Longboarding is quickly becoming a favorite sport for many. It wouldn’t exist, though, if not for the most assuming piece of equipment in a setup. Bearings make or break a ride. From a shoddy pair of cheap bearings to a nice high-end pair, the ride is night and day. Bearings also specialize in particular aspects, from bombing to carving to just riding. Companies like Bones, understand this inside out and have quickly risen to the top of the list for most riders. You won’t get the ride you want without the right type of bearings, and knowing the difference in the materials, ratings and uses are going to ensure that you end up with the set that fits your needs.
Top Longboard Bearings Comparison Chart
Buyer’s Guide (What to Look For)
Throughout this list we are going to rate the top bearings on the market. So how is something so subjective going to be put together? We are going to look at the different aspects of each bearing, explain why they made the list and make sure that you, the consumer, are informed about the key aspects of the bearing. Before we get into that, though, it is key that you understand a few things about bearings. If you are a long-time rider, some of this information may be redundant, so consider it a refresher, or just jump to the list.
An important note: skateboard bearings and longboard bearings are the same. They work on both types of boards, you just want to find something with less friction for longboarding.
What are bearings?
The first thing to discuss is what you are buying. Most bearing sets come as a group of eight. Two bearings fit per wheel, so you will get everything you need in one set in most cases. Secondly, bearings are usually made of steel, but some companies are offering ceramic. The difference is key and will require a more detail.
Before that, though, it is important to understand exactly what a bearing does. A bearing is nothing more than a machine in the most basic form of the word. It is in place to reduce friction from the wheels to the trucks and create a faster, smoother, and better quality experience.
Steel bearings have worked wonders to help the sport get up and running, but they can vary in quality. Ceramic bearings, on the other hand, are generally more expensive, but they offer a wide array of benefits. They are more durable than steel, they require less maintenance, speed up faster, won’t expand when things get too hot and give the least amount of friction available. While steel bearings are great, the ceramic offer a whole host of benefits, but are not as common. The cost is an issue for some, but if you are a high-level rider, the cost may be worth it.
Other accessories are available as well, that will increase the smoothness of the ride. Some companies offer a cream or oil for the bearings, basically a lubricant, that will help them work at their maximum efficiency. The type of bearing and accessories you look for will depend on what type of ride you are trying to achieve.
For people going for bombing, extremely low friction with fairly stiff turning is going to be key to a safe and fast ride. If you are looking to carve, you probably want a higher turning radius with a medium level of friction. If you hook your dog up to a harness and just ride behind them on a walk, you likely want something with a mixture of medium turning capabilities and friction. It all comes down to preference.
The ABEC Rating
The easiest way to quickly identify the quality of a bearing, at least on the surface, is by using the ABEC ratings. The ratings increase in class in odd digits from 1 to 9. The five classes are accepted by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee and can give a solid idea of what the bearing is capable of doing. A bearing with an ABEC rating of 1 will have the lowest speed, precision and efficiency capabilities of the bunch. If you find an ABEC rating of 5, on the other hand, you are going to get an average amount of speed, precision and efficiency. That, of course, leads ABEC 9 to be the smoothest, most efficient ride possible.
You get what you pay for though, so don’t go running out looking for only ABEC 9 ratings to start if you are just starting out. For most, an ABEC 7 rated bearing is going to be the sweet spot for a solid and cost efficient ride.
Understanding the List
For this list we are going to look at bearings across the spectrum. We aren’t going to focus on any particular type of rider, but will include bearings that will make sense for each. Instead, the primary focus will be on the value of the product for a general audience. Value ranks highly here. If a ceramic bearing is significantly more expensive and only offers a slight improvement over a steel bearing, the steel bearing will likely come up on top.
Each section will also include pros and cons. This is a way for you to quickly glance at what the meat of the review stated. Use this as a way to quickly pick out the bearings that will fit what you are looking for, then read the full review to see if anything puts you off or turns you on to the bearing itself. Keep in mind that no matter how fair we try to be with our rankings, not everyone will agree. We try to stay consistent in all of our reviews, so understand that we are looking at the overall value for a broad audience in this list and don’t take offense if your favorite brand or bearing ranks lower on the list, or is not included at all. With that all explained, read on to see what we picked as our top bearings.
Best Longboard Bearing Reviews
Bones is one of the leading names in bearings and they land at number one on the list due to their Reds bearings. Not only do they offer fantastic bearings, but the included spacers and washers make this a complete package at a great value.
While the Reds offer some of the best bearings on the list, there are a few concerns. First, consistency seems to be a problem. Some reports from riders are pretty disheartening as one bearing is super smooth, while others are a bit rougher. The lube that is already on the bearing is fine, but not top notch. Just understand that when you get the bearings, they should all be perfect, but if you get a bad bunch, contact the manufacturer.
- Some of the bearings on the market.
- Included washers and spacers.
- Quality is not always consistent.
- The lube is fine, but for some, consider you own lube.
The Silver ABEC 9’s would have hit number one on this list if it wasn’t for the potential sneaky marketing and confusion surrounding the ABEC 11 number. Granted, these bearings may actually be better than the Bones Reds at number one, but from our research, ABEC 11 is a marketing ploy used to mislead people. As we review on what a general audience would likely want, and Silver isn’t a big name brand, the concern is in durability and the marketing.
Now, that may seem like a silly reason to drop great bearings a spot, but a company that uses misleading or confusion marketing to try to sell you something, based on ignorance (not stupidity) is an issue that can’t be overlooked. At the same time, the fact that the bearings are so solid and low priced (from our research) can’t be overlooked either.
Overall, these provide the smoothest ride out there, and they are easy to install. While they don’t include the same features as the Reds (spacers and washers), they are priced low enough that you can easily buy those as well.
Of concern, though, is the fact that many sets come with a pretty poor job done with the lube that is pre-applied. It can be so bad that you must completely clean off the bearing. While that is a QA issue that you probably won’t face, it is worth noting.
- Incredibly smooth ride.
- ABEC 9 on the cheap.
- Pre-lubed with great Speed Lubricant.
- Marketing issues lead to misinformation and confusion.
- Lube can “gunk up”.
- Not a big name yet, durability is yet to be confirmed.
The SupaFly Alphas are a great set of bearings that offer easy cleaning, plenty of durability, industrial grade pre-lubricant, ABEC 7 rating, and a low noise high speed steel bearing ball. The bearings are also gold plated which will prevent rust or corrosion. According to SupaFly they are also inspected twice before leaving the factory, which should mean that you end up with consistent results. Finally, a metal carrying case is included to prevent moisture from getting on the bearings.
The only real concern with these particular bearings comes from the durability. They will last a good while, but compared to others on the list, they likely won’t last as long. They are priced at a low enough price (on average) that they make up for the lower durability, but if you don’t like doing the install work, it is important that you are aware of the fact that you may be replacing them more than some others. The company also offers the item for a discount, or free, for reviews on sites like Amazon, so take that into account if you have a particular taste in how companies get their reviews.
- Great ABEC 7 bearings.
- Metal case is included.
- Pre-lubed with industrial lube.
- Double checked through quality assurance before leaving the factory.
- Durability may be an issue.
- No tools (washers, spacers, etc.) included.
Yellow Jacket is probably the biggest competitor to Bones when it comes to the bearings market and for good reason. They include one of the best lubes on the pre-lubricated bearings offered here. On top of that, they claim to have a higher precision than the competition, though the jury is still out on that. Yellow Jacket does understand the importance of design though. With an engraved seal appearing to be nothing more than a place to stamp their name, you actually get protection from dirt, dust and other debris. They also offer a money-back guarantee.
While all of that sounds great, the biggest complaint we have is their durability. After just a few weeks they can start to lose that new bearing feeling. This is such a big issue, though, that they can slow down the ride by a significant amount. They seem to be pretty solid for skates, but when it comes to longboards they are fantastic for a while, but wear down quicker than we would like. It isn’t a problem with every set, but it comes up enough that it is a cause for concern. Still, you have that money back guarantee, so you can’t go wrong with giving them a shot. You may not have a pair that goes out too quick. This will also last longer if you are riding easier on them, but for bombing, they probably aren’t ideal.
- Solid and affordable bearings.
- Pre-lubed with no problems.
- Money-back guarantee.
- May not hold up at high speeds.
- Not a good choice for bombing.
- Inconsistent durability.
The NEAL Precision bearings come in three styles, swiss, ceramic and titanium. The ones we are placing here are the ceramic bearings. While the still and swiss may be fine, the ceramic are the go to. While they offer one of the best rides and highest levels of durability on the list, they are also priced at a higher level than most others on this list according to our research. While they may be a fantastic ride, you will need to be a serious boarder to pony up the extra cash for these. The increase is there, but it comes down to performance versus price.
If we didn’t worry about cost and just reviewed based on the bearings themselves, these would be much higher on the list. And while they are fantastic when you first get them, probably due to the low viscosity of their chosen lube, they seem to wear down after a cleaning. This may be something you can overcome if you have the right lube to clean and fix them up, but we noticed a big difference after significant use. Still, these are fantastic bearings, and the first ceramic bearings on the list.
- Ceramic bearings give the smoothest ride out there.
- The pre-lube on that they come with is some of the best on the market.
- Very fast and stable out of the box.
- Money-back guarantee.
- Lasting quality may depend on the skill of the user.
- Quality is not consistent, some riders report grinding and locking bearings.
The jack of all trades of bearings actually works pretty well for easy riders. If you don’t plan on bombing or carving – you are just that person that wants a lazy ride with your dog in the afternoon, these do the trick and they do it at the best price point on this list. The interesting thing about these bearings is that they are used more for machinery than for skating.
The biggest issue that we found is the lube is inferior to every other bearing on this list. The bearings are double shielded, but that doesn’t help the fact that the included lube won’t last you long. You won’t get the smoothest ride, or the longest lasting bearings here, but you will get serviceable bearings that will work for the casual longboarder.
These are the polar opposite bearings of the NEAL precision bearings. Where the NEAL’s offer a high-end bearing at a price that is well above average, these offer an entry level bearing at a price that is well below the average price. You can easily purchase four or five sets of the BC’s for the price of one set of the NEALs. This is where value and the type of rider you are comes in. For the hardcore, stick with something like the NEAL, for someone looking for a cheap way to start learning the sport, these are an easy choice as you won’t break the bank if you mess them up.
- Extremely affordable.
- Double shielded keeps the bad stuff out.
- Perfect for entry level riders.
- Lube leaves a lot to be desired.
- Quality is on the low end (they are for entry level riders).
- Not designed with boards in mind, designed as bearings first and it shows.
- Rough ride.
If we didn’t consider average prices in our list, these would easily be the bearings taking up the number one spot. Make no mistake, these are expensive bearings for riders that are very deep in the sport and need the highest quality bearings available. They are pre-lubricated with racing cream lubricant and have a non-contact, removable rubber shield for easy cleaning and less friction.
If we had to find a big drawback it would be the amount of maintenance that you need to put into these bearings. The Ceramic Reds are an investment and you need to keep them up or they won’t last. Some riders may not like them due to the speed in which they roll. One push and you get significant power boosts compared to lower end bearings.
The break in period isn’t the worst, but can feel longer than others. Over time, they become the smoothest bearings on the market from what we found and are easily one of the best investments for serious riders. They won’t appeal to the mass market, but for those that are looking for something that can last them for a few years, these just may be able to pull it off.
- Smoothest ride we could find.
- Last longer than just about any other bearings on the market.
- Extremely fast for bombing.
- High cost.
- A few inconsistencies found in our research when it comes to quality – but those were rare.
- High level of maintenance required.
With the Dark Wolf 1’s being rated at an ABEC 9 you would likely expect them to be much higher on the list. This is where the ABEC rating system has a few flaws. Sure, they are durable, but they aren’t built with the same quality as some of the other bearings on the list and they don’t compare with the Reds.
As a non-lubricated bearing this work great, but they come with a variable amount of pre-lube already placed on them, and some are overflowing. The big issue is they don’t spin for long and are inconsistent in their quality. Some of the bearings will stick, while others will roll along easily. These are on the list because they are a great “step-up” bearing. Affordable pricing and durable bearing are great for those looking to move out of the entry level bearings, but aren’t quite sure about dropping a wad of cash on the expensive bearings.
If you are going to add some kind of lubricant to these bearings make sure it is a grease or cream as thing lubricants seem to leak out fairly easily. The big bonus here is that washers and spacers are included, which puts these at a very attractive price point. You won’t really find a better bang for your buck, just keep the cons in mind before you choose these. The prices we found were among the lowest on the list, but the bearings are the definition of “You get what you pay for.”
- Solid intermediate bearings.
- ABEC 9 bearings at a very affordable price.
- Will work without any real lubricant.
- Washers and spacers included.
- Thin lubricants leak out.
- Poor spin.
- Some bearings stick and lock.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The bearings on our list are all over the place as far as what you may be looking for. Some are going to be for long time riders looking to bomb some huge hills (number seven, Bones Ceramics) while others are more for the casual ride around the block (number six, BC Precision). We did our best to include something for everyone, and a few that could fit into multiple areas.
If you are just starting and want to learn more about how to effectively work on your own board you are likely going to be best off with the BC Precision (number six) or Bones Reds (number one) as they are both affordable and solid enough. Go with the Precision if you don’t ride hard, and Reds if you do.
The Silver’s (number two on the list) are a fantastic choice for just about any rider if you can get past the shady marketing. Some people won’t care and will look past the flaws such as the need for your own lube to replace the lube that is included, while others will write them off for those particular aspects.
The NEAL Ceramic’s (number five) may be a good introduction to ceramic bearings as they offer a good middle ground between traditional steel and the Bones Ceramic’s, but if you want to just dive in and money isn’t too tight, go with the Bones versions as they have a bit more consistency. The NEAL’s are much better for those that are trying to stay within a budget and want to get a ceramic set that they won’t feel bad about destroying.
Every bearing on this list, outside of the BC Precisions will work for any type of rider, but pay special attention to the different advantages each bearing offers. If you are looking for a build that will do one thing perfectly, there is an obvious winner on this list for that one thing. If you need something that covers all the bases, the Bones bearings are a great option, as are the Silvers and Yellow Jackets (number four). The best advice I can give you is to find a place to purchase from that offers an easy return policy and make sure that you take advantage of it. Try bearings that you think will work, but don’t be afraid to exchange them for something a little more in line with what you were expecting. No one bearing is perfect, and each will be the best bearing ever for someone, so use our list as a guide and start experimenting until you find the perfect bearing for your needs.