Whether you’re a hobby skateboard rider or a slalom skating pro, you need the best bearings for skateboards you can afford.
Tiger Woods leverages the finest golf clubs to deliver his spectacular A-game. Similarly, skaters desiring a great outdoor experience should choose fast, and durable skateboard bearings.
In this post, I’ll be your patient guide as you navigate the skate bearings market for the perfect set. I also present reviews of the best bearings for skateboards so you can connect with the best options right here.
- 9 Best Skateboard Bearings
- (A) Best Cheap Bearings for Skateboards
- (B) Best Mid-range Skateboard Bearings
- Best Premium Skateboard Bearings
- 2. Bones Super Swiss 6 (16 Pack, Great for Racing)
- More Information About Skateboard Bearings
- Components of Skateboard Bearings
- How to Choose the Best Skateboard Bearings
- Best Bearings for Skateboards Overall
9 Best Skateboard Bearings
I’ve grouped certain products together to help you explore them more easily and quickly. I’ve placed budget options that do the job, great mid-range options, and premium ones together as it seemed like the most logical way to present them.
(A) Best Cheap Bearings for Skateboards
1. Bones Reds Precision Skateboard Bearings (Best-value Option)[amazon box=” B00ULSYOL2″ title=”Bones Reds Precision Skateboard Ball Bearings” description=”These steel alloy bearings live in a high-speed, low-friction ball retainer, and they come already pre-lubed. For an incredibly low price, you get 2 sets of bearings and 4 spacers. There’s a removable red shield to make cleaning and oiling the bearings easy while reducing friction, which results in really smooth rolls.” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
The Bones Reds Precision skate bearings offer a lot more value than the price you pay to obtain them. And if you think you’ll get a set of crappy bearings that break in a day just because they’re insanely cheap, think again.
These are the best-value option I’ve skated. With this deal, you get 8 steel alloy bearings that offer strength, precision, and durability. You also get 4 spacers.
Note that these are Bones bearings, and Bones doesn’t use the ABEC system to rate their ball bearings. But that’s not a problem at all.
Plus, these bearings are skate rated. That means the bearings have been tested in situations simulating real-life skateboarding. This product adds up to skate-rated clearances, tolerances as well as materials.
I bought and skated these bearings. And I can’t remember ever spending $20 so wisely.
By the way, these skate bearings come pre-lubricated in Speed Cream racing lube. But you’ll still need to break them in, which I did in three days of skating.
I also love that these Bones bearings feature a removable, non-contact red shield. That makes cleaning and lubing these bearings easy. Also, the shield helps protect the bearings against dirt and grit.
The shield also helps reduce friction, which is why these bearings roll so smoothly and quietly.
- Lots of value at an incredibly low price
- Made of tough steel alloy
- Roll smoothly and quietly
- Skate rated materials, clearances, and tolerances
- Cheap but cheaper options can be had
- Steel rusts
Overall, the Bones Reds Precision skateboard bearings represent tons of value at that price point. Bones bearings are super popular for a reason — they work. And the Bones Reds Precision are no exception.
2. Mini-Logo Bearings (16 Bearings)[amazon box=” B079DXN7LK” title=”Mini Logo Skateboard Bearings (16 Ball Bearings)” description=”These Mini Logo skate bearings don’t stick as others annoyingly do. While they’re not the fastest, they’re fast enough. They come lubed with a low-viscosity Bones Speed Cream so you can ride them right out the box. Unlike most competitors in that price range, these bearings feature two removable shields, and that makes for easy cleaning. These shields also keep wetness and dirt out. Offered at an irresistible price point.” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
The Mini-Logo are skate-rated precision 608 bearings come with 2 sets of 8 chromium steel ball bearings. The inner diameter is 8mm while the outer diameter is 22mm. These are standard size skate bearings.
Think about it. You’ll get 16 bearings for less than $30 as of this writing. Which works out to $15 per set of 8 wheels, clearly an unbeatable deal.
If you’re price conscious but still want to get considerable value for your dollars, consider these Mini Logo bearings.
Compared to the Bones Reds Precision reviewed above, this seems like a better deal if savings is super important to you.
Yes, you won’t get washers or spacers, but aren’t you getting an extra set of 8 bearings?
The package didn’t look attractive. But I was more interested in the contents, and I wasn’t disappointed. The competitors are doing a much better job in the packaging department, though.
But it did seem like they saved money on packaging and spent it on bearing quality and performance instead. These are standard 608 bearings (7mm width, inner diameter 8mm, and 22mm outer diameter). You can also use them for roller skating.
If you prefer metal-shielded bearings, don’t pick the cheaper of the two options offered. This option offers 2 rubber seals while the other one features a metal shield on one side and a rubber one on the other. These closures help keep dust and debris at bay.
I like that these are skate rated rather than ABEC rated. That means Mini Logo makes these bearings with the specific needs of skating in mind.
I’ve tested quite a few options, and considering the price, quality, and overall performance, these ones really stood out. I’d say that these cheap skate bearings roll as smoothly as the more expensive Bones Reds.
What’s more, Mini-Logo provides a lifetime warranty for manufacturer-related product defects. Who does that with crappy bearings?
- 2 sets of bearings at a really attractive price point
- 2 removable shields make cleaning easy
- Roll really well
- Skate rated bearings
- Life warranty
- Unattractive packaging
- No spacers
If you want durable, moderately fast bearings that are also affordable, get this option from Mini Logo. Having tested these bearings, I feel they’re one of the most underrated set of bearings ever made.
3. Zealous Steel Skateboard and Longboard Bearings (Best for Downhill)[amazon box=” B00BL9VCRE” title=”Zealous Longboard and Skateboard Bearings” description=”These dirt-cheap skate bearings don’t roll super smoothly right out of the box thanks to the thick self-healing grease they come lubed in. After the break-in period, they roll amazingly smoothly and quietly. Probably the best bet for downhill skateboarding and longboarding. Require little to no maintenance because they have protective shields on both sides. ” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Looking for bearings you’ll ride for weeks without needing to clean them? Grab a set of Zealous skateboard bearings.
In terms of performance, they’re at par with Bones Swiss 6. But that’s after you break them in, which can take up to a month skating about four times each week.
I couldn’t believe that these Zealous bearings actually come with two shields, but they do. These bearings feature two green rubber seals, one on each side.
These shields help keep dirt out and moisture out, which makes these low-maintenance bearings. This option is what to buy if you don’t like cleaning skateboard bearings all the time, and who does?
If you own Reds like me and have to clean them up fortnightly, you’ll really love these ones. They just seem to defy dirt and debris.
I tend to ride them for 2 to 3 months without cleaning. Plus, they seem to tolerate harsh conditions quite well. And that includes when I ride them through the occasional puddle.
They come with built-in 0.5 mm speed rings. And while these speed rings make removing the bearings a tad more work, it’s not that hard.
What about speed? These wheels don’t spin as well as Bones, at least not initially. These bearings were designed for downhill skating and longboarding rather than for rolling on flat ground. But after a while, you’ll notice you’re cruising much longer.
And when it comes to carving, Zealous probably has the best bearings for the job.
What’s more, the manufacturer treats these bearings with a special type of grease (nano-ceramic lubricant) that promotes “self-healing.” The lube bonds excellently with steel when heated through friction, forming a coating that’s up to 5 times harder than the metal.
This one-of-a-kind lube is formulated to fill up deformed parts of the bearing. Thanks to this innovative technology, the bearings experience much less friction over time. And they last longer. But this thick grease slows down the bearings a bit, initially.
- Great for downhill riding
- Shields on both sides: Super-easy maintenance
- Built-in speed-rings
- Bearings come treated with self-healing nano-ceramic grease
- smooth and quiet, especially after they break in
- Slow at first
- Need a longer time to break in
If you’re a speed junkie, you won’t like that these Zealous longboard and skateboard bearings don’t roll insanely fast when you first ride them.
But after a couple weeks, they start rolling like crazy. You’ll love these.
When it comes to these steel Zealous bearings, the saying you get what you pay for just isn’t untrue. With these skate bearings, you get a lot more than you pay for.
Overall, buy these guys if you’re into downhill longboarding. But they also work well on a regular skateboard…after a while.
Since this product is incredibly cheap, I suggest that you buy and skate them for about 6 months and then swap them out for a new set.
(B) Best Mid-range Skateboard Bearings
1. Bones Super Reds Skate Bearings (Improved Reds Bearings)
[amazon box=” B002E2MYSI” title=”Super Reds Skateboard Bearings” description=”These bearings come with one removable shield, which means they need to be cleaned and oiled up more often than Zealous bearings. But what’s super about the Super Reds? They bearings are better quality, and so are the steel races and everything else. Plus, the finish is better. They’re skate-rated, too, and the price point isn’t prohibitive. ” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Here’s another great yet affordable set of steel bearings. When the package arrives, you get 8 pieces with a finish that the bearings glitter.
Well, it’s not like the Super Reds sparkle forever. I’m just saying they appear well-made and packaged.
Unlike the cheaper Zealous bearings above, the Super Reds feature a single removable rubber shield. Admittedly, rubber shields aren’t the best, and you only get one shield.
But some bearings are shieldless. And shield-less ones still perform as expected and don’t necessitate daily cleaning.
The Bones Super Reds are as good as any other Reds out there, if not somewhat better. These ones are supposed to deliver a smoother, quieter ride because they’re supposedly made out of better-quality material.
Honestly, though, I didn’t notice much of a difference riding these guys. In fact, the initial roll resistance wasn’t dissimilar to what I got with the Zealous bearings. But afterward, these ones rolled like a dream.
In terms of longevity, the Super Reds lasted a little longer than their cheaper sibling. Again, not much of a difference.
Note that the shield of the Super Reds bearings is black, and that differentiates them from other Reds. Lest I forget, the bearings come already lubed.
- Shielded against dirt
- Better outer finish
- May last longer than the regular Reds
- One rubber shield
- Considerable resistance at first
You’ll have to skate downhill for a while to break in the Super Reds. I can’t say they’re spectacular, but I noted I could roll farther and a little faster riding the same board than I do using my original Reds.
But the performance difference is nothing spectacular. Upgrading to these Super Reds is a good idea, but don’t expect miracles.
2. Bones Swiss 8 Pack (Resists Rusting Well)
[amazon box=” B000FDQ0D8″ title=”Bones Swiss Skateboard Bearings” description=”Even though the Bones Swiss skate bearings are pricier than Bones Reds and Bones Super Reds, they ‘re better quality and rust less. If you buy original Bones Swiss, they should last a long, long time. ” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Even though the Bones Swiss (8 Pack) bearings are pricier than most, they’re still among the most popular on the market.
I don’t know of a skater who’s not tried these precision-grade Bones Swiss at some point. Like most Bones bearings, these are skate-rated. This product results from great Swiss precision manufacturing which leverages the power of Bones bearing design.
If you order these ones, you’ll receive 8 bearings and 4 spacers. They’re not cheap, but you won’t feel like you paid too much. Like other Bones, the Bones Swiss are created from skate-rated materials and demonstrate tolerances seen in few other options.
The shield is made of rubber and removable. I’d prefer a metal shield any day, but rubber still does the job. It’s one shield, though, and I’ve seen substantially cheaper bearings with two shields, one on each side.
The retainer that holds the balls in place is crafted from nylon, a material that represents strength, speed, and longevity.
These Bones Swiss bearings last a long, long time. A decade down the road, they’re still rolling nice and smooth. I bet you won’t find many alternatives that run as fast, as smoothly, and as quietly. There’s only 3 words to describe these bearings: Fast, smooth, high-quality.
Now, if you buy any of those dirt-cheap online “Swiss” bearings and they break in a day, don’t say Bones Swiss (8 Pack) don’t last. They do; you just bought cheap knockoffs from God knows where.
Another good thing with the Bones Swiss is that they have more rust resistance. These are technically steel bearings coated with chromium, a treatment that makes them stronger and better able to resist rusting.
- Product of excellent Swiss precision engineering
- Extremely durable
- Chrome-plated bearings (rust less)
- Features a shield to keep dirt out
- One rather than two rubber shields
- Relatively expensive
- Some sellers carry fake Bones Swiss
If anyone sells you Bones Swiss at $20 or less, understand you’re getting a raw deal rather than the real deal.
Sadly, some sellers on Amazon sell crap while pretending to be offering genuine Bones Swiss. When in doubt, buy from an authorized dealer or simply order through the manufacturer’s website.
Overall, these bearings are a great bet, provided you buy the real thing. After breaking them in, the ride quality you get will make you forget every other option out there.
3. Oldboy Premium Ceramic (Great for Long-distance Cruising)[amazon box=” B075QLMQW6″ title=”Old Boy Premium Ceramic Skateboard Bearings” description=”These ones are cheaper than the Bones Swiss, but performance-wise, neither shines brighter than the other. They feature good quality indestructible ceramic ball bearings built for speed and strength. A versatile pick that’s compatible with skateboards, longboards, roller skates, and inline skates” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Don’t be fooled by the name. These old bearings roll really fast, as fast as Bones Swiss Super. In my experience, they’re way better than bones ceramic, and they cost less than half the price.
Sure, you’ll have to ride 50–100 miles before you break them in. But don’t underrate them — you’ll fall on your face and break your nose if you ride without adequate protection! If you’re a beginner, don’t start with these.
They come in a pyramid packaging, and they’re shielded on one side only. Two shields are better than one as they mean more protection from debris and dirt. But one shield means easier cleaning and lubing.
I recently went out street-skating with my SO, Jason. He prefers cheap steel bearings, and boy, did he labor hard! He had to push against his $20 steel bearings incessantly as I almost effortlessly glided for long distances.
When you’re zonked out after a hard day at work, these are the bearings to take you home. Like the others here, these ones are standard 608RS, 7mm-wide bearings with an inner diameter of 8mm and an outer diameter of 22mm.
With these, you get more speed, silence, and durability. And while they’re naturally brittle as all ceramic options, they’re tough as heck. And they’ll last a long, long time.
You may have to do a few downhill rides to break them in, but after that, the roll feels terrific. The bearings also come heavily lubricated to reduce friction, keep dirt out, and protect the polymer bearing cage from cracking.
I own a few sets of wheels, but I like these ones best. These ones are build for abuse, whether that be slalom, flat-ground skateboarding, or downhill riding, or long-distance cruising.
At that price point, though, you’d have expected two shields and not one. Not a deal-breaker, though.
- Super-smooth and fast rolls
- Hard-to-destroy, polished glass ball bearings
- Oldboy sticker that tells others you’re a cool dude
- Let you glide more while pushing less
- Rustproof bearings
- Incredibly durable
- Feature a dirt-battling shield
- Heavily oiled bearings that roll like a dream
- Not ideal for a beginner
- Not the cheapest but affordable
- Single shield
While the bearings won’t rust, the inner and outer rings might as they’re made of steel. Still, they resist moisture better than most steel options.
Good news! The company that makes the Oldboy skateboard and longboard bearings promise to replace them if they rust. Who makes such bold promises with a meh product? No one, that’s who.
4. Oust MOC 9 Airrr (Best for Slalom Skaters)[amazon box=” B012OZVGKG” title=”Oust MOC Skate Bearings” description=”These ones aren’t super cheap, but performance-wise, they shine. They feature indestructible ceramic ball bearings built for speed and strength. Aside from slalom, these bearings also perform pretty well in downhill skateboarding as well as longboarding.” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Do you like buying American stuff to support America while getting the best bang for your buck? If yes, these are the bearings for you.
If speed and precision are what you seek, you won’t find a better option. And if you thought Swiss bearing engineering was the finest in the world, think again.
No one makes better bearings for skating slalom than American designers and engineers.
These bearings were designed and built with the needs of the most ardent slalom skater in mind. It’s been proven many times during Slalom skating championships that no other set of bearings outperforms the Oust MOC bearings.
Where competing brands use standard seals and shields, this company uses the unique U-channel seal design. Set in the outer race, the company’s MOC 9 non-contact Buna seal collaborates with a stop found on the inner race to keep foreign materials out of the bearings area.
The bearing design also ensures there’s no oil leakage so your bearings can stay sufficiently lubed the entire time.
When it comes to handling lateral loads (think axial and torsional loads), nothing does it better than these bearings. The Torrance-based company that makes these bearings uses a different rating system.
All bearings from this manufacturer have a name starting with MOC, followed by a letter and then usually some other name.
The scale is pretty much like the ABEC rating system, and you’d be forgiven for confusing them with each other. Placed side by side , an MOC 9 rated bearing would deliver a lot more precision, tolerance, and durability than an ABEC 9 bearing.
Wondering why the product’s name is Airrr? It’s because once you do the very first push, you’ll fly! You’ll need to have great coordination skills to stop.
If you’re into competitive skating (especially slalom), I assure you that few other options deliver better results than Oust bearings.
You can twist your body all you want and shift your weight as much as necessary, and the MOC 9 Airrr won’t grumble. They’ll silently keep doing what they do best: keep you gliding forward — and winning!
But no matter how great these bearings may be, many Reds fans strongly believe that no set of bearings touches Reds.
- High-precision manufacturing
- Great for slalom skating
- Takes lateral loads very well
- Quiet and fast
- Made in the U.S.
- Overkill for less demanding skating styles
- Using non-Oust lubes voids the warranty
- More maintenance than with double-shielded options
- No spacers included
When you get these bearings out of the box, they’re literally dripping with premium MET-OL Synthetic Speed Oil from Oust. They should give you a long smooth ride right out of the box.
When slalom skating or skating downhill, these bearings typically demand a squirt of lube every 2 hours. During normal use, lubing should be done in 6-hour intervals.
Note: you have to lube the MOC 9 Airrr bearings with the lubricant that the manufacturer recommends. Of course, they recommend their very own premium oil, the MET-OL Synthetic Speed Oil. Using other products can have them voiding the warranty.
Well, that doesn’t sound nice. But I figured this company knows better than anybody what kind of lube would work best for their bearings.
I also don’t like that Oust offers a 1-year warranty. Bones bearings come with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing guarantees.
Even worse, the company will quickly void this short warranty if it learns you’ve been using the competition’s lubricants. That sucks.
But I’ve noted that companies with superior products tend to be a little dictatorial. Think of the endless rules Google, Apple, and Microsoft build into their terms of service. And Oust’s rules suddenly stop feeling so restrictive.
I recommended these bearings for competitive skating, particularly slalom championships. But remember to buy good spacers if you’re into longboarding or speedy downhill skateboarding.
Best Premium Skateboard Bearings
If you like investing in the best things life has to offer, this section is for you.
1. Bones Swiss Ceramic (8 Pack, A Decent Racing Pick)[amazon box=” B001LF3T3S” title=”Bones Swiss Ceramic Skate Ball Bearings” description=”These ones are pricey, but they’re created using high-quality components, and they come race-ready: sufficiently lubed in a high-quality lubricant, Bone’s very own Speed Cream. These ceramic balls are lighter than most, but they’re way tougher, faster, and more durable. Extras: 4 spacers so you can crank down on the wheels to create the most solid setup possible. Single-shielded for easy cleaning and lubing. Lifetime warranty against engineering defects.” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
If you love the finest products in life, the skate-rated Bones Swiss Ceramic (8 Pack) bearings are a great place to start. We all know ceramic bearings offer faster, smoother rides than all those super cheap metal options.
And the Bones Swiss Ceramic are no exception. These ones cost over $100 as of this writing. And while I’m yet to skate them, I’ve heard tons of good things about them.
These 608, 8mm (inner diameter) bearings just roll and roll and roll. You have to slow down a lot of the time.
You get skate rated ceramic ball bearings that represent peerless hardness, strength, durability, and performance. Super tough nylon retainers make this set even stronger and durable.
I’ve come across skateboarders who said they could ride a smooth 90 seconds right out the box. They come properly lubed with Speed Cream, but it takes some time to break them in.
They resist moisture quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean ride through puddles every time just because you can.
If rolling really fast and far is your main skating goal, buy this premium-quality option.
To keep them rolling like a well-oiled Ferrari, be sure to keep the wheels lubed with Bones Speed Cream. These are probably the best premium ceramic bearings on the market today. And they last ages.
- Arrive well-lubed
- Great for racing
- Super-smooth & quiet
- 4 spacers & a platinum sticker sticker
- Made by a reputable company
- Lifetime warranty covering manufacture ring defects
- They need some breaking in
- Complaints about swapped bearings*
If you’re new to skating and haven’t decided whether you like it or not, don’t buy these. Go for a sub-$20 set and start practicing like crazy.
Once you’ve evolved into an A-game guy, try the Bones Swiss Ceramic. They’re expensive, though not the priciest I’ve seen. Good thing is they’re seriously durable.
As for breaking them in, isn’t that a normal thing with most products, including shoes and clothes?
*Some reviewers noted that their package didn’t look new, though. The package looked tampered with, and they believed someone had swapped the real bearings with cheap ones.
But that didn’t seem like a widespread issue. Plus, you can always return them. Overall, these are a good buy — worth every penny as long as you get authentic Bones Swiss Ceramic skateboard bearings.
2. Bones Super Swiss 6 (16 Pack, Great for Racing)[amazon box=” B000OYY1M0″ title=”Bones Super Swiss 6 Bearings (16 Pack) ” description=”Proper race skate bearings designed with precision, strength, and performance top of mind. These rated race bearings are light but extremely hard, plus they’re rust-resistant. A single-contact, removable rubber shield keeps dirt and debris out. The wheels come pre-lubed with a high-quality racing lubricant.” Button text=”View Price at Amazon” price=” “/]
Here’s another great premium product for skateboarding. Lots of skaters believe Bones bearings are the best on the planet. And there’s a reason for that — excellent performance.
These bearings live in a nylon retainer that adds to their speed and strength. Made in Switzerland, they represent the best of Swiss engineering.
They have a single (non-contact) removable rubber shield so your bearings can stay clean for longer. I feel they should have given the bearings two shields instead of one, though. At that price, the consumer deserves more.
Not that that’s much of a bummer. It certainly doesn’t reduce the product’s overall performance. Besides, single-shielded bearings are easier to maintain and lubricate.
These bearings are what you need when training for a skateboarding competition or roller derby. They’re incredibly speedy even when brand-spanking new.
Do you know why I believe this is a product you should order with confidence? It’s because the manufacturer stands behind their creation with a lifetime warranty.
That means you can always request a replacement anytime as long the issue at hand relates to manufacturing defects.
I recently tested these bearings, and I could easily squeeze a 4-minute glide from a single push. Now, isn’t that what fast and efficient looks like?
The Bones Super Swiss 6 is a worthy upgrade from the standard Bones Swiss. Worth every dollar you’d spend on it.
- Super-fast and smooth glides
- Helps you win races
- Ride longer and farther right out of the box
- You get 16 bearings
- Bearings are pre-lubed with Speed Cream
- Fast even when new
- Too fast for rookie riders
While this deal seems uncomfortably pricey, they’re actually a mid-range option. Why? It’s because you’ll end up with two 8-bearing sets, and doesn’t that half the price?
In the end, you’re paying around $62 (check current prices on Amazon as prices keep changing).
Overall, this premium-quality set of skate bearings lives up to all the hype skaters and the manufacturer keep throwing around.
But while they’re better than the regular Bones Swiss, they’re only slightly so. You probably won’t even notice any performance difference between these two siblings.
More Information About Skateboard Bearings
Let’s start with understanding what parts come together to make ball bearings.
Components of Skateboard Bearings
What components make up the humble ball bearing? Here they are:
1. Ball Bearings
Each bearing features 6-7 balls. Held in place by a part called the retainer, these balls rotate and roll along a track. Both the inner and outer races feature a groove along which the bearings roll. The more the balls, the more the friction and the less the speed.
2. Inner race
The inner race is a narrow groove found on the outer diameter of the inner ring.
3. Outer race
The outer race is a track-like groove built into the inner diameter of the outer ring. For the outer ring is what distributes the bearings momentum to the wheel, causing motion.
The retainer exists in ball bearings to add strength and reduce friction. It is like a chain, pretty much like your bike’s chain, in which sit the balls — equidistantly. This component keeps the balls rolling along the races so you can have as much fan as you crave.
In my experience, removing the retainer when cleaning the bearings isn’t a good idea. It’s almost impossible to set it as precisely as the manufacturer originally had.
5. Shields and Seals
Some bearings have seals only while have one seal and a C-ring. Still, others have two removable metal shields while others have non-removable shields. These components serve to protect your bearings from dust, debris, and grit, and grime. Seals are usually made of rubber.
6. Spacers and Speed Rings
What’s the difference between spacers and speed rings? Speed rings are those small washers that sit on either side of your skateboard wheels. They help ensure that your bearings don’t excessively rub on the axle and hanger.
Spacers, on other hand, sit within the wheel on the axle. They’re little metal parts with a cylindrical shape that have your bearings rolling precisely to each other.
They ensure you don’t tighten your wheels too much besides increasing the longevity of your bearings. Not all bearings feature spacers, though. They’re optional components, and they’re nice to have in your wheels.
How to Choose the Best Skateboard Bearings
Now that we understand the mechanics of a ball bearing, let’s dive in and learn what to keep in mind while shopping. Here are 7 things to pay attention when selecting the best skateboard bearings.
1. Does Brand Really Matter?
Lots of skaters buy Bones skateboard bearings for the exact same reason most athletes choose Nike sneakers. For most people, it’s all about the brand name. Pretty much everyone believes that a new Nike shoe or other product is great just because Nike manufactured it.
And bearings are great just because they were made in Switzerland, right? But do products from the biggest brands on the planet always exceed users’ expectations? The answer is a resounding NO!
Just go to Amazon right now, and you’ll spot tons of terrible products from some of the most popular brands and companies. So, while going with well-known, popular brands isn’t a bad idea at all, don’t let that ”big brands can’t sell horrible products” mentality stop you from checking out not-so-popular companies.
Some of the time, the best skateboard bearings come from a brand you’ve never heard of. So stay alert the whole time you’re shopping for skateboarding bearings and everything else.
What about the ever popular Swiss skateboard bearings? Well, they’re good enough. And the great thing is they’re made in Switzerland, a country known for its high-quality skate engineering. Yes, there’s tons of Swiss-originated materials cramped into those bearings.
But you must understand that all those Swiss bearings that cost irresistibly low prices aren’t produced in Switzerland country. Those incredibly cheap Bones Swiss bearings you see being sold online are low-quality Chinese products.
2. Material and Construction (Steel, Ceramic, and Titanium Bearings)
When it comes to the type of material used, three main types of bearings exist on the market. These are steel, ceramic, and titanium bearings. Let’s take a closer look at each category of bearings.
(i) Steel Bearings
Most bearings have steel bearings, so they’re called steel bearings. Others have ceramic bearings, and that’s why they’re referred to as ceramic bearings. And others are made of titanium.
Steel bearings are pretty much the industry standard. They’re a strong, durable, and economic option. Generally, the pricier they are, the better they perform. Premium steel bearings may show the same performance level as ceramic or titanium bearings.
The downside of steel bearings is that they don’t handle corrosion very well. They rust, and you should avoid riding them through puddles or when it’s pouring or drizzling. If water gets inside, be sure to lube clean the up and lube them up. Want to learn how clean skateboard bearings? Read the article in the link in the previous sentence.
2. Ceramic Bearings
Now, ceramic bearings are in general tougher, lighter, and more durable than steel and titanium ones. That’s why they cost more. Since they’re harder than steel or titanium bearings, ceramic options withstand abuse better.
And they experience significantly less deformation. In addition, ceramic bearings show greater resistance to heat, which is why they see less friction at higher speeds.
That’s not all, there’s more. Ceramic bearings don’t rust as titanium and steel do. That’s why they’re the best choice for people into cruising and skating in the rain. But that’s not mean they’re completely waterproof.
While the bearings themselves are rustproof, their steel races can and will rust if exposed to moisture. So, always avoid puddles whenever you can.
The problem with ceramic bearings is that they’re naturally brittle. They just aren’t made for lots of abuse. If you’re looking for wheels to get you to work or any other form of low-impact skateboarding, go for ceramic bearings.
Are Ceramic Bearings the Best Skateboard Bearings Ever Made?
Most folks seem to believe that ceramic bearings are the finest quality bearings on the market. But are they? Well, not really. At least, they’re not in my opinion. And I’m not the only one who holds that opinion.
Surprisingly, the best skaters in planet don’t ride on ceramics or steel bearings. If you hang around a little longer, I’ll tell you what they ride on. Ceramic bearings may get all the praises all of the time, but they’re typically more expensive. Besides, they’re more brittle than any other type of bearings you’ll ever ride.
That said, they generally deliver a better riding experience and performance than steel wheels. But you must decide whether you want to pay that much just for a set of bearings. I mean, there are sub-$20 bearings that offer good enough performance. And it’s not like they get broken in a day.
3. Titanium Bearings
Titanium bearings demonstrate the same level of performance as steel bearings. However, they tend to last longer, pack a hefty anti-corrosion punch, and are lighter. But they heat up as much as steel does, which is why you should keep the well-oiled at all times.
3. Skateboard bearing Ratings
Ratings matter when it comes to products like skateboard bearings, right? That’s why you should always buy ABEC rated ball bearings, correct? But wait, should you always buy bearings produced according to the ABEC rating system? What about rated skate rated bearings?
As someone who buys skateboard bearings, you’ve likely asked: what ABEC rating are these skateboard bearings? Tell you what? You’re asking the wrong question. Instead, ask the following question: What skate ratings are these bearings?
Everyone Obsesses Over the ABEC Rating
Why does everyone seem to obsess over ABEC rating when choosing the best bearings for a skateboard? ABEC means Annular Bearing Engineers Committee. Now, ABEC’s job isn’t to identify good or bad skateboard bearings. The committee exists to formulate standards relating to bearing dimensions, geometry, noise levels, and tolerance.
These ratings are designed to guide manufacturers during production of bearings for GENERAL applications rather than for specific use. These ratings are designed to guide manufacturers during production of bearings for GENERAL applications rather than for specific use.
In other words, when it comes to choosing bearings for a specific application like skateboarding, ABEC ratings shouldn’t always be the only criteria. It’s not a meaningless rating, but it’s certainly not the only rating. Designers of bearings in industries use the ratings for specific uses if they’re the most appropriate in that situation.
So, don’t reject a brand and its products just because the products aren’t ABEC-rated or Swiss rated or whatever. It’s true that bearings with higher ABEC ratings demonstrate better precision at higher speeds. And that’s a good things to have in general-use bearings.
In skating, you most likely will be rolling around at 20 MPH or less, and precision at such a speed isn’t like the most important thing. In truth, a super high ABEC rating may not matter that much for skating bearings. So, stop worrying too much about
When it comes to skateboard bearings, what matters most is PERFORMANCE. So, let’s talk about performance now.
5. Ball Bearing Performance
Performance is the most critical thing when it comes to choosing the best skateboard bearings. Now, what do you think are the best performing bearings out there? Ceramics, right? Bones or Reds? No, it turns out some of these products are overrated…
Joe McLaren Prefers Oust Bearings
The best skateboarders in the word must surely know what the best options out there are. Now, you most likely haven’t heard this, but the best pro slalom skating pros use Oust skateboard bearings. Joe McLaren, a Slalom skateboarding champion, rides on these.
That means these are the best skateboard bearings ever. And did you that McLaren recently (Dec 16th, 2019) got re-elected as a board member to the International Slalom Skateboarding Association? He’s been winning consistently. And he prefers Oust bearings. Well, it’s not like you should always follow famous skaters buying everything they buy.
Oust Bearings = Exceptional, Consistent Performance
Oust bearings demonstrate a level of performance that their competitors can only dream of. I don’t know of any type of skating that demands more from bearings than slalom skating does. The sport involves side-from-side moves that place an enormous amount of axial loads and torsional loads.
Axial loads are applied when the skater quickly skates from side to side from cone to cone. And as they snake past each cone, the body takes very-hard-to-do twists that exert tons of twisting or torsional loads on the bearings.
Radial Loads Vs Axial and Torsional Loads
Unfortunately, normal bearings (steel and ceramic ones) are made for radial or vertical loads. When you apply axial and torsional loads quickly and consistently, the outside and inside ring complains like hell. And in some situations, they can get twisted and damaged.
That’s where Oust bearings come in. The company that makes redesigned them, incorporating into their construction the capability to take any level of abuse you might throw at them.
They use different ratings (MOC X Y), where X is a number and Y could be a descriptive word. While the ratings look pretty much like ABEC ratings, they’re different.
And the highest MOC rating surpasses the highest ABEC rating (ABEC 9) in all performance-related aspects.
So, Do I Always Recommend Oust Bearings?
I’m not saying these are the best bearings for skateboards so buy them and ignore every other product. I’m saying they demonstrate exceptional manufacturing precision and skating performance.
If you’re into speed skating and other situations that translate into loads of abuse, pick them. But if you’re just a hobby skate like yours truly, you can always buy steel or ceramic bearings.
But while I recommend Oust bearings, they’re not the only ones I recommend.
6. Shielded Vs Shieldless Bearings
Some bearings have a metal shield (or two) while others don’t feature this component. A metal shield helps keep contaminants and dirt out. Some people argue that shields are better because they seal out dirt and grit.
Others contend that shieldless bearings are preferable because particles and contaminants pass right through the empty space to the other side and out.
I’ve used both type shielded and shieldless bearings, and I can’t say either lasts longer due it being shielded or shieldless. That said, I like shielded ones better.
Oh, I almost forgot this: shieldless bearings tend to be faster than shielded ones. But I can’t say the different is significant. In the end, either type of bearings works, and you can choose either. It comes down to personal preferences.
7. How Much Do Good Skateboard Bearings Cost?
I’ve seen $17 ceramic skateboard bearings and $150 ceramic bearings. More expensive ones are of better build and deliver significantly better performance than dirt-cheap ones, right? Well, not always. It’s reasonable to expect pricier bearings to be better quality-wise than insanely low-priced ones. But $100 is the about the highest I’ve ever paid. I’m not sure I want to pay $150 for bearings that’ll last months.
The trouble with the cheapest ones is that it’s very easy to buy fake products. I mean, do you really think those $17 ceramics are actually authentic, high-quality products? Well, they’re not in most cases. So, don’t always go for the cheapest ones, and paying $150 may not always be justifiable. Think $30 to $60.
Best Bearings for Skateboards Overall
If you got the money, go for the Bones Super 6 Swiss. They’re insanely fast, high-performance bearings that last forever. The best part is you that you pay 50% of the price shown since you get two sets of bearings. Honestly, there’s very little not to like about Bones Super 6 Swiss.
And if you’re like me and prefer buying mid-range options that offer great performance, pick the Bones Reds (16 pack). Finally, grab a set of Bones Reds Precision (8 Pack) for when you want to get tons of value while saving money.
For competitive skating (slalom skating), the Oust MOC 9 Airrr are the finest bearings for the job. They’re peerless when it comes to taking loads that that keep shifting sideways.
Now, it’s about time you picked up whichever option you’d like to add to your collection. You’ll never know how well a set of skate bearings can serve you unless you buy them and start riding around. Happy skateboarding!