Somethings you may not know about the ABEC skateboard bearings
ABEC is a rating system that is used to show the quality of the skateboard bearings. However, these days, a lot of manufacturers deny using this specification for their bearing products and report that it is untrustworthy.
An application engineer of the bearings, Ron Foster has been training and working for many companies like Aircraft Bearing, NHBB/NMB and Alliance Bearing for more than 22 years. He also has been skateboarding for nearly 30 years.
With such experience, the 40-year-old Southern California guy would like to let us some helpful information and truths about the ABEC skateboard bearings. The quality of the bearings impacts a lot on how to ollie higher and better.
Foster established California Bearing and Supply - a skateboard bearings company. There is a complete in-house testing system for the bearings in this company, so they are able to process a wide range of precision tests, for example, sound testing, tolerance testing, smoothness testing, torque testing and so on. And all these tests are compliant with NASA specifications.
Like other enduring skateboarders who are always looking for an outstanding upgrade for their boards, Foster tries to get as much as possible the best materials which are available on the market. However, while seeking for the good bearings, he found that some manufacturers and marketers have trends to inflate their products.
He has processed plenty of the bearings testing which are marked as ABEC 5 or ABEC 7 in the ABEC ratings. These bearings were collected from different ways, from local skate stores, online stores, and even eBay and Amazon. According to his report, there are some types of bearings passing the tests, while others don't have the right results.
Taking advantage of his modern and advance testing facility, Foster has released a detailed report of the skateboard bearings via dozens of skateboard forums and communities. Because of this, he is considered as an outstanding debunker of the surrounding truths of the bearings.
As Foster stated, his company has carried out a dozen different tests on these bearings, they are tolerance testing, outer and inner ring testing, sound testing, width testing and especially, radial runout testing. Radial runout testing final testing is to determine whether the bearings meet the requirement of ABEC or not.
Another testing is sound testing which determines how loud the bearings are. Barden Smootherator is used to check the level of smoothness. Read related article: How to Get Better At Skateboarding – The Ultimate Guide.
Among many bearings that Foster has measured and tested, just about 60% of them are the same with the advertisement of the manufacturers about ACEC ratings. A lot of skateboard bearings originated from oversea manufacturers are just qualified ABEC 1 although they are marked ABEC 5 or ABEC 7.
In fact, ABEC specifications just mention such existed standards like the size of tolerance, the geometric accuracy to ensure they fit well with other parts of the skateboard. However, according to Foster, this rating is only one of the important criteria people need to take into consideration when they are looking for a good set of bearings to purchase.
So, what is the relationship between ABEC ratings and the quality of the bearings?
How sadly it is that ABEC doesn't reflect completely how good the bearings are. The specifications measure the exact dimension of the rings and focus on the ring radial runout's difference. The higher the ABEC ratings the bearings are, the more exact the ring's round is. But it is just one of various elements in the evaluation of the bearing.
After radial runout, tolerance is another element of the bearings you should pay attention to since the tolerance of the bearings is not the same with the tolerance of the truck axles.
The industrial accepted standard - ABEC - is applied not only for the bearings of the skateboard but also other all ball bearings too. Its specifications also affect some important features such as speed or torque. In case you don’t understand, read our detailed Tutorials Category.
In many countries, it is compulsory to print the exact information on the label of the products. But there are some countries which don't have strict regulations about this, you can print anything regardless of how the fact is. For instance, although the bearings are ABEC 1, you still can put ABEC 5, ABEC 7 or even ABEC 9 on the label. So, not all the things manufacturers say are true.
Disappointed with how fraudulent marketing the manufacturers do in the skateboard bearings market, Foster decided to introduce his new skateboard bearings brand which was named Rocket. Until now, from our point of view, Rocket, along with Bones and Ballistech, is the most reliable bearings brand.
If you want to skate for a long time with long-lasting bearings, we recommend you to find a 608Z standard bearings, come along with a set of grease lube and steel cage. The grease is in charge of making the bearings smooth and then you will waste time to have maintenance for years.
The skateboard, in this case, is not as fast as usual, but it will not a problem if you only skate sidewalks. A steel cage, on the other hand, is not suggested in pool or vert skateboarding. Let's use a non-metallic cage.