Manufacturers today offer a vast choice of rollerskis to suit any taste and purse. Relative advantages of aluminum frames vs carbon laminated vs carbon monocoque are hotly debated. Ditto for rubber vs PU wheels.
There is one thing, however, that all modern rollerskis have in common – ball-bearings. The 608 series ball-bearings are de-facto standard for all “summer skis” ( and beyond).
We reached to several leading rollerski producers with two questions;
1. what ball-bearings do you use in production of your rollerskis and based on what criteria did you choose them over the others?
2. in the ideal world, when/if money is not an object, what ball-bearings would you recommend?
Marcos Ruperez, Quionne
We use reliable bearings with no matter that much about velocity. Why?
because what is the sense of using supper fast bearings if we are looking
for a training rollerski similar to skiing where the main similarity is to
use low velocity wheels!! If we use supper fast bearings this will be going
in the other direction. So we use reliable industrial bearings that never
ever breaks but are normal fast – this is the correct decision for a training
rollerski in our opinion, nothing in common with rollerskate bearings.
We would use a supper quality industrial bearing that are able to do
thousands and thousand of kilometers, but as I said never super fast
rollerskate bearings… it makes no sense for a training rollerski.
Of course, if we use our rollers for competition, like
in the last rollerski world championship, we install best bearings we can
get, 5 ball bearings with ceramic balls usually, but this is not the common
use of rollerski it is just for professional or competitors.
Paul Fletcher, Marwe
– We use ISB -produced bearings. They currently offer the best price/quality ratio
( DS Note: The storied Finnish manufacturer is customary tight-lipped about its production process – we could only add that the Italian-designed, Chinese-made 2RS Deep Groove that by Marwe appear to be using ( unlike most others, ISB does not mark its products) are not cheap – they retail for about EUR 16-20 per set of 8 )
Jorge Vidal, Bonés Sports
As standard we use 608zz bearings. They are cheaper and free of
For carbon model we use the 608 2RS, only because level of noise is lower,
so just to give a better experience for the buyer that get the top models.
For racing economical we use TwinCam ILQ-9 (6 balls), just because is faster than
standard 608zz or 608 2RS
For top racing we use ceramic
All bearings have an end life, but rollerskiers don’t care about them ever, from
very professionals to beginners. Specially on the conditions were people
are using them (wet surface, especially). If you compare with inline skaters,
after a training or a race with rain they open their bearings and clean ball
by ball, and they change them regularly. I have never seen a regular rollerskier
with the tools to remove the bearings, neither for classic or skating. So when something go wrong they prefer to change the wheel.
This is a real customer that came asking for new wheels because the old ones were not
“turning well the wheels” She had never changed them, neither did she clean them in 10 years. What else can you expect?
TwinCam ILQ9 bearings. I like them also a lot, because as they have 6 balls instead of 7 so there is less friction and it can be use both for training or racing (they won’t beat ceramic bearings, but they still good enough)
Pat McCarter, Rundle Sport:
Rundle Sport uses a common wheel bearing type (608-2RS) that is a good balance of price and performance. Our criteria when choosing our bearings was that they needed to be made of stainless steel or chrome steel, be pre-lubricated, and use a rubber shield. Metal shields do a poor job keeping out contaminants (water, dust, dirt, etc) which means they aren’t very durable and can seize over time.
I think durability is the most important factor for roller ski bearings because bearings are the weak point in roller ski wheels. Roller ski tires and rims always outlast the bearings. A lot of high quality bearings focus on improving rolling speed, but I think fast rolling speed isn’t necessarily a good thing for roller skis. Most people want their roller ski wheels to be a standard speed so that training with other people is easier. A durable bearing that doesn’t change wheel speed too dramatically is my idea of the perfect bearing.
My Ideal Bearing Selection: Boca bearings SMR608C-2YS/C3 #5 SRL
Price: $27.95 USD per 1 bearing
These bearings use a heavy-duty rubber seal to keep out contaminants and the are specifically designed for dirty environments. They are made of stainless steel so they won’t rust, but use ceramic balls for better durability. Ceramic balls are both more durable and lighter than steel balls. The bearings meet ABEC 5 standards and use grade 10 balls. I’ve used these bearing for mountain bikes and think they would be great for roller skiing.
Are you a rollerski producer with something to say on the matter of ball bearing selection? Write to us with your experiences and thoughts on the subject – we shall update this material