16 - Skate - Hobby

Skate Bearings - Question 16

What other factors affect bearing performance?

The attributes of a bearing that affect its performance are many and varied, but the most important features that would affect the performance in a skating application are as follows ...

  • Lubricant type and quality - Heavier lubricants such as grease for longer life. Lighter lubricants such as oils for freer running.
  • Quality of the bearing steel - Bad quality steels can fail very quickly. (Stick with known bearing brands)
  • Internal axial and radial clearance (how much movement there is in both directions when the rings of the bearing are pushed in opposite directions). Too little or too much clearance can be detrimental to bearing performance. You can usually feel this movement with your fingers but you will not be able to determine whether it is within acceptable limits just by feel. Check the manufacturers specifications on the bearings and try to stay within the "MC3" range for normal skating applications. The terminology "MC3" will be recognised by most bearing suppliers. If you want more speed, you will want to use a higher internal clearance to allow the bearings to spin more freely. We have had some very good success supplying "MC5" clearance with a very light oil lubricant for speed skating. These are not available in a serviceable shield type though, and they will need replacing on a regular basis.
  • Manufacturing quality control and cleanliness.

(None of the above attributes are covered by ABEC grades).

The best way to ensure that you get a good bearing is to stick to the well known manufacturers, and by this we do not necessarily mean "well known skating brand names". If you are buying pre-packaged sets it can be beneficial to check if the actual bearing shows a bearing manufacturers name and country of manufacture. Of course, not having these details doesn’t mean that the bearing is no good.

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