Another important part of the hardware ensemble is the bearing. The construction of bearings, which versions are common, and what to consider in order to enjoy them as long as possible will be explained here.
All of the bearings you can buy in a skate shop fit in all of the wheels you can buy in a skate shop – you need two bearings for each wheel.
A bearing has a large outer ring (> Fig. 01 A) and a smaller inner ring (> Fig. 01 C). In between the two rings are usually steel balls (> Fig. 01 B) which set your wheels in motion.
The shields seal the bearings and protect the interior and the balls from dirt and dust. The balls lie in a so-called ball-cage (> Fig. 01 D) so that they stay in position at all times. Bearings are available in sealed versions (ZZ) or in half-sealed versions (Z), which have only one shield. Half-sealed bearings are more sensitive, but they are also faster.
ABEC vs. Skate tested
The ABEC-scale (ABEC 1– ABEC 9) is the industry standard regarding the tolerances of ball bearings. It describes the precision of the bearings - the higher the ABEC number, the smaller the tolerances of the bearings. That means that an ABEC 9 bearing is more precise than an ABEC 1 bearing. However, the ABEC-scale is often not that relevant in skateboarding.
»Skate Tested Bearings« are manufactured specifically for skateboards and can better withstand the impact during hard landings as well as the pressure which occurs when turning. There are versions with six steel balls inside instead of seven available. The ultimate bearings are the Swiss Ceramic bearings, which have ceramic balls inside. Due to the extreme hardness of ceramic balls, these kinds of bearings guarantee a very long working life.
If you take the time to clean your bearings every now and then, you increase the chance for a long and reliable working life.
You can lubricate them using Bones Bearings Speed Cream (> Fig. 03) or similar oil-based lubricants. If cleaning and lubricating your bearings is too time-consuming for you, simply pay attention to where you ride your board.
Bearings should be kept away from dust as well as from water or moisture since they can and will rust.