The Fastest Skateboard Bearings & How to Go Faster

“I wanna go fast!!”

Me too. As skaters we need speed. We need speed to maintain momentum on transition. We need speed to clear obstacles. We need speed to get up ramps. We need speed to feel alive. Skaters need speed and we all are trying to get more speed.

Most skaters, myself included until recently, believe that a more expensive, higher ABEC rated, bearing will make us roll faster. We want to believe that there is a faster bearing out there. What is that faster bearing? Are they ceramic? Are they Swiss made? Does it exist? Can you believe the manufacturers claims?

Lets dive into some of the bearings I have used and how I felt they performed. We will break them down into categories: Cheap and Fast, Expensive and Fast, Overpriced Fast.

Cheap and Fast Skateboard Bearings

These bearings are easy to find, lots of skaters use them, and they carry a cheaper price tag. According to their price, they should also be the lowest performance bearings available.

Bones REDS

Ask any skater what their bearings are and 80% of the time they will be skating Bones Reds. Reds are basically the standard in skateboard bearings. They roll nice and smooth and are very durable. Everybody knows Reds. I purchased Reds for these exact reasons.

I found that they rolled well and were quiet when they started. As I skated them longer they did get louder but they still spun well. I didn’t notice my roll slow down much over time with Reds. When they did start to slow down I cleaned them. After cleaning, I didn’t feel like they rolled as fast. This could be true, or could all been in my head. I cleaned them again after about 10 hours and they still felt slow. I stopped skating them shortly after.

Overall I have no complaints about Reds. They are a low cost, decent bearing. They work well out of the box, and do what they are supposed to do. I think I noticed them slowing down after a month. But they are cheap enough that you won’t be afraid to replace them

Bronson G2

I replaced my Reds with Bronson G2. After my Reds were under performing, I wanted to try the new Bronson brand that I had been hearing about. I wanted to try the Bronson Raw, but my skate shop only had G2. They were about the same price as Reds and they came with spacers.

I love these bearings. While they did get a bit louder, they didn’t seem to slow down. I cleaned them as part of my equipment maintenance ritual, and to my surprise, they didn’t seem any slower. Maybe I cleaned them better than the Reds, or maybe they are better bearings.

Between Reds and G2, I would recommend G2. They seemed to perform better than the Reds and lasted longer. Unlike the Reds, the G2 continued to perform well even after cleaning. They also came with spacers which most bearings do not include. Given that G2 and Reds are about the same price, I would recommend G2.

Modus Blacks

I wouldn’t recommend these bearings unless you are really in a pinch. I was. I needed new bearings, didn’t have much money and these were $10. They spun okay at first but the performance certainly dropped off after a month of my low impact skating. Cleaning them brought them back to life for a bit, but again, the performance quickly dropped after a few weeks.

On a side note, I use the Modus allen hardware and love it.

Expensive Fast Skateboard Bearings

I would consider these bearings to be the next step up from the cheap ones. Expect to pay between $30 and $60 for these. Since they are more expensive, they should make you roll faster and smoother right?

Bronson G3

I loved the G2 and thought I would try the next level of Bronson Speed Co bearings. I opened my wallet and got a set of the Nora Vasconsellos G3. I like Nora’s skating, but am not fussy on owning “Pro Models”. Nora’s model were the only G3s the skate shop had. Sadly, they didn’t come with spacers.

Bronson G3 Skateboard Bearings

Since the G2s rolled like butter, I think I was expecting the G3s to push the skateboard for me. Well, they didn’t. They felt the same as the G2s. The performance was excellent and they rolled smooth and fast. They felt the same as the G2s to be honest. I took the spacers from the G2 and use them with the G3.

I have never cleaned the G3 because I haven’t felt they needed it. They still spin the same as they always have. I haven’t taken them to the street much because I have been using them on my Transition and ramp setup. I do recommend the G3 because they might last longer, but I don’t think they are necessarily worth the price over G2s.

Bones Big Balls Reds

I bought Bones Big Balls Reds because I was building an Old School setup with the most expensive components I could get without giving me too much buyers remorse and anxiety. I wanted this setup to be special and be made up of components that I wouldn’t normally select or use. I didn’t want to spend $100 on bearings so I went with the Big Balls.

The Big Balls Reds are definitely a good bearing. They roll nice and smooth and are very quiet. They are supposed to be faster and more durable than standard Reds due to having 6 larger sized balls vs standard bearings having 7 smaller balls.

I have mostly used them on my Old School cruiser setup so they have seen more streets than park. Despite all the dirt and dust they never seem to slow down. I clean them at the end of each season but honestly don’t know that they actually needed it. The alcohol has never had to much dirt in it during cleaning. Maybe they have really good dust shields.

I am not sure if they are faster. They do feel smoother than but are twice the price of Reds. I don’t know if I will buy them again after they die, but if you want to spend a few extra bucks on some decent bearings, you won’t go wrong with the Bones Big Balls Reds.

Overpriced Fast Skateboard Bearings

Since we have been talking about Bones and Bronson Bearings, I thought it might be fun to have a look at each companies ceramic bearing offerings. I have never owned ceramic bearings and won’t unless someone gifts me a set.

I have not had enough of an issue with the low and mid priced bearings to make me want to spend $100 or more on Ceramic bearings. I have rolled on friends setups that had ceramic bearings.

Bones Ceramics and Bronson Ceramics

Ceramic bearings are extremely hyped up. They are very sought after because they are supposed to be the fastest bearing on the market. Ceramic bearings are sold as being faster, smoother and more durable than their metal ball counterparts which doesn’t reflect reality.

Ceramic bearings are supposed to last much longer because the ceramic balls are harder than steel balls. The ceramic balls are also supposed to repair small damages that happen to the inner race of the bearing. When the inner race of a steel bearing gets damaged the bearing will no longer spin properly and the bearing needs to be replaced. Ceramic balls are also waterproof so they will never rust unlike metal balls.

Ceramic bearings claim to have more precise tolerances than steel bearings. Higher tolerance has nothing to do with speed. A bearing with a higher tolerance rating will spin smoother than a lower rated bearing. Precision bearings are important for use in high speed machines, but not so much in skateboarding.

Different materials heat up at different rates and behave differently when they heat up. The problem with Bones and Bronson ceramic bearings is that they are made of a mix of materials. The raceways are steel and the ball bearings are ceramic.

Both of these materials behave differently under temperature changes so these bearings are not truly precise. Metal races also rust. While the balls wont rust, the races can get corroded which will impede spin.

Ceramic bearings are not necessary and are all hype, especially Bones and Bronson Ceramics. The actual production costs of Bones Ceramics is 7 times less then they are sold for. A decent metal bearing properly taken care of, will serve you just as well and will save you a big amount of money.

How to actually make your skateboard faster

I have skated many different sets of bearings from different manufacturers and can honestly say that I didn’t notice much difference. Certainly none were faster than others. Some offered a smoother ride, easier acceleration and lasted longer than others, but none actually made my skateboard faster.

1. Get bigger wheels

If you actually want to make your skateboard faster you should look to your wheels. Larger diameter wheels means a faster top speed and an easier maintained speed. Simple physics tells us that a larger diameter wheel will be slower to accelerate but have a higher top speed due to a larger moment of inertia over a smaller wheel.

big and small skateboard wheel wear

The facts are that the larger diameter your wheels, the faster you will roll and the easier you will maintain speed. Transition skaters use larger wheels because they roll faster and they don’t need to pump as hard to get up the transition. Working less hard gives you more time to setup for your tricks and you won’t tire as quickly.

2. Use harder wheels

Hard wheels are faster because they hold their shape better under load conditions than soft wheels which compress and distort when a load is applied. This makes hard wheels spin smoother and faster than softer wheels.

Ideally you will want to use the hardest wheels you can based on the conditions you skate. If you only skate clean smooth parks, use 99A or harder. If you are skating streets, 95A should work well. If you are mostly cruising rough terrain with lots of pebbles, you will want an 87A durometer wheel.

Using soft wheels in a skatepark feels noticeably different than hard wheels. Likewise, hard wheels on rough ground is no bueno.

3. Keep your skateboard maintained

While maintaining your skateboard won’t make it faster, it can help to keep it from losing speed quicker than it should. Just like maintaining a car to keep it running well, a little TLC on your skateboard will go a long way.

Doing simple things like rotating your wheels, keeping trucks and truck axles clean, cleaning your wheels, cleaning your bearings and keeping your hardware tight help to keep your skateboard in good condition and prevent mechanical failures. It also helps your skateboard last longer and wear evenly saving you from having to replace parts often.

4. Keep your wheels loose

Your wheels should have a bit of play on your axle. If your wheels are tightened all the way it will squeeze the bearing and prevent it from spinning as freely and smoothly as intended. This will make you roll slower.

When I tighten my wheel nuts, I tighten them until there is about 1mm of space between the speed ring and the bearing. I can wiggle my wheel very slightly, and can hear them rattle a bit when I shake my skateboard.

5. Use speed rings/Washers

I mentioned speed rings in the previous point. Speed rings are the little metal washers that come with trucks that we either lose or throw away. There are 2 speed rings per axle. They are very important so don’t throw them out.

speed rings washers on skateboard truck axle

The purpose of speed rings is for the bearing to contact and spin against. Rather than the bearing spinning against the truck hangar and the wheel nut, the speed ring provides a smooth surface buffer for the bearing between these parts. The speed ring helps the bearing to spin smoother meaning you can roll faster and longer before slowing to a stop.

6. Push/pump harder

Really the only way to go faster on your skateboard is to push and pump harder. A hard and fast push will generate more forward momentum and give a larger final velocity. Pumping helps to maintain and gain speed over transitions. Pumping harder will get you up the transition wall faster, while not pumping will completely kill your speed.

If you are still new to skating, pushing is the most important skill you can work on. If you want to go fast make sure you have a fast and solid push.

Pumping when rolling up and down obstacles like ramps, pools and quarter pipes, helps you to keep your speed up. Its also important to pump when going down transition to increase your speed out of the transition. Practice pumping when going up and down ramps and quarter pipes. Soon you will figure out how much pump you need to reach the speed you want.

7. clean Your bearings

I mentioned cleaning bearings several times, so I am going to give you my cleaning process. I follow the instructions from the Bones website. I clean my bearings when they get loud and when I start to feel like they aren’t spinning as fast as they used too.

I remove the shields, put the bearings in a jar filled with rubbing alcohol and shake until the alcohol becomes dirty. I repeat this process until the alcohol is clean. I let the bearings air dry for a couple of hours, and lubricate them with a couple drops of Bones speed cream. I reattach shields, give them several spins, and throw them back in the wheels.

Final Thoughts

Making your skateboard fast has more to do with your skating technique than your gear. If your skateboard is setup properly, has the largest and hardest wheels that will work for you, then speed all comes down to how you are riding the skateboard. Proper pushing techniques and working the transition properly will have you flying as fast as you can handle.

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William K

I am a Canadian in my early 40's, 5'10", 170 lb and can grow a fantastic beard. I like to play video games, watch movies and hang out with my cats, Steve and Gary. I enjoy making things with my hands from craft projects to constructing buildings. Oh, I also love skateboarding.