An essential part of every longboard is the bearings. Without bearings, a smooth and fast ride would not be possible. What are bearings? Bearings are the balls that allow your wheels to spin on the axle. Bearings can be made of either metal or ceramic. Steel longboard bearings are the most popular, but ceramic bearings are said to be better quality, therefore making them more expensive.
Some bearings have an ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineers’ Committee) rating. ABEC is the American standard for rating bearings. This rating is not only applied to skateboard and longboard bearings, but to bearings in many different industries. Bearings come in five different classes 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The higher the number, the greater the precision and speed.
You can take the ABEC rating however seriously you want in longboarding. Why? Well many skateboarders and longboarders alike swear by bearings like Bones Reds. These bearings are super affordable and have awesome quality. Bones does not provide an ABEC rating for any of their bearings because they say that this standard does not hold up to the abuse taken in skateboarding and longboarding. Yet, Bones are some of the best bearings you can buy.
Caring for Your Bearings (….That Rhymes!)
You really want to take care of your bearings because they are prone to feeling the effects of water, dirt, and sand. As far as your bearings are concerned, longboarding in the rain is not a good idea. Metal bearings will begin to rust after they are exposed to water. This significantly lessens their lifespan. Ceramic bearings are more expensive but are better to use in the rain. If you do happen to ride your longboard through water, be sure to thoroughly dry and clean your bearings afterward. Dirt and sand can also get in your bearings, causing you problems. Always keep your bearings clean! To keep your bearings fast, use quality oil lubricant.
Does Price Matter?
On the Beginner Longboarding Tips page, I stated that the best longboarding equipment usually comes at a more expensive price. This is not necessarily true when it comes to bearings. For instance, Bones Reds average around $17, and can really perform well. There are other good bearings out there for $80 or $90. This does not mean that Bones Reds directly compare with other, more expensive bearings, but for the begginer longboarder a $17 set of bearings can give you the quality that you need to perform well.
I am not specifically promoting Bones Reds, but just want to emphasize that bearing price and quality do not always match up. Read your reviews and pick out whatever kind of bearings fit your riding style and your budget.
Also, FYI Amazon has a great price on Bones Reds if you should decide that these are the bearings for you.
For learn more about all you will need to get started in longboarding, check out my Longboard Gear Guide.