Monday, May 17, 2021

Skateboard Bearing: Welcome to the Ugly Truth

The majority of skateboard riders consider the ABEC rating before making a purchase, and it's understandable why they trust it. The ABEC rating provides a good indication of the bearing's lowest tolerance range, which generally translates to higher quality. However, it's important to note that higher ABEC ratings don't necessarily mean higher speeds. In reality, speed primarily depends on the bearing clearance. Despite this, many people seeking speed might not be aware that skateboard bearings aren't very fast compared to other types, spinning typically at speeds ranging from 1000 to 5000 rpm. For instance, car wheel bearings are even slower.

The highest speed application I've encountered is the dentist hand-piece, capable of reaching speeds of up to 400,000 rpm, powered by an air turbine.

When examining the ABEC rating, it's essential to consider the supplier's credibility and their "honesty tolerance." Beware of imported bearings claiming to be ABEC7, ABEC9, ABEC11, or ABEC13, as these claims are often untrue. Such misleading information has made it nearly impossible for our company (VXB) to sell skateboard bearings. For example, selling an ABEC7 bearing would mean a slim profit margin, while sets of 8 ABEC11 or ABEC13 bearings are available for a lower price.

The most common skateboard bearing is the 608, with dimensions of 8mm inner diameter, 22mm outer diameter, and 7mm width. For the average skateboarder, an ABEC3 rating should suffice for their needs, but adjusting the clearance to C3 can make the bearing spin more smoothly.

It's worth noting that testing a bearing's quality by spinning it with your fingers is not a reliable method. High-quality bearings are factory-lubricated, making them harder to spin with fingers. In contrast, dry (no lubricant) Stainless Steel bearings can be used for this test, but they may be susceptible to rusting.

Bearings are made from different types of steel. Carbon steel is the most affordable option but is comparable to the fake imported ABEC13 bearings. We sell these at $0.29 each, and they carry an ABEC-1 rating, suitable for skateboarders with a limited budget.

Another common and respected material in the ball bearing industry is 52100 steel. Additionally, Stainless Steel 440C grade is good, although not necessary. It's worth clarifying that stainless steel can rust, so we offer dry Stainless Steel bearings to counteract the false spinning test. Furthermore, while Stainless Steel 300 grades lose their ferromagnetism and become paramagnetic, 440C steel retains its ferromagnetic properties.

Lastly, there are ceramic balls available, but my opinion is that they are only advantageous when used for gravity downhill without dynamic loads on the bearing. Ceramics such as Zro2 and Si3N4 are brittle and prone to breaking, so I wouldn't recommend them, despite the fact that we still offer them for sale.

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