Skateboard Bearings Buying Advice
There are literally hundreds of different skateboard bearings out there that you can buy. The unfortunate thing is that the vast majority of them are glorified washing machine bearings with fancy packaging and big advertising campaigns. After skating as long as we have you manage to try out just about everything: and we have, thus saving you the hassle. There are basically three categories of skateboard bearing that we here at Slam recommend:
Cheap Standard Skateboard Bearings
These cheap skateboard bearings have been around for years. Either NSK or NMB, these bearings are rated as ABEC3 and they cost a quid each (that’s £8 a set for all you non-mathematicians). These guys are actually quite good. The bearings themselves are very strong, although you need to be careful not to dent the shields with clumsy wrench-use whilst fitting. Because these things are mass-produced and often sit around in warehouses for years on end they are packed with quite a thick grease to protect them. Unfortunately this renders them a little bit slow when you first get them. After you set them up, go bomb a hill to rune them in and they could last years. There is no real possibility of maintenance as the shields are non-removable but to be honest with you, they’re so cheap you can just run them into the ground then throw them away. Buy Standard Skateboard Bearings Here
Bones REDS Skateboard Bearings
There are many ABEC5 rated skateboard bearings out there. One thing you learn, the more you skate, is that ABEC means absolutely nothing when it comes to skateboarding (see later note). Saying that, the Bones Red bearings are fast ‘out-of-the-box’ and are our most popular and highly recommended mid-priced bearing. Although not actually ABEC rated, I’d say they’re about a 5 and then some. They have removable, rubber-coated shields that are super easy to get off and back on using a scalpel blade or pin. The main thing that sets these things aside from regular skate-company ABEC5 bearings is the fact that they are made by Bones and hence utilize some of the technology present in SWISS bearings (see next category). This means that they are strong and fast and actually designed for skateboarding. At £15.95 these are by far the best mid-priced bearing available. Buy Bones REDS Bearings Here
Bones SWISS Skateboard Bearings
Bones Swiss are the benchmark by which all other bearings are measured. Originally designed for roller hockey to withstand the enormous stresses and strains put on them by the sport these are the BEST bearings you can buy, period. It’s a fact that the vast majority of all professional skateboarders use Swiss bearings, no matter whose ads they show up in or whose stickers they put on their board. There are a few reasons for this: Swiss bearings are noticeably faster out-of-the-box. They are fast on all surfaces allowing you to use smaller wheels and still not lose speed. ie they deal with vibration better. They are deigned to withstand shearing forces i.e. sideways movement experienced whilst doing sliding tricks so are way stronger and much less likely to ‘pop’. The general consensus is that they run slightly faster when they are getting ’dry’ (meaning, when there is minimal oil in them). To this end, you will notice that many skaters will take the shields off completely, allowing the oil to evaporate. Of course, this probably works far better in California where they have significantly less frequent ‘downpours’. Although there is a definite price issue with Swiss (£49.95 at Slam), this price should be viewed as an investment. Buy Bones SWISS Here
Skateboard Bearing Maintenance
The general rule with bearings as far as skateboarding goes is: MINIMAL OIL. Dry bearings run faster and attract less grit and grime. When your bearings start to scream as you’re skating along it’s time to clean them and re-lube. Bones bearings come with quite a comprehensive set of cleaning instruction, which are great if you’ve got a lot of spare time or you’re a nerd. This is how we do it and it seems to work:
• Get the bearings out and remove the shields.
• Put the whole lot in a jam jar containing some kind of citrus engine cleaner (if your dad likes cars, there may be some in the garage, otherwise get down to Halfords or something).
• Put the lid on and give the whole thing a good shaking.
• If there is really tricky dirt you may need to recruit Mr. Old Toothbrush as an assistant.
• Put the things on a bit of kitchen roll or something to dry out for a little bit.
• To re-oil these things you need to use Speed Cream (We sell it). Drop half a drop (that’s for the chemists out there) of speed cream in each bearing unit. Try to let it drop directly onto one of the balls, and then spin them with your hand to ensure an even coverage within the bearing.
• Put the shields back on carefully, making sure that the bearings still spin freely.
• Put bearings back in wheels, wheels back on board.
• Get gnarly!!!