If there is a component of your skateboard which gives novices fits, it will be the bearings. Aside from knowing how to take good care of them, you also need to know how to choose the right ones for your skateboard.
Getting the wrong bearings or installing them improperly will lead a good setup to nothing. The reward for doing all things right is amazing speed. Therefore, you should give some time to know the right way of putting bearings in your skateboard wheels.
Skateboard bearings are often sold in a set of 8. Each wheel needs two bearings. When shopping for bearings, you need to check the ABEC ratings
ABEC Ratings – What Are They?
Bearings are measured by their ABEC ratings. The higher their ABEC ratings are, the more accurate they would be. This particular rating system comes with grades 1 to 9 – all in odd numbers. The ABEC ratings don’t specify most critical factors like load handling functions, materials, ball precision, material Rockwell hardness, channel polishing noise, and many more. With those factors, the bearings with ABEC 3 rating can perform much better than the ones with the ABEC 7 rating.
- ABEC 1 bearings are the cheapest, most crude, and least accurate. The steel’s quality is not extremely high.
- ABEC 3 bearings are also cheap but don’t run quickly or smoothly.
- ABEC 5 bearings are the standard for most skateboards. Bearings with this rating ensure a quick speed at a reasonable cost.
- ABEC 7 bearings are extremely smooth, fast, and quite expensive.
- ABEC9+ bearings are the most expensive because they are so fast.
Some companies don’t use the ABEC rating scale. That’s because they have their rating systems. If the bearings come from any brand that is not using the ABEC rating system, then go for a brand that comes with its rating system.
You don’t need the priciest bearings. The ABEC-9 bearings are quite expensive. A set of ABEC-3s or ABEC-5s made by a reputable manufacturer is already enough. These bearings will go fast after the break-in. Just keep them lubricated and clean for a consistently smooth operation. High-quality bearings come with a purpose-made lubricant that usually lasts for weeks when kept dry.
Proper installation is the 1st step in getting the most of out of your skateboard’s bearings. The size of bearings is standard in every quality wheels. Follow these steps to make sure your bearings are set up to work efficiently.
Once you put the bearings in your skateboard, your first rides will be sluggish but smooth. The speed will gradually increase, and you might not notice that. Here are the steps:
Step #1: Use the Hanger
In assembling a skateboard, the last step you will be taking is putting on the bearings. The bearings are necessary so that the trucks will be mounted to your skateboard. Put your skateboard on its side so that the axles point straight and detach the axle nut.
Quality bearings typically come together with a set of spacers and washers, which are the hollow tubes made of steel. You must use everything that comes with your preferred bearing set.
You will put one bearing on the axle. Get an aluminum hanger and use its side to press the bearing within the wheel. However, check the bearings first for shields. If the shield is only on one side, then put that side down on the axis. Put one wheel, ensuring its core is on the top of the bearing. Use the palm of your hand in pressing the bearings into place. With new bearings and wheels, you may need to more forceful in installing them but that is never impossible.
Step #2: Use the Spacers
After pressing the first bearing in the wheel, detach it from the axis. Put another bearing on it and put a spacer on the top. Some skaters choose not to have the spacer installed. The problem is that leaving your skateboard bearings without a spacer can cause some issues. One issue is that the bearings can’t endure as much horizontal force as an upright force without breaking. The spacer will keep the bearings in line.
Read Also: Elite Skater teams reviews on the Best Skateboard Bearings!
Second, the spacer allows you to tighten your axis nut down, keeping the interior race from spinning the axle. It makes the bearings roll slowly when new, but it eventually runs faster when the bearings are fully broken in. Put the wheel through the bearings and spacer. Press in the bearings.
Step #3: Use the Washers
Detach the wheel from the axis. It must rotate freely between the fingers. Look for two washers. Put one of the washers on the axis against the hanger, followed by a wheel and the other washer.
The washers will stop the shields against rubbing on the hanger or the axis nut when rotating. The spacers can be a good choice, but the washers are undeniably important. The shield rubbing which is due to keeping them unused will considerably slow the reel.
Video By: Justin Buice
Video Source: Youtube.com
Step #4: Stiffen the Nut
The axis nut must spin on by hand until the starter thread meets the nylon lock ring on the nut’s tip. Use a half-inch socket or wrench and continue stiffening the axis nut till it presses against the external washer.
When you use a spacer, you must be able to tauten the nut down with a good amount of force without slowing the roll of the wheel. Turn the wheel using your hand. When it stops all of a sudden, back off the axle nut and turn it again. Continue doing this process until you see the wheel slowing down gradually. However, it doesn’t wobble side to side.
The skateboard bearings are accuracy-engineered equipment. The manufacturer comes with washers and spacers for technical reasons. The main role of these crucial skateboard parts is to work in a specific way. If you don’t include the washers and spacers during the installation process, that will change the function of your skateboard bearings.