Bones Bearings are probably the most well-known and highly rated skateboard bearing brand in the world, and have been for several decades. The Bones Bearings lineup has a bearing at every price point, with several unique features that really make them stand out from other bearing brands.
Which Bones Bearings should I get?
For most skaters, Bones Reds are totally good enough. They're cheap, easy to clean, and proven. Like all other Bones Reds Series below, they're made in China.
*Bones "Super Reds" are made form higher-grade steel, and finished to a higher tolerance. Bones claim they are quieter, smoother, and longer lasting.
*If you like jumping off roofs, Bones Big Balls feature six bigger balls in the race, instead of the usual seven slightly smaller balls. They're stronger, and will last you longer.
*If you skate fast and do a lot of slides, or you are fed up with losing spacers and speed rings (who isn't!), then Bones Race Reds feature a built-in bearing spacer and speed rings.
*If you REALLY like spending money, Bones Swiss "Competition" Bearings are the next level up in terms of tolerances, shielding and materials. There is a "Super Swiss 6 Ball" bearing too, which is the equivilent of the Bones Big Balls, but with "Swiss" races and materials.
*If you have more money than you know what to do with, Bones Ceramic Super Reds feature self-lubricating and self cleaning ceramic balls. But you do still need to clean them every now and then to keep them super good. For the most expensive bearings Bones Make, it's the Bones Swiss Ceramics - combining Swiss Precision with Ceramic Balls!
What does Bones "Skate Rated" mean?
Bones use the "Skate Rated" moniker to describe a number of features that all Bones bearings share. They are:
*No ABEC rating - "Skate Rated"
*Single-side non-contact rubber shield for decent protection and easy cleaning
*Pre lubricated with Bones Speed Cream
*Made from quality materials to high tolerances
*Designed from the ground up for skateboarding since 1983
Are Bones Swiss worth it? Bones Swiss vs Bones Reds
The Bones bearings lineup is divided into two series - "Reds" bearings and "Swiss" bearings
Bones Reds are the cheaper option. They are made in China, and feature all of the ideas that George Powell had when he came up with "Skate Rated" bearings. Bones Swiss bearings have a lot of the same features, but are made in Switzerland to higher grade materials and to tighter tolerances.
Bones Swiss bearings also feature a deeper groove in their bearing races, which makes the bearing much stronger under side loads. If you've ever blown out a bearing, you'll appreciate this feature.
Most Bones bearings in the "Reds" series have "Swiss" equivilents: so Bones Reds are equivilent to Bones Swiss, Bones Big Balls are equivilent to Super Swiss Six Balls, and Bones Ceramic Reds are equivilent to the top-end Bones Swiss Ceramics. The features are the same, but the Swiss bearings use stronger, tougher materials, made to a higher degree of precision.
This is lovely, but what does it mean for your board?
If you've got the cash, and you can appreciate the finer things in life, we think Swiss bearings are worth it. They run quieter and smoother, and they stay fast for longer. If you keep them clean they will last you longer than any Reds. In fact, we'd reccommend Bones Swiss over the Bones Ceramic Super Reds - we think the top-end steel bearing is better value for money over a cheaper ceramic bearing. More on ceramic vs steel bearings here.
Bones Big Balls and Super Swiss Six vs regular skate bearings
Bones are the only brand that make a six ball skate bearing.
Bones Big Balls and Super Swiss Six Ball bearings have six, bigger balls per bearing, rather than the usual seven per bearing. This is great becuase bigger balls roll faster and are slowed down less by dirt particles in the races. Which means that they stay faster for longer.
The bigger balls are also stronger, and better able to resist sideloads.
We strongly recommend the Bones Six Ball bearings, they offer a definite real-world advantage most other skate bearings - even ceramics.