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Bones Bearings

Bones Bearings

History / by George A. Powell

In the early 1980s, skateboarding was at a low point and it was difficult to find high quality bearings. American bearing companies like Fafnir had left the bearing market because the Japanese were producing large quantities of cheaper bearings and the US companies could not compete with the prices of Japanese bearings. The Japanese bearings were of good quality, but not very fast. The German bearings were better, but many skaters wanted an even faster bearing so they could ride higher on vertical ramps or roll farther with each push.

When I recognized this need, I set out to find the best bearing I could find that was still affordable for skaters. I searched in America and in Europe. My search ended at a small, custom bearing manufacturer in Switzerland. Their bearings were faster than any others we had tested before and only slightly more expensive than German bearings at the time.

I worked with the Swiss manufacturer to optimize a bearing for skating. I switched from a standard stamped metal ball cage to a precision molded high-speed plastic cage that could be removed by the skaters to allow for better cleaning of the bearing. We left out a shield so the skaters could access the inside of the bearing without tools to clean and relubricate it. Next, we adjusted the tolerances and clearances to make the bearing better able to take the combined lateral and vertical loads of skating than normal bearings (which are usually designed for electric motors). Finally, we replaced the usual lubricant with a special lubricant we developed ourselves called Bones Speed Cream™.

The redesign of this fine bearing for skating resulted in the fastest, most desirable and most competitive bearing in the history of our sport. In fact, it is still the fastest bearing you can buy for skating, even after all these years and after many other companies have packaged and touted you to buy their ABEC-1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 "super bearings" with cartoon characters, racy names or whatever.

We test all these bearings with custom-built equipment to compare the important characteristics of bearings, such as resistance and vibration at high speeds and extended rolling at low and medium speeds. Then we have our team ride the bearings until they "die" to see how long they last and how they perform in the actual skateboard environment. Some of the bearings you see advertised or in stores are junk and some are pretty good, but no bearing we've ever tested has matched the performance of Bones Swiss.

Low-cost ball bearings

The only negative thing we can say about Bones Bearings is the current price. It's high because the Swiss have to charge so much to make money and we have to pass our increased costs on to you. I know this makes Bones Swiss unaffordable for many skaters, and so I've been looking for a bearing that matches the performance of our legendary Swiss at a lower price.

When I thought about where I could find such a warehouse, I thought of China, because I have visited this rapidly developing country several times to introduce skateboarding to the Chinese. I realized that parts of China are highly developed, have good production facilities and are able to produce high-quality products at low cost. So I went to China to find a ball bearing manufacturer who was able to produce a great skate bearing with a little help from us.

Two years and many tests later, we've managed to get amazingly close to the performance of our own Bones Swiss, for less than half the price, using a high quality Chinese bearing manufacturer willing to follow our design specifications. We call this product Bones REDS™, and they deliver the best blend of speed, strength and durability you can buy at a price all skaters can afford.

I know that most Chinese bearings offered to skaters today are chosen for their low cost and not for their quality and performance. This has led to a number of nicely packaged, inferior Chinese bearings being successfully promoted with large ads in skate magazines. These companies don't want you to know that their bearings are just the cheapest bearings they could buy, packaged in a pretty box, and they don't even tell you where they are made.

I mention this because Bones REDS™ are not inferior bearings in a pretty package, but you might think they are before you ride them just because they are made in China. What we've done with Bones REDS™ is similar in concept to our affordable mini logo product that many of you have enjoyed - a great product at a rock bottom price.

The Bones REDS™ have very low friction, are made from high quality materials and have a similar design to our Bones Swiss, with high speed ball retainers, a single shield for easy cleaning and are also pre-lubricated with Speed Cream™ to make them fast and long lasting.

We are proud of Bones REDS™ and are not afraid to say that our affordable ball bearings are made in China... the home of Chin. Bones REDS™ are available at your local store. I know you'll be happy with the price and performance of Bones REDS™.

Abec vs Skate Rated™ "What Abec rating do your bearings have?"

We are often asked: "What ABEC rating do your bearings have?" The answer is: "Bones Bearings are Skate Rated™ not ABEC rated". Bones® Bearings are the leader in the skate industry and the preferred choice of professional skaters, and have been since their development in 1981. In recent years, Bones® Swiss have become legendary for their superior speed, quality and durability. Although Bones Swiss is the highest rated ball bearing in skating, we do not give them an ABEC rating. There's a good reason for that... thanks for asking.

The ABEC rating system has been around for 35 years. The purpose of the Annular Bearing Engineers Committee (ABEC) is not to test each manufacturer's bearings and declare them good or bad, but to establish dimensions, tolerances, geometry and noise standards for ball bearings to help industrial bearing manufacturers and users manufacture, compare and select bearings for general applications. However, since each bearing is used in a different way and in a different environment, bearings should be redesigned or "customized" for specific applications (such as skateboarding). The ABEC rating system should not be the only criteria for selecting bearings for specialized applications such as skating. It is only one of the tools a bearing designer can use if it is appropriate for the application.

The ABEC classification system comprises classes 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. The higher the ABEC classification, the tighter the tolerances, which makes the bearing a precision part. High precision and tight tolerances are required for bearings that operate at very high speeds, such as high-speed milling machines that must operate at 20 to 30,000 revolutions per minute. In such an application, an ABEC 7 or 9 bearing may be appropriate. However, a skateboard with 54mm wheels spinning at 20,000rpm will travel at around 204KmH! Since virtually all skaters skate at less than 48KmH, the realistic maximum speed your skate bearings will reach is around 4700 RPM and probably 90% of skaters skate at less than 2000 RPM. Therefore, very high precision is not required at skateboard speeds.

The dimensions and tolerances controlled by the ABEC standards include the diameter and width of the raceways and, to a certain extent, their shape and the smoothness of the running surfaces. The ABEC classification system does not take into account lateral load, impact resistance, choice and quality of materials, suitability of lubrication, type of ball cages, quality of balls, clearance between balls and raceways, installation requirements and the need for maintenance and cleaning. All these requirements for the design of a bearing are very important for the performance of your skate bearing, even if the ABEC rating says nothing about it.

From our testing of bearings and our many years of experience in developing bearings for skaters, we know that there can be a HUGE difference between the performance of two bearings that both have the same ABEC rating. In fact, we have found that in many cases bearings with high ABEC ratings do not perform as well as others with lower ABEC ratings in a skateboard wheel. So relying on the ABEC rating alone can lead to skaters and retailers choosing a bad bearing over a good one. This is why we don't use the ABEC rating system at all. Basically, the ABEC rating is irrelevant to the performance of a skateboard bearing if it is used as the sole selection criterion.

In other words, choosing an ABEC7 or 9 ball bearing for skating would be like choosing an Indy Car for the "Baja 500" because Indy Cars can go fast and have high precision. It's not that the Indy car isn't a good piece of equipment, it's just that it's not designed for off-road use and would therefore fail quickly if the suspension breaks and the motor gets clogged with dirt.

Bones® Bearings outperform all other ball bearings because we went to the trouble of skating Bones® Swiss and Bones® REDS® and didn't just pick an ABEC certified industrial bearing and put a custom plastic nameplate on it. Bones were designed from the ground up for skating and are built to Bones® specifications that include Skate Rated™ components, lubricants, tolerances and clearances.

Bones® Bearings components are designed and tested to withstand the heavy impacts of hard landings, the high side loads of turning and (where possible) the dirt of the skating environment. The result: Bones® roll faster and last longer than other bearings. To give Bones® only an ABEC rating would be to ignore all the improvements we have built into Bones® and the resulting difference between Bones® and standard ABEC rated bearings. Since there is no suitable ABEC rating that reflects the superior quality of Bones® bearings, we've given them their own rating, the Skate Rating™, to let you know that Bones® bearings are special and made just for skaters like you, not electric motors.

Maintenance of your Bones® bearings. Follow these steps to achieve the best performance.

Congratulations on purchasing a set of Bones® Bearings, recognized worldwide as the best brand of skateboard ball bearings available. All Bones® Bearings are Skate Rated™ to our precision "tolerances" to give you the absolute maximum speed and life possible, not "ABEC" rated like bearings designed to work in motors or normal machines. The superior quality of Bones® chrome bearing steel races with their mirror-like "super finish", removable non-contact rubber shields, precision molded high speed ball cages and Bones Speed Cream® lubricant provide unsurpassed running and easy maintenance. So, install them carefully in your wheels and you're ready to roll.

Your new Bones® bearings are the most precisely manufactured part of your skateboard, with clearances and tolerances significantly smaller than 1/1000th of an inch. This means that a single hair is thicker than the distance between the balls and the races in the bearing, and a hair will clog it up and slow you down. As you ride your skateboard outside through dust, sand, water, mud, etc., your bearings will eventually get dirty and/or wet. When they're dirty, you'll notice that they no longer spin freely when you turn the wheel, and you may also notice that they become noisy. At this point, you have two options: Clean your bearings or replace them.

WARNING! Stop using bearings on your skateboard that do not rotate freely. If you continue to ride with very dirty or unlubricated bearings, you run the risk of permanently damaging them and/or yourself. Dirt in the bearings leads to pitting of the balls and races, increases friction, causes additional heat and can eventually cause the ball bearing to "freeze" or stop running. If this happens to the bearings, the skateboard will stop abruptly and you may fall and injure yourself. Therefore, keep them clean, dry and lubricated with speed cream.


Since the beginning of 2018, all Bones Bearings boxes have been labeled with our Skate Rated sticker. To be sure you're buying authentic Bones Bearings, make sure you only buy from authorized Bones Bearings dealers, and always look for our Skate Rated sticker on EVERY box. Our first concern is always your satisfaction with your Bones Bearings product. We go to great lengths to ensure that you receive the best products and service before and after your purchase. For these reasons, we strongly encourage you to purchase Bones Bearings products only from authorized Bones Bearings dealers. Bones Bearings is proud to offer its products through a carefully selected network of authorized dealers. If you do not see the official sticker or seal of an authorized Bones Bearings dealer, ask for it. If you do not see a sticker or seal, you are not an authorized dealer. Only products purchased from an authorized Bones Bearings dealer qualify for the manufacturer's warranty and are backed by years of superior customer service through our authorized dealer network. We at purchase our Bones bearings and products exclusively through authorized Bones Germany distributors and can therefore guarantee that they are always original Bones® Bearings SKATE RATED™ bearings and products.

Authorized Bones Bearings dealers are committed to providing you with an outstanding customer experience that helps you make the right choice. And they can help you deliver the quality products and service you deserve when you purchase a Bones Bearings product. Bones Bearings provides its limited product warranties only when products are purchased from an authorized Bones Bearings dealer. Purchasing Bones Bearings products off-net involves risk for Bones Bearings customers. These customers may receive products that are used, defective, not designed for proper operation, or may be counterfeit. We urge Bones Bearings customers to protect themselves and their Bones Bearings products by purchasing only from an authorized Bones Bearings dealer such as Concrete Wave Skateshop Cologne.

When you purchase Bones Bearings products from an authorized Bones Bearings dealer, you can be assured that you are not purchasing products that may have been altered or counterfeited, which would void the limited warranty that accompanies Bones Bearings products. Here are some good reasons why you should be careful when buying from unauthorized dealers: Have you ever seen people selling Rolex watches on the street corner for $25 or Ray-Ban sunglasses for $10? How can they do that? They are not genuine Rolex watches or Ray Ban sunglasses, but copies made in countries where laws are not enforced strictly enough.

Fake Bones Bearings products may look like the real thing, but they don't work like the real thing. When you buy from, you can be sure that you are getting a genuine Bones Bearings product. Warranty - Products purchased from unauthorized dealers have already been sold once (to the unauthorized dealer) and are therefore used goods when they come into your possession and may not be covered by the authorized Bones Bearings dealer's warranty. In addition, there have been reports of unauthorized dealers selling counterfeit products. Since we have no relationship with these dealers, we cannot assist you with any problems with their service. Please contact us if you come across such a dealer.

Many of the Bones Bearings products you see on websites like these are second hand and even counterfeit, regardless of what the seller claims. They are an unrestricted market. Most resellers are not authorized Bones Bearings dealers; therefore, Bones Bearings products purchased through them may not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty. Be careful and check with us first.


Bones Swiss Skateboard Bearings have the best reputation in the skateboard industry and have had this honor since 1981, due to their performance and quality. Anyone who rides Swiss knows how fast they are and how long they last. Testimonials show that they last many times longer than cheap bearings. Skaters who use Bones Swiss Bearings do so because they want the best equipment they can get and know the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. The Bones bearing team is a who's who of top skaters and we at Bones are proud to work with each and every one of them.

The Bones Bearings team is huge and is divided into Professionals, Amateurs and Veterans. Here is an overview:

PROFESSIONALS Vincent Alvarez, Youness Amrani, Andy Anderson, Brian Anderson, Lizzie Armanto, Dane Barker, Danny Barrera, Silas Baxter-Neal, Theotis Beasley, Niels Bennett, Matt Berger, Caswell Berry, Kevin Bilyeu, Tyson Bowerbank, Chico Brenes, Sky Brown, Dennis Busenitz, James Capps, John Clemmons, Gilbert Crockett, Jack Curtin, Wade DesArmo, Mariah Duran, Antonio Durao, Jagger Eaton, Byron Essert, Yuri Facchini, Dwayne Fagundes, Karen Feitosa, Gabriel Fortunato, Didrik Galasso, Nate Greenwood, Joey Guevara, Annie Guglia, Felipe Gustavo, Shawn Hale, Danny Hamaguchi, Spencer Hamilton, Chris Haslam, Ben Hatchell, Justin Henry, Aaron Herrington, Kelvin Hoefler, Nyjah Huston, Jake Ilardi, Blake Johnson, Boo Johnson, Ke'Chaud Johnson, Tyshawn Jones, Dashawn Jordan, Chris Joslin, Nestor Judkins, Tom Karangelov, Cory Kennedy, Jereme Knibbs, Kevin Kowalski, Bucky Lasek, Ryan Lay, Rayssa Leal, Dan Mancina, Kilian Martin, Brad McClain, Mark Del Negro, Joey Pepper, Denny Pham, Yaje Popson, Mikey Ray, Kevin Reimer, David Reyes, Dylan Rieder, Pamela Rosa, Patrick Ryan, Walker Ryan, Jordan Santana, John Shanahan, Miles Silvas, Elliot Sloan, Evan Smith, Jamal Smith, JP Souza, Frankie Spears, Brett Sube, Mark Suciu, Marius Syvanen, Mami Tezuka, Trevor Thompson, Jordan Trahan, Franky Villani, Sebo Walker, Zack Wallin, Bryce Wettstein, Jimmy Wilkins, Myles Willard, Stevie Williams, Josh Wilson, Trey Wood, Bobby Worrest and Sakura Yosozumi.

AMATEURS Gush Agushi, Xavier Alford, Andreas Alvarez, Ryan Alvero, Chris Athans, Jordyn Barratt, Andrea Benitez, Pedro Biagio, Leonardo Bodelazzi, Gavin Bottger, John Bradford, Jahmir Brown, Kris Brown, Julia Brueckler, Lucas Alves Bueno ,Tanner Burzinski, Karim Callender, Connor Champion, Jon Consentino, Art Cordova, Lazer Crawford, Greg Dehart, Margielyn Didal, Zach Doelling, Joel Espinal, Virginia Fortes, Kiko Francisco, Marina Gabriela, Ivan Glenny, Leticia Goncalves, Jhancarlos Gonzalez, Itzel Granados, Christian Hall, Susie Heath, Austin Heilman, Neil Herrick, Christopher Hiett, Mark Humienik, Dru James, Terrill Jefferson, Mikey Jones, Kristion Jordan, Kai Kishi, Shota Kubo, Kevin Liedtke, Alex Lobasyuk, Kendra Long, Oscar Loreto, Kevin Lowry, Christian Maalouf, Joey Marrone, Wacson Mass, Alex Massotti, Gabriela Mazetto, Christiana Means, Oscar Meza, Christian Miller, Zach Miller, Ari Misurelli, Vianez Morales, Filipe Mota, Kisa Nakamura, Samantha Narvaez, Aori Nishimura, Taylor Nye, Joey O’Brien, Isa Pacheco, Zach Panebianco, Ron Parker, Reemo Pearson, Jiro Platt, Cooper Qua, Mario Realegeno, Heimana Reynolds, Tim Rodriguez, Tom Rohrer, Cy Romano, Shay Sandiford, Camp Schillereff, Anakin Senn, Jorge Simoes, Ethan Singleton, Collin Slew, Adrianne Sloboh, Tislam Smith, Jack Springer, Jasper Stieve, Myles Strampello, Max Taylor, Monica Torres, Romel Torres, Raphael Ueda, Andrew Valencia, Derrick Wilson, Josh Wilson, Isamu Yamamoto and Roos Zwetsloot

VETERANS Ray Barbee, Sal Barbier, Louie Barletta, Steve Caballero, June Cate, Pat Channita, Jimmy Chung, Sandro Dias, Mike Frazier, Danny Garcia, Mark Gonzales, Jeff Grosso, Nicky Guerrero, Christian Hosoi, Stefan Janoski, James Kelch, Steve Kindle, Andy Macdonald, Nick Matlin, Dave Mayhew, Mike McGill, Joel Meinholz, Chris Miller, Lance Mountain, Al Partanen, Chris Pastras, Chris Pfanner, John Reeves, Danny Renaud, Mike Rosa, Jack Sabback, Willy Santos, Chris Senn, Sean Sheffey, Paul Shier, Eliana Sosco, Elissa Steamer, Pat Steiner, CJ Tamborino, Kevin Taylor, Ed Templeton, Vanessa Torres, Chuck Treece, Van Wastell, Jeremy Wray, Jonas Wray, Mike York and Giorgio Zattoni.

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