Inline Skate Bearings Buying Guide
If you're looking to level-up your skate performance, you may want to consider purchasing inline skate bearings. In this buying guide, we'll help you evaluate what skaters require bearings, types of bearings, and maintenance tips.
What are Inline Skate Bearings?
Bearings are a mechanism used in skate wheels to reduce friction. Bearings use components including an outer race, retainer, ball bearings, an inner race, and a bearings shield. Together, these parts make up the anatomy of an inline bearing.
Why are Bearings Important?
Intermediate to advanced skaters would be wise to consider using bearings to improve the velocity and performance of their skate experience. This is because bearings directly impact the wheels' experience; the less friction, the faster the speed.
Do My Inline Skates Need Bearings?
Not every type of skating requires bearings, but as your skills advance, you may want to consider purchasing bearings to advance your skating performance. Here's a quick guide to self-evaluate whether bearings are suitable for you.
Bearings are not a significant consideration for recreational skaters because recreational inline skates typically transverse shorter distances. Therefore, if you're a beginner or recreational skater, you may not need to invest in bearings.
Bigger wheels will perform best with higher-rated bearings regardless of brand. While this may impact the cost of the skate, intermediates and above will often want larger wheels with enhanced bearings that match the wheel size.
Different skate brands use different bearings, but the highest-numbered bearings are usually in the largest wheels. Racers often use bearings to help more evenly distribute weight on each wheel. Conversely, advanced skaters using smaller wheels for park or vert skating are also encouraged to use bearings to improve acceleration.
What Different Types of Skate Bearings Exist?
Although there are many bearings to choose from, choosing the correct bearing doesn't need to be complicated. There are three main types of bearings used in skating, including Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC), Swiss, and ceramic bearings.
ABEC bearings typically operate on a nine-point scale – the higher the number, the higher the level of manufacturing precision. The ABEC rating system consists of only odd numbers. For example, ABEC 7 bearings will have slightly less manufacturing precision than ABEC 9 bearings. Similarly, ABEC 7 bearings are of better quality than ABEC 1 or ABEC 3 bearings. ABEC bearings consist of small chrome steel balls and may require bearing maintenance over time.
Swiss bearings, on the other hand, do not utilize rating systems. The term 'Swiss' is based on the location bearings were first discovered and utilized for skating. However, the bearings are made outside of Switzerland. Swiss bearings are marketed as high end bearings because they're incredibly durable and provide better performance than ABEC bearings.
Ceramic bearings are genuinely high end bearings that consist of ceramic balls made of a compound called silicon nitride. Ceramic bearings are lighter and harder than steel balls and manage high speed better than standard bearings. In addition, you don't have to lubricate your bearings with ceramic, which minimizes maintenance.
What is the Difference Between ABEC and SG Bearings?
Beyond ABEC, there are several different manufacturer-based rating systems. For example, the brand Rollerblade uses an SG bearing system, while K2 uses ILQ. Both rating systems use the same number system as ABEC; the higher the number, the greater the manufacturing quality.
In addition to SG, the brand Bones Bearings, which is known for manufacturing Swiss bearings, uses a Skate Rated™ system. Compared to the ABEC system, Skate Rated rankings are based on components, lubricants, tolerances, and clearances.
Are Inline Skate Bearings a Standard Size?
For inline skates, 608 bearings are considered the standard size. The term '608 bearings' refers to the 6mm difference between the outer radius (outside edge of the bearing) and the wheel's 8mm axles.
How Do I Know What Size Bearings I Need for My Skates?
Most inline skate wheels will use 8mm (608) bearings. However, some roller skate wheels may use 7mm bearings. If you still have questions regarding the size of your bearings, please get in touch with a Skates.com professional.
Taking Care of Your Bearings
To extend the life of your bearings, you may need to service them from time to time. However, not all bearings require servicing. Serviceable bearings feature removable shields, enabling you to clean ball bearings and bearing spacers with specialized wash and lubricant products, such as speed cream. If used regularly, serviceable bearings should only be cleaned once every two to three months.
Conversely, sealed bearings have non-removable shields that prevent maintenance access. If you experience performance issues with sealed bearings, it means it's time to purchase new bearings.
Unlock New Performance Capabilities
Purchasing bearings can help increase your speed, minimize inefficient exertion, and improve skating comfort. Feel the difference for yourself by investing in your first set of inline skate bearings. Your skates will thank you.
Ready to level up your performance? Check out our selection of bearings.