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Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Bearings

- Swiss Bearings
  • Swiss bearings, identifiable by the “SWISS” laser etched into the edge of the outer bearing ring, are made in Switzerland. With exacting standards, a long history of bearing manufacturing, and good quality control measures, Swiss bearings are typically faster, stronger, and longer-lasting than bearings manufactured elsewhere.
  • Here’s a major finding: it doesn’t matter which company you get your Swiss bearings from. If it has “SWISS” etched into the side of the outer bearing ring, it will be as good as any other Swiss bearing. Known genuine “SWISS” etched bearings: Bones, Element, Lucky, Pig.
  • Watch out for bearings that say they are Swiss but don’t have the “SWISS” etching. Many companies offer bearings like this, and the quality is not as good or as consistent as the “SWISS” etched bearings
- Seismic Tekton bearings
  • These are bearings that have built-in spacers and speed rings. These work for all wheels except some of those marked as Slim, Skinny, Thin, or something similar. Seismic bearings have the advantage of being able to firmly tighten the axle nuts. Firmly tightening the axle nuts means gently tightening the axle nut until it stops turning, then backing off about 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn, but not so much that the wheel wobbles on the axle again. I wiggle the wheel in a rotating motion side-to-side while I’m tightening, and when I feel the wiggle movement diminish and the wheel get tight and square on the axle, I know I’m tight enough. I spin the wheel, and I look for it to spin with very little noise. If there is squeaking or crunching, it is too tight, if there are rattling or hollow sounds, it is too loose. When the axle nut is at the right tightness, the wheel spins quietly and smoothly.
  • I used to ride my wheels so they slid back and forth pretty freely on the axles. With most bearings, I felt this was out of necessity because even if I put them a little tight, they bind and don’t like to spin. However, with spacers and good speed rings, the personal advantages I have found with firmly tightening the axle nuts are numerous:
    • I don’t bend my truck axles as quickly or as extremely
    • My board sounds solid under my feet, giving me confidence
    • I can powerslide easier with less flat spots
    • My wheels don’t cone nearly as quickly
    • I can place my wheels more precisely without fear of slop, this helps especially with grinding, manuals, carving, and some of the “off-road” obstacles I like to ride (like big rocks)
Renegade bearings
  • As quickly as they popped into the marketplace, Renegade started exiting it. Social Skateboarding is selling Renegade bearings at very good prices, and if you order enough stuff from them in one order, they might throw in a set of Renegade bearings for free.
  • The performance of these bearings is on par with any other steel ball bearing out there. Pretty consistent with Bones Red, for instance, or Lucky ABEC 7.
  • I found the inner races sensitive to paint on the axles or irregularities on the axles, making it difficult to put the wheels on the truck. A little axle sanding fixed it quickly
Bullseye bearings

  • Good bearings at a good price that are on par with other standard steel ball ABEC 7 bearings.


  1. Do, you think seismic bearing would fit bones stf v3 shape? thanks

  2. The best bearings I've ever rode and continue to get are Bones Super Swiss 6 Ball. I have yet to break one, and they last a looong time. It's certainly good to clean and lube them every month or whenever they start to sound rough.

  3. My favorite bearings today are RockNRon's Rockets. Every bit as fast and smooth as Bones Swiss, but I think they're more durable. They're hard to get -- it's a one-man show, as I hear it, and they're nearly always listed as "out of stock" -- but definitely worth the effort.

  4. As absurd as it sounds, all spacers aren't created equal, and using precision spacers makes a difference, especially if you want to tighten your nuts. The standard ones run a little narrow. Crazy but true. I use these:

    1. Most bearing spacers on the market are not uniform unless you buy more expensive precision spacers. A dial caliper is a great tool to have. Use it to sort through your spacers and find the ones that are the correct width. Of course it doesn't help if your wheels have cores that have differing widths:(

    2. Yeah, you need the caliper that can measure the wheel cores as well. Let me know if you find one!

    3. i turned a stainless steel plug set to 608 bearing dimensions that I insert into both sides of the wheel to allow a standard digital vernier caliper gauge to take an accurate measurement. I custom turn my own bearing spacers and use 316 stainless steel. I can usually get within 0.03mm of the required size. It does pay to have wheels with good bearing seats and I have found that Type-S and Rainskates fit the bill...

  5. I've used enough types of bearings to recognise there is indeed some gradation in performance and quality roughly along the lines of price points. That said, I personally can't justify buying anything more expensive than Bones Reds for something that is going to fail in a shirt time frame (variable, but generally).

    I read something a while back along the lines of: 608 industrial bearing (or to skaters, "bearings") were designed to be used in clean enviornments, properly lubricated, without sustaining heavy shocks or lateral stresses. In short, they were never meant for skateboards.

    George Powell says ABEC ratings give you some idea of the overall uniformity of manufacture for don't necessarily predict skate performance, which is why Bones doesn't use them.

    1. The higher ABEC ratings mean the bearings are manufactured to a finer tolerance, which isn't necessarily an advantage if you're getting dirt in there.

  6. Has anyone tried to put bearing spacers in ricta wheels? Doesn't work for me. It seems they made the bearing seats too far apart for standard spacers to work. I don't have a caliper that can make a measurement between the inner races but I tried adding a speed ring on the inside (in addition to the spacer) and it was still too loose so it seems to be quite a big difference. Tried this on two different ricta models (chrome cores and speed rings) with the same results.