What makes a good longboard a good one? Is it the board? The wheels? The brand? Or is it the bearings?
While the bearings may not be the most important aspect to everyone, they certainly play a vital role…or roll. Get it?
Bearings are crucial to safe and smooth longboarding. Below is a list of the best bearings available so that you make the most informed buying decision possible. The list is followed by a buyer’s guide that provides in-depth information on what bearings are, their functions, how to care for them, and when to replace them.
|Bones Reds Skateboard Bearings||Precise Spacers|
Durable and reliable
|Zealous Bearings for Longboards||Built in Spacers|
|Yellow Jacket Premium Bearings||ABEC-9 rated|
|Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings||Built in Spacers|
|Bronson Speed Co. G3 Bearings||Great for Downhill|
Easy to Clean
Use this article to learn more about bearings and the role they play for your board.
Note: The phrase, standard 608 bearing size, will be used repeatedly in this article. It refers to the size nearly all skate and longboard bearings are, and measure 8 x 22 x 7 mm.
Best Longboard Bearings
We’re starting the list with the Bones Reds Skateboard Bearings, from one of the bestselling bearings companies, Bones Bearings.
The bearings are made of steel, making them affordable for an array of buyers; as, steel bearings are cheaper than ceramic bearings.
Still, these bearings are by no means cheap. As industry leaders, Bones Bearings carefully craft each bearing. They’re durable, roll well, and are easy to take apart and clean.
Each one comes pre-lubricated which helps them run smoothly for a longer period of time. However, they do require to be broken in a bit to reap their full benefits. And when they begin to feel still, using Bones Speed Cream is a great way to refresh their liveliness.
They spin for a longer time in heavier wheels and can withstand the high impact of tricks and drops well.
The Bones Reds Bearings comes with a set of 8 bearings, 4 spacers, and 8 washers. It also includes a removable rubber shield for easy cleaning and a nylon ball retainer that promotes durability and speed.
The Bones Reds Bearings are 608 bearings, the standard size for nearly all skateboard and longboard bearings. Meaning, like most brands, they’re interchangeable with different builds.
Up next we have the Zealous Bearings for Longboards.
These are standard 608 size bearings with precision 8mm axle holes and 0.5mm built-in speed rings and spacers.
They come pre-lubricated with archoil nanoceramic grease, making them both fast and smooth.
They do need to be broken in but should feel good after about a week. And, they offer a quiet ride, something frequent riders (and neighbors) can appreciate.
Two of the best features of Zealous Bearings is its green rubber seal and the built in spacers. It keeps dirt out, keeps grease in, and is highly water-resistant.
There are many buying options, but Zealous stands out with a high level of quality and affordable pricing. They are the only built-in spacer bearings which I can recommend at the moment while being 100% sure that they will not disappoint you. Some individuals might disagree but most people who have tried Zealous bearings will nod their head when I say "Zealous bearings are definitely one of the best built-in spacer bearings on the market right now".
The Bronson Speed Co. G3 Bearings are great for downhill longboarding and high speeds.
Being made out of ceramic rather than steel, these bearings can withstand high temperatures and speeds with ease.
They’re standard 608 bearing size, and feature deep groove raceways reducing side impact damage. As well as Micro Groove raceway surfaces that increase the bearing’s lubrication, providing more spin and speed.
One downfall to these bearings is their noise level. They’re a bit on the louder side.
Their straight-edged, frictionless shields are easily popped off, making for quick cleaning after riding on dirty surfaces.
Overall, these are great bearings for longboarders looking to ride downhill or on dirty surfaces.
These babies are perfect for downhill rides and street skating. Supporting high speeds and high-impact, the Yellow Jacket Premium Bearings are great for freeride longboarders, and cruisers too.
Boasting bearings made out of the highest quality steel the world has to offer, Yellow Jacket Premium Bearings come in a unique range of colors for different riders’ aesthetic preferences.
They are ABEC-9 rated, standard 608 bearing size, and come pre-lubricated with high-speed racing lubricant.
They sell boxes both with or without washers and spacers included, giving leeway to buyers who don’t need to spend extra money on parts they may already have.
They’re easy to install, support high speeds and heavyweights, and even come with a 100%, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee, should you run into any issues.
Off-bat, what makes the Bones Ceramic Super Reds Bearings quality bearings are in the name: it’s the ceramic part.
Aside from their durability against moments of high impact, like during tricks or drops, ceramic bearings are all-around better bearings. They spin faster, don’t rust from water, don’t corrode over time, and are heat-resistant.
Bones Ceramic Super Reds Bearings come with a Single, non-contact, removable rubber shield. Compared to steel balls, the cerbec ceramic balls are lighter, longer-lasting, and waterproof.
They come pre-lubricated with Bones Speed Cream and have a warranty on them should any issues arise.
The Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings are covered in light oil and come with dual shields. These bearings are ultra-smooth and highly durable.
They are standard 608 bearing size, and with dual shields, highly resistant to debris and dust particles while still supporting the internal lubrication of the bearings.
Being made out of steel, the Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings will support heavier riders with ease.
The bearings come with built-in spacers and Fireball offers a lifetime warrant should any manufacturing defects occur.
Being made out of steel, the Fireball Dragon Precision Bearings will support heavier riders with ease. The bearings come with built-in spacers and Fireball offers a lifetime warrant should any manufacturing defects occur.
- Long Lasting Performance
- Dual Labyrinth Shields
Coming in at an ABEC-7 rating, up next we have the CCS Premium Blue Steel Bearings. Originally known as California Cheap Skates, CCS delivers top-notch bearings that come pre-lubricated, are high-impact-resistant, and roll extremely well.
The bearing size is 608 and features a removable double shield, making cleaning the bearing a simple task.
Bones Super Reds are another set of quality bearings from the industry leaders, Bones Bearings.
Their bearings come pre-lubricated with Bones Super Cream, a substance that makes them run quickly and smoothly.
Their bearing size is 608, and compared to the Bones Reds Bearings, this is an upgraded version with higher-quality steel, better quality grade balls, and a superior surface finish.
The bearings come with a built-in high-speed nylon ball retainer that aids the bearing’s speed and durability.
With an ABEC-9 rating, the Heady Shake Pro Longboard Bearings are strong and can withstand high speeds.
Their strength comes from their build, which is a combination of steel and titanium.
These bearings come pre-lubricated, are quiet while spinning, and provide an amazingly smooth ride overall.
What’s more, a waterproof sticker comes with your purchase. You can put the sticker on the outside of your wheel, kind of like a cap, and use it to add an extra layer of protection from the elements.
Anyone looking for a smooth ride on reliable bearings would do well to purchase Heady Shake Pro Longboard Bearings.
The Neal Precision Skate Bearings boast a maximum spin rating of 100,000 rpm under load, making these bearings incredibly fast.
Of course, what helps this to be possible is their ceramic design. Coming in pre-lubricated, with spacers included, and a low noise level, the Neal Precision Skate Bearings are an ideal choice for riders who want to go fast without causing too much of an uproar.
Being ceramic-made, they require low maintenance; however, as with anything, cleaning them every now and then will increase the longevity of these bearings.
Looking for bearings that are super smooth and ultra silent? The Bones Super Swiss 6 Bearings are the perfect pick for you.
Not only do they ride quietly, but they provide more speed than some other bearings out there. They accomplish this by using 6 balls that are 17% larger in diameter, compared to using 7 balls. Larger balls, according to Bones, provide higher speeds since they rotate longer.
Additionally, the bearings come pre-lubricated and feature a single shield. A dual shield would allow for even more protection from debris such as dirt or grime; however, removing one shield cap vs two of them is less time-consuming. A benefit for those who may be in a hurry.
KVENI Ceramic Bearings are amongst the best waterproof bearings available.
These bearings run super smooth due to their high-quality and low-friction design. Made of chrome steel and ceramic balls, these bearings last long, spin fast, absorb impacts well, and won’t overheat.
With an ABEC-9 rating and a bearing size of 608, these bearings are ideal for people who want to downhill, cruise, freestyle, or carve.
The Oust MOC Skateboard Bearings are perfect for downhill racing, carving, and slalom longboarding.
While they do require a brief break-in period, these bearings provide an air-like smooth feel to the rider, letting them glide on surfaces with ease.They don’t include bearings spacers, however, the Oust MOC Skateboard Bearings are easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble.
So if you’d like to insert your own spacers in between these bearings, doing so should be a cinch.
Finally, we have the Bones Swiss Ceramic Bearings. Another bearing by the industry giants, another ceramic-based design, and another quality bearing.
As you should have noticed by now, bearings made with ceramic balls have a number of benefits over bearings made with steel balls. Namely: they’re faster, last longer, and don’t rust.
Bones Swiss Ceramic Bearings have all of these qualities. At a bearing size of 608, these bearings come pre-lubricated and ready to use out of the box with a short break-in period.
A Buyer’s Guide to the Best Longboard Bearings
What are skateboard and longboard bearings?
Bearings are small circular objects, usually made of steel or ceramic material, that are placed inside of the wheel. Bearings influence how fast and smoothly a board rides, so many skaters are careful to select bearings that suit their specific skating needs.
Each wheel has a set of two bearings. There are five major parts to bearings: the shield, the inner race, the outer race, the balls, and the retainer.
The shield serves two purposes: it prevents debris and dust particles from entering the bearing; and, it keeps grease inside the bearing.
The outer race and inner race house the balls of the bearings. A groove is cut into each race which holds the balls of the bearing in place. The balls are what allow bearings to rotate freely.
Without them, the inner and outer races would simply rub against each other and create friction, essentially rendering the bearings useless.
When manufacturers want to ensure the balls maintain a certain distance between each other, they insert bearing retainers. What this does is decrease wear between the different elements of the bearing and minimize heat build-up; thus, increasing the bearing’s longevity.
Another way manufacturers do this is by inserting what is known as a spacer in between the two bearings. The spacer is a small metal cylinder that prevents the bearings from being damaged by limiting the amount of force applied to them.
What are the best bearings for speed?
When it comes to speed, bearings made of ceramic material are typically more suitable than their steel counterparts. The reason being is that ceramic bearings are heat resistant, meaning they expand less, thus creating less friction while rolling at high speeds.
However, remember both that: this is speaking generally; and, ceramic bearings are more brittle than steel bearings. Meaning, while they assist with high speeds, they falter a bit when it comes to high impacts, like heavy drops and high ollies.
What are the best bearings for cruising?
Choosing the best bearings for cruising comes more down to preference than any simple answer. The reason is that people have different cruising styles and rhythms. Some longboard a lot, some a little. Some people want to go fast, others slow. It’s all up to the rider.
With that in mind, choosing the best bearing for cruisers bottles down to whether you want a little more speed, durability, or dirt resistance.
See, ceramic bearings require little maintenance, though they do break with high impact. Not having to clean them or worry about them rusting is great for cruisers who want to possibly longboard in wet environments and possibly dirty environments.
Steel bearings on the other hand are more durable with high impacts and much cheaper than ceramics. Because of this, if you’re a casual skater who picks up their board once in a while for an evening stroll, then investing in less expensive steel bearings may be a better option for you.
In the end, it depends on your cruising desires.
We recommend Neal Precision Skate Bearings, KVENI Ceramic Bearings, Heady Shake Pro Longboard Bearings.
How to clean bearings
All right, so you want to clean your bearings, do ya? Trying to get all of that grime and dirt out so your wheels roll smoothly again? Well, follow along on this list of instructions and we’ll guide you through the steps necessary to get your bearings nice, shiny, and ready for action.
- A socket wrench or ratchet,
- And a skate tool, also known as a T-tool
- To reach the bearing, you first have to remove the wheel. Using the socket wrench, ratchet, or T-tool, loosen up the nuts holding the wheel in place. It may require holding your board tightly and applying a little elbow grease to your turns.
- Next, make a storage pile for the other parts you’ll soon remove. Place the initial nut on the storage pile.
- Now remove the wheel. Give your wheel a slight angle while doing so to have your axle pry out one of your bearings. If this technique doesn’t work, take a screwdriver and pry out the bearings on both sides of the wheel.
- Place the removed parts in their respective areas in your storage pile.
- Remove and store the remaining wheels, bearings, and parts
- Now that all of the bearings have been removed, it’s time for an initial clean. Take a rag or paper towel and wipe away all the noticeable dirt spots on the bearings. If the grime is really bad, add a little bit of a cleaner or solvent to your rag to help.
- Next, prepare a cleaning solution in a clean bucket or bowl. Use acetone, isopropyl alcohol, or mineral spirits. If you decide to use acetone, use gloves while handling.
- Once the cleaning solution is ready, begin popping off the bearing shield caps. To do so, use a tiny, thin object like a pin or paperclip, and poke the cap off from the back of the bearing. You can also try to pry it out from the front.
- Place the caps in your storage pile then drop the bearings in the cleansing solution
- Swirl them around in there for a few minutes, letting the cleansing solution work its magic and scrub off the excess grime. Replace the solution if it gets too dirty.
- Remove the bearings from the solution and place them on a paper towel or rag to dry. You can use canned air to accelerate the drying process.
- While you have the bearing shield caps removed, now is a great time to apply lubricant to your bearings. Using skateboard-specific lubricant, like Bones Speed Cream, apply two to three drops of lubricant to each bearing. Spin the bearing to evenly distribute the lubricant.
- Now, put the bearing shield cap back on. It should fit in rather easily. Once the shield caps are replaced, the bearing should be fully reassembled and looking mighty fine.
- Reinsert the bearings into your wheels. Press down on the bearings firmly to ensure everything is locked in place. ALSO: If your wheel had a spacer in between the bearings, be sure to reinsert the spacer where it belongs.
- Place a washer onto the axle of your truck, followed by your wheel. On the other end, place another washer followed by a nut. Tighten the board well, but not to the point that it’s super stiff. The wheels should have some wiggle room.
- Finally, spin each wheel to test the tightness of the nut and the overall security and feel of your newly cleaned bearings. Compared to their conditions before, you should see noticeable differences in their performances.
When to replace bearings
While cleaning your bearings will help you increase their performance, there will still come a time when you need to replace them entirely. Knowing when to do so is important not only for your ability to have high speeds and smooth rides but for your safety.
When bearings begin to rust heavily, start to lose parts or have damaged parts; start making weird noises, or just don’t spin the same: that’s usually a good indication that it’s time to replace them.
See, bad bearings equal bad news. For example, if the shield cap of your bearing were to come off while you were riding, there’s a high probability for it to shift inside your wheel. If this happens, it could block the forward momentum of your wheel. This could stop your board in an incredibly abrupt fashion, sending you flying with little time to react.
While many skaters suggest replacing them every 1-2 years, it’s best to consider how damaged they may be from impacts and weather conditions, as well as how they feel and look to you, before deciding to wait a year or two to replace them.
Factors to consider before buying
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different components of bearings so that you may make the best solution in your purchases. For starters, we know that bearings are essential in making sure our boards run smoothly and quickly.
So what else is there to know about them?
Materials: ceramics vs steel bearings
As discussed earlier, bearings are generally made out of two materials: steel and ceramic.
- Are generally cheaper
- Heat up more quickly
- More durable for high impact
- Rust with exposure to water
- Corrode over time
- Are more expensive
- Are heat-resistant
- Spin longer because they cause less heat and friction
- Can be brittle in terms of high impact
- Don’t rust with exposure to water
- Don’t corrode over time
Pre-lubricated or not?
Fortunately, most bearings on the market come already pre-lubricated. Meaning, after you purchase them, they’re ready to be installed. Still, if a box reads “Not pre-lubricated,” you always have the option of purchasing lubrication separately and applying it yourself. Although, we’d recommend a brand that already sells pre-lubricated bearings, like Yellow Jacket Premium Bearings.
Sealed vs Shielded
Shielded bearings feature a shield cap that is removable. The tiny space that allows the cap to be removed is enough space for extremely fine particles, like water, to enter the bearing. This, of course, is not what we want.
On the other hand, sealed bearings are fully sealed and prevent even water from entering. One drawback, however, is that sealed bearings are often sealed with rubber which can create slight friction while the bearing is turning. This friction can cause slight depreciation in the bearing’s overall speed performance.
Ball vs roller Bearings
Ball bearings have a small contact area, where each ball inside of a bearing comes into contact with the inner and outer races of the bearing in a very small patch. The spherical shape of the bearing helps the ball spin smoothly. Ball bearings, however, handle high impacts worse than roller bearings.
Roller bearings have a wider contact patch that allows for heavier impacts and higher heat.
ABEC and Skate Rated ratings
ABEC stands for the Annular Bearing Engineers Committee. In an attempt to aid bearing manufacturers in their production and selection of general bearing applications, they establish dimensions, geometry, tolerances, and noise standards for different bearings.
They don’t, however, cover, “Sideloading, impact resistance, materials selection and grade, appropriateness of lubrication, ball retainer type, grade of ball, the clearance between the balls and the races, installation requirements, and the need for maintenance and cleaning,” according to the blog team at Bones Bearings.
Because of this, Bones Bearings believe using the ABEC system is flawed, as it does not include all of the intricate elements of a bearing’s design. Instead, they use Skate Rated ratings to judge their bearings.
Still, ABEC ratings are ubiquitous throughout the world and many people swear by them.
In your search for quality bearings, consider whether you’d like to have ABEC’s reputation guide your decision-making while knowing they do not consider as many aspects of a bearing’s makeup as the Skate Rated system does.
I’ve been riding longboards for a little over 13 years now, mainly bombing hills and cruising through beach towns. I’m also a journalist and content writer with a special interest in learning and relaying what ignites people’s inner fires.