What is ABEC / Swiss / Ceramic Bearings
What is ABEC / Swiss / Ceramic Bearings

When it comes to selecting skateboard bearings,
choosing the best can be difficult. Now I know a lot of you know things about
bearings through marketing or shoptalk—that can be hype or hearsay. There are so many different features that
go into bearings that make one better than another that we need to know about. There are ABEC ratings which are really common,
there are now skate ratings, there are Swiss and ceramic, metal shields, rubber seals,
nylon retainers, metal cages—it just goes on and on. It makes this whole ordeal of choosing the
best bearing really difficult! And even when we think we’ve got the best
bearings, we also need to know how to properly maintain them to keep them clean and continue
to roll fast—so be sure to check out the video on how to clean bearings and video on
lubricants. Now, before we can put an end to all this
confusion and madness, we need to know a bit more about how bearings work and why we use
them, so let’s get started. In the early stages of the evolution of bearings,
ancient civilizations used a type of bearing in the form of log rollers to transport heavy
objects. Now, let’s fast forward to our modern time,
we can see how we’ve modified their design to arrive at the bearings we commonly use
today. Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? If we didn’t use bearings, our wheels would
have tremendous amounts of friction rubbing on the axle. With rolling-element ball bearings, we nearly
eliminate all of the friction. Let’s now get you familiar with the individual
parts that create a bearing. A searing holds a removable metal shield in
place on the outer race or ring. There’s also an inner race. There’re typically seven steal balls that
are spaced out by a nylon ball retainer or sometimes a metal cage. You’ll also find removable Buna rubber seals. Now that you know all the parts that go into
a bearing, we can now get into more detail starting with the ABEC rating scale and other
ratings. So, what is ABEC and what does it do? Maybe you’ve heard that it doesn’t apply
to skateboarding. Well, does it, or does it not apply to skateboarding? First off, ABEC was started by the American
Bearing Manufacturer’s Association to set standards for dimensions. Basically, what was happening in the past
was that manufacturers that needed a bearing would just make whatever sized bearing they
needed in any dimension. So eventually, this just created a huge mess
of different sizes and dimensions out there, so the ABMA created the annular bearing engineering
committee to set standards for dimensions. What they did is they told manufacturers who
wanted to make bearings or needed a bearing, “Here are the dimensions that you need for
precision bearings, and if you want to know the different ratings between them, here’s
a scale that rates them.” Now that we know what ABEC is, how does it
work? ABEC only rates tolerances. You’re probably thinking, “Well, that’s
great, what the hell are tolerances?” Now, before I go into tolerances, the word
‘rating’ is probably not the best word to use because ABEC doesn’t rate the bearings
from worst to best, it’s more of a grade or a class, but for the sake of conversation
and this video, I’ll continue to use the word “rating” because it’s already set
in place. Here are the dimensions and tolerances for
an ABEC 3 rated bearing. The outer diameter is 22mm. Those tiny numbers mean that the parts needs
to be no smaller than .0003” (three ten-thousandths) of an inch. The width is 7mm and the inside bore is 8mm;
here’s where ABEC really comes in and rates a bearing. We’re looking for the distance between the
balls and the inner ring and the outer ring, and that measurement gives a bearing its rating—and
other ABEC ratings have their own allowable tolerances. Now you know what tolerances are, what ABEC
is, and what it does, and how its only purpose is to set standards for sizes and dimensions. So, how does ABEC affect performance? Because that’s all we really care about,
right? Well, if ABEC only measures and rates tolerances,
can an ABEC 3 be better than an ABEC 7? Well, the answer is ‘yes,’ because ABEC
only measures tolerances. It does not rate speed, durability, ball sphericity,
torsional loads, axial loads, surface finishes, torque, lubricants—it only measures…I
think you’re getting it! So, the ABEC rating does not apply to skateboarding
because of the tolerances set in the ABEC scale, and what skaters do to bearings. But that’s not to say that tolerances are
not important to skateboarding, tolerances are very crucial to skateboarding, and more
so in longboard skateboard. Tolerances need to be adjusted outside of
the ABEC scale in order for bearings to really be able to handle what skateboarders do to
them. Just because we use bearings in skateboarding
doesn’t mean they’re actually made for skateboarding. So, some manufacturers have created their
own skate-specific rating. Now, although this is great for the industry,
we still don’t know what this means for consumers. We don’t know if they’ve changed the tolerances
to raceways, the steel grade or the hardness, or even the surface finish (which is really
important.) But the most important besides all of those
is probably the lubricant—but that’s another video. Anyway, as far as skate-ratings are concerned,
we consumers are still left in the dark; we still don’t know what they mean. You know now what ABEC is and how it doesn’t
apply to skateboarding, how important the right tolerances are for bearings, and that
a skate-rating can be vague or have no real explanation at all. Well, what’s good is that people are becoming
more aware that ABEC doesn’t apply to skateboarding, but because of this is there any wonder why
companies are coming out with more Swiss bearings? What is a Swiss bearing, and is there a misconception
that Swiss is better than everything else? Let’s find out. Right away you’re probably wondering, “What
does cheese have to do with bearings?” Well, we can actually learn a lot from cheese. Here, I’ve got cheddar and Swiss cheese. Now, you might’ve noticed right away that
this was Swiss cheese. Well, what makes it Swiss cheese? First off, the ingredients gives it its color
and taste, and while its being made it gets its world famous holes or bubbles in it, so
without a doubt, this is Swiss cheese. Now, cheddar cheese has different ingredients,
colors and taste that separate it from Swiss cheese. Well, let’s say I wanted to call it ‘Swiss
cheese.’ Would I be wrong? Yes, because Swiss cheese has to be made a
certain way in order to be called Swiss cheese. Now, let’s take a look at so-called Swiss
bearings. Does there have to be a specific material
to go into a bearing in order for it to be called ‘Swiss?’ Does it have to function a certain way in
order to be called ‘Swiss’? Are the rules set by an agency, the Swiss
government, which states that Swiss bearings have to be made to an exact specification? Is there something about Swiss bearings that
make them better than American or Chinese bearings? No. In my experience from doing all my testing
and researching, no bearing is better than one that is made in the USA, and Swiss bearings
are not a category like Swiss cheese, and are not of a higher ABEC rating than all other
bearings. You know, the word ‘Swiss’ for some reason
has given the skateboard community the impression that Swiss bearings are superior to all other
bearings, and that’s just not true. Swiss is basically a name to get you, the
consumer, to buy these bearings. It doesn’t matter where a bearing is made
that makes it better. A Chinese bearing can easily be better than
a Swiss bearing. What makes a bearing better than another is
the quality of the material and the manufacturing process. Before I get into what a good bearing is,
I should briefly talk about ceramic bearings. What is the value of a ceramic material over
steel? Well, ceramic doesn’t rust, it can withstand
higher temperatures, it’s lighter than steel and it’s harder than some steel grades. So, is there an advantage to having ceramic
balls over steel balls? Well, I should first mention that ceramic
bearings are actually hybrid bearings, meaning that the balls are ceramic, but the inner
and outer rings are still steel, which means that ceramic bearings can rust. Now, ceramic balls can surely withstand higher
temperatures, but steel balls never get hot enough to deform or affect performance. Yes, ceramic balls are lighter than steel
balls, but the weight difference is so minimal that you won’t ever notice. I should mention that ceramic material is
more brittle than steel which means it can crack, chip, and break. Now, ceramic balls are harder than some steel
balls, but not all—here’s a compression test we did to prove it:
What we used are two pieces of hardened tool steel with little divots to hold the ball
and pressed them in a psi press—if you look closely, you can see this commonly found steel
ball crack. This ball failed at barely under 8,000lbs. Now, here is the top of the line ceramic ball
that failed at about 8,200lbs. You can’t see much happening here with this
American made-ball, but we were able to get the press up to 22,000lbs before the ball
failed. As you can see, ceramic balls are not harder
than steel balls and don’t really have an advantage over steel, if any. You also know what ABEC is and how important
tolerances are, and that Swiss is basically just a name and not better than all other
bearings. So now, let’s look into more detail about
bearings and see what makes one bearing better than another. Here we have three different types of covers
or closures: a rubber seal, a non-removable metal shield, and a removable metal shield. Despite what a lot of people believe, removing
any of these does not make a bearing faster—because one side of the bearing faces inside the wheel,
bearing brands probably figured it wouldn’t hurt the bearing to have one seal or shield. They can save money by having only one seal
or shield on the bearing, plus they can save money on machining by only machining one side
of the outer ring to hold the cover. Whatever the reason, lubricants can still
escape out of the bearing which can ruin the bearings performance. Contaminants like dirt and moisture can find
their way into a bearing because the inner bore of the inner ring does not fit tight
on the axle. I should also mention that very minimal amounts
of lubricants or contaminants can enter or escape between the inner ring and the cover. Now you can see how important seals and shields
are. Another important attribute to be aware is
how well a bearing can handle axial and torsional loads. While maneuvering a skateboard, bearings experience
these loads and it can balance the balls in raceways. What happens is that as the wheels move, the
balls can end up riding on the raceway and if the loads are big enough, the balls and
raceways can get scratched or indented. To see if a bearing can handle axial or torsional
loads, we need to look at raceway depths. If you look closely, you can see that these
two have slightly deeper raceways compared to the others. Deeper raceways with good tolerances make
a bearing more solid, allowing the bearing to operate more efficiently. A shallow raceway does not cause less friction
because a balls footprint remains the same no matter where it touches in the raceway. Although deeper raceways are better than skating,
we can’t assume that bearings that have them will function optimally because we still
have to consider other important factors like steel grade, material hardness, polishing
and tolerances. Speaking of polishing, you can actually see
the different degrees of surface finishes on the raceways. Well-polished balls and raceways create smoother
and harder contact surfaces. This can result in higher achievable speeds,
but again, other factors still need to apply in order for a well-polished ball to operate
optimally. These are just some of the things that can
make any bearing better than another—even better than ceramic, Swiss, or ABEC 9 rated
bearings. Now you know the difference between Swiss,
ceramic, and ABEC rated bearings and how one bearing can be better than another. From our testing and researching, our findings
show that American steel-ball bearings and far and away the best. What you probably are not aware of is how
much of an effect trucks, wheels, and bearing spaces have on bearing performance. So, be sure to check out the video on bearing

100 thoughts on “What is ABEC / Swiss / Ceramic Bearings”

  1. Awèšømê máñ says:

    u guys want the #1 bearings here it is (Andale bearings)

  2. Samuel Garcia says:

    you are smart in things in skateboards

  3. Zach Chendra says:

    Anyone count how many times he said Swiss and Swiss cheese?

  4. Jan Akk says:

    Just one thing needed to be said. Ceramic balls are harder than steel balls. As an engineering i hate it when people mess these up. That's why it's a ceramic. Just like cast iron is harder than many other steel sorts. Would i skate cast iron? Ofcourse not because the hardness makes it brittle. But the more a moatrial is plastic (the plasticity) the more it will deform under pressure. Add a little heat with it and it deforms more. That's like riding your bike with a flat tire. This is the theory. I do not know what this affect would mean for their difference. You appointed that spacer size and the angles are important, i follow that. Way more important than ceramic vs steel bearing. (I would still choose steelbecause of price and less chance of chipping)

  5. Samantha says:

    "no better bearing than one made in the USA"

    uh huh, little bit of "murrica" working its way in there.

  6. Guitar Tube says:

    Wow man…great video. I learned a lot. Thanks.

  7. Eddie Puah says:

    saw this video after buying bones super red. should've opted for oust. damn impulse purchase.

  8. Kamiel Carelsbergh says:

    But wicht bearing is NOw the best for longboarders? Haha

  9. Ashraf Rogal says:

    You say American bearings are best, but the hardness doesn't make it faster, in fact I recently switched from abec 11 to bones reds, and don't even try to say the abec 11 are better, because the bones reds spin for longer and way faster, and don't even say "OH THAT DEPENDS ON MAINTAINENCE" because no it doesn't I just know for a fact witch hone was faster cuz I'm not retarded

  10. Jack Heather says:

    Wow, testing hardness with a compression test…

  11. casco gaming says:

    iv ridden pretty much every type of bearing and my favorite by far is bones swiss ceramics not only are they high quality but if you take care of them they are by far the best

  12. Tamás says:

    Can I replace my bearings with cheese?

  13. Patrick Habs says:

    that haircut tho … went from long to short in mi Utes haha

  14. litoweapon1983 says:

    dude! ur the smartest sk8er I know…

  15. 「Kingom Come」 says:

    608z bearings are the worst

  16. Krundu Megundu says:

    a chinese bearing cant be better then a swiss one

  17. Haassan1 says:

    I like the vids, but sometimes I get the feelin he thinks the viewers are fakkin idiots.

  18. Alan Ibarra says:

    Can you use the same bearing on both a longboard and a skateboard.

  19. Hypernova says:

    That hydraulic press section was so rushed through… really suspicious. The ceramic ball may shatter at 8,000lbs of pressure, but until it shatters, it will not deform. A steel ball may not crack until 20,000lbs of pressure, but it MIGHT DEFORM long, long, long before it cracks. So really kinda suspect conclusions drawn here.

    Don't like it. No sir.

  20. Samuel Vaz says:

    You have really nice videos but that OUST product placement is trash

  21. John Cullen says:

    Would love this guy to test Twincam bearings against Oust. Twincam seem unknown in the skateboard world, but are amongst the most highly used bearings in inline skating, they have been around for decades. Used and rebadged by all the best inline skate companies. They might be cheap and made in China, but there must be something good about them, forum reviews are great. After all a 608 is a 608. Love to hear if any skateboarders use ILQ9 types (6-ball)… There needs to be a video about how many balls a bearing should have. From what I've found. More balls are stronger and better for cornering speed, slalom and axial loads (Qube 8-ball) used for derby. 6 balls are for speed and down the line roll. (ILQ9 and Swiss 6) Love to hear back from anyone who actually has something to say about this. All I can make out is that 7-ball bearings are the most common and probably the easiest type for manufacturers to fleece you so they can profit. We dont need more bearing companies, just consistency.

  22. Leon says:

    Help? So basically I have abec 5 bearings they spin for around 12 secs after lube, but they ride well will it help to get bones reds / will it improve the cruising or not a big difference? Plz help meh am n00b

  23. ichiebansot says:

    Wow your right about Abec 3's could be better than Abec 7's. I have a stock Kryptonics Classic with fully broken in Abec 1's with some lube and they were better than my Abec 7's on my Big 5 longboard which was still good.

  24. Yeng Thao says:

    How many times did he say swiss lol

  25. sam n says:

    Whats your prefered wheel and bearing spacer that have the best tolerances.

  26. NickTheSickDick says:

    I think you may be confusing the strength of a material with hardness.Just because a something is harder doesn't mean that they can take heavier loads,often it is the other way around.It really doesn't matter in this context,just saying.

  27. zenjoks says:

    When comparing the ceramic and mettal balls, ceramic wins because need to watch how big pressure can handle bearing ball before starts deformation of the ball.

  28. Pedro Nogueira says:

    You sir, is accumulating a LOT of good karma with your videos. Bringing out knowledge to the would is the most noble attitude a human can do.

    You earned my respect, and subscription.

  29. hudson555x says:

    Was looking for general information on skateboard bearings. Well covered any questions I had about bearings. Also watched the other video on how to clean bearings. I've seen the acetone/alcohol vids on those, and always thought those were a bit harsh. Not a skateboarder, but looking to make fidget toys with the bearings, and everyone and their brother uses skateboard bearings, lol. Thanks for the excellent information.

  30. Nolan Ritter says:

    Any input is helpful from anyone, bronsons g3? or oust moc 5? I don't think m0c 7 or 9 matters really. But my friend said bronsons g3 are the best but I'm wanting to be sure before I buy them.

  31. Jesse Erwin says:

    Very informative.

  32. jeffrey richards says:

    I need new bearings give me the super Swiss and the Swiss

  33. Sanjay Venkatesh says:

    Love your videos! They are always so informational and backed up with facts, one can really learn a lot

  34. Bob Saget says:

    Im a casual scrub who likes pennyboarding, which one is the best for pennyboards

  35. RustyNuggets says:

    Your notion on the ceramic bearings needs a bit more research my friend.

  36. Mansur estes says:

    ok great but which bearings are good??

  37. DarkBoy says:

    is abec 5 bearings are good for skating ¿????

  38. DarkBoy says:

    plzzz answer

  39. wowy tyler says:

    what do I do if the hissing sound still present after lubeing?

  40. The Gee-tah Guy says:

    Do you recommend lubrication for a sesaled ABEC5 hybrid bearing going in a high power electric scooter? If so, what lubricant; oil, grease, teflon, nothing?

  41. shovelhood says:

    About rust — In the discussion of steel vs ceramic bearings, you don't talk about this enough. There are bearings whose balls AND races are made of ceramic. If you live somewhere super rainy, you might have to go out when the ground is wet if you ever want to get some skating in. Having a rust-proof bearings seems like a major advantage then. And does it matter whether the steel bearings can withstand greater force? How much force actually gets put on a bearing during normal skating?

  42. Nicholas James says:

    nice, pretty awesome vid, great information. my only question would be any difference between skateboarding and inline hockey. would be insane to see some of the science behind the forces behind bearings while turning sharply or crossing over. so far, the Swiss le 608 bearings have been excellent for a 240lb guy. would cheaper/different bearing fail? who knows

  43. Od od says:

    bla bla bla

  44. David Pye says:


  45. Flakka Stunts says:

    I switched up all my seals so I have 8 different bearing colors

  46. Ha Lin says:

    Great Video well explained!If u guys are looking for any kind of bearings Swiss/USA/Chinese or whatever just contact with me:[email protected]

  47. garbagetroll69 says:

    Lol he said balls

  48. rizzo905 says:

    i promise you ceramic bearings are the best in any situation.

  49. Matthew Abt says:

    I don't run bearing spacers ,is this safe? , will they fly apart with out the spacer or is this okay ?

  50. James Sager Jr says:

    Hello I need a skate size bearing for a non skate purpose. But need a side load bearing but races are not important. Need it to spin freely and not bind up. Can you help. Thanks

  51. M H S says:

    thank you sooooooo much i hope you will do another videos👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  52. Instrumental - Ward says:

    Hahahahaha "Well that's great, what the hell are tolerances?" MY exact words!!! WHAT?????

  53. Sonic Monk3y says:

    Can I have one of those sets if bearings

  54. animal chin says:

    make rat vision make great again

  55. Michael njoku says:

    every skater needs to see this video

  56. That Aussie Bloke says:

    all i wanted to know was what type is faster waste of time

  57. josephine mira says:

    bro you got lots of bearings!!!!!!! please gimme some!!!!!

  58. Mike G says:

    looks like my next setup isn't going to have bearings.. after watching these videos i feel like I'm better off without them

  59. Stephen Ulloa says:

    excellent video. very informative 👍

  60. soup gang says:

    I have shakejunt lowriders, I was recommended them by alot of people and I have no idea if they are good for speed or not

  61. SpanishLessons101 says:

    Great video! Thanks for taking the time to make this.

  62. Laire Lightner says:

    bill nye the skateboard guy!!!!!!

  63. Rick springfield says:

    Money decides what bearing you're gonna buy.

  64. Nino Saglia says:

    I don't think the test gave good context to a real life situation. The metal bearings will deform before they fail. Ceramic bearings won't deform but will fail at pressures beyond the elastic limit of most steel balls.

  65. Fritzter Bautista says:

    Pls comment/answer
    What abec bearings is the best?
    A. Abec 5
    B. Abec 7
    C. Abec 9

  66. Stumpy says:

    Without a doubt the best info I've found on you tube. I have 1 wheel on my brand new long board that when spun doesn't gradually slow but stops and backs up about a 64th of an inch. what the? Now I know why, thanks you've helped me more in 10 minutes than everything I've been watching the last two weeks. Sub, like, share, and fave !!!!

  67. Craig featherstone says:

    Very informative! thanks

  68. Lenx says:

    Aren't swiss bearing usually made with more precision than other types? They aren't called swiss because they are made in switzerland, but because of the manufacturing process itself. I remember seeing a video from Bones explaining that they use higher precision with their swiss bearings, but I can't seem to find it now. I can't speak for other brands, but I don't think Bones is lying. I've skated lots of bearings and swiss has always lasted me the longest and rolled the smoothest/fastest even after prolongued use.

  69. Fluid Mosaic says:

    That ain’t no cheddar 😜

  70. Dane Pacheco says:

    Your from sum 41

  71. HaNooo says:

    Wow is this a detailed and professional explanation. Unheard of on YouTube. Amazing

  72. V says:


  73. The Whizkid says:

    Under certain circumstances ceramic has less rolling friction…. ceramic bearings are supposed to be faster. but considering what you wanna do with your board, faster isnt always better.
    And lower tolerances usually also mean decreased movement of the single parts which translates into a longer lifetime.
    The video contains may very correct things… but that the best bearings come from the usa… I think this ain´t true, but probably the american market is very saturated and foreign brands not so much in the buyers focus. But thats ok.

  74. Android X says:

    how are those hardballs from lucky

  75. Christiaan Dykstra says:


  76. Daniel Zaman says:

    ur like bill nye for skateboards this was nostalgic to watch

  77. Nurul Abdul says:

    Thank you for such details information! ✌

  78. Bart Casto says:

    Never will ride anything but swiss 6 dont care what any one says , I'm still faster then them at the park.

  79. chris young says:

    This is a highly technical video that covers all the bases for you to make your own educated conclusions on your upcoming bearing choice. Great job, thanks for all the info even if this vid is almost 7 years old.

  80. pariocean chicago says:

    And what are the american bearings brands??????

  81. Y’all hear sumn? says:

    To anyone new to skating and looking for bearings just go with reds for fucks sake it’s 17$ and I still have mine from 6 months ago and cleaned them only twice and lube them regularly at least once a week and are great if you don’t like them they’re 17$ not that big of a deal plus if your starting out it they are fine I will always rock reds

  82. Andre Dre says:


  83. Alvaro Imizcoz Garcia says:

    Actually Swiss bearings are lubricated with cheese

  84. Bryan Johnson says:

    What about Swiss 6? 6 ball bearings?

  85. RiiXx 86 says:

    Awesome review! Thank you Teacher!

  86. daniel244 says:

    they called swiss because its made in switzerland

  87. Ivan Cupnoodles says:

    Just buy bones red

  88. krishnan srinivasan says:

    Nice & Thanks 🙂

  89. Zotya Herbán says:

    Well i just heard the world balls more times than on a gay orgy

  90. Ravi Talele says:

    The bearings quality depends on the quality of the base material, the heat treatment given to the parts and the dimensional accuracy. All these decide how good a bearing is. Sweden is known to be leaders in good quality bearing material

  91. CallMeSystem says:

    The demonstration in the beginning is physically impossible how the statue is rolling with the logs irl it should just roll off of the logs but alas

  92. chromatic1976 says:

    ceramic bearings are much smoother than steel, that is the main advantage of them, smoother, quieter, faster

  93. Ourtour FWesk says:

    I think he is a moron.

  94. Zack Meers says:

    How much does Oust pay you?

  95. Dario Di Donato says:

    thank you ….every informativ and entertaining!

  96. Logan Marshall says:

    Dude, you're smart and awsome! Love your channel!

  97. Darryl Hetherington says:

    Very educational video. American made is best – Did you know that 53,770 American men women and children were shot and killed in America in 2015? America does it best : ) Be kind to each other …

  98. Jay Chris says:

    Skilled it. Nice job

  99. TMBD says:

    have you tested skf bearings they are the best

  100. cipiripper says:

    This guy is the best.

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