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           You will encounter the term "ABEC" when shopping for new bearings. ABEC is a measure of how tight the tolerance was in making the particular bearing. It ranges from ABEC 1 to ABEC 9, with higher numbers representing bearings with more precise "tolerances," or stricter quality control during manufacturing. Thus, ABEC 9 bearings are usually the best choice, although they also carry a slightly higher price tag over lower ABEC bearings.


           The bearing material is not specified in the ABEC bearings grades. Bearings not conforming to at least ABEC 1 can not be classified as precision bearings as their tolerances are too loose.The scale is designed to allow a user to make an informed decision about the type of bearing they are purchasing. High rated bearings are intended for precision applications like aircraft instruments or surgical equipment. Lower grades are intended for the vast majority of applications such as vehicles, mechanical hobbies, skates, skateboards, fishing reels and industrial machinery. High ABEC rated bearings allow optimal performance of critical applications requiring very high RPM and smooth operation.


           The differences between them are measured in microns or thousandths of a millimetre. The bore (the hole in the middle) of a skateboard bearing is 8mm. For an ABEC1 bearing the tolerance band on the bore size would be between 7.9920mm and 8mm. For an ABEC9 bearing the tolerance band on the bore size would be between 7.9975mm and 8mm. This is a difference of 5.5 microns. The human eye can only see things bigger that about 45 microns (roughly half the thickness of a human hair). That’s 8 times bigger than the differences between the two bearings!


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