Skateboard bearings are small but mighty components that play a crucial role in your skateboarding experience. They’re the unsung heroes responsible for the smoothness and speed of your ride. Whether you’re a beginner just starting or a seasoned skater looking to upgrade, understanding skateboard bearings is essential for optimizing your performance and enjoyment.

What are Skateboard Bearings?

Skateboard bearings are small, round metal objects housed within your wheels. Each wheel contains two bearings, and their primary function is to reduce friction between the wheel and the axle. This reduction in friction allows your wheels to spin freely and smoothly, enabling you to gain speed and maintain momentum with less effort.

Components of Skateboard Bearings

  • Inner and Outer Races: These are the rings that form the track for the balls to roll on.
  • Balls: Typically made of steel or ceramic, these are the rolling elements that reduce friction.
  • Cage: This holds the balls in place and ensures they remain evenly spaced.
  • Shield: This protects the internal components from dirt and debris.

Types of Skateboard Bearings

  • Steel Bearings: The most common type, steel bearings are durable and affordable. However, they can rust if not properly maintained.
  • Ceramic Bearings: Lighter and more resistant to wear than steel, ceramic bearings are often favored by professional skaters for their speed and longevity. They are, however, more expensive.
  • Swiss Bearings: Renowned for their precision and quality, Swiss bearings are considered top-of-the-line.

ABEC Ratings: Do They Matter?

ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) ratings are a common way to measure the precision of bearings. They range from 1 to 9, with higher numbers indicating greater precision. While higher ABEC ratings theoretically suggest faster bearings, the reality is more complex. The quality of the materials, lubrication, and overall construction play a more significant role in performance than the ABEC rating alone.

For most beginners and casual skaters, ABEC 5 or 7 bearings are a good starting point, offering a balance of speed, durability, and affordability.

Choosing the Right Skateboard Bearings

  • Consider Your Budget: Bearings range in price, so determine how much you’re willing to spend.
  • Think About Your Skating Style: If you’re a beginner, steel bearings are a good option. For more advanced skaters, ceramic bearings might be worth the investment.
  • Read Reviews: See what other skaters have to say about different brands and models.

Maintaining Your Skateboard Bearings

How do I protect my skateboard bearings?

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Proper maintenance is key to ensuring your bearings last as long as possible and perform optimally. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Clean Your Bearings Regularly: Remove them from the wheels and use a bearing cleaning solution or isopropyl alcohol to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Lubricate Your Bearings: After cleaning, apply a few drops of bearing lubricant to each bearing.
  3. Inspect for Damage: Check for any signs of wear or damage, such as rust or cracked shields. Replace any damaged bearings.

Related: Shred or Swap? Signs It’s Time for New Skateboard Wheels

Upgrading Your Skateboard Bearings

If you feel your current bearings are holding you back, consider upgrading to a higher-quality set. Upgrading to ceramic bearings, for example, can significantly improve your speed and overall performance.

Additional Tips for Beginners

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment: Try different brands and types of bearings to find what works best for you.
  • Ask for advice: Talk to experienced skaters or skate shop employees for recommendations.
  • Have fun: Skateboarding is all about having fun, so don’t get too caught up in the technical details.

By following this ultimate guide to skateboard bearings, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more knowledgeable and confident skater.


Skateboard bearings might seem like small components, but they have a big impact on your skating experience. By understanding the different types of bearings, choosing the right ones for your needs, and properly maintaining them, you can ensure a smooth, fast, and enjoyable ride every time you hit the streets or skatepark.

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