Buying Skateboard Bearings for a skater is like buying boardwax for a surfer – they’re the perfect stocking filler.
So whats a bearing? Well basically in the middle of all skate wheels is a cutout which has the job of housing and protecting two sets of ball bearings. The purpose of these bearings is to stop friction between the axle and the inside of the each wheel as you skate around and these spin. You need this because the axle is in a fixed position.
Exploded view of a bearing courtesy of Bones Bearings
Bearings have flat sides and are circular in shape. Inside each one is seven, eight or nine lubed up balls. They are engineered to disperse the weight of you skating and ease friction between the axle and the wheels. There are two main types of bearing, steel and ceramic. I’m gonna point you towards the differences.
The balls inside the bearing are typically made of steel making them are durable and pretty cheap to make. For your average skateboarding Joe, steel bearings will work a treat.
If you are careful and keep your bearings dry, lubricated and clean, they’ll work even better and can last for a long time. However what can happen is the friction between the axle and the wheels will produce energy, which will eventually heat up the steel, causing it to expand and making the bearings perform poorly.
So what happened is skate companies spotted this problem with steel bearing and came up with an even better solution. Ceramic bearings don’t expand when they get hot, so there is no effect on performance. Even better they are stronger and smoother so don’t require lubricant in the same way as steels. There is only one downside with ceramic bearings: better things come at a bigger price tag, so they can cost quite a lot more than regular steels!
There you have it, basically bearings are a great gift for any skater. All you have to do is decide how much you want to spend, or how much you like whoever you’ll be giving them to…
Don’t think I could post about skating without including a video…