Skate Finder

About Roller Skate Bearings

Roller skate bearings are available in a choice of two INSIDE DIAMETERS (ID) (it's the part of the bearing that fits on to the axle). The ID (inside diameter) of a bearing is called by different names:

For "SMALL" AXLES - found on indoor quad (conventional) skates almost exclusively: Terms are: -- "9/32 inch" - "7 mm" - "Number 607" - "Number 37". Most quad skates produced in the US offer this axle size as standard, as do most of the "higher end" European models. The 7mm bearing was used exclusively in roller skates from the early 1930s through the early 1970s.

For "LARGE" AXLES - available on the majority of indoor quad skates and almost exclusively for inlines. Terms are: "5/16nch" - "8 mm" - "Number 608" - "Number 38" - "Oversized" - "Outdoor". Several quad skates produced in the US offer this axle size. ALL skates, quad or inlines, offer this axle size when produced in the Pacific Rim.

The 8mm bearing, which now dominates the market in both Quad and Inline Skate equipment, gained the favor of skate makers in the early 1970s. With the popularity of outdoor quad skating came a demand for stronger axles that would tolerate rougher terrain. The demand was met most economically by simply increasing the axle's outer diameter (making it thicker) rather than adding higher priced alloys or more expensive hardening processes in the manufacturing of axles. The matching bearings (8mm) were already in plentiful supply and were quickly becoming standard in other machining industries (such as vacuum cleaners), thus reducing the bearing prices of completed skates as well! The timing couldn't have been better to keep the costs of skating down! It was a fortunate conincidence!

ABEC RATINGS - The ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Council) rating system is neither a mandatory testing method for manufactured bearings, nor is the claimed rating subject to certification or verified by any regulating agency as being true!

In short, ABEC ratings can be misleading. So is the apparent international recognition of the "Council" (Please see ISO and DIN agencies by searching the Internet through those keywords). Be careful when choosing the bearings that are best for you. Feel free to call us at 1.877.277.2346 to find the best bearing for you. We'd be happy to discuss it with you.

Although NO materials criteria are specified by the ABEC, the rating system is based on the old (Tried and True) level of "noise" or "rumble" detected at higher revolutions in the testing procedure. The logic in this testing procedure is that if the bearing can be "heard" then the noise is an expression of "friction". Friction then, impedes the free rotation of the bearing. The more the noise heard from a spinning bearing, the LOWER the rating. The less noise heard from a high-speed test bearing, the HIGHER the rating. ABEC ratings are 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9.

WHAT TO SELECT? - A TRUE ABEC 1 or 3 rating satisfies the skating requirements of well over 85% of all skaters - inline or quad. An ABEC-5 rating satisfies all high achievers in artisic free-style and dance skaters. ABEC 5 or 7 should be considered for the accomplished speed skater or figure skater. ABEC 9 bearings in a pair of skates - inline or quad - are normally excessive for the application. It is important to understand that perfectly great bearings are not required to have an ABEC rating and that pure junk bearings can post an ABEC rating and never have the truth of it challenged. Stick with products that are proven performers!

LUBRICANTS - The higher ABEC rating usually brings a higher price. The highest ABEC rating usually offered to skaters is ABEC 7 and bearings of this high grade can be expected to sell in the $150 per set range. However, ungraded "greased" bearings (such as Hartford bearings) can easily outlive an "oiled" ABEC 3! Grease packed bearings require little maintenance for extremely long periods of time. Oiled bearings require frequent cleaning and light lubrication. Grease packed bearings roll slowly, last longer, and need less attention. Oiled bearings out-spin grease-packed bearings of identical characteristics, are subject to failure caused by foreign material, and need more frequent maintenance to insure good performance.

We have a large selection of bearings to choose from ranging from ABEC 1 to Ceramic and Swiss. Please contact us and we'll help you find the best bearing to suit your needs.
Thank you!