What are roller skate bearings?
Roller skating is an exciting hobby. If you’ve been skating for a while, you can confirm it! Roller skate bearings are among the crucial considerations when looking for an excellent roller skating experience.
The best roller skate bearings aid smooth rolling. So, you won’t need to use a lot of energy to push regardless of the surface.
But if you’re new to roller skating, it’s normal if you still don’t know what roller skate bearings are and how to choose the best one for you.
The good news is, you don’t have to sweat it. I’ve put together this guide to detail everything you should know about roller skate bearings. So, let’s get to it!
What Are Roller Skate Bearings?
First things first, what are roller skate bearings? Simply put, roller skate bearings are silver circular metal rings inside of roller skate wheels. This is where roller skate axles rest to facilitate smooth rolling for movement when roller skating.
A pair of roller skates has 16 bearings, i.e., eight on each pair. Let’s break it down! A single roller skate wheel has two bearings, making the number of bearings on each pair eight.
Parts of a Roller Skate Bearing
Now that you know what a roller skate bearing is, what are the different components that make one? Below are the five main components of a roller skate bearing!
- Outer race—the outer race is what makes contact with the wheel once the bearing is installed, and it forms the outside of the bearing.
- Inner race—the inner race is the ring that the axle goes through. The inner race comes in two sizes, i.e., 7mm or 8mm, depending on the axle size. The 7mm bearings are less common today. So, you’ll mostly find the 8mm ones.
- Shield—the shield covers the bearing, preventing dirt from getting in. Some roller skates have one shield while others have two. Also, shields can be metal or nylon, depending on the manufacturer. Metal shields can be sealed or not. Opening sealed metal shields can be a hurdle, making cleaning and maintaining the bearings more frustrating.
- Balls—these are tiny ceramic or steel balls that facilitate bearing movement.
- Retainer—the retainer prevents the roller skate bearing balls from falling out of the bearing if the shield is removed.
Types of Roller Skate Bearings
The three types of roller skate bearings are ABEC bearings, Swiss bearings, and Ceramic bearings.
These bearings are suited for different situations. So, you want to settle on them wisely.
Let’s dive into the details!
What does ABEC stand for? You’re probably asking. ABEC is short for Annular Bearing Engineering Council. It’s a system used to rate bearings based on precision and quality.
Roller skate bearings with a high ABEC rating (ABEC 7) have a low error tolerance. They’re smoother and have a more roll-out than low ABEC rating bearings (ABEC 5).
The ABEC rating isn’t reliable because most manufacturers lie about their bearing ratings.
So, if you see an ABEC 7 rating on a roller skate bearing, there’s no guarantee it’s the truth.
Roller skate bearings manufacturers in Switzerland, Japan, and Germany started producing better quality and less expensive bearings in 1980.
The standard ABEC bearings weren’t cutting it anymore, and there was an urgent need for more reliable roller skate bearings.
The name “Swiss bearings” originated from George Powell and Bones while searching to find the best, high-quality, and most reliable bearings.
They came across bearings made in Switzerland and loved them. They operated on unique technology and outperformed other bearings.
George named these bearings Swiss bearings and the name was widely accepted. Other brands joined in and started producing Swiss bearings.
The problem is that today’s Swiss bearings aren’t as reliable as they used to be back in the day. Most of them are low-quality and made in China.
But overall, the Swiss bearings perform better than the standard ABEC bearings. They’re worth trying out if you skate regularly and looking for durability and performance.
They’re also more expensive!
Ceramic bearings perform better than ABEC and Swiss bearings. Their balls are made from Silicon nitride, making them 60% lighter and harder than steel-bearing balls.
Ceramic bearings are also 80% faster than ABEC and Swiss bearings. The best part is that they self-lubricate, so you don’t have to worry about it.
They’re a sure deal for skaters operating under harsh environments like high temperatures and high corrosion.
Since they’re self-lubricated, you’re assured the performance won’t be affected.
Ceramic bearings will suit you well if you’re looking for strong, low friction, and longevity.
This also makes them more expensive than the standard ABEC and Swiss bearings.
How Long Do Roller Skate Bearings Last?
Roller skate bearings last between 1 and 1.5 years, depending on the quality and how well they’re maintained.
Ceramic and Swiss bearings are more reliable and studier. So, they’ll last longer than ABEC bearings.
Also, you should keep the bearings dry and well lubricated to prevent rust, which wears out bearings fast.
When do I need to Replace my Bearings?
Roller skate bearings should spin smoothly, quietly, and freely for optimum performance.
If yours aren’t doing any of this, it only means it’s time to get new ones. When they become rusty, noisy, and less reliable, you should replace your bearings.
What to Clean Roller Skate Bearings with
There are many detergents you can use to clean your roller skate bearings. The Formula 409 00628-2 Pack Antibacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner is a reliable detergent.
Spray the multi-surface cleaner onto the bearings and use a newspaper to wipe out any dirt. Why a newspaper and not a rug? You’re probably asking.
A newspaper is preferred to a rug because rugs leave lint behind. You don’t want lint to get into the bearings because they can hinder a smooth roll-out.
Using water to clean roller skate bearings isn’t a good idea because it can facilitate restating.
You also want to allow the bearing to dry in the open air before applying lubrication.
Are Roller Skate Bearings Universal?
Roller skate bearings aren’t completely universal. There are two primary roller skate bearings, depending on the axle size. While some axles are 7mm, others are 8mm.
The 7mm axles and bearings are less common today, making the 8mm axles and bearings more popular.
These two are normally denoted on roller skate bearings as 607 for 7mm and 608 for 8mm.
You can use the 608 bearings on your roller skates, inline skates, roller derby skates, or skateboards because they’re universal and compatible with the latest models of skates.
What are the Best Roller Skate Bearings?
There are several roller skate-bearing brands on the market. But, settling on the right one can be a hassle.
Roller skate bearings play a crucial role in your skating life since they determine speed and safety. This is why you don’t want to get this wrong.
Below are some of the best roller skate bearings for an exceptional roller skating experience.
- ABEC rated 16 bearings.
- Sturdy and durable.
- Removable rubber shield.
- Easy to clean and maintain for top-notch performance.
- Runs on a high-speed nylon ball retainer.
- Pre-lubricated with speed cream racing lubricant.
- Can be 7mm or 8mm.
- Best for indoor and outdoor use.
- Meant for advanced roller skaters.
- Fit on 8mm axles.
- Have a smooth roll.
What are Roller Skate Bearings? Wrapping Up
What are roller skate bearings? If you were wondering what roller skate bearings are, I believe I’ve answered the question adequately.
More importantly, you want to choose roller skate bearings wisely because your skating experience depends on it.
The most reliable roller skate bearings are Swiss and ceramic bearings. Though they’re pricey, they’re worth it in the long run.
That’s it for today. I hope you found this guide helpful. Happy roller skating, and stay safe!