More Bearing Content

Posted: 2019-04-05 in Uncategorized

Having read through several of the more recent posts on this blog (namely, the product reviews), then comparing them to older posts, I’ve realized that a few of my points have been seemingly contradictory:

In Don’t Overthink Things, I try to present the viewpoint that bearings don’t matter…but, in my review on Seismic Tektons, I say that they do; going so far as to say that Tektons are faster than Abec11’s Biltins, a point reiterated in Toy Machine T-Sect.  But, in I Hate Bearings, the point is made that if you have to ask if a bearing will make you faster, the answer is no.

Here’s where it gets weird:  There are many truths in an entire internet full of misinformation and idiocy.  So, let’s unpack:
That’s not saying bearings don’t make a difference…but lil’ Jonny with his first Penny board isn’t going to set any landspeed records with Bones Swiss versus OEM Greaseballs.  Those skaters that will notice a difference in bearings won’t have to ask me what the difference actually is from I Hate Bearings.  The question from the customer was about making his Penny Board faster.  The truth is that, for the average Penny Board rider, rolling around a college campus or downtown area, bearings will matter less.  Cramming a bearing full of grease will slow the board down, regardless of quality.  The best way to improve speed in this scenario is by upgrading wheels to something a little bigger diameter, or with a little better urethane formula.
…Everything on a street skateboard is expendable. It’s something of a badge of honor to snap a deck or blow out a bearing (due to the high-impact of aerial stunts).  From Durable Goods.  In any sort of trick skating that involves aerial stunts, from longboard dancing, to flatland freestyle, to street skating, that’s going to involve weird impacts on the bearings (by way of the wheels).  The truth is that durability is a more reliable trait to have in a bearing than all-out speed, in a trick setting.  Besides, as we learned from Rock’n Ron, another truth is that even stepping onto a board such that your weight is borne onto the axles will wreck the ABEC rating, let alone doing an ollie.  Bearings are wear parts, period, and cannot be counted on to enhance speed when you’re jumping around.
-As noted in my review of Seismic Tektons, They’re noticably faster than something like a Biltin, although I’m not entirely sure Tektons are worth the extra few bucks if you’re not in an IGSA raceThis truth is that bearings can make a difference under the right circumstances.  Distill everything about your riding experience down to a scenario wherein the only variable is the bearing and you’ll begin to appreciate what I’m talking about:  Park and vert skating, slalom skating, and as an extrapolation of slalom skating, long-distance pumping are three scenarios in which bearings can make a discernible difference.  These disciplines are powered by internal forces (pumping either up and down on a ramp, or left and right for slalom), and are done on regular, controlled surfaces…any sort of street skating, downhill (including freeride/slide, and racing), commuting/distance pushing, or urban bombing, are not internally driven (by pumping), and are on irregular surfaces.  On these irregular surfaces (loading docks, asphalt to sidewalks, curbs, gravel, the occasional rain puddle), a good set of wheels will make a much greater difference in the quality of your ride than bearings will.

So, will bearings make a difference for your ride?  Sometimes yes, but mostly no.  Call me a sanctimonious douchebag, but there are many, many more parts of your skateboard (and there aren’t that many parts of a skateboard) that will make or break your ride sooner than bearings will.  For 95% of skaters, 95% of the time, a better quality wheel will make your ride smoother or faster.  For the other 5% of skaters, the other 5% of the time, your bearings just might make a difference, but you’re probably in a situation where you’re not going to be trawling Google and reading opinionated douchebags on a blog about bearings.

  1. […] He’s absolutely right – ABEC rating doesn’t matter.  But, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t seek quality when buying bearings.  Stick with offerings from skateboard-specific retailers.  Find a budget and stick with it.  Know what you’re looking for in a bearing, and find one that fits within your budget.  That’s all part of being an informed consumer, and that was my job when I was working at the skateshop…and, of course, a huge reason I started this blog in the first place.  That’s what I’d add to TMU’s post:  There’s a point of diminishing returns when you look at price point in skateboard bearings, but you can’t automatically say that expensive bearings are “the exact same” as the cheaper ones. […]

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