Bronson is one of the few brands that actually design bearings specific for skateboarding. Because I wanted to upgrade my bearings and I heard mixed stories about Bronson bearings I decided to try them myself and I can tell you they are surprisingly good.
The Bronson RAW are specifically designed to use without shields. The applied tungsten coating prevents dust and dirt won’t stick and counteracts the build-up of crud. Dirt and dust can come in but also goes right back out so no more popping of shields, cleaning, and re-lubing. They don’t require maintenance and you don’t need time to break them in
Let’s have a closer look at these bearings, how they perform and the pros and cons. I took them for a test ride, compared them to other popular bearings and will keep on testing them for a year. In time I will come back to update this post.
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The first thing I noticed when unboxing them is the design, it’s a bit different from what I’m used too after skating Bones all my life. I love their looks and the open bearings show 6 rather large balls instead of the usual 7. The orange ball cage is made of non-distortion fiberglass and pure nylon and looks quite extraordinary.
I also like the packaging, upon inspection of their website I learned that they are packaged in nitrogen which reduces oxidation. Pretty neat if you ask me. The only thing they forgot to add is spacers, pretty weird if you ask me. Glad I got some spares.
The first spin test is promising although this isn’t always an indicator if bearings are of good quality. They spin fast and keep spinning for quite some time. I really like the sound they make, it’s not distracting and not too loud.
- Very fast
- No need to clean them
- I love the sound and design
- More expensive
- Some don’t like the sound
- No spacers in the package
Taking Them For A Test Ride
I admit it. I’m new to open bearings and first rode them with the shields on the outside and the exposed side on the inside. I quickly learned that this isn’t the purpose of these bearings because when you think of it, this way dirt and crud will build up inside and it can’t go anywhere.
Anyway, not a problem for a few rides but I swapped them as soon as I learned about my mistake and had a good laugh about myself. I’m just used to shielded bearings and totally missed the purpose of open bearings.
The first thing it noticed is the sound they make, they are quite silent but if you listen closely you can sometimes hear the balls spinning. Lesser so on a smooth surface and more on rougher areas. Just a detail but it’s like they are singing an encouraging song to go faster.
I tested them on OJ’s, Orangatangs and Bones wheels and could really notice the difference. They are really fast straight out of the box and don’t require you to break them in. They are great bearings for cruising and technical street and park skating and I also notice the difference when I skate my local mini ramp. These guys are super fast!
Durability and Longterm Use
I still need to do some more testing and won’t avoid dirt and rain just to see how they hold up in the long run. So far they perform great but how long will they last after some extensive abuse. People report that they hold up fine after a year without even cleaning them, I’ll update this post once I used them for a couple of months and hope I can confirm this.
The balls won’t pop out because they sit and roll deeper in the raceway channels which also reduces stress on the axes and deals better with angled impacts. Not everybody feels comfortable riding shieldless bearing but so far they seem to hold up fine.
No More Maintenance
These bearings don’t require any maintenance because of how they were designed. The races are Tungsten coated to make them extremely friction resistance. Tungsten is a material with a melting point of 3422 Celsius (6192 Fahrenheit). It is deposited as a coating that protects the surface from high heat making them extremely strong.
The shieldless bearings prevent dirt from building up, anything that flies in will fly out. The non-stick dry Tungsten lubricant will do the rest. This also means you should never clean or lube them, the coating will hold fine.
Stay away from water though but even if they are rusted you can get them to work again. I read about this guy that was able to recover them after leaving them in a musty basement for a couple of months. He boiled them, baked them dry and they rode like new bearings after that.
Way better than the G3’s
When Bronson came around people were skeptical about their bearings but this is changing. Even though the G3’s don’t have a great reputation, the Bronson RAW bearings seem to be getting more popular these days. The first G3’s were not great but Bronson quickly improved the product and they seem to be comparable to standard Reds these days.
If this is holding you back keep in mind that the RAW’s are completely different bearings. Bronson RAW bearings leave the G3’s far behind and you can’t really compare them.
How They Compare to Bones Bearings
I think they are right between Bones Super Reds and Bones Swiss 6 Balls. So better than the Super Reds but not as good as the Swiss 6. Both brands make excellent bearings and you really can’t go wrong with either. That being said, I feel like Bronson provides true open bearings compared to Bones.
You can clearly see a thin plastic layer over the balls on the Bones bearings (left and right) while Bronson has their balls completely exposed (I should work on my phrasing, sorry).
I prefer the Bronson RAW over my Super Reds, but I like the Swiss 6 better. From a price perspective, I would pick the Bronsons over the Swiss 6 though. Anyway, all these bearings are excellent choices and super fast.
Should You Buy Them
If you can afford it Bronson Raw bearings are totally worth it. They’re fast, strong, and will last a long time. Some skate them for years without having to replace them. I think they come really close to Bones Swiss 6 bearings but without the price tag.
Top bearings won’t make you a better skater but a smooth ride will certainly help you to maintain speed and saves you a couple of pushes. It makes a difference if you look at it in that way.
They may cost more than twice the amount of cheap bearings but they’ll last you longer and saves you the hassle of buying and swapping new bearings every 6 to 12 months. Some clean their bearings to make them last longer but you might as well buy a new set the tools to clean them cost almost as much.
Save yourself from cleaning your bearings every 3 months and go with Bronson RAW’s that don’t require any maintenance. If you happen to leave them in musty conditions you can even fix them and they’ll ride as new. I absolutely recommend these bearings but don’t forget to add spacers!
No more squeaky bearings and pushing yourself into oblivion. The Bronson Raw bearings are top bearings specifically designed for skateboarding. No other brand (except for maybe one) has skateboarding in mind and Bronson really did a fantastic job designing these bearings.
The 6 balls sit deep in the raceway channel to minimize stress and deal better with impacts from all angles. If you’re a technical skater or ride parks often, these are your bearings. You need something that can withstand abuse and not worry about shields coming off or destroying a bearing completely.
Cruisers and longboarders will also appreciate their speed and durability. Riding for miles on end requires bearings that can withstand dust and crud from cropping up. These bearings will keep performing for a long time without the hassle of cleaning them.