Can You Use Skateboard Bearings for Roller Skates?
Which bearings should I buy? Are expensive bearings worth their price?
This post was is re-composed, with permission, from a facebook post by a knowledgeable and trusted friend. Text and images are largely her own, but may have been edited for clarity when changing from facebook to blog format. Original post can be found here
When buying bearings for roller skates, there is a wide variety out there, with prices ranging from $20 a set, to $150 or more. It can be hard to know which is best for you. Additionally, what do you do if you can't find any roller skate bearings? Can you buy skateboard bearings?
Let's take it one question at a time.
Can I Use Skateboard Bearings for Roller Skates?
Maybe. Probably. The axles on roller skate trucks come in 2 sizes: 7mm and 8mm. Odds, are, unless you have high-end artistic skating plates, you are probably using 8mm axles. If your roller skates do have 8mm axles, you can use standard skateboard bearings on your roller skates, yes.
But now, you may be wondering...
How Do I Know if My Bearings are 8mm or 7mm?
There are 2 ways to tell this.
If you have either 608 or 627 written anywhere on your bearings, that's one way to know.
- 608: this means you have 8mm bearings
- 627: this means you have 7mm bearings
If you don't have these numbers written anywhere, no worries, all you need to solve this mystery is a pencil. Yes, I'm serious. Get a standard #2 pencil, the kind you used in school, and try to slide it through a bearing. If your pencil fits through easily, you have 8mm bearings. If your pencil doesn't fit through, you have 7mm bearings.
If your bearings are 8mm, you can replace them with bearings from the local skateboard shop. If they are 7mm, you probably can't, but you don't necessarily need to get them from a figure skating shop, though... (read on)
Can I Skate Well in Cheap Bearings?
IMO as long as they’re clean and lubricated in a way that’s appropriate for skating, bearings are the one part of a skate you can totally skimp on. I don't know how well this works in other countries (except Switzerland, of course), but I usually just buy cheap industrial bearings here in Germany. (I have some sets of skate bearings too but I can't really tell a difference.)
For 7 mm ones - and also stainless steel bearings - I usually use Kugellager Express, and those I have to clean and re-lubricate before use - but I still recommend them because most of them have lasted me ten years so far!
Now I've found an eBay seller that sells oiled 8 mm ones (that conveniently also come in sets of 16 and with bearing shields in various colours 😁) - better because you can use them right away and if you want to lubricate them yourself it's easier to clean off that oil than the grease other industrial bearings come with. I've already got another set from this seller - templer187 - and I think they work fine too. If you want to do this too, just look for 2 RS (or 1, as I did this time) to get the rubber shields - better for cleaning - and don't forget: 627 for 7 mm, or 608 for 8 mm bearings.