What kind of longboard bearings do you need? Are expensive ceramics worth it? What are the different types of bearings?
The first thing I want to address is how most beginners put too much emphasis on bearings.
What do I mean?
Well, they’ll blame their sluggish setup on their bearings when it’s most likely their wheels. It’s better to have quality wheels and low-end bearings than the reverse.
Most beginners put too much weight on bearings. They’re not as important as having good wheels. Keep them maintained, and even cheap bearings can last a long time. My favorites are Bones Reds or Zealous Built-In. Pretty much any bearings will do. Avoid double metal capped bearings if you intend on doing regular maintenance.
Before we get into the type of bearings, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what a bearing is made of.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Now that you know what goes into a longboard bearing, you’re probably wondering about ABEC rating. Maybe not, but I’m still going to cover it.
Does ABEC Rating Matter?
For longboarding/skateboarding, no ABEC rating doesn’t matter that much.
The most common beginner myth is that a higher ABEC number (ABEC 9) will be faster.
ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee of the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA). This means it wasn’t made by skate companies, so it doesn’t make sense to apply it to skating.
Types of bearings
To keep it simple, structurally, there are two types of bearings.
- Standard Bearings
- Built-In Bearings
There are precision bearings, designed for abuse over time, but I usually don’t bother with them.
The most common type of bearings used on street setups. If spacers are used, they’re separated. You can use them on longboards, but built-in bearings are becoming more popular.
The most common type of bearings used on longboard setups. Spacers and speed washers are built into the bearings – there are no separated parts. The benefit is it’s easier to swap them in/out of wheels.
Now that you know the common types of bearings, are there any bearings to avoid?
Bearings to avoid
The main bearings to avoid are the ones that have metal shields on both sides. Although this is a personal preference, the reason I avoid them is that it makes maintenance a lot harder. Almost any bearings will be fine, it mainly comes down to how well you lubricate and maintain them.
All bearings can become crappy bearings, it’s part of the sport. Depending on what bearings you select, how long you ride them, and how well you take care of them. They also can stay rolling for decades.
Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions about longboard bearings.
Do longboards need special bearings?
No, longboards don’t need special bearings. You can use the bearings on your street setup on your longboard setup.
How to change longboard bearings?
Use your longboard truck’s axle to remove your bearings from the wheels. You can see how I remove bearings here. (point #5).
What are the best longboard bearings?
Honestly, any of the bearings on this list you can’t go wrong with. I’ve used
How to clean longboard bearings?
Start by removing the plastic shields with something sharp. Be gentle since most shields can easily bend. Drop them in a container with your cleaning solution. Let them sit in the solution for an hour and shake them up.
- Mineral spirits
- 90% Isopropyl Alcohol
- Non-water-based citrus cleaner
Once an hour is up, take them out and place them on a towel. Let them dry before lubricating them.
How to lube longboard bearings?
Use a dropper to lube your longboard bearings easily.
DO NOT USE WD40. Google why or try it yourself if you don’t believe me.
Personally, I use Bones Speed Cream and it’s great.
If you don’t want to buy it, below are some other solutions.
- Lithium Grease
- Tri Flo Grease
- Motor oil
- Vegetable oil
- Canola oil
- Baby oil
While bearings are a necessary part of a longboard, they’re not as important as most beginners initially think. Avoid double metal shielded bearings if you plan to do maintenance.
Stick with Bones Reds or Zealous, and you’ll be in a good position.