We’ve written about SKF bearings in the past, and since then, they’ve continued to put together a heavy squad of skateboarders on their roster with the inclusion of Tiago Lemos in early March. SKF is a well-known and respected brand in the bearing industry (outside of the skate industry), and their skateboard bearings are no exception. When it comes to skateboard hardware, skateboard bearings are often an overlooked part of the complete, however, they do play a crucial part in a set-up as long as they are properly maintained.
For those who haven’t read out first SKF review, here’s a refresher. In the field of engineering, bearings facilitate rotational or linear motion by reducing friction between two moving parts, thereby improving the speed and efficiency. Additionally, bearings can handle various amounts of stress. For instance, skateboard wheels require bearings as support to withstand lateral and horizontal stresses between the truck axle, axle nut, and hanger.
Skateboard bearings, classified as ball bearings, have a unique construction. They consist of an inner and outer ring, which hold metal balls in place with the help of a ball cage. The balls are shielded to safeguard the inner components of the bearing from dirt. As one of the rings rotates, the balls also rotate, causing the bearing to function smoothly.
SKF, which stands for Svenska Kullagerfabriken (Swedish Ball Bearing Factory), is a manufacturer of bearings and seals that was established in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1907. The company’s own factories produce and supply bearings, seals, lubrication, and a variety of other industrial products. As the world’s largest bearing manufacturer, SKF is regarded as a leading authority in the field of bearings.
SKF has been providing skateboard bearings in the market for a considerable amount of time, having partnered with Andrew Reynolds during their entry into the US market in 2007. Recently, however, SKF has assembled an elite team of heavyweight skaters, including Ishod Wair, Oski, Louie Lopez, Kader Sylla, Alexis Sablone, Beatrice Domond and of course, their newest team addition Tiago Lemos.
With SKF’s position as the world’s largest bearing manufacturer and a fully committed in-house R&D team, the skateboarding community, which is known for being highly discerning when it comes to skateboard hardware, has high expectations. At Weartested, we had the opportunity to test SKF’s latest Ceramic bearings and evaluate their performance. Read on below for our review.
Prior to our wear test, we did a thorough inspection of the bearings. The bearings are packaged in a beautifully designed metal box, which is a design nod to eliminating plastic waste. The packaging and bearings themselves have a premium look and feel; rightfully so, as they are manufactured in one of SKF’s facilities in Italy.
The SKF Ceramic bearings have ceramic instead of metal balls as in the regular SKF skateboarding bearings, which are less prone to rust, are harder and deform less. They have another unique feature that sets them apart from other brands – their back is sealed, unlike other brands that leave their backs open and use shields similar to those on the front. This offers a significant advantage as it prevents any contamination from entering the interior of the bearing. However, the shields on the front, which are made out of glass fiber reinforced polyamide, can still be removed.
Since some people like popping the shields off to get a special sound when skating, we removed the shields on one side just to see the difference. Before testing, it was apparent that SKF had applied a significant amount of grease between the metal balls, which is a unique feature as well. SKF describes it as a low friction grease in their product description.
Throughout the four month wear test, the rolling performance of the bearings experienced some fluctuations. At the beginning, the bearings felt like the grease was hindering their rolling speed, and when manually spinning the wheel, it rotated briefly and came to an abrupt stop. However, when the skateboard was in motion, the bearings’ performance was good. It’s worth noting that this initial impression significantly improved over time as the bearings gradually broke in.
It took roughly 2-3 weeks for the bearings to achieve their maximum rolling capacity, and once they did, their performance remained consistently excellent. Furthermore, we did not observe any distinctions in performance between the bearings with or without shields.
The SKF skateboard bearings exhibited excellent durability due to several factors, with the amount of grease used being the most noticeable. The initial amount of grease helped to extend the lifespan of the bearings, as it not only lubricated them but also acted as a second shield against dirt and other particles. After four month of testing, the bearings still looked brand new when we removed some more shields. This was due to the shields in combination with the grease, which made a significant difference in increasing durability.
The wheel with popped shields did not have a lower durability, but as expected, it collected more dirt and particles since the shield protection was gone and the particles could easily stick to the grease. If you choose to remove the shields for the sound, we recommend de-greasing the bearings to prevent them from collecting too much dirt.
In general, the SKF Ceramic bearings are among the top-tier skateboard bearings, particularly due to their measures to enhance durability. It is recommended to allow two to three weeks for the bearings to break in and optimize their rolling performance, after which you can enjoy exceptional RPM’s while cruising with the SKF bearings.