Bearings provide your rollerblades the ability to turn swiftly, spin smoothly, and rotate with ease on the axle of your skate wheels. Rollerblade bearings are an essential component of the structure of your skates that offer protection against metal grinding when your wheels spin. These small bearings indeed play an important role in the making and functioning of your rollerblades. They can define how fast or smooth you skate move. Therefore, choosing the right bearings is essential for a competitive sport like rollerblading.
However, there are many questions that came across the mind of the skaters concerning bearings. One being, do the skateboard bearings fit rollerblade wheels. In terms of performance, yes you can use skateboard bearings in rollerblades. In terms of size, most of the bearings fit both skateboards and rollerblades alike. The standard size being 8mm. However, there may be some exceptions to the general rule. In that case, you need a specific size of bearings to fit your skates.
With that said, before you plan to use your skateboard bearings in your rollerblades you should note that while it is technically possible without serious downside; rollerblade bearings are designed to withstand specific sliding conditions. They may differ in hardness and other properties which makes them more suitable for several types of terrain. Using skateboard bearings in rollerblades may make them less effective and steal the fun. Here are some facts to know about rollerblade bearings.
Understanding Bearings Basics
A simple bearing usually has six components that are a cage, a sealing, lubrication, rolling balls, inner race, and an outer race. The cage supports the balls and keeps them spaced regularly to prevent rubbing together. You can use oil or grease for lubricating your bearings. A single wheel can use two sets of bearings inserted into the hub, spaced by a spacer. Here is a brief on each element [source]:
- Ideally, a 1006C 608 standard bearings have 7 to 8 balls. Some skate bearings can have 6 balls to reduce friction and minimize resistance. Ceramic ball bearings provide better gliding. They have hard balls that are less sensitive to dust, pollution, sand or lubricant. Less friction often accounts for less heat and improved longevity. However, they may cost you a bit high.
- The cage protects the rolling bodies. You may find a cage made of nylon, bronze or carbon steel. In an ideal condition, the cage is the one that wears out and not the balls. Nylon cages are lightweight and best of all. They offer less inertia, minimized resistance, and hence an improved friction coefficient.
- Sealing serves as a sheath protecting against the effects of pollutants and preventing lubricant to flow out. You may find two types of sealings – the ZZ type with two metal shields, and the 2RS type with two synthetic joints. For inline skating, ZZ types are most ideal.
- Lubricant plays multiple roles for the bearings. It reduces friction, prevents fast wearing, provides better cooling, delays pollution effects, and increases the life expectancy of the bearings. When you skate in tough terrain, lubricant prevents the bearings against dust and water.
Most of the bearings are made up of metal, plastic, nylon, carbon, ceramic, or bakelite. True bearings are manufactured with 100C6 alloy which is hardened, tempered chrome steel. It is primarily favored for its hardness but it can break like glass when subject to shock.
The quality of bearings is often defined on the basis of various standards which describe their designation, load capacity, manufacturing tolerance, and radial play standards. Most bearings follow the ABEC standards for quality check. It defines how precisely the bearings execute, how tolerant they are, and how smoothly they rotate. The higher the value the better the quality. In other words, a higher ABEC index represents more precise bearings.
Bearings Size and Specs
Standard rollerblade bearings are size 608 with 22mm diameter, 8mm bore, and a width of 7mm. These are preferably used in the majority of skateboards and rollerblades. So yes, you can use standard skateboard bearings into your rollerblades [source]. Other sizes that you may find are:
- Size 627 with 22mm diameter, 7mm bore, and a width of 7mm. It is primarily used for artistic, speed, and recreational quad skates.
- Size 688 with 16mm diameter, 8mm bore, and a width of 4mm or 5mm. These lightweight micro bearings are used in the wheels of some new speed skates.
- Size 698 with 19mm diameter, 8mm bore, and a width of 6mm. These are also lightweight bearings used in new skate wheels.
ABEC Rating Standards
The American standard ABEC is the acronym for the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, which rates the skate wheel bearings worldwide. The system uses a scale based on odd numbers like 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9. A higher number represents better tolerance and a higher degree of precision. It may not necessarily mean that the bearing is fast but it does indicate that the bearing is overall efficient.
ABEC 1 bearings are cheap, more durable but less precise. ABEC 3 bearings are used for entry-level skates which do not require speed as a necessary trait. ABEC 5 bearings are suitable for recreational or fitness skates. ABEC 7 bearings are fast, smooth, and expensive. ABEC 9 and higher standard bearings are not suitable for rollerblading or similar activities.
Some manufacturers follow other standards such as the International Standards Organization (ISO) or the German National Standards Organization (DIN). Most precision bearings are standard size 608, made up of Swiss, ceramic, or titanium. Micro bearings are great performance bearings with more balls in the casing to evenly distribute the weight of the skater and ensure better efficiency.
How many bearings should I purchase for my rollerblades? You will require a set of two bearings for each wheel. So, if you have 4-wheel inline skates, you will need 16 bearings and for 5-wheels, you require 20 bearings.
How can I check the size of the bearings for my skate wheels? You can check for the size of your skate wheels bearing in three easy ways:
- Examine the stamping marked on the shield of the skate wheel bearing. The majority of bearings are stamped with 608. The stamping implies that you have 8mm bearings. A stamping of 627 indicates a bearing of 7mm.
- Check the size of your wheel nut. If it is a 9/32″ nut, it implies you are using 7mm bearing. A nut size of 5/16″ indicates an 8mm bearing.
- Get a number 2 pencil with an eraser at the back. Use the eraser side to slide the bearing onto the pencil. A 7mm bearing will be too big to fit but if the pencil easily slides through that means you have an 8mm bearing.
I want to put my skateboard bearings in my rollerblades. What precautions do I take? Do I require a special tool to replace the bearings? The only precaution you need to take is to check if the specifications of your skateboard bearings match the ones that are required for your rollerblade wheel bearings. If they are a match, there should any problem with replacing the bearings. You do not require a special tool to replace bearings. However, using the assistance of a pro does no harm.
Which bearings are best to use in rollerblades? Ceramic bearings are the best with multiple benefits. They do not rust, are lightweight, durable, and self-cleaning. They can withstand acceleration capacity under the highest speeds. They provide a high spin rate with less heat friction which makes them simply the best for speed sports like rollerblading.
How can I keep my bearings working for long like new? The best practice to keep your skate bearings working for long as if they are new is to prevent extreme conditions like exposure to water, dust, grass, and debris. Water can make them rust quickly by diluting the lubricant. Grass, in turn, contains dust, dirt, and crud which may clog the bearings causing them to seize.