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Roller skate bearings.

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Robin Graham12/02/2021 23:24:34
865 forum posts
258 photos

My daughter, locked down and bored in her flat, has bought herself some eye-wateringly expensive roller skates. For permitted exercise.

You don't just buy skates these days - you specify the boot, the sole-plate, the wheels, and - most importantly - the wheel bearings. We got talking about this and she said she'd gone for ABEC 7 with the idea of upgrading to ABEC 9 or 11 as her skills developed.

I think it's ridiculous to pay the price (apparently £200+ for a set of 16) for 'special skate bearings'. Can they really be that much better than industry standard bearings? I'm skeptical - I smell marketing- but maybe I'm wrong.

Something to amuse:

Bicycle Skates

I may have to make a pair.




Edited By Robin Graham on 12/02/2021 23:37:40

AJW12/02/2021 23:48:03
359 forum posts
135 photos

Madness! I needed some wheels to mount on a chassis to move a 1940 JAP engine around and found a set of 4 skateboard wheels with 8 abec 7 ball races including post for just over a tenner!

Most impressed with the wheels and bearings, don't know how they can make them for that.

Perhaps the upgraded bearings are to a tighter tolerance and run smoother? can't imagine it can make that much difference.


Pete.12/02/2021 23:55:14
625 forum posts
102 photos

A quick Google reveals all bearings are made to an ABEC rating, so the cheap bearings you buy on ebay should at least be an ABEC 1 at the lowest (provided they haven't been made in a Chinese factory that doesn't make things to any spec).

The consensus seems to be it's marketing BS, maybe an email to a reputable bearing supplier to ask what rating their high end bearings of the same size are, and see what the prices are to compare with the fancy skate bearings.

Pete.12/02/2021 23:58:34
625 forum posts
102 photos
Posted by AJW on 12/02/2021 23:48:03

Perhaps the upgraded bearings are to a tighter tolerance and run smoother? can't imagine it can make that much difference.


What I just read said the ABEC rating is the tolerance, so providing bought from a reputable source, should be no different.

duncan webster13/02/2021 00:09:26
3447 forum posts
63 photos

#2 son used to be into roller Derby. Mayhem on wheels. He used cheapo bearings, they seemed to stand up to a real hammering, much worse than normal skating. When I next see him I'll get more info but could be a while with the dreaded covid

Danny M2Z13/02/2021 00:23:12
936 forum posts
1 photos

The late Gordon Burford once made a model engine that he named The Skateboard Special.

His comment at the time was that roller skate bearings were of decent quality and very cheap due to their abundance, so that solved the problem of some of the most expensive bought in components.

Nigel Graham 213/02/2021 00:30:12
1666 forum posts
20 photos

I won't tell my arc-welder, big tool-box and fret-sawing machine. It'll make 'em jealous, being on just those little boards on castors from Aldi / Lidl / Wilko...

Paul Lousick13/02/2021 00:45:02
1838 forum posts
659 photos

Justifying the expense of quality bearings will depend on your skill level. The better ones will have no benefit if you are leaning and a waste of money. Different if you are a skilled skater in a competition. My son was a skate board rider and used normal bearings (not the real cheap ones) and they stood up to the torture that they received going over jumps, etc. Spending a bit more on good, comfortable boots is a justified.

Shop around If you really want the better bearings. Don't buy from the skate suppliers,go to a beaing supply company instead. prices at the skate suppliers are inflated.

I have a friend that used to work for SKF bearings who told me that they sold the same bearing at different prices, depending on who you were. The list price was similar throuout the industry but difefrent discounts were given. A new, unknown customer paid full price or given a 5-10% discount wereas a regular customer got a 50% or more discount. The skate shop will be charging full price, so go to the bearing supplier and push for their best offer.


pgk pgk13/02/2021 06:41:02
2293 forum posts
293 photos

Some 25 yrs ago I had a go at in-line skating. My problem was finding size 14 skates. The first cheapo pair were notchy and slow and stable for a beginner. I then found a US seller and invested in their top of the line skates which were amazing but came with a warning not to exceed 80mph (really).

The darn things were so slick that on Brighton promenade I could push off hard and glide almost 100 yards but equally a gentle downslope put this beginner to speeds that risked losing control. it's just as well that assorted safety pads are available for the many many tumbles I took trying to get competent. A pal and I skated from Shoreham to Brighton marina and back one day and it didn't take that long considering it's was a 15 mile round trip and several face plants on my part....

The same US Co advertised off-road skates with much larger wheels. They used pics of some guy hurtling down a rock strewn mountain-side on the things - incredible....


not done it yet13/02/2021 06:46:47
6270 forum posts
20 photos

What I just read said the ABEC rating is the tolerance, so providing bought from a reputable source, should be no different.

I suppose if the rating is limited to dimensional tolerances and does not specify parameters (such as longevity), bearings can be close tolerance at ‘birth’ but may not remain so for very long. Just being devil’s advocate here.🙂

JasonB13/02/2021 07:45:22
21300 forum posts
2419 photos
1 articles

Not sure where you got your £200 from but plenty of packs of eight EBEC 11 bearings for £20 or so?

If skaters are anything like the cyclists who swap out the jockey wheel bearings for ceramic ones then they are happy to spend a lot to save 1/2watt per hour! Worse are the large dia jockey wheel which saves fractions of a watt in not flexing the chain quite so much around a smaller wheel.

Michael Gilligan13/02/2021 09:08:57
18704 forum posts
915 photos

A casual browse, this morning, found this set [which is getting close to Robin’s price] : **LINK**

... but I find this claimed advantage questionable


When you get dirt into your Ceramic Reds, the ceramic balls will help to re-polish the steel races flat again, providing a self-healing benefit because ceramic balls are so much harder than steel.



Tony Pratt 113/02/2021 09:18:01
1643 forum posts
8 photos

You even get better acceleration as the ceramic balls are lighter, what utter BS!sad


Brian G13/02/2021 09:48:50
776 forum posts
34 photos

Starting to sound like cycling, fishing, tennis golf or even tools. I suspect he best would still be in a different class to the rest even without the largely psychological advantages of premium kit.

Brian G

John Haine13/02/2021 09:53:01
4096 forum posts
241 photos

I went into this when my son was very into skateboarding. It was very hard to persuade him that a pack of 8mm 230ZZ (I think?) bearings from ARC was just as good as anything at inflated prices from the skate shop.

Bazyle13/02/2021 09:56:43
5998 forum posts
220 photos

Is it really any different from the beginners with money who take up 'lathing' to make some bit of motorbike and go right in with an M300 which most model engineers only dream about, then have so little mechanical nouce they ask how to turn it on.
A coule of years ago the in thing seemed to be getting a full CNC mill to make golf putters.

Pete White13/02/2021 09:57:56
141 forum posts
16 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 13/02/2021 09:08:57:

I think the answer is in the name, you would have to be one to pay their prices. lol

I used 3 of those those cheapo bearings top and bottom on my bandsaw guides, side and end thrust and am amazed how long they have lasted with the loading that they have taken.

Chuck Taper13/02/2021 10:03:00
30 forum posts
1 photos

The question raised for me (with reference to the above video) is that when cycle skating is it better to have the wheel inside or outside the leg. Surely the inside form factor is asking for trouble. I realised this is probably a controversial issue but....enquiring minds etc


Oven Man13/02/2021 10:16:48
149 forum posts
22 photos

At the other end of the spectrum it amazes me just how it is possible to make bearings so cheaply. I have just bought a pack of 8 skateboard bearings 608ZZ for less than 40 pence each. My application doesn't warrant anything super douper but these are perfectly adequate for the 3D printing filament spool holder I am building.


SillyOldDuffer13/02/2021 10:27:19
7473 forum posts
1648 photos

Much of this is psychology. Placebo effect is powerful and the very best is reassuringly expensive. Some truth in it because top-end technology is costly, but whether the top-end is worth paying for is much more dubious.

However, we feel better buying 'quality', even when we have no idea what we mean by the word. A tiny edge often makes the difference between winning and losing in top-end competition, and the edge might be lost if the competitor is even slightly unsure of his equipment. At that level it's worth paying extra for sooper-dooper bearings, but we would clearly be daft wasting them on an cheapo Bandsaw!

Buying over the top roller-skates may be laughable, but surely we see exactly the same behaviour on this forum: chaps rushing to buy expensive measuring kit they don't need, faith in battered second-hand gear because it has a 'quality' brand-name, or believing industrial best practice is essential to hobby success. And the opposite: 'expurts' know nothing, H&S is a waste of time, blokes in offices are fools, and old methods work better than new ones. Beware belief and opinion, they are a pair of silly fibbers!

In the first instance Engineers must make evidence based decisions, but we have to admit the Customer is always right. A product's purpose may making someone happy, not providing the most economic answer. If a hi-fi aficionado believes gold-plated speaker wire makes Jazz sound better, why not feed our children by making him what he wants? And if applying a massive mark-up to our dodgy cable 'proves' it's superb, who are we to disagree? Everyone is happy - his musical experience is enhanced because he believes it sounds better, and we've earned a crust.


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