Every seamless skateboard ride rests on the smallest components. That means every part installed on our skateboards is pivotal to how well we’ll perform.
We know the deck provides a stable platform, the trucks hold the skateboard’s parts, and the wheels keep us rolling. But besides these, we also have bearings that decide the precision of our skating.
Today, we will learn about ceramic VS steel skateboard bearings, the most common and widely used wheel core types. Here, we will see which performs better and lasts longer.
Table of Contents
- Characteristics of Bearings on a Skateboard
- 1. Parts
- 2. ABEC Ratings
- 3. Bearing material
- Differences Between Steel and Ceramic Bearings
- 1. Moisture resistance
- 2. Durability
- 3. Overheating
- 4. Speed
- 5. Pros and cons
- 6. Cost
- Which is Better?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Characteristics of Bearings on a Skateboard
Before we decide which is better, ceramic bearings VS steel, let us first see what aspects make up these skateboard wheel parts.
Bearings are not a single solid object stuck into a wheel’s center. They also have parts. The first is the shields. These are thin, rounded discs protecting the bearings against dust, dirt, and grime build-up.
Remove the shields, and we will find the balls and retainers. The balls are tiny spheres that run inside the bearing. But they don’t spin irregularly.
Instead, each bearing has a retainer to keep the balls spaced evenly, thus helping ensure a smooth roll.
Ultimately, the casing, better called inner and outer races, house the bearing’s parts. The races also serve as the bearing walls.
2. ABEC Ratings
The ABEC labels printed on skateboard bearings speak about their speed, precision, quality, and overall performance. Here is a short guide.
- ABEC 1 – Cheap but has the slightest precision.
- ABEC 3 – Often present in cheap skateboards but not fast or smooth.
- ABEC 5 – More acceptable speed for beginners, slightly costly, but reasonable.
- ABEC 7 – More than decent in smoothness but a bit pricey.
- ABEC 9 – Fastest skateboard bearings suited for downhill skating and cruising.
Note: While ABEC 7 and ABEC 9 bearings are fast, their speeds can also affect their durability. Riders’ experience reveals these wheel cores can get damaged too quickly under speedy rides.
3. Bearing material
We now know about the skateboard bearing’s parts and ABEC ratings. So, what are skateboard bearings made of?
Steel bearings are widely accepted wheel cores for their balanced wear resistance and price.
Quality bearings of this type exhibit enough speed and durability. Of course, it would be a different story if the brand or manufacturing company used substandard raw steel.
From the insides to the exteriors, these bearings come from a compound called silicon nitride.
Although coming from non-alloy materials, ceramic bearings are exceptionally durable, though less than steel. What makes them stand out is if other wheel core types overheat, these do not.
Hence, they can tolerate high-speed skating.
Differences Between Steel and Ceramic Bearings
How we define ceramic and steel bearings is mainly about their primary materials. And yet, there’s more to that. Let’s learn more about these wheel cores through their salient differences.
1. Moisture resistance
Yes, skateboarding is an outdoor sport we do when it’s mostly sunny. While some skaters still prefer to skate in wet weather, doing so has consequences, especially when using steel bearings.
Steel bearings have less liquid or moisture resistance, making them more prone to rusting and gradual wearout. The bright spot about ceramic wheel cores is that they don’t suffer as much from such circumstances.
So, we may be better off with ceramic skateboard bearings when riding in the rain.
Although many consider ceramic bearings the more durable type, both skateboard bearings have vulnerabilities.
Do steel bearings last longer than ceramic? A steel bearing, as mentioned, can have its life shortened because of its exposure to water and moisture. But it handles vertical forces better than ceramic.
Ceramic bearings longboard users are fast, but they have to worry more about their bearings breaking after high impact hits them. And such a thing often happens when skaters land on their boards from exceptional heights.
No engines, but overheating? Yes!
Skateboard bearings can overheat, but such instances only happen to steel ones. Overheating does not occur in ceramic wheel cores. What are the benefits?
First, ceramic bearings are less likely to expand. Subsequently, they won’t produce much friction to slow down the skateboard.
How faster are ceramic vs steel bearings? Not that much. Studies show it’s only faster by around 20 to 40 percent.
However, we want to emphasize that running momentum is also significant. And such an aspect is better with ceramic bearings, like ABEC 9 ceramic bearings, for example. These wheel cores retain speed better than steel. Hence, skaters might have to push their boards a bit less frequently with these bearings.
5. Pros and cons
Steel and ceramic bearings have their upsides and drawbacks. Let’s assess them below.
|Steel bearings||Ceramic bearings|
It’s easy to say that ceramic bearings are the most expensive, according to the sentiments of several skaters. But we would not know if they fit our budget until we checked them.
Here’s a short price list of steel and ceramic skateboard bearings.
- TwoLions Full Steel Pre-Lubricated 608 Bearings – $11.98
- Bones® REDS® Skateboard Bearings -$17.95
- Zealous Bearings for Skateboards and Longboards – $22.94
- Oldboy Ceramic Skateboard Bearings – $47.00
- Bones Ceramic Bearings Reds – $88.95
- Bones Swiss Ceramic Skateboard Bearings – $150.95
Which is Better?
Perhaps, the good thing about steel and ceramic bearings is choosing either one will yield exceptional benefits surely.
Steel bearings are excellent for skaters on a budget. However, going for this bearing entails some risks when skating in rainy weather. Also, they are more prone to overheating.
On the other hand, if budget isn’t a constraint and you’re not into landing tricks from extremely tall places, ceramic bearings are better overall. They’re light, quiet, and faster than steel.
Performance-wise, they can retain speed longer. And most of all, they are less vulnerable to water and moisture damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth getting ceramic bearings?
It depends on what you value. If you do a lot of tricks like flips, ceramic inline skate bearings are not worth it.
But if your main concern is moving as fast as possible, ceramic types will deliver in that regard.
Tips for choosing the appropriate bearings for you
Given the exceptionally unique advantages of steel and ceramic bearings, how do we choose the best for our skateboard? Consider the following tips.
- Know your preferred skating style – Skateboard bearings have weight and impact limitations. For example, ceramic bearings are not the best when jumping high.
- How much can you spend? – With the price differences among skateboard bearings, it’s pretty easy to spot which set suits the budget. However, times might call for you to spend more to get a quality bearing.
- Skating conditions – As mentioned, steel bearings are vulnerable when ridden during rainy weather. Also, they have overheating tendencies. So, we should also consider these aspects.
Are there other types of skateboard bearings?
Are there bearings besides ceramic and steel? Yes! The third type we might want to know about is titanium bearings.
These bearings have the core of the steel type. However, manufacturers add a titanium coating on the exteriors.
Beneficially, the bearings get added protection from rust. Also, titanium wheel cores suffer less friction. But if there’s one thing we will love about titanium wheel cores, it’s their improved durability.
They last longer and withstand more impact than steel bearings. Hence, we can skate more and better with them.
Do you want to skate smoothly? Are you into thrilling skateboard stunts involving gigantic stair leaps? These are only a few questions you should ask yourself before buying skateboard bearings. This way, you will know what bearings are best for skateboards.
Now that we know the differences between ceramic VS steel skateboard bearings, we can finally decide what to choose. By then, we can ensure quality rides and maximize our spending.
So, it’s only about choosing the rust-proof bearing or the more affordable one. With our preferences considered, we get more good than bad.
5/5 - (2 votes)
Hi, I am Charles Harris. I opened this site to write as much as I can about my biggest passion – skateboarding!
I started as a clumsy yet passionate rookie 10 years ago to now a still passionate yet much better skateboarder! But I have to tell you, the whole journey has always been fun and rewarding, indeed not without hardship.
Ceramic bearings for skates and skateboards are popular because they are stronger, reduce friction, and last much longer than the typical metal ball bearing. Many companies produce ceramic bearings today and many serious skaters prefer them for the best ride.Are ceramic bearings better for skateboards? ›
Ceramic bearings for skates and skateboards are popular because they are stronger, reduce friction, and last much longer than the typical metal ball bearing. Many companies produce ceramic bearings today and many serious skaters prefer them for the best ride.Are ceramic bearings better than steel? ›
When considering ceramic vs. steel components, the application is key. The higher strength and hardness of the ceramic bearing will yield more extended wear and superior corrosion resistance. Ceramic bearings are designed for applications operating in extreme environments where steel may not be suitable.What is a disadvantage of ceramic bearings? ›
They are able to run without lubrication, have low thermal expansion, are normally low density and have non-magnetic qualities. However, they are expensive, have low load capacities, are sensitive to thermal shock and are difficult to achieve a high quality of surface finish on.Do ceramic bearings make a difference? ›
The difference between ceramic and steel bearings is, of course, the material. Made from silicon nitride, ceramic bearings are heralded for their reduced rolling resistance, increased hardness and longevity.Is it worth upgrading to ceramic bearings? ›
The short answer is yes, quality ceramic bearings do offer a performance increase. They roll smoother and with less friction creating less resistance. "Faster" is relevant though; they will not knock 10 minutes off your next Ironman but they may get you across the finish line seconds faster in your next time trial.Do ceramic bearings roll faster? ›
According to research, a well-made ceramic bearing will roll faster, saving you energy and allowing faster cruising speeds compared to an equivalent steel bearing. This is because the properties of ceramic allow the creation of rounder, smoother bearings.What advantage is a ceramic bearing? ›
Ceramic bearings might be more expensive than steel, but these bearings provide reduced friction, reduced weight and have the potential to last much longer than the traditional stainless-steel offering in many harsh environments.Why are ceramic bearings the best? ›
Rolling resistance is the key trump card promoted by ceramic bearing fans. Because ceramic bearings are rounder with a smoother surface and more uniform size, friction is reduced and that can contribute to a less energy required to turn the cranks or spin the wheels.Do you need to lube ceramic bearings? ›
No, full ceramic bearings can be run completely dry. They do not need lubrication to run. Ceramic is non-porous, unlike steel, as a result it is virtually frictionless.
They are able to run without lubrication, have low thermal expansion, are normally low density and have non-magnetic qualities. However, they are expensive, have low load capacities, are sensitive to thermal shock and are difficult to achieve a high quality of surface finish on.How much longer do ceramic bearings last? ›
A CeramicSpeed Bearing upgrade can last up to 10 times longer than standard steel bearings. With the same level of maintenance as a standard bearing, you will often find that CeramicSpeed Bearings achieve a longevity of even more than 5 times compared to what you would experience with a standard bearing.Why do ceramic bearings cost so much? ›
Cost of purchase for ceramic and steel bearings
This is mostly due to the additional time spent to perfect a quality ceramic ball. It takes weeks for a Kogel ball to sit in a tumbler and be perfectly polished.
Ceramic bearings are not only suitable for use in the rain, they are also simply the fastest bearings available, even on dry road surfaces. Ceramic bearings are used always in inline skate races.What type of bearing is strongest? ›
If you need a bearing capable of withstanding a high radial load, then we recommend a cylindrical roller bearing. On the other hand, if your bearing needs to support lighter loads a ball bearing might be sufficient as they are often less expensive.What grade of bearings are best? ›
A high quality steel ball bearing is consider grade 25. The grade number refers to the tolerance per millionth of an inch. A grade 25 is accurate to 25/1,000,000 of an inch. Less expensive ball bearings may be grade 300, which are less round, at 300/1,000,000 of an inch.Why is ceramic ball bearings better than steel? ›
Ceramic balls are rounder, lighter, harder, and smoother than steel balls due to their lack of porousness. This reduces friction as well as energy loss, allowing your equipment to run more efficiently (and for longer) with ceramic ball bearings.Can you break ceramic bearings? ›
Will Ceramic Balls Break? If the ceramic balls are made of the highest quality Silicon Nitrate like the ones we use here at Performance Bearing, then failure of any sort, (cracking, chipping or breaking) is very unlikely.Does water damage ceramic bearings? ›
As ceramic bearings are not affected by seawater, they can be used in marine environments where they are permanently submerged and can cope with high loads, although not as high as traditional steel bearings.What bearings spin the longest? ›
Bronson Speed Co. bearings are the fastest, strongest, longest lasting, longest spin skateboarding bearing ever made. Bronson Speed Co. Raw Bearings will handle whatever you can dish out.
NSK has developed a third-generation ultra-high speed ball bearing for electric vehicle (EV) motors that is capable of operating at over 1.8 million dmN(1).How fragile are ceramic bearings? ›
Ceramic bearings can be very brittle. Because of this, their maximum speed is 20 to 25 per cent lower than all steel equivalents, due to the risk of sudden failure caused by cracking at higher speeds. A sudden shock on the bearing will cause true brinelling.Are ceramic bearings noisy? ›
Ceramic bearings are definitely louder than stock SS bearings. I find that I feel the need to lube them more often as well. Once they get real loud, i know its over due for oil.Is ceramic stronger than steel? ›
The hardness of alumina ceramics is nearly three times that of stainless steel; silicon carbide is more than four times harder than stainless steel. This extreme hardness is one of many unique properties that makes Fine Ceramics "super materials" for modern technology.Why are ceramic bearings faster? ›
First, ceramic bearings have lower friction while spinning at high RPM. Their smooth surface and uniform size distributes the load evenly across the balls and doesn't cause added friction from imperfections on the surface of the balls. This translates into less wattage needed in order to spin the bearing.What is the most popular bearing? ›
Deep groove ball bearings are the most widely used bearing type and are extremely versatile. They have low friction and are optimized for low noise and vibration which enables high rotational speeds. The purpose of deep groove precision ball bearings is to reduce rotational friction and support radial and axial loads.Do ceramic skate bearings rust? ›
These bearings are designed to be corrosion resistance and to be used for long periods of time in highly corrosive environments. Where even stainless steel bearings would suffer with rusting, full ceramic bearings will not.What is the best oil for ceramic bearings? ›
TDK Ceramic Bearing Oil is the best solution for your ceramic bearings, providing a long service life and crazy lubricity! TDK Ceramic Bearing Oil cleans and lubricates all-in-one, it will drive out dirt and leave a thin film on the bearings.Can I use regular grease in ceramic bearings? ›
Full ceramic bearings are maintenance free. However, they can be washed using regular tap water or a standard bearing cleaner product if required. Make sure the bearing is completely dry before replacing it. These bearings do not need lubricant to operate, so there is no need to add an oil or grease at this stage.What is the most popular ball bearing? ›
The 6202 bearing size is a popular option, included in the size options below. Chrome steel is the most common material for ball bearings due to its high load capacity and good low noise properties. Chrome steel bearings are also more cost-effective.
The biggest improvement that most people realize is the fact that the balls are actually rounder. And considerably so. This is why ceramic bearings spin so much smoother and quieter, therefore more efficient than steel balls.Are Bones Swiss ceramic bearings worth it? ›
If you are wanting the best bearings out there, these are the ones for you. Bones Swiss Ceramic Bearings are designed with Cerbec ceramic balls; these waterproof skate bearings are much lighter, harder, stronger, and longer lasting than even the finest steel balls.Are ceramic skate bearings waterproof? ›
The ceramic balls are much lighter, harder, stronger, waterproof, and longer lasting than the finest steel balls.What skateboard bearings are best on wet? ›
Stainless Steel doesn't rust as fast as Chrome Steel, so it's great if you skate in the wet or you can't be bothered with cleaning your bearings every now and then. However, Stainless Steel is also softer than Chrome/Carbon Steel, so Stainless skate bearings don't last as long.What are the best bearings for high-speed? ›
Angular contact bearings are the best bearing choice for high-speed applications. One reason is that the balls are smaller and smaller balls weigh less and produce less centrifugal force when rotating.What type of bearing is smoothest? ›
Thrust ball bearings exhibit low noise, smooth operation and are capable of high-speed applications.What is the quietest bearing type? ›
Sleeve Bearing Fans
Another benefit to sleeve bearing fan designs is that they tend to create less noise while operating, allowing them to be used extensively in quiet areas like offices.
Tip: Ceramic bearings are the best investment for everyday and/or high impact skaters, but steel bearings (especially ABEC 9) are a great beginner option.What material is best for skateboarding? ›
Birch plywood is one of the most widely used skate ramp surfacing materials. Birch is very tense yet flexible and also highly resistant to water damage, rotting and decay.What skateboard bearings do pros use? ›
The reason for that is that Bones have been making skateboard bearings since 1981 and are the leader in the industry as well as the brand that is trusted by skaters the world over. Bones Swiss bearings are engineered to be fast and durable.
“Longevity of a well-built high-quality ceramic bearing, in many cases, can be up to 10 times longer than commonly used stock bearings. The 'rule of thumb', as we like to call it when built well, and of high-quality materials, a ceramic bearing should always be able to outlast and outperform a steel bearing.Why is ceramic better than steel? ›
Ceramic cookware heats quickly and evenly, which makes it perfect for working with ingredients that are prone to cooking unevenly, like thicker cuts of meat. On the other hand, due to the stainless steel pan's uneven heat distribution, it's much more common to burn a good piece of steak.How can you tell if a skateboard is good quality? ›
A high quality skateboard deck will be lightweight while remaining durable and providing “pop” - the right combination of flexibility and rigidity that allows the board to respond during ollies and other tricks where the deck needs to be “popped” off the ground.What skateboard is better for cruising? ›
A cruiser board is the best type of skateboard to use for cruising short distances. Longer than a standard skateboard but shorter than a longboard, cruiser boards are easily maneuverable mid-length boards designed for cruising streets. Longboards are an excellent choice for a long, comfortable ride.What are professional skateboards made out of? ›
"Modern skateboards are made traditionally from 7 plies of sugar maple veneers, pressed together using polyvinyl glues in either aluminum, metal or concrete forms, generally taking around 300 psi to take up multiple skateboards in one closing of a press.What are the best bearings for high speed? ›
Angular contact bearings are the best bearing choice for high-speed applications. One reason is that the balls are smaller and smaller balls weigh less and produce less centrifugal force when rotating.What skateboard bearings does Tony Hawk use? ›
Tony Hawk 31" Cruiser Skateboard With ABEC1 Bearings.Which skateboard bearings are the fastest? ›
Bronson Skateobard Bearings are dedicated to their name. They advertise their bearings as the fastest, strongest, longest lasting, longest spin skateboard bearings ever made.Can ceramic bearings rust? ›
These bearings are designed to be corrosion resistance and to be used for long periods of time in highly corrosive environments. Where even stainless steel bearings would suffer with rusting, full ceramic bearings will not.