14 Best Longboard Bearings – 2021 Buying Guide

No component affects the operation of a longboard quite as much as bearings. With lackluster bearings come lackluster rides, and there is no way around that. Whether building a complete component by component or upgrading the crummy bearings that came with an off-the-shelf complete, a good set of fast bearings will instantly change the way a new rider skates.

The market is rife with different bearing brands. One thing to remember is that the size (608) of skateboard and longboard bearings is standard. There is nothing wrong with experimenting with new and different products, but this list of the best longboard bearings of 2021 will help you narrow your wish list to some of the fastest and most durable bearings in the sport.

Table of Contents

Our picks:

  1. Bones reds bearings – Most popular bearings on the planet. Will work great for a typical longboard. (View on Amazon.com)
  2. Bronson speed co bearings – By far the best option if you want to downhill or go high speed. (View on Amazon.com)
  3. Oust bearings – Among the longest lasting set on longboard bearings on the market. (View on Amazon.com)

14 Best Longboard Bearings

1. Bones Reds

Bones Reds Bearings

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bones speed cream for bearingsThe cream of the crop. Bones Reds easily outsell all other skateboard bearings on the market and are considered by many to be the best longboard bearing. They are made with steel races and balls with a nylon cage for ball retention. The shields on one side are non-contact and removable to aid in cleaning. Bones Reds come prepacked with Bones Speed Cream lubricant. I recommend you get a spare one from the get go, as lubricants wear out. You can find it on Amazon.com in here.

Rather than using the ABEC rating system, all Bones bearings carry the Skate Rated trademark. Simply put, this rating is Bones’ guarantee that the tolerances, clearances, materials and lubricant all provide the best performance for skating. Really, an ABEC rating would be less complicated than Bones’ system, but suffice it to say the Reds are one of Bones’ bargain-bearing options.

What's To Like?

  • Best-selling longboard bearing
  • Affordable speed
  • Durable if kept clean

What's NOT to like?

  • Faster bearings are available, but they will cost you

 

 

2. Bones Swiss Ceramics

Bones swiss ceramics

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Bones pulled out all the stops for its Swiss Ceramic bearings. They use all the best materials to produce one of the quietest, smoothest riding bearings available. 

The balls are Cerbec ceramic, which is waterproof and rustproof. They are also considerably lighter than steel, while being harder and stronger as well. This means they will not score when dirty as steel can, so they’ll keep their speed for longer.

A removable rubber shield on one side of the bearing makes cleaning easier and more effective. When clean, ceramic bearings will accelerate notably faster than steel-ball bearings because the balls’ surfaces are incredibly smooth, meaning less friction to break. These bearings utilize a nylon cage to keep the balls on the race. 

Bones Swiss Ceramics are commonly considered one of the best longboard bearings. Unfortunately, they also tend to cost considerably more than most other bearings. Their construction helps then outlast most of their competitors. Whether it is enough to offset the cost is a matter of how you treat them. 

When kept clean and not abused, a set of Bones Swiss Ceramic bearings can be a decent value over time. If drops and hard impacts come into play, however, these bearings are as fragile as steel bearings. In good condition, their smoothness is unrivaled.

What's To Like?

  • Smoothest roll out there
  • Accelerate quicker than most
  • Maintain speed better than most

What's NOT to like?

  • Most expensive on this (or any) list
  • Ceramic bearings don’t take abuse well

 

 

3. Black Panther Ceramics

Black Panther Bearings 8 pack

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Black Panthers are made by Shorty’s. The longtime skateboard bolt manufacturer has earned its reputation for reliability over decades in skateboarding. For most of that time, Black Panthers have been gliding skaters around as well. 

These bearings are whisper quiet and slippery smooth. They come pre-lubricated in Teflon oil, which helps them break in quickly. Still, Black Panther are already quite fast and smooth out of the box. 

After a short break-in period, they improve speed-wise to a point equaling any bearing on the market. The ABEC 7s are of course the most expensive in the range (we found them for under $24 here). Still, that undercuts much of the competition, with no real drop in quality.

Of course, the savings improve as the ABEC rating drops. There are ABEC 3 and ABEC 5 Black Panthers, but for the modest price difference, the added speed and durability of the ABEC 7 Black Panthers is worth it. 

While they may not be as fast or quiet as ceramics, Black Panther are still quite fast. And as always for steel versus ceramic, they can withstand much more punishment. For the longboarder on a budget, these bearings are definitely worth trying.

What's To Like?

  • Ceramic performance
  • Cost less than some competitors
  • Start out fast, gets faster

What's NOT to like?

  • Longevity issues
  • Can’t take punishing stresses

 

 

4. Lucky ABEC-7

lucky bearings

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Lucky bearings have long been a staple in skateboarding. Fast and smooth on first use, the always-durable Lucky’s get even faster with time. Their chromium steel balls ride on triple-honed and polished races. 

The stainless-steel shields do an excellent job keeping dirt and debris out of the cage area. The shields are removable for cleaning and replacing lubricant. Lucky bearings use Dupont’s Delrin polymer for their crown, which is highly abrasion-resistant.

Speed and longevity are not issues of concern for Lucky bearings, but the noise they make may be for some users. These bearings tend to make a loud hissing sound when they roll, so no one is sneaking up on anyone while using Lucky’s. The sound is not abnormal or unusually irritating, though. 

They may not be the quietest, but Lucky’s do not give up anything to the competition in terms of speed and durability. Replacing them is almost always more of a matter of their gradually getting slower than in their getting broken. 

If speed and distance between pushes is a top concern, or if funds are tight, Lucky ABEC-7s are always a decent option. For an even more durable option, check out these Lucky Hardball bearings we found at Warehouse Skateboards.

What's To Like?

  • Fast out of the package
  • Get faster with use
  • Long-lasting and durable

What's NOT to like?

  • Not everyone digs the hiss

 

 

5. Bones Swiss Bearings

Bones super swiss 6

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Bones Swiss have been a top bearing of choice for skateboarders of more than four decades now. They are made in Switzerland, which is renowned for its manufacturing of precision products. Like when purchasing a watch, this is one of those times in life where you get what you pay for. 

Bones Swiss are essentially the same bearing as Bones Swiss Ceramics, but with polished chromium steel balls instead of ceramic balls. They have a non-contact rubber shield that is removable for cleaning.

While the original Bones Swiss bearings are still available we actually prefer the Bones Super Swiss 6, These bearings use six larger-diameter steel balls rather than  the standard seven-bearing construction. The result is a bearing that produces a bit less friction, so it is faster and carries more speed. The difference is not dramatic, but it is noticeable. 

While Bones doesn’t use the ABEC rating system, the Bones Swiss would surely rate pretty highly on the scale. Think ABEC 7 or even ABEC 9. They are precise and quiet, and they roll for days. However, to say they are much faster than other top-tier bearings would be inaccurate. They are as fast as any, though, and quieter than most.

What's To Like?

  • Track record back to the 80s
  • One of the fastest out there
  • Super smooth and stealthy

Cons

  • One of the most expensive non-ceramic options on this list

 

 

6. Andale Swiss

Andale Bearings Swiss

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The Andalé brand may not boast the decades-long track record of a company like Bones, but it unquestionably makes some high quality bearings. Andalé bearings have been popular in skateboarding since the company’s founding in 2010. The company being owned by pro skaters Paul Rodriguez and Joey Brezinski doesn’t hurt its popularity, of course. 

Andalé Swiss bearings are a comparatively affordable option for riders craving a smoother ride. They feature the precision of Swiss engineering and construction to provide smooth steel balls and races, with a durable nylon ball retainer. Andalé Swiss bearings also have one non-contact removable rubber shield to assist in cleaning.

These bearings may not compare head-to-head with their more pricey Swiss competition, especially the likes of Bones Swiss, but it is hard to argue with the savings. We even found them on Amazon in a set complete with trick red anodized axle nuts (see them here). 

Andalé bearings are as smooth as any, right out of the box, and they break in to become even faster. Their new look is clean and modern, complimenting almost any setup. With proper care, they can last a long time indeed, easily justifying their cost.

What's To Like?

  • Swiss-engineered smoothness
  • Faster than other bearings in price range
  • Break in fast and improve over time

What's NOT to like?

  • More affordable doesn’t mean affordable
  • Not as fast or smooth as competition (barely)

 

 

7. Bronson G3

Bronson G3 Bearings Single Set

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Bronson Speed Co. bearings are fast earning a reputation for speed. One of the most innovative bearing companies, Bronson pushes the technological envelope.  

The G3 sits right in the middle of the Bronson lineup. These bearings feature large, deep-cut raceway channels. This configuration allows the steel balls to ride deeper in the races than in other bearings, increasing lateral stability. Less sideways slop makes for a more stable-feeling ride.

Unlike the ultra-polished races in other premium bearings, the raceway surfaces in G3s have microgrooves, which hold lubricant and reduce friction. The glass-filled nylon cages also have these grooves, eliminating the problematic wave of lubricant in front of the ball.

Each bearing has one non-friction rubber shield, with an exposed cage on the other side. These cages could sometimes snap on early G3s, but Bronson solved that issue. It’s just proof that the issue with high tech is that more can go wrong, so more often does. 

The G3 has proven itself a long-lasting bearing. They retain their solid feel even after months of repeated use, likely thanks to their smart lubrication solution. Metal on metal contact produces heat, which robs energy and decreases bearing life. Those microgrooves are no gimmick.

What's To Like?

  • Technologically advanced
  • Accelerate quickly from a stop
  • Less friction means a longer roll

Cons

  • Murphy’s Law — too much can go wrong
  • Only one shield means complicated bearing rotation

 

 

8. OUST Bearings MOC 9 Air

oust bearings

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Oust Bearings is a small brand based in the U.S. It has quickly proven itself a trustworthy option for high-speed applications. The MOC 9 bearings are Oust’s top-tier option, claimed to exceed all ABEC standards.

Honestly, tolerances above those of other top skateboard bearings are really overkill. Most riders won’t ever achieve speeds approaching the speeds even ABEC 3 bearings are rated for, much less ABEC 7. 

Oust bearing use steel balls that are made in the U.S., with races that are polished smoother than the competition. The Buna shields are non-contact, and they are set into unique channels to hold them in place. The resulting seal provides good protection from dirt and grime.

These bearings require repeated application of oil every six hours of use. Shorten that span to oiling every two hours when riding downhill or otherwise going fast. Fail to do that and the super-polished races will lose a bit of their smoothness.

Oust claims its Moc 9 Air bearings outperform ABEC-9 bearings, as well as Swiss and ceramics. This may be the case, but they would not rate higher than a 9 on the ABEC scale. They are still very fast, though, and their longevity is impressive, which are the exact benefits you should get from a ultraprecise bearings.

What's To Like?

  • Seriously fast and long lasting
  • Thoughtful shield design
  • Designed for lateral forces, not just vertical ones

What's NOT to like?

  • Marketing hype goes too far
  • More expensive than some bearings with longer track records

 

 

9. Sector 9 Platinum

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Anyone who’s been longboarding for any amount of time should be familiar with the Sector 9 brand. Producer of complete longboards of all types, Sector 9 has a branded version of every component on their setups. 

But don’t confuse the Sector 9 Platinum bearings for the spinners that come installed on one of the company’s completes. These are top-shelf upgrades that should make any complete longboard faster and smoother. 

Made for longboarding, the Sector 9 Platinum bearings are a top-spec ABEC 9 offering. They have removable rubber shields to aid in cleaning, and their nylon ball retainers hold in lubricant and keep out dirt for a long life. 

These bearings are quiet rolling and smooth right out of the box. They compare well to most other ultra-precision bearings on the market. We found them for a tick under $30 at Warehouse Skateboards, which pits them against competitors of lower ABEC ratings.

Bearings of this level of precision are ideal for downhill racing and other fast riding. For freeriders who like to break it loose, their precision may be a detriment. For everything else, they’re probably be a bit unnecessary. But if you want to go fast in a straight line, you could do worse

What's To Like?

  • Longboard-specific bearings from a trusted brand
  • Ultra-precise, highest ABEC rating (9)
  • Smooth-rolling upgrade to company’s stock offerings

What's NOT to like?

  • ABEC 9 rating is overkill for any rolling board sport
  • Not quite the bargain they appear to be

 

 

10. Mini Logo ABEC 3

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Founded in 1996, the Mini Logo brand, which is under the same distributor as Powell and Bones, produces high quality skate gear without all the branding and hype associated with some of its competitors. The cost savings in advertising and branding get passed on to the rider.

Mini Logo bearings are a no-frills, simple option for riders on the tightest of budgets. We found a set of ABEC 3 bearings for just over $10 at Warehouse Skateboards. If you don’t have much to spend, they are a viable option.

These bearings feature removable shields on both sides, metal on one side, rubber on the other. The balls and races are all made from chromium steel, which is the industry standard. Also, each bearing comes lubricated with Bones Speed Cream. 

Not surprisingly, that is about it for the tech speak on these bearings. They are not meant to shock the world or reinvent the wheel. Like Mini Logo decks, these bearings are simply supposed to get the job done. They aren’t the fastest, but they spin when asked and get the job done. When they inevitably wear out, replacement is simple and cheap.

What's To Like?

  • Simple product from a respected manufacturer
  • No money wasted on advertising or marketing hype
  • Gets the job done, especially for slower beginner riders

What's NOT to like?

  • They wear out rather quickly
  • Never really that fast from the get go, just “serviceable”

 

 

11. CCS Blue steel

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“What’s this?” you ask. “A real ABEC 7 bearing for the cost of an ABEC 3?” 

Yes, the truth is that it’s possible to produce ABEC 7s for the cost of the typical ABEC 3 and still make a profit. How? Part of the answer to the riddle lies in the fact that CCS (California Cheap Skates) is a skate shop, so CCS bearings is obviously a shop brand. These are branded products akin to blank decks in a skate shop.

The other reason these bearings are so affordable is that the materials themselves are really not that expensive. Remember that an ABEC rating is simply a set of tolerances. It does not stipulate the quality of the materials. In the modern age, the basic materials of a bearing have gotten steadily cheaper to produce.

CCS Blue Steel bearings feature chrome steel balls and races. They have steel shields, which are removable for cleaning and lubrication. As you may notice, these are the basic components of any affordable bearing. 

The CCS brand also has plenty of clout in skateboarding. The company is entering its fifth decade in business. It started out as a mail-order skate shop, long known as an affordable place to get quality skate components. CCS has earned its reputation by trimming profit margins and passing those savings on to the skater. These bearings simply fit that model perfectly.

They roll smoothly as you would expect ABEC 7s to roll. They may wear out sooner than more expensive options, but replacement doesn’t sting nearly as bad when that happens. You can check them out on Amazon.com here.

What's To Like?

  • ABEC 7 performance for less than most ABEC 3s
  • Store brand from longtime, trusted gear source
  • Simple, no-frills bearings that’s fast enough 

What's NOT to like?

  • Materials are basic, and won’t last long
  • Not as fast or as smooth as some other affordable bearings (see- Reds)

 

 

12. Spitfire cheapshots 

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You can’t get far in skateboarding or longboarding without hearing the name Spitfire. The brand is skater-owned and has 30-plus years of experience. Better known as a wheel manufacturer (and a fine one at that), Spitfire also makes these affordable bearings.

The concept here is all in the name. There’s nothing fancy happening, just basic ABEC 3 bearings at an affordable price point. With removable black steel shields and the normal steel components inside, Cheapshot bearings can be serviced like most other bearings.

They are not the fastest out of the box, and will only get slower as they wear down. Cheapshots also aren’t going to outlast other bearings in this segment. But that’s not what we like about them.

The main draw here is in the Cheapshot’s credibility as a Spitfire product. They are as fast as most riders will ever need them to be, and they are superb for beginners and slower cruising. Smooth and quiet compared their competition, a longboard rider on a budget could do much worse.

What's To Like?

  • All the street cred of the Spitfire name
  • Affordable and smooth-rolling
  • A great option for keeping speeds in check

What's NOT to like?

  • Quality control issues
  • Not the longest-lasting option

 

 

13. Independent Genuine Parts 

Click Here for Pricing, Pictures and Reviews on warehouseskateboards.com

Independent was one of the first makers of high-quality skateboard trucks. When a company that’s been in the skateboarding business since 1978 puts a new product out there, it normally gets attention. While some Indy bearings get a bad rap, Independent Black bearings deserve to wear that moniker. 

The sleek construction is apparent in the removable black and red outer shields. These rubber-coated steel shields have a labyrinth construction, which consists of a series of interlocking ridges in the shield itself and the perimeter of the outer race. The result is a superior seal for keeping out dust and debris. (See why here.)

The chromoly steel races are micro polished for a smooth roll. That smoothness lasts longer thanks to the superior seal of the shields and the design of the polymer cage. It all works together to increase the time between cleanings and replacements.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because the design here shares a lot with Bones Swiss bearings. No, Independent Black bearings can’t quite compare with that level of Swiss-made precision, but they aren’t meant to. Instead, they offer comparable performance at a more realistic price point.

What's To Like?

  • Similar construction to bearings costing multiple times more
  • Labyrinth seals on shields are no gimmick
  • Long-lasting smoothness in a relatively quiet bearing

What's NOT to like?

  • Not quite up to the level of its inspiration/competition
  • Getting harder to find

 

 

14. Yellow Jacket 

Click Here for Pricing, Pictures and Reviews on warehouseskateboards.com

Yellow Jacket is one of the newer bearing manufacturers on the scene. In such a crowded space, it can be hard to stand out from the competition. Making fast, smooth, quiet bearings is only part of the equation. Giving customers something new is the biggest challenge.

What Yellow Jacket hit on with its Stingers is something sorely missing on the bearing market: choice. Specifically Yellow Jacket offers these bearings with a variety of different color options for their shields. Normally, we are stuck with whatever color the manufacturer chooses, but no longer.

The internals here are typical of high-precision bearings. Chromed steel makes up the races and balls. Nylon cages enclose stainless steel roll cages, and all of it is pre-lubed with low-viscosity oil. All pretty standard stuff.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of hype involved in the marketing. Yellow Jacket claims an ABEC 11 rating, which is non-existent in the bearing industry. They are certainly fast and smooth. It’s just unfortunate Yellow Jacket feels the need to overreach. 

Quality control is another issue, with some buyers complaining about occasional bad bearings (in a brand new set). The company has an excellent track record of replacing these defects, so you can buy with confidence.

What's To Like?

  • More color options than anyone else, by far
  • A high-quality, smooth, fast bearing for a fair deal
  • Company stands behind its product

What's NOT to like?

  • Spotty quality control
  • Faux ABEC ratings

 

Best bearings for speed & going really fast

Easily said, the Bronson bearings are the worlds fastest longboard bearings. This is what record setter Kyle Wester used to set the world speed record at 89.41mph, check him out going over 80mph in the video below. Bronson bearings have the tightest tolerances and it’s why Kyle was able to go that fast. You can check out the Bronson Bearings on Amazon.com

Best bearings for commuting and cruising

The best bearings for commuting and cruising are those that can see a lot of use without getting worn out too quickly. I personally have been using the same set of Bones reds since last year. I can personally attest to them being really consistent and always rolling smooth. These bearings are also fairly fast and they are also reliable and are easy to maintain. You should read more about them in their review above or check them out on Amazon.com

 

Buying Guide

Where it all Started?

The current, standard skateboard bearing came into being in 1974, when Santa Cruz merged with Road Rider wheels, the brainchild of one Anthony Roderick.

These wheels utilized precision bearings instead of the old, loose-bearing design, and skateboarding changed forever. Urethane and precision bearings combined to make skateboards faster, more responsive and more comfortable to ride than clay or steel wheels and loose bearings ever could.

How Do Longboard Bearings Work?

Bearings have four main components that work together to keep everything spinning. Basically, bearings are just steel balls rolling along a track. The track consists of two steel rings, called races. There is an inner race and an outer race.

The inner race is the part of the bearing that contacts the axles on the truck. This race has a groove cut into its outside section. The outer race is of course larger in diameter. Its groove is cut on its inside section.
The steel balls roll along these two races and are held in place by a cage, which also keeps the balls a precise distance from each other.

As you might imagine, friction between the balls and the race (as well as the cage) can become a problem and shorten the life of the bearing. Lubrication with oil provides a thin film that prevents that metal-on-metal contact.

What should you look for in bearings?

Bearing shields

Bearing shields are the walls of the bearing. They are the barriers that prevent dirt and debris from outside getting into the bearings and gunking it up – Think about all the dust, water and mud you encounter when riding. Shields are a super important part of the bearing.

Metal and Rubber Shields

You typically have one of two types of bearing shields. Some bearings have a metal shield (often rubber coated), and some bearings have a rubber one. 

Sometimes metal shields are removable, and sometimes they aren’t. The shields on cheaper bearings often are not removable. Rubber shields are easier to remove for cleaning. Both types are good at keeping out debris, but both types also allow in moisture.

Labyrinth Shields

Labyrinth shields are metal shields that seat in a groove on the races. This style eliminates the gap between the race and shield in the other two styles. It is better at keeping moisture and dirt out of the bearings, so they last longer. 

There is some drag on the bearing from this design, but the effect is negligible in the real world. Precision bearings can handle speeds in the tens of thousands of RPM, much faster than skateboards can travel. Several of the best brands (Bronson, Bones Swiss, etc.) have adopted this shield design.

Check out the Zealous bearings on Amazon for an example of bearings with a rubber shield and the Sackorange bearings for an example of a metal shield.

Built-in Bearings

Built-in bearings have everything built-in. They have an elongated inner race that acts as both the spacer and the washer. This means you don’t have to have all those extra parts in your wheel. I can tell you that built-in bearings make life a whole lot easier. No more worrying about losing washers or spacers and it makes changing the wheels or cleaning the bearings a lot easier. Check out the Heady shake bearings on Amazon for an example of built-in bearings.

ABEC Rating

rating systemThe American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA) is an industry group of bearing makers. The Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) is the arm of the ABMA that sets the standards which tell manufacturers whose equipment uses these bearings how to build their machines. 

The ABEC rating system includes ABEC 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. The tolerances tighten as the number increases. Tolerances include allowed variance in race depth and dimensions, as well as their roundness, runout, taper, etc. 

ABEC 1-3

These lower-tolerance bearings are still plenty precise. For example, they are used in electric motors and automotive applications, both of which produce RPMs far exceeding skateboard wheels. Most of the cheapest longboard bearings will at least be rated ABEC 3. 

ABEC 5-9

These ratings encompass what are considered high-precision or ultra-precision bearings. These bearings do not handle loads any better than lower ratings. They do, however, handle those loads better at higher speeds. The applications in industry are limited – think medical equipment or machining tools. 

What’s it all Mean?

Higher ABEC ratings are meant for high-speed, precision applications. Ratings of ABEC 5 or higher are intended for RPMs in the tens of thousands, far exceeding even the fastest downhill riders’ speeds. Their precision begins to suffer with axial loads, like when breaking out into four-wheel slides or even hard carving.

Keep in Mind!

One company’s ABEC-3 bearing may roll substantially faster or smoother than another’s ABEC-9. The number only tells how far off dead center the bearing will roll and

 Does ABEC rating matter?

The short answer is yes. And no. Yes, ABEC ratings matter when comparing a company’s bearings against others from the same maker. More important is the materials the bearing is made from. The difference in ABEC ratings between two bearings matters little when their materials differ a lot. 

Typically, a bearing with a lower ABEC number will be cheaper. It may run as smoothly as a higher-rated bearing at first, but will tend to wear out sooner. However, their lower price point also makes them cheaper to replace.

A higher ABEC number may indicate  smoother-operating components, especially at higher speeds. This benefit decreases with wear, meaning replacement will come sooner especially if dirt penetrates the shields. 

It is also important to note that the differences between bearing tolerances are extremely small – in the hundredths or thousandths of an inch. It’s a bit conceited to think you can feel the difference between these tolerances. Rather, the differences we feel are down to the quality of the components and their suitability for the job.

Materials

Steel

Though some manufacturers may tout their space-age alloys, the most common skateboard bearing material is steel. The balls, races, shields and retaining rings may all be made from steel in a high-quality skateboard bearing. Steel bearings are the most resistant to breakage.

Synthetics

Some components that once were always steel may now be made from nylon, rubber, or other synthetic materials. Cages, which can bend if made from steel, are almost always made from durable plastics now. Shields are often either rubber-coated steel or some other synthetic.

Ceramics

Ceramic bearings are still mostly constructed with steel. The only ceramic component is the balls, which are typically made from silicon nitride. This material is lighter, harder and smoother than steel. It also doesn’t expand when heated, so there is less friction.

Ceramic bearings require less lubricant than steel balls. Rust is also less of an issue than it is for bearings with steel balls. Their hardness also allows them to pulverize intruding debris and clean and polish the races through use.

Cleaning and Lubing

There are many ways to clean bearings. One easy way is to soak them in a jar with enough mineral spirits or water-displacing lubricant spray, such as WD-40, to cover them.

With the lid on, shake the jar and swirl the bearings around in the liquid. Remove them from the solution and wipe them clean. Then spray compressed air from a can into the crevices and between the races to get out the last of the cleaning solution. Lubricate with clean oil to finish.

For a more in-depth cleaning, remove the shields. Sometimes there is a metal retaining ring, which should pry off easily. Soak or spray the opened bearings in a cleaning fluid, then brush lightly with a nylon brush. An old toothbrush works great for this job. Alternatively, swirling in a jar works great.

Wipe each bearing clean with a dry paper towel. You can either allow them to air dry or you can blow them out with compressed air. Finally, lubricate each bearing before reinstalling the shields. 

Types of Lubricants

Skate-specific Lubricants

In most industrial applications, bearing lubricant is a thick, heavy grease. Not so for skateboard bearings. In our application, a thin viscosity is best. There are lubricants specifically engineered for skating. They are meant to be light and thin, yet to still cling to metal and stay in place. 

Here are 3 great longboard bearing lubricants you can find on Amazon.com:

1.Oust Metol Speed Oil 

2.Reflex Bearing Speed Lube 

3.Bones Speed Cream

Household Lubricants

If you don’t have access to skate-specific bearing lubricant, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. There’s probably something you can use in the garage. 

For cleaning, any penetrating fluid will do fine. A personal favorite is WD-40. Just know that these oils aren’t great for lubrication because they evaporate too quickly. 

Instead, thin oils containing Teflon are great lubrication options. Another name for Teflon is PTFE. These oils are known for their low friction coefficient. They leave a hydrophobic film that sticks to metal and stays in place.

One lubricant option you may have lying around is 3-in-1 machine oil with Teflon. This is sometimes known as sewing machine oil. Remoil, a gun oil made by Remington, also has Teflon.

How Much Lube is Too Much?

Finding the right amount of lubricant to use will take some experimentation. It shouldn’t take much, though. A few drops per bearing are usually plenty. Bearings that fling oil are dangerous, so start small and work your way up if necessary.

Experiment with your own cleaning methods as well. If you take care to clean and lubricate your bearings often, they will roll faster for longer and you’ll get the most for your money. 

If you’re keen on finding more about bearing cleaning process, I suggest you watch this video below. Alternatively, you can read our guide here.

Another option is 3-in-1 oil with Teflon or Remington gun oil, or Remoil, which also has Teflon. The Teflon coats the balls and races and provides great rust protection, but will wash off easily at the next cleaning.

Finding the right amount of lubricant to use will take some experimentation. It doesn’t take much, though. Experiment with your own cleaning methods as well. If you take care to clean and lubricate your bearings often, they will roll faster for longer and you’ll get the most for your money.

If you’re keen on finding more about bearing cleaning process, I suggest you watch this video below. Alternatively, you can read our guide here.

FAQs

Does it matter what bearings you get?

Of course it matters what bearings you get. It’s just that there is no bearing that is universally right for everyone. You likely don’t need a high ABEC rating or space-age materials, and a cheaper bearing will likely work as well for you as an expensive one. 

That said, there are more knock-off products and gimmicks in longboarding now than ever before. Insist on quality, and try as many types of bearings as you can afford until you find your favorite. 

Are all longboard bearings the same size?

The 608 bearing is the industry standard for a longboard bearing. Interestingly, these bearings have an 8 millimeter inner diameter, while a standard axle has a 5/16 inch diameter. These don’t match up, so there is always a bit of slop. This is another reason why ABEC rating is not a great determiner of bearing usefulness.

There are a few bearings on the market with slightly different dimensions. They have come and gone over time, while the 608 bearings continues to hold its place. 

How can you tell if your longboard bearings are bad?

There are several levels of bearing failure. It is normally linear progression, rather than a sudden breakage. As bearings wear, they will become noisier. The whooshing sound they produce will be punctuated with harsh metallic sounds. Tellingly, they will cease rolling sooner than they once did.

If your bearings are still rolling and you’re happy with them, they’re probably fine. Replace them when you’re ready, but try to keep a few spares for those times when one just calls it quits on life.

Is ABEC 7 or ABEC 9 better?

If you’re building a rocket ship, ABEC 9 is likely better. For longboarding, ABEC 7 bearings are generally overkill. Out of the box, the difference between these two ratings may be slightly noticeable. After a couple hours rolling, though, they’ll likely have similar tolerances.

Again, most of us will do fine with bearings rated ABEC 5, or even ABEC 3. With higher ratings, you are really paying extra for a bit more smoothness. You’ll need to clean and lubricate the bearings often to retain that smooth operation, though. Otherwise, you could just buy a couple sets of ABEC 5s and replace them sooner. 

Are longboard bearing spacers necessary?

Longboard bearing spacers are meant to lock the inner races in place, preventing them from spinning on the axle. We lose speed to friction from the inner race spinning that way. Spacers are not necessary, but they help bearings to function how they were designed.

With spacers in place and working correctly, much of the twisting lateral forces are removed from the bearing. The inner race no longer spins on the axle, and the balls roll along the races as intended. 

Do bearing spacers slow you down?

The inner diameter of the race is slightly larger than the axle’s outer diameter. This has long been a quirk of skateboarding, and there’s not much we can do about it. That little bit of slop keeps the bearing from sticking on the axle, but in turn the inner race tends to spin on the axle. 

The spacers provide a solution to the problem, but it is an imperfect one. For them to work properly, they must meet flush with both inner races on the wheel. Sometimes the wheel’s geometry prevents this, so the spacer ends up just spinning or adding to the friction in other ways. When this occurs, they slow you down. 

When the geometry is right, your bearings will keep their speed for longer, and you’ll be faster down the road. 

Your Turn

Some bearings are fast but don’t last. Others rattle and shake on down the road forever, but don’t provide much exhilaration — or acceleration. For the best of both worlds, Bones Reds are the only way to go. They may not be the fastest bearings outright, but they are plenty fast and relatively quiet.

As far as longevity, none last longer. The added costs for other bearings make little sense when compared with the bang for the buck you get from Reds. For our money, Bones Reds are simply the all-around best skateboard bearing on the market.

William Thaddeus Baker
 

My name is William and I’m boardsports enthusiast. I’ve been skateboarding streets since I was about 9. Also I’ve experimented with longboarding & downhill. As to this site my goal is to help beginner riders to find the right equipment. Everything that I write here is my own opinion…