There is a great misconception amongst people that wheel bearings in skates have an impact on how fast you can go. This is simply not true. How fast you skate is entirely dependent on your ability as a skater. Good bearings provide a smooth ride, resulting in more roll. This can make it easier or more difficult to skate fast, but the overall speed potential is not increased.
Why then the misconception, even amongst some experts? Well, new bearings give a smooth and effortless roll. Since people normally skate performance across the same terrain, such as a roller skating rink, they aren’t able to accurately assess overall performance, and believe that the roll a good set of wheel bearings provides equates to more speed.
In simple terms, it is not unlike pushing a shopping cart across the smooth floor of a grocery store. With the exception of the grocery cart I always seem to end up with, all four wheels will glide smoothly across the hard surfaces of the store floors. This changes once you leave the store. At that point considerably more effort is required to push the cart, and the rough sidewalk or street surfaces don’t allow the wheels to roll very far. The only real factor in cart distance at this point is how hard you push.
That is the key phrase – how hard you push. All things being equal, a skater who has less weight, or who can push harder (or both) will be the one to go faster, even if their bearings are not as good. Of course, a skater with better bearings with win the roll contest simply because there is less resistance to their push, and they will roll farther – just not necessarily faster.
Now that you understand the basic concept of bearings, the next question is whether the quality of bearings is important or not, and if so, why. As with all things, quality is in fact an important consideration, but only if you are someone who really skates. If you don’t, then the extra money spent on good bearings is wasted. This is because all bearings are basically the same when they are new. The only real difference in good bearings is that they don’t compress with frequent use. In simple terms, the higher quality your bearings are, the stronger the metal is, and the longer they will last.
For regular skaters, the bearings will need to be replaced every six months to one year anyway, so it is important to consider how often you will skate, coupled with the type of skating you intend to enjoy before selecting your bearings. Hopefully this has helped to clear things up on bearings, and as ever, contact us with any questions.