially when doing tricks like ollies and grinding. Ceramic bearings can’t handle a lot of impacts compared to steel bearings.
Also, many skateboarders say that ceramic bearings can boost your speed. This is untrue and is just part of marketing. These bearings won’t make you faster. It is even tested against other bearings like steel and titanium, and there is no noticeable increase in speed with ceramic bearings.
Titanium skateboard bearings
Titanium bearings are lightweight and very durable. The bearings available in the market are around $15 to $65 and are titanium alloy coated. These bearings won’t rust and may be great for skateboarding in the rain or high moisture areas.
The titanium alloy coating on these bearings is stronger compared to regular steel. Titanium surfaces are rust-free and thus, offer more extended performance compared to other materials. Finally, titanium bearings come with ten titanium balls with a high-grade finish.
What are Skateboard Bearings Ratings?
Now that you know what skateboard bearings are, the parts of a bearing assembly, and the materials used to make skateboard bearings, let’s focus on how to skateboard bearings are rated.
ABEC is short for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, under the AFBMA or the Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association Inc.). ABEC is a rating commonly used by skaters and bearing manufacturers; however, these are only for industrial bearings, not intended for skateboard bearings. Bones don’t use ABEC but have the Skate Rated rating.
Industrial bearings come with a radial load that can turn in just one direction. These need higher precision due to the extreme speeds; according to experts, skateboarders can’t come close to these speeds. A skater with average skills can reach up to 2000 up to 4700 RPM, which is in extreme cases.
Bearings with ABEC-7 ratings can spin higher up to 20,000 RPM up to 30,000 RPM. Skateboards with 54mm wheels can reach speeds of 127 MPH at around 20,000 RPM!
And it’s not just the RPM, as skateboard bearings need another standard for rating. Skateboards don’t just turn in one direction but are impacted from different directions, including all possible angles and in different environments.
Therefore, you don’t need to worry about ABEC ratings as these don’t matter with skateboard bearings. You should consider the kind of bearing material instead.
How to Select the Right Skateboard Bearings?
The correct skateboard bearings will depend on different factors. Consider the following when selecting the correct bearings for your needs.
How you ride your skateboard
There are different types of skateboard bearings, according to the material. Skateboard bearings made from steel are the most affordable and are best for regular skating. You can use these bearings to land stunts and tricks and for riding and cruising.
Ceramic bearings are the most expensive and will never rust, but they are not as durable as metal bearings. These bearings are not for riders who perform tricks and stunts as these can break easily. But these will get you through if you’re riding in wet conditions.
Titanium bearings are moderately priced and are the most durable. These will last longer and will never rust. You can ride these on wet and demanding terrain and weather conditions as well. Titanium bearings are all-around excellent bearings for beginners and novice skaters but are still expensive for basic skateboarding.
Your expertise as a skateboarder
Steel skateboard bearings are excellent whether you’re new to the sport or an expert skateboarder. These bearings are tough and can take heavy beatings, especially when performing tricks and stunts.
We don’t recommend ceramic bearings as these are expensive but not as durable. Meanwhile, titanium skateboard bearings may not be as famous but will work for all kinds of skateboarders.
Your budget counts
Steel bearings are the best all-around skateboard bearings as these are the most affordable. However, because these can rust easily, you may need to replace your skateboard bearings more frequently.
Ceramic bearings are out of the question as it’s expensive and won’t last long. Titanium bearings are not too common but less expensive than ceramic bearings.
Additional tips for selecting the correct skateboard bearings
Prefer bearings with fewer ball bearings for improved speed. High-end bearings come with six balls and are larger than standard bearings. Meanwhile, ceramic bearings are lighter, with only a few bearing balls in each case but won’t take brutal hits.
Always use bearing spacers to keep the balls from colliding. You don’t need to worry if your bearings come with installed spacers, but some don’t. Spacers can help you perform more tricks and to protect your bearings, especially during very hard or high-impact skating.
Use a ball retainer to limit the friction on the bearings. Retainers are rings that slide inside bearings. These separate bearings so they don’t collide with each other. Bearing retainers are much easier to install, but you must measure these so you won’t encounter sizing issues.
Prefer bearings with non-contact rubber shields. These rings are placed over the ball bearings to keep debris, dust, and sand away. Rubber shields are lighter and can seal in grease or other lubricants. Meanwhile, no-contact guards can make you move faster as the ball bearings won’t produce a lot of friction.
How to Maintain Your Skateboard Bearings?
Skateboard bearings must be regularly maintained to ensure that your skateboard performs its best. Care and maintenance of skateboard bearings go hand in hand with the care of the wheels, trucks, and other components. This is because a skateboard bearing will only perform well when it works with well-maintained skateboard parts.
Skateboard Bearing Maintenance
Bearings are simple to maintain. The problem is that it takes time to remove it from the skateboard wheels and take it back afterward! You must keep your skateboard bearings at least every other week if you skate regularly. During maintenance, you can also check your skateboard bearings for any issues and replace them as necessary.
Things You’ll Need
- Rubbing alcohol – you need rubbing alcohol to remove stubborn dirt, grime, grease, etc.
- Small brush – a small brush can help you remove dirt even from the inner cavities of the skateboard bearings.
- Skateboarding tool – you need a skateboard tool to loosen and tighten the axles, nuts, and bolts.
- Tweezers or chopsticks – you need good tools to remove any stuck dirt and sand.
- Paper towels – you need paper towels to dry the bearings well before reinstalling them.
- Grease – you need bearing lube or grease to apply inside the bearing assembly to reduce rust and metal collisions.
- Take apart the bearings from the skateboard wheel. Keep the axle nuts away.
- Open the skateboard cover or shield and inspect the inner parts of the bearing. Check for any issues, ball-bearing completeness, etc.
- Clean the bearings by using a tweezer to remove any stuck dirt. Soak the bearing assembly into a small dish filled with rubbing alcohol.
- For stubborn dirt and grime, use a soft brush like an old toothbrush to scrub the dirt away.
- Soak the parts in alcohol once more and then wipe with paper towels.
- If you find that the skateboard bearings have issues, replace them ASAP.
- Re-install these inside the wheels. Reconnect the wheels to the skateboard trucks.
- Tighten the axle nuts. Adjust the nuts accordingly.
Skateboard Wheel Maintenance
Clean or new skateboard bearings deserve new or clean skateboard wheels. Cleaning your wheels gives you a chance to check for any issues. If you spot any cracks, peeling, pits, or holes, change your wheels ASAP.
Things You’ll Need
- Soap and water – you need mild soap or dishwashing soap to remove dirt, dust, and grime off your skateboard wheels.
- Soft brush – you need a soft brush to remove caked dirt and grime.
- Paper towels – you need several pieces to dry the polyurethane completely.
- Tweezers – you need a pair of tweezers to remove dirt, dust, sand, and other foreign bodies inside the skateboard PU wheels.
- Skateboarding tool – you need a skateboard tool to remove the axle nuts from the wheels.
- Use the skateboard tool to remove the axle nuts.
- Take the wheels out and remove the bearings from the wheels.
- Place the wheels in soap and water and gently brush the surface to remove dirt and grime.
- Use tweezers to remove any embedded foreign materials like sand, small pebbles, wood, etc.
- Rinse the wheels and wipe these dry with some paper towels or a soft clean towel.
- Once dry, reinstall the bearings and reattach the wheels to the trucks.
- Place the axle nuts back and tighten them according to your preference.
Skateboard Truck Maintenance
Your skateboard trucks take the weight of your deck and hold the wheels in place. The trucks need regular maintenance. Even if you have expensive, high-end wheels, you won’t be able to ride your skateboard safely and effortlessly when you have poorly-maintained skateboard trucks. Here’s how to do it.
Things You’ll Need
- Rubbing alcohol – you need rubbing alcohol to clean the trucks. The trucks are made of metal alloy and should only be cleaned with rubbing alcohol or other similar compounds.
- Soft brush – use a soft brush to remove stubborn dirt and grime on the trucks and their components.
- Paper towels – you need some paper towels to dry the trucks and their components well.
- Skateboarding tool – use a skateboarding tool to remove the axle nuts, kingpin nuts, and other hardware to clean the trucks.
- Use the skateboarding tool to remove the trucks off the deck. Start by removing the wheels and the bearings. Remove the kingpins and then the trucks.
- Use rubbing alcohol to remove grime, dirt, grease, and dust from the trucks. You may need a soft brush to remove stubborn dirt.
- Dry the trucks with paper towels.
- Check the caps and the kingpins for any damage. If you spot some issues, replace these at once.
- Reinstall the trucks on the deck and then the wheels and bearings.
Skateboard Deck Maintenance
The skateboard deck also needs regular maintenance. Your bearings may be fast, but you won’t perform your best with a broken or old deck. Here’s how to maintain your skateboard deck.
Things You’ll Need
- Soap and water – you need a gentle soap to clean your deck’s top and bottom surface.
- Paper towels – you need paper towels to dry the deck very well.
- Grip tape – you need a new grip tape to replace a broken one.
- Flat tool – you need a flat tool to keep the grip tape in place.
- Clean the skateboard deck top and bottom with soap and water.
- Dry the deck with paper towels. After waiting a day, ensure everything’s dry, and place the deck under the sun.
- Inspect the grip tape. You can replace the grip tape if you spot any ripping or warping or if the surface is losing grip.
- Remove the old tape by gently peeling it off. Use a hair dryer to remove leftover glue.
- Apply the new grip tape when the surface is clean and dry. Use a flat scraping tool to remove all the trapped air.
Skateboard bearings are universal. You can use any kind or brand of bearing on any type of skateboard wheel. However, bearings vary regarding material, the number of ball bearings, and the price. To ensure you’re getting the best deal, compare available skateboard bearings. Don’t just base your choice on the price; compare the material, performance, and overall value.