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Bearings - What they don’t tell you


Hey guys, I found a little collection of bearing info put together from conversations with a Bearing Engineer of 20 years and a veteran skater himself. Super interesting stuff. It basically separates truth from BS, and tells you what you really want from a skate bearing. Check it out:

We here’s what I’ve learned. I am a bearing engineer of almost 20 years dealing with miniature bearings for skate, aircraft, aerospace, and NASA applications dealing with all aspects of design, and ABEC specification. More recently my nephew and I started our own High Tech Bearing Company six months ago, Ok enough bullshit. The ABEC is the allowable tolerance. The ABEC 1 tolerance for the bore of a 608 bearing is .3150” +.0000 / -.0003”.==== that means the Bore could be anywhere from .3147-.3150” (8MM). ==== ABEC 7 is .3150 +.0000 / -.0002. (.3148-.3150) What does all this mean??? The Abec tolerance is all but INSIGNIFICANT in a skate application. Skateboard Truck Axels are not manufactured to the same tight tolerances as the Bearing. And the O.D. of the Bearing goes in a flexible urathane wheel. This eliminates any possible advantage of the Abec tolerance would give to assure accurate fit. The Abec is the DIMENTIONAL TOLERANCES. The Abec tolerance does cover out of roundness and for this reason I would use ABEC 3 or better. Almost any bearing with the country of origin on the bearing except for china will be Abec 3 or better. Back in the 80’s they had to sort bearing lots to get the Abec 3 and Abec 7 Bearings. Todays modern machines make to Abec 3 or better even if they are marketed as abec 1. They will have an Abec 3 price and a Abec 1 price to give you a choise, but it will be the same Abec 3 bearing. ANY BEARINGS FROM CHINA WILL NOT BE BETTER THAN ABEC 1. China will put “ABEC 7” or “FUCK YOU” on the bearing if you order 5000 or more!! No laws in China against that. You cant mis-mark the bearings in the other bearing manufacturing Countries. Bearings with a Metal Ball Cage have a 40,000 RPM Rating. Plastic Cage = 100,000-150,000 RPM.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT. 1) The Manufacturer. All Chinese bearings are crap. All those weird name brands are shit. Top of the Line bearing manufactuers make 608’s with the proper Raceway Curvature, cages and internal clearances. WIB, GMN, GRW and NMB manufacture the best bearings in the world for skateboard. For those of you not fimiliar with these names, WIB makes all the bearings for “Bones” All Bones bearings marked “Swiss” are manufacturered by WIB Miniature Bearing in Switzerland for Bones. GMN and GRW make all the German Bearings no matter what name may be marketet on the shield. Plastic or non-metalic ball cage will make more way more difference in speed than any ABEC change.
OPTIMAL BEARING: I have used everything in the world, Ceramics manufactured just for my SkateBoard, Abec 9, Bearings Manufacturered by every bearing company in the world. I have access to over 400 Lubricants in my field.
The best bearing by design right now is the Super Swiss 6 by Bones with SpeedCream. The Bearing had several advantages. 1) It is manufactured by WIB Bearing. 2) They are made with a tight Raceway curvature to avoid “Excess Axial Play” 3) They are supplied with a Re-enforced plastic cage rated at 150,000 RPM 4)Laberinth Non-Contacting Rubber Seals to keep out dirt. This is the obtimum design for free rotation and keeping out contamination.
Ceramic Ball Bearings are only good if they come with Plastic or Phenolic Ball Cages. As a Hardcore skater skating 4-5 days a week. Super Swiss 6 with Speed cream cant be beat. Fuc* the Abec rating. The Abec rating is designed so that the bearing has manufacturing consistancy in order to manufacture mating parts to simular tolerances. (Re: Precision Shafting and Housings.)

Oh Yeah
... one more note on why the Super swiss 6 has lower starting and running torque (This is Known as Speed to us skateboarders)
All 608’s are made with 7 ball compliment. The Super Swiss 6 is the ONLY 608 manufactured with a 6 ball compliment. The Balls all bigger, can take higher load (Impact), Have less ball surphase touching the raceway with 6 balls instead of 7 which lowers the running torque of the bearing making the bearing get to full speed quicker. I am sure within the next year you will start seeing more 6 ball designs, but right now its WIB(Bones) that makes ‘em…At all possible, stick with German or Swiss with Plastic or non-metalic ball cages. Any bearing with a steel cage will be slower no matter where it’s made. Grease is just an oil with a thickener, the thickener in the grease will slow down your bearing and running just oil will attract contaminates from far away and not provide proper protection. Use the Good-old Speed Cream in the skate shops. By buying German or Swiss what is important is you will know the bearing is manufactuered by a very high quality bearing manufacturer who does the final raceway polishing what that chinese dont.

Bearings marked “Thailand” = NMB
Bearings marked “German” = GMN or GRW
Bearings marked “Swiss” = WIB Bearing

. . . . . .
Yes, the Bones-Chinese[Reds] are in the same class as the other Chinese Bearings. Bones China are may be a little better than the other China or unmarked brands as far as consitancy since they probably been using the same China trading Company for years, but still is a .12-.14 cent bearing.
. . . . . . .

*Note* This guy has since created his own bearing brand called RockNRons Bearings. But you can tell that he’s not just secretly promoting bones when he wrote this, because if he was working for them at the time, he wouldn’t be ripping on their Chinese products ie Bones Reds, Super Reds, Ceramic Reds (China Bones).


The short version of this is
- Their are only about 4 major bearings manufacturers in the world. So all skate companies are sharing the same bearings from one of those manufacturers.
- Chinese Bad, Swiss or German Good!
- There IS a difference between China Bones and Swiss Bones. The only reason china bones don’t completely suck is parts and design. The manufacturing is crap.
- Don’t buy bearings with steel races.
- Bones Super 6 Swiss are the best/fastest bearing in his opinion. Even faster than the Bones Swiss Ceramic which is almost triple it’s price.
- All Bones bearings are price worthy because of the parts and design, but you do get only what you pay for.


One thing that’s had me stumped with this thread is, apart from Bones who else manufacture in Germany. Modus have a German distributor but what about manufacturer.

Most companies are very deceptive when writing descriptions of their bearings and either won’t mention where the bearing is made or do what oust does and say USA made balls. I figure the rest of the Oust are made in china.

I was going to order some Bones Swiss in the 20% off sale at Boardshop ending today but they are all sold out. Now i need to either find some other bearings worthy of my money or wait till i can find some more Swiss to order. Spewing but at least i can get my Type-s cheap.


I watched a video about testing different bearings. But the guy is kinda biased towards Oust without really knowing the full story, actually I wondered if it was a sneaky marketing ploy form Oust.
Either way he pressure tests the balls and the Oust balls break at 22,000 lbs were as the swiss made balls break at 8,000 lbs and the chinese at 7,000 lbs.
So Oust balls actually are superior at least in durability. But like you said, where is the rest of the bearing made? I do know some of the cheap Oust bearings have steel races which means they suck.

All I can tell you is ALL bones bearings have plastic races (which is a good thing).
All bones bearings roll well because of the parts used.
They say China Bones (REDS) have bad manufacturing tolerances and aren’t “finished” in any way compared to the Swiss type. But I have bones Super Reds and they are the fastest I’ve ever used.
So I’m really interested to try Swiss super 6 bearings and see the difference.

I just wish This Ron guy had commented on Ceramics cause I’m not sure if they are worthwhile or not. But he uses them in his bearings. The ceramics I had once were TERRIBLE. They were seriously slow and never got much faster no matter how much I skated them.


I think it may be steel races are standard to all bearings but steel retainers are slow, while nylon retainers are faster. But i may be wrong.

Rush Swiss are made in Switzerland with the labyrinth shields so i might try them out or Zealous because of the really cool lube used that self repairs the bearing and is low friction. plus their only $23.

The best part about the posts by Ron was where he stated that bones took his bearings to look at and based their labyrinth ones off his bearings. They where apparently very kind about it and he didn’t mind as he only wants better bearings for every one. Pretty cool


Riley is right!!!!!

Races in Bearings have to be made of Steel as Plastics can deform too easily!!!!!

The Race is the part that the Ball “rides” on!!!!! There’s an Outer & Inner Race!!!!!

The Cage is the part that holds the Balls in an even position in the Race!!!!!

The Sheild is the part that covers the side in order to keep dust/dirt out of the Bearing!!!!!

If a ball breaks under a higher pressure it doesn’t exactly means its a better/smoother bearing!!!!!

A Harder Metal will break more easily than a Softer Metal, but a Harder Metal will not Dent (Flat Spot) as easy as a Softer Metal!!!!!

These Flat Spots are what stops a bearing from running smooth in its Race!!!!!


And Ceramic is smoother than Steel, and although it can be hard, it’s not as durable as Metal when exposed to continuous heavy impacts!!!!!


Yeah, my bad, I used the wrong word.

I meant the retainer/cage/thing that holds the balls in place.
I think in some countries it’s called the “Michelle”.  smirk


Andy, I’m pretty sure that the ceramics you had (and I had too) are cheap shitty china bearings which would explain such variation between mine and yours.

Dont give up on ceramic based on that experience. Ceramics would be awesome for you seeing you are predominantly transition skating


Yeah that’s what I figured.
But I have never used good ceramics so I have no comparison.

Do you think ceramics are actually faster or just more durable?
Like If I compared to Bones Swiss to Bones Swiss Ceramic, would the ceramic actually be faster?
Or just last long, maybe feel smoother?

BTW, what are you rolling on K2?
You’re probably the most constant skater of any of us right now (other than Mitch).

Andy Aitken - 18 November 2013 03:37 AM

Yeah, my bad, I used the wrong word.

I meant the retainer/cage/thing that holds the balls in place.
I think in some countries it’s called the “Michelle”.  smirk

Still playing the waiting game…


Ceramic may be harder but it is defiantly more brittle but unless your bearings constantly see hard impacts then it should be beneficial. Ceramics will absorb heat better than steel so if your at the park for a while the bearings will run cooler. I don’t know about faster though but they should be.

Just don’t go thinking their rust proof like some people do as you will wreck them quickly. While the ceramic balls won’t rust the rest of the bearing will. You see a lot of people buying them to get wet.

Unhappy to find out Zealous won’t fit in spitfires as they have a self healing ceramic lube that will repair the bearings and create a ceramic surface with less friction.

Andy Aitken - 18 November 2013 03:37 AM

Yeah, my bad, I used the wrong word.

I meant the retainer/cage/thing that holds the balls in place.
I think in some countries it’s called the “Michelle”.  smirk



Yeh main thing with ceramics is their heat properties.

I roll on Modus Titanium. Been on the same set for bloody ages and they still go great.
I ride them without shields too so they have been put through their paces with slides and riding through crap.

Only washed them out once or twice in past year or so ive been on them


Funny about the abec rating, I remember when working in a store the amount of kids that wouldn’t listen to you about the fact that it really doesn’t mean much for skating was funny.

Bones Swiss Super 6 are amazing bearings, roll so smooth and effortless. When I was using them I was skating a lot of bowl and it made the biggest difference. When I did the odd bit of street it was great for that as well, as it meant I really didn’t have to push. The non metallic crowns do make a difference as well, I found the metal ones couldn’t handle the impacts of skating and would then explode. Not great when landing a trick and your board stops and you don’t.

Ceramic bearings are amazing, I have a set of the Modus ceramics and they are some good business. If you are a street skater don’t get them, go for some titanium’s as they are more robust, or some Bones. Ceramics suit transition and longboard skaters. Reason for this, is the lack of impact skating as well as the fact that continual high speed rotations are common place for this type of skating. Ceramic handles heat better than metals, meaning that the expansion and contractions of metal is eliminated. This leads to continual rolling with less metal resistance and the races of your bearing retaining shape for longer. As well as this your balls hold their shape for longer, meaning a longer lasting bearing.

C J Parker - 18 November 2013 09:15 PM

. As well as this your balls hold their shape for longer

LOL i had to giggle a little *out comes the 8 year old in me*