ABEC RATING & BEARING MATERIALS
The ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) Rating is a system intended to measure physical limits and manufacturing tolerances in fast spinning machinery, the higher the ABEC rating, the tighter the tolerances and greater capabilities for speed it has.
This doesn’t mean that bigger = better in terms of skateboarding, the speeds we’re talking about with ABEC ratings are in the range of 20-30000rpm, which unless you’re going more than 205km/h (the current world record for downhill upright high speed on a ‘skateboard’ is 146.73km/h) the tighter tolerances of ABEC 7 & above aren’t necessarily required. The average speed for a proficient skater is around 10-12km/h so ABEC 3-5 is generally suitable.
With this being said there’s heaps of other factors the ABEC Rating doesn’t take into consideration for the practical application of bearings in a skateboard, such as dealing with impact, side loading, chosen materials and grade, lubrication, ball retainer type/tolerance and the need for cleaning/maintenance, all of these are crucial to the performance and longevity of skate bearings.
Clean bearings are fast bearings, make sure you clean and lubricate/oil your bearings every few months to extend their life and keep them rolling at their best. More about that in our Bearing Maintenance article here.