After testing many bearings over a year in different circumstances and weather types, we came to the conclusion that the best skateboard bearings are not the most expensive bearings.
You’ll be better off with a set of Bronson G2’s than Bones Ceramics because they last almost as long and are way cheaper.
This article may seem long but I really wanted to get all the details right. Keep in mind that this isn’t exact science but at least we (me and some local skateboarders) tested them to the max.
Our findings after testing most bearings for a year (so far):
- Most durable cheap bearings: Bronson G2’s
- Best cheap bearings: Bones Reds
- Worst bearings: Bones Ceramics
- Best budget bearings: Mini Logo
- Best bearings for cruising: Zealous Classic Bearings
- The Best Skateboard Bearings to Consider
- Skateboard Bearings Buying Guide
- Skateboard Bearing Material Quality & Parts
- Skateboard Bearings Maintenance
- Are Skateboard Bearings Universal?
- Will Skateboard Bearings Fit All Wheels?
- What Are The Fastest Bearings?
- When To Replace Your Bearings?
- Are Skateboard Bearings Waterproof?
- Is There a Difference Between a Skateboard and Longboard Bearings?
- Does ABEC Rating Matter?
- Do Expensive Bearings Make You Go Faster?
- Final Thoughts
The Best Skateboard Bearings to Consider
Considering price, quality, durability, and speed; Bronson Speed Co. G2’s are the best bearings for skateboarding. G2 bearings still ride smooth after months, don’t require much maintenance, and are great for both street and transition skateboarding.
Let’s get down to business, we’ve tested 3 of the most popular brands commonly used in skateboarding.
The bearings were tested by different skaters and we bought at least 2 sets of each. It’s impossible to test all brands, so I picked the most common bearings skaters ride.
We’ve skated them in rain, mud, salty coastal areas, snow, and meteor showers. The harsher the conditions, the shorter bearings last.
Some deal better with puddles than others but all bearings rust and break at some point.
No bearing was the fastest, nor did we find any bearing that didn’t rust. In the end bearings between 15 and 30 bucks from reputable brands are the best.
Anything more expensive is overkill for skateboarding. My top 3:
1. Bronson Speed Co. G2 (Best Overall)
Lets start with the top recommended bearings for those who want reliable bearings for a fair price. I’ll also save you a sore finger from scrolling, you can thank me later.
The Bronson G2 bearings are the best budget skateboard bearings that delivers top-shelf performance.
It has a straight edge, friction-less shields that are pop-off resistant to hold in oil and keep moisture out, while its linear micro-groove surface improves bearing lubrication and increases roll speed.
Its nano-ceramic compounds resist corrosion and prevent excessive wear. These skateboard bearings provide the smoothest riding experience to you at a reasonable price.
That’s a whole lot of fancy words that can be summarized as cheap bearings that last a long time. Where we had to replace our bones Reds, the G2’s still worked for a long time.
G2’s lasted 2 to 4 months longer compared to Bones Reds, depending on the weather conditions. They seem to handle dust, dirt, and water better.
The difference isn’t huge and our results are anecdotal but overall Bronson G2 seems to outperform standard Bones Reds.
We tested about 5 sets and all lasted longer than Reds. Our worst performing set of Reds were unskateable after 2 months.
Now before you go off and buy these bearings I recommend to keep reading, you might learn a thing or two.
Bronson G2’s offer the bests value money being a basic bearings that can handle impact skateboarding. They also get quicker with age, come with spacers, and are very affordable. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
This is a summary of what Bronson has to say about their own bearings:
- It has deep groove raceways in which balls sit and roll more profoundly in the raceway channels than weaker shallow groove designs. This also reduces regular axial and angular side impact damage and breakage.
- The non-contact rubbers fit deep in the inner race edge with a straight edge and frictionless shields and reduce oil leaks and any dirt or moisture intrusion.
- Bronson G2 skateboard bearings are hand-inspected twice and micro-polished with ultrasonic solvent washed 3X before the final lubrication.
- These bearings are packed in nitrogen-filled shrink-wrap – reduces metal and oil oxidation until ready to be ridden.
Bronson G2’s are a pleasant surprise and I can’t recommend them enough. They are better than standard Bones Reds, smooth riding experience, quiet, and they outperform many of the more expensive bearings.
After testing 5 sets I feel confident enough to say that these give you the most value for the money.
- Best bang for your buck.
- Fast enough for skateboarding.
- No need to clean them too often.
- Comes with spacers
Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
There aren’t any cons but I’ll try to come up with at least a few. the only thing I can think of is that they are a bit more expensive than standard Bones Reds.
- Can’t handle dirt and water too well (like all bearings).
- Not great for cruising and longboarding.
2. Bones Reds (Runner-up)
Bones Reds are the most popular bearings because they are cheap and just work for all skateboards. These skateboard bearings are made in China like most.
They are a combination of performance, durability and are cheap. At least that’s what everyone tells you.
We don’t really agree, and ‘Bones Reds are the best’ has become a mantra because they always have been skaters top pick.
These days Bronson outperforms Bones, G2’s are just a bit more expensive but worth the extra few bucks.
Sure they deliver quality with a surprisingly low budget, but they also break very fast (if you’re unlucky). It’s sort of a lottery when it comes to standard Reds.
We managed to destroy a set in a few weeks where others lasted for months in the worst conditions possible.
Reds are a great, simple bearing, pretty bomb-proof, gets quicker with age and not badly priced. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
- Bones reds have a single, non-contact, removable rubber shield that allows easy cleaning and less friction.
- They contain a high-speed nylon ball retainer for greater strength and speed.
- These bearings are pre-lubricated with Speed Cream racing lubricant.
- Skate Rated clearances, tolerances, materials, and lubricants provide the best performance and durability possible.
Great performance for the price, standard reds have been the top choice for over a decade for good reasons. They certainly beat mini logo bearings but only by a small margin.
- Bones red skateboard bearings use reasonable quality steel Races.
- Cheap and relatively durable depending on the batch.
- Easy to clean.
After testing them and comparing them to Bronson G2’s we think they are the second best on a budget.
I think I can safely say this because we aren’t affiliate with either brand. Reds are great, just not THAT great.
- Unreliable, some last for a long time where others break in weeks.
- Lots of fakes on Amazon, make sure to buy from the Bones brand.
- They only have one rubber shield.
3. Bronson G3
Bronson G3 skateboard bearings are engineered to roll faster and resist impacts better than any other bearings.
These skateboard bearings improve your ride with deep grove raceways that reduce the side impact damage with high-speed ceramics oil compounds.
They roll smoother for a longer time compared to Bronson G2’s, but that also depends on where you skate.
G3’s are a great choice for transition skateboarding and indoor skate parks. After 12 months of street skating they still hold up fine but we didn’t do high impact tests.
Bronson G3’s offer a bit more quality which isn’t noticeable to most skateboarders. They can handle high-impact skateboarding a bit better compared to the G2’s. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
Lets look at the buzzwords from Bronson which you forget about as soon as you drop in from a quarter:
- ‘MICRO GROOVE’ raceway surfaces Microscopic linear grooved raceway surfaces.
- Advertised benefit: Improved bearing lubrication and spin.
- ‘MAX IMPACT’ CAGE DESIGN Non-distortion glass-filled nylon cage.
- High-quality ceramic oil: Oil is blended with nano-ceramic compounds.
- Anti-wear protection with additives that defend against rust, moisture, corrosion, and oxidation.
Overall Bronson G3’s seem to last a bit longer than Bronson G2’s. They gradually get worse but should last for at least a good year of skateboarding.
We haven’t cleaned them in a year and skated them in all conditions, they still work. I guess some of the marketing is actually true, I’m still allergic to buzzwords though.
- Long lasting, at least a year of great performance
- They stay fast for a long time.
- Not much maintenance is needed.
Not many cons, just the price. I’m not sure if they are worth it if your budget is tight, G2’s or Standard Reds might be a better option.
The first generation had some issues with deformed cages, but this has been resolved. I highly recommend them, obligatory affiliate link to amazon!
- Damage when you don’t use spacers so be careful tightening the axle nuts.
- Not all G3’s come with spacers, make sure you get the right ones.
- Not for longboarding.
4. Bones Super Reds
Bones Super Reds skateboard bearings are level up from the standard Reds. They are great for transition skateboarding and indoor park skating but quickly lose performance skating street.
According to Bones, Super Reds provides premium skateboard surface and finish to the boot. By utilizing these skateboard bearings, you will have more momentum when you either go up or downhill.
Honestly we didn’t feel any difference.
I can’t say they last much longer than standard Bones Reds, it doesn’t take long before they perform less.
You won’t notice this as this happens gradually but you will notice when you clean them or replace them.
Great for mini ramp and bowl skating but not so much for hardcore street skaters. The only ‘Super’ perk is that they are super expensive and hardcore skates need to replace them super fast.
Not worth the premium, just get standard Reds if you like Bones.
Bones Super Reds Bearings don’t offer much more than the Bones Reds. They can arguably handle high-impact skateboarding better compared to the Reds but we didn’t experience this ourselves. Buyer beware. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
Technobabble from Bones and their marketing team:
- This bearing features higher quality steel races with better quality and grade balls and a superior surface finish.
- They have a single, non-contact, removable rubber shield for easy cleaning and less friction.
- A high-speed nylon ball retainer provides greater strength and speed.
- Bone’s super red bearings are pre-lubricated with Speed Cream racing lubricant.
Bones Super Reds feel super fast at first but this doesn’t last long. They last a bit longer compared to standard Bones Reds but the question is if this is worth it.
- Uses high-quality Steel Races.
- Great for indoor transition skateboarding
Some of the bearings fell apart pretty quickly without ollieing big stairs. Just basic skating was enough to render them useless after 6 months, 3 of 8 bearings completely failed.
We’ll get a couple of more sets and try them out to see if there’s any difference and update this post accordingly.
- Not cost-effective, twice the price of standard Reds.
- Bronson G3’s cost the same and perform better for a longer time.
- They break pretty easily.
5. Bronson Raw
Bronson Raw is bones Swiss 6 balls counterpart that is the next generation of shieldless bearings. Its design offers the same premium quality that Bronson has provided to its customers.
They come with a shield free eliminating dirt buildup and allow you easy access to the inner parts as you needed.
The metal rings have a micro-thin tungsten lubricant coating that keeps bearings rolling smoother for longer.
I used them on a Dinghy and Pilsner cruiser and they are a blast. We’ve (my friend and I) been riding these in the rain and then stored them for about 6 months.
No surprise they didn’t work anymore but what was surprising is that you can just yank the dust and rust right off when you take your board for a spin.
They performed almost as good as before! No cleaning needed and hardly any squeaky sounds. I really love how quickly they accelerate and haven’t cleaned them in 2 years.
Bronson Raw Bearings accelerate fast and keep momentum for a long time. They are extremely durable but make a rattling noise that some might find annoying. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
This is just stuff from the Bronson Speed Co. website:
- Bronson Raw offers deep groove raceways.
- They have micro-groove raceway surfaces with self-smoothing microscopic linear grooved raceway surfaces to improve bearing lubrication and spin.
- They have a max impact cage design.
- High-Speed Ceramic Oil: Oil is blended with nano-ceramic compounds for anti-wear protection for longer-lasting bearings and improved speed.
- Hand Inspected for Quality: 100% hand-inspected twice and micro-polished and ultrasonic solvent washed 3X before final lubrication.
- Tungsten Coated Races.
- Shield Free Design.
Interesting design and they seem to handle dust and dirt better than most bearings listed here. I’ve been cruising these for over a year in rain, dust, and dirt and they still work great.
The theory is that the open bearing design throws out dust, water, and dirt. I think this really works given we managed to ride them again after neglecting them for a long time.
Even if they are stuck you can force them to spin again when pushing your cruiser.
I’ve left them in my small shed for over a year but they still perform great. You can just push the rust and dust out of the bearings.
- Durable, even when they are stuck you can get them to work again
- Very fast and smooth riding experience, great acceleration.
- Not much maintenance is needed.
- Great for cruising
They make a rattling sound, you can really hear the balls spinning in the cage which is not for everyone.
I personally think it’s a fun gimmick when cruising around but maybe it gets distracting if you’re a street skater. Not as distracting as a scooter kid though.
- They make some noise, I love the sound but it’s not for everyone.
- I would buy these for a cruiser setup, not a street setup.
6. Bronson Ceramics
Even though you really don’t need ceramic bearings for skateboarding, I thought it would be fair to list Bronson Ceramics. They are cheaper compared to Bones Reds Ceramics but they perform the same.
First thing I noticed when unboxing was how greasy they felt compared to Bones ceramics, they didn’t perform better than G3’s.
I don’t think they are faster, stronger, or more durable. Considering the price tag, you expect something else but alas, cheaper isn’t always better.
They come sealed in a reusable case that doubles as a bearing cleaner, and you get steel spacers and washers.
Something Bones doesn’t provide. They have high-density ceramic balls that are precision made with hot Isostatic pressure Sintered (HIPS), whatever that may mean.
Despite all the fancy wording and marketing buzz, Bronson ceramics aren’t the best choice. In our experience, G3’s perform just as great and are way cheaper. Skip these bearings.
While Bronson ceramics are cheaper compared to Bones Ceramics, they are still ridiculously overpriced. Do yourself a favor and buy G3’s instead. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
Here’s the sales pitch from Bronson Speed Co’s marketing team:
- Bronson ceramics skateboard bearing features deep Groove Raceways in which balls roll deep in raceway channels, reducing side impact damage & breakage.
- These bearings have frictionless edge shields – Pop off resistant – hold oil in, dirt and moisture out – easy to clean.
- Max Impact Cage Design – non- distortion custom cage keeps the balls precision spaced & oil circulating.
- Micro Groove Raceway Surfaces – linear micro-groove surfaces improve bearing lubrication, speed, and spin.
- They contain high-Speed Ceramic Oil – Nano-ceramic compound for wear protection – moisture, rust, & corrosion resistance.
- With balls Out of Technology, they eliminate shield and cage contact on impact for a go fast, stay fast bearing.
- The package includes a bearing cleaning unit case, 8 ceramic bearings, 4 spacers, 8 washers, and 8 extra replacement shields.
Great for indoor skateboarding, after 10 session in my local indoor park they still perform great. To be honest, so did my previous bearings that are a lot cheaper.
Only buy them if you really want ceramics and ignore the fact that they are overkill.
- Comes with extra’s such as a cleaning container, spacers, and washers.
- Maintain their speed for a long time.
- Not much maintenance is needed,.
- Comes with lots of grease, well lubricated.
I highly doubt you need them. They are expensive and honestly I can hardly tell any difference between regular steel (quality) bearings.
I don’t think they will give you any advantage no matter how hard you want to believe.
- Expensive, overkill for skateboarders.
- Probably last as long as regular steel bearings.
7. Bones Swiss 6 balls
Bones Swiss 6 ball are rather expensive skateboard bearings, and are supposed to be super fast. These bearings have a unique design that features six larger diameter balls instead of seven balls.
This design provides greater strength and durability (in theory). They are smooth and fast, but also very fragile.
I actually got a set with one bearing completely stuck, great quality control there Bones! There was no way in fixing this unfortunately so make sure to check each bearing when you unbox them.
To be fair, they did perform pretty well at first but if I’m honest; they aren’t worth the premium price. Stick with standard Reds if you have to buy Bones.
Bones Swiss 6 balls Bearings don’t offer much more than the Bones Reds or Bronson G2. They are hyped up and not the best choice. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
- With a single, non-contact, removable rubber shield, these bearings allow for easy cleaning and less friction.
- They have a high-speed nylon ball retainer for greater strength and speed.
- These bearings are pre-lubricated with Speed Cream racing lubricant.
They look pretty rad and I love the blue shields. At first the accelerated super fast and maintained speed longer than standard Reds. This didn’t lasted as long as I expected though.
- Provides a smooth ride.
- Maintain their speed for a longer time (arguably).
They only lasted for a couple of months and I tried 2 sets. Some bearings just won’t spin anymore and no matter how hard you clean them, they are too far gone.
This was only from cruising, maybe I got unlucky but it’s telling. Imagine doing some hardcore skating and breaking them in a week.
- Not worth the price.
- Not as durable as advertised.
8. Bones Red Ceramics (The Worst bearings)
Let’s look at the most over-hyped bearings of all time, and look some of the myths surrounding Bones Red Ceramics.
The reason I listed them here is to debunk some of the claims skaters and other sites make. I’ll give you the lowdown; Bones Ceramics bearings are a waste of money.
One of the most expensive bearings you can buy should be great right? Wrong.
Fact: Ceramics are very expensive and yes, they last a bit longer depending on the build quality.
This doesn’t justify the price, you can buy 4 sets of G2’s that will outlast them by a factor of three and still pay less.
Myth: They are excellent for downhill longboarding. They create less friction and less heat that makes them faster and long-lasting. Moreover, ceramic is much harder than steel. They also don’t require maintenance or lubrication.
They aren’t great for downhill, I asked my buddy over at Downhill254 and he can confirm that even for professional downhillers, they are a complete waste of money.
It’s all marketing, they aren’t faster or more durable, the reality is that they are overpriced’ and a borderline scam.
Bones Ceramics bearings do rust and are not waterproof. Only the ceramic balls don’t rust and they can’t handle impacts better than steel bearings.
They aren’t noticeably faster compared to Bronson G3’s or Bones Swiss 6, not at all. You also need to lube them (standard silicone lube, nothing fancy) and clean them.
I think people who claim they are faster experience some sort of placebo effect. If you really believe they are faster, you’re likely to think you’re going faster. That’s fine though.
I don’t want to go too much into Bones ceramics but they are a huge disappointment and no skater should ever consider buying them.
In my opinion, Bones Reds Ceramics are one of the worst skateboard bearings you can buy. Swiss Ceramics might even be worse, but even I won’t waste my time and money to tests them.
A fool and his money are soon parted, but if you want to flex your expensive bearings that don’t offer more than Mini Logo bearings, go ahead. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
Features according to Bones:
- These bearings feature 7 grade 5, silicon nitride, and hot isostatic pressed ceramic balls.
- These bearings also feature higher quality steel races and a superior surface finish.
- With a single non-contact, removable rubber shield, it provides easy cleaning and less friction.
- High-speed nylon ball retainer for greater strength and speed.
- Pre-lubricated with Speed Cream racing lubricant.
The only benefit is that they last a bit longer in the right conditions. The other pro is that Bones ceramic bearings have a huge profit margin.
They’ll laugh hard every time some poor schmuck buys a set of ceramics.
- Roll smoother for a bit longer compared to cheaper bearings.
- When skating in the rain and leaving them to rust, they will work again. Just not as before.
- Resist dirt just a bit better than full steel bearings, at least they didn’t squeak as fast.
Lightweight ceramic balls to keep their shipping costs down. The stainless races surface rust so they’ll slow down quick.
Bones Ceramics have a different expansion rate than steel making them actually slower at certain temperatures.
By now it should be obvious that you don’t get what you pay for. You can buy 4 or 5 sets of G2’s for the price of a single set of Bones Reds Ceramics.
- Way too expensive.
- Still require maintenance and lubrication.
- Aren’t faster compared to standard Bones Reds.
- Don’t last longer.
9. Zealous – Classic (Best For Cruising)
Zealous Classic skateboard bearings contain green rubber seals to keep dirt and debris outside the bearing.
However, lubed with Custom Nanoceramic Grease, its unique feature is a lubricant how the nano-ceramic compound fills in deformations or asperities in the direction.
These deformations cause friction and heat around them, which also hardens the nano-ceramic compound to that specific area.
This micro coating is five times the host alloy’s hardness and has a molecular bond with the host metal, and also fills in all the asperities and eliminating friction over time.
In short, Zealous bearings require breaking in. The longer you skate them the better they perform (to a certain point).
Zealous bearings are great for longboarding and cruising and are the only bearings listed here that you need to break in. The grease just needs some time to work properly.
I bought a set of ceramic Zealous bearings but didn’t notice a difference, the classics are just fine.
Zealous Classics are great for cruising. They don’t accelerate fast but keep their momentum longer compared to standard bearings. They get quicker with age fairly priced. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
- Extremely low water washout.
- Corrosion inside of the bearing is nearly eliminated.
- Precision 8mm axle holes.
- Has built-in spacers and built-in speed rings.
- Green rubber seals keep dirt and debris on the outside of the bearing lubed with Archoil Nanoceramic grease.
- Great for longboarding and cruising.
- They maintain speed for a long time, require less pushing.
- Fair price
- Not for impact skateboarding.
- Accelerate slower compared to skateboard bearings.
10. Mini Logo Bearings
Let’s say you’re assembling your own complete and your are almost over your budget. In this case Mini Logo bearings might be an option.
Mini Logo bearings aren’t the best or durable but they will get the job done. At least they are better than bearings that come with most complete skateboards.
They have a removable rubber shield on one side, a removable metal shield on the other. A high-speed molded ball retainer, precision ground, and super-finished hardened chromium steel races.
They also have and balls (LMAO), and come pre-lubricated with Speed Cream. This makes them smooth, fast, easy to install and maintain.
These bearings are not for high impact skateboarding but roll smooth in skate parks. Excellent budget bearing!
Mini Logo Bearings are excellent budget bearings. While they aren’t suitable for high impact skateboarding, they are a great choice for beginners. Available at Amazon (affiliate link).
- High Performance, Skate Rated Construction.
- Chromium Steel Balls and Rings.
- Precision ground and Superfinished Raceways.
- High Speed, Extra Tough Ball Cage (Removable).
- Flexible Rubber Shield on One Side (Removable).
- Rigid Metal Shield on One Side (Removable).
- Speed Cream Synthetic Racing Oil.
- Good value for money.
- Well constructed for the price.
- Reasonable smooth (but not for long)
This is also where the cheaper is better ends, sure you’ll save a couple of bucks but you get better and more durable bearings for just a bit more.
- Not for hardcore skating.
- Not for cruising or longboarding.
Skateboard Bearings Buying Guide
Let’s look at the individual parts of a bearings, frequently asked question, and debunk some myths. This stuff can be pretty boring.
In the end the only thing to consider when buying new bearings are:
- Your budget.
- Your style (cruising/longboarding vs skateboarding).
- A reputable brand.
Pro tip: Sometimes you have to really force a bearing into a wheel which can damage the bearing. Use a tiny but of silicon lube to make it easy.
Skateboard Bearing Material Quality & Parts
In my experience the real difference in quality starts when you buy bearings below $15. This is the absolute minimum to spend on bearings.
Let’s break it down:
Steel bearings are made of steel, and they are industry standard. However, the quality of steel varies from brand to brand, but they are both durable and economical.
The only disadvantage of steel bearings is that they usually rust when exposed to moisture. Drying your bearings after riding in the wet is something really to consider.
Just getting the moist out will make the last way longer. you don’t have to clean them entirely, I don’t but I’m also lazy.
Avoid puddles, dust and dirt and your bearing will last for a long time. The difference is huge, sometmes you can throw them away after 2 months and when properly taken care of they’ll last for years.
Ceramic bearings should be avoided. They don’t give you any advantage and don’t last that long as people claim.
They aren’t faster. still require maintenance, and are 4 to 5 times as expensive as a decent set of bearings.
Only the balls are made of Ceramic material. heck even if only one ball is ceramic you can market them as ceramic bearings!
Also, there is no such thing as full ceramic bearings for skateboarding. And if there are you will most likely break them.
Ceramic itself is lightweight but a brittle material, and it is susceptible to breaking if you skate under high impact.
These bearings are only useful for commuting and low-impact skating, but why on earth would you spend 100 bucks on bearings?
Titanium is a material that is light in weight, durable, and highly rust-resistant. Titanium bearings are similar to steel bearings, but these last longer than steel ones.
Titanium bearings are not for skateboarding, seriously don’t buy these!
Spacers are important and my local skaters didn’t even know what they are. Bearing spacers are small metallic or plastic cylinders that you put on the truck axle (between the bearings).
Spacers reduce the weight distributed to each bearing that makes your turn smoother and more stable.
Spacers also extend the life span of the skateboard bearings. That’s the theory, I never really noticed but it does make some sense.
Bearing spacers are not optional, you need them. The small pieces are a good investment if you want to slide, do many cool tricks, and generally skate hard.
Bearing spacers are typically not expensive and can be made from steel, aluminum, or other metal types.
Plastic are spacers are just fine and won’t cost more than 2 bucks. I have these $30 spacers somewhere and you really won’t notice a difference.
These are for high-speed longboarding, like downhill, not for skateboarding.
Spacers also prevent you from crushing your bearings when you tighten the axle nut. One of the locals over here messed up a set because of that.
He never heard of spacers before, now he does though.
Speed washers are thin; metal rings slipped over the axle between the nut and the bearing and the hanger and the bearing.
They are recognized by different names like speed washers, speed rings, and bearing washers, but all washers have the same purpose: to minimize the friction to help the wheel turn faster.
Speed Washers serve as a buffer between the nut and the bearing that allows your wheels to rotate quickly while also protects the bearing face from damage.
When the speed washers start to appear worn down, or if you notice any rust or corrosion, simply remove the nuts and glide on new speed washers.
If we talk about the speed washer size measured by the axle diameter, and most truck axles are 8mm in diameter.
This is the most likely the size you will need. Many sets include a speed washer for each wheel if you purchase complete trucks, though you can also buy them separately.
I usually have a couple of extra because somehow these freaking rings pull a Houdini on me when I change my wheels or bearings.
These removable safeguards cover the bearings’ sides to protect the balls from dust or any kind of debris.
However, some bearings have shields that are also removable that provide easier cleaning. While some have one or zero safeguards for reduced friction.
The theory behind shieldless bearings is that the dust, dirt, and moist that enters the bearing while riding will be thrown out by the centrifugal forces.
This seems to work for Bronson Raws (check out review) for example.
Skating near the ocean can expose your bearings to sand and dust, making it important to select bearings equipped with Rubber Shields on both sides.
While many bearings feature rubber shields, not all bearings offer shields on both sides.
Inner and Outer Races
The inner and outer races form the track for the balls to roll and create the bearing’s inner and outer walls.
These are six to eight balls that roll freely along a track formed by the races and held in place by the retainer.
The rotating and rolling balls are the cruces of how the bearing works. Fewer balls mean less friction and more speed but I can’t really tell to be honest.
The retainer keeps the balls in place, equal distances from each other to reduce friction in increase strength. Usually made of plastic.
Skateboard Bearings Maintenance
In my opinion cleaning bearings is a waste of time unless you’ve been riding in wet conditions, hit a couple of puddles, or live somewhere with crappy weather conditions.
Bearings sometimes need maintenance, and by doing so, you can ride for a bit longer.
Bearings with removable shields can be cleaned as well. When your bearings start to squeak as you’re skating along, you’ll know it’s time to clean and re-lube them.
The lubricants are designed to improve speed, reduce friction and protect against corrosion.
Note that as soon as you clean your bearings and re-lube them, they will require cleaning again sooner than later. Postpone cleaning your bearings as long as you can.
Some bearings aren’t worth cleaning. A cleaning set is almost as expensive as a new set. Cleaning bearings is overrated.
if you decide to clean, stay away from WD40 it only attracts dust and removes the grease. Great way to kill your bearings though.
Preferably relube your bearings with silicon based lube, no need for Bones speed cream.
Sometimes you can find silicon lube in your parents bedroom (I know someone who did this when he was younger, it works).
Are Skateboard Bearings Universal?
No matter what the wheel size is of your skateboard, all skateboard bearings are the same size; they are universal.
However, when I talk about the universal measurement of skateboard bearings, it is 8mm (core), 22mm (outer diameter), and 7mm (width) which requires 608 size skate bearings. Most of the skateboard bearings are sold in a set of eight.
There are exception like electric some skateboards; the front and back wheels may have different bearing sizes because of the drive shaft.
Will Skateboard Bearings Fit All Wheels?
As mentioned earlier, skateboard bearings are universal, and they are sold in a set of eight. So this means that skateboard bearings fit in all four wheels of your skateboard, no worries.
What Are The Fastest Bearings?
The fastest skateboard bearings are brand new skateboard bearings with the exception of Zealous bearings.
No matter if a bearing has 6 or 8 balls, or ceramic, or steel; you won’t notice a difference given that the bearing consists of quality steel.
Why aren’t Zealous the fastest? They aren’t made for speed but made for keeping their speed, great for longboarders but not for skateboarders.
When To Replace Your Bearings?
Replace your skateboard bearings when they break or won’t spin anymore. You can get away with a few worn bearings but at some point you have to push really hard to keep momentum.
Cleaning can help for a short while but honestly a new set will make a huge difference. Don’t throw the old set away, there are usually a couple of bearings that still work properly. Use them to replace others in time.
Replace your skateboard bearing when they stop spinning after cleaning and re-lubing. If skateboard bearings are missing bearing shields or any ball bearing is missing, replace them to prevent any kind of accident.
However, proper maintenance and regular cleaning can save your bearings in the long run.
Are Skateboard Bearings Waterproof?
All skateboard bearings rust, even ceramics (just not the ball bearings). Only full ceramic bearings are water resistant but they are brittle and not made for skateboarding.
If your bearings happen to get wet you might want to give them some maintenance before your have to replace the bearings entirely.
Is There a Difference Between a Skateboard and Longboard Bearings?
Even though longboard and skateboard bearings are interchangeable, there are quite a few differences between longboard and skateboard bearings.
Skateboard bearings accelerate faster but lose their momentum quickly. Longboard bearings roll longer but accelerate slower.
The grease used in Zealous longboard bearings, for example, is different than the grease used in Bones Reds.
Longboard bearings often have built-in spacers where skateboard bearings require separate spacers.
Does ABEC Rating Matter?
The short answer to this question is no. Higher ABEC only works for industrial RPM machines, not skateboards. Notice that ceramic bearings don’t have ABEC rating and Bones has their own rating (Skate rated).
There is a lot more to it than just a simple no, check out why ABEC rating matters and when it doesn’t.
Do Expensive Bearings Make You Go Faster?
Expensive bearings will not make you go faster on a skateboard. Speed has mainly to do with the wheels (hardness, diameter) and the surface you ride.
Concrete is super fast, gritty asphalt super slow (and frustrating). The more friction, the slower you go.
That said, in my experience, you don’t have to buy super expensive bearings to go fast.
However, downhillers need something reliable and have to spend more money on bearings because of heat building up and speed.
You really don’t want your bearings to melt at 80mph. I don’t know too much about downhill and proper bearings, check downhill254 instead.
It’s been a while that I wrote such a huge post but it all comes down to the following:
- You don’t need expensive bearings, the best are between 20 and 30 bucks.
- Go for higher quality if you skate hardcore, go for cheaper if you don’t ollie 5-stairs all day.
- Ceramics are a waste of money.
- The fastest bearings are brand new bearings made from quality material.
When reading my own article it seems that I’m very biased towards Bronson, this is true because they performed way better.
SkateboardersHQ is independent, I don’t get paid by brands or receive a bonus from recommending brands. I just write about what I think is right for you.
We had a ton of fun testing all the bearings listed and I will update this post once we get some new insights.
We’ve only tested them for about a year but it should give you a good idea about what to buy and which bearings you stay away from.