Beginner Questions - What skate bearings should I buy?

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Acidedge
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:31 pm
Location: St Martin im Innkreis, Upper Austria

Beginner Questions - What skate bearings should I buy?

Postby Acidedge » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:02 pm

OK, why do you want to buy new bearings? If it's because the ones that came with your skates don't rotate any more, then skip ahead to the last paragraph. If it's because you want to be able to skate faster and believe that a higher ABEC rating will do it, then you should work on your technique; not buy new equipment. No, really, I'm right. Don't believe me? Oh lordy, here we go, I'll try to keep it short...

ABEC is the acronym for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, the council that determines the requirements for the level of bearing precision. The higher the ABEC rating number, the tighter the manufacturing tolerances, the more precisely the bearing is made. For example, ABEC 5 ball bearings are manufactured to a tolerance of 0.0035mm.

Now, precisely manufactured bearings do not necessarily mean "faster" bearings when skating. For bearings used in industrial applications, the ABEC ratings provide critical information on how fast machinery may safely operate. But here's the thing; you're never going to be able to skate at the speed that industrial machines run at. The current clocked speed record in our little community is 41mph (a speed skater sprinting down a steep hill), which, on 80mm wheels, corresponds to a bearing rotation speed of 4,350rpm. Industrial machines will run at tens of thousands of rpm. And 41mph is easily 3-4 times faster that you usually skate anyway.

Then there's the fact that bearings in industrial applications will be running in cleaner environments and won't be subjected to the same sideways forces that bearings in skate applications will. Ergo, pay no attention to ABEC ratings, they mean diddly-squat for skaters. You cannot say that one ABEC rating is "faster" than another and you cannot compare same ABEC ratings across different manufacturers. End of argument.

Therefore, buy skate-rated bearings from recognised skate bearing manufacturers (BSB or Bones, for example). I like Bones Super Reds for their acceptable quality to price ratio, but's that's my personal choice. If you do buy ABEC rated bearings, then you should buy the ones in your price range. Now don't ask again. :P
Old school street skating monkey.

User avatar
Acidedge
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:31 pm
Location: St Martin im Innkreis, Upper Austria

Re: Beginner Questions - What skate bearings should I buy?

Postby Acidedge » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:02 pm

The above is fact. What is debatable (once you've bought some decent bearings) is whether to clean them regularly or use them until they go really crunchy*, then bin them and get new ones. This is down to personal preference. I have never cleaned a set of bearings in my life and don't intend to start now. I feel that if you're a serious speed skater, your very expensive bearings should - and will probably have to be - cleaned regularly, to remain at their optimum. If you're not a competitive speed skater (and not spending £100 on bearings), then I think cleaning them is a waste of time. Time that could be spend out skating, for example. If you insist on cleaning them, here's how to do it.

Also, you'll need to know how to get your bearings out of your wheels, whether to clean them or replace them. There's a good article on that here.
Old school street skating monkey.


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