- Category: Bearings
With more skaters hearing that ABEC does not specifically apply to skateboarding, is there no surprise that more brands are currently promoting "Swiss" bearings? What is a Swiss bearing and why are they claimed to be better than all other bearings? Would your first response be "They are manufactured in Switzerland", or "They're made from Swiss steel"?
What differentiates Swiss bearings to make them better, and how does the quality compare to American or Chinese bearings? As consumers, have we been duped for decades into the misconception that the Swiss make superior products?
Other than Swiss materials used and country of origin, there are no noticeable physical, mechanical, or material contrasts that constitute a bearing to be Swiss or superior. These are not watches, army knives, or cheese here. We all know what Swiss cheese looks and tastes like and that it will never be called cheddar cheese. Swiss bearings do not have specific attributes like Swiss cheese that separate them from any other bearings manufactured around the world. There are no standard recipes or instruction manuals for manufacturing true "Swiss" bearings.
Authentic Swiss bearings are manufactured in Switzerland on genuine Swiss screw machines. Some manufacturers, in other countries, label their bearings "Swiss" because they say their bearings are made on what they call "Swiss-style" screw machines, whether or not their devices actually resemble true Swiss screw machines. A few Chinese bearing manufacturers are producing bearings made on real Swiss screw machines and call their bearings "Swiss". Other manufacturers are using their so-called "Swiss-style" screw machines and also label their product as "Swiss bearings". It is possible that some skateboard bearing brands are selling "Swiss" bearings when, in fact, they are simply Chinese bearings made on one of their so-called "Swiss-style" screw machines.
When comparing a Swiss bearing to a Chinese bearing there relatively is no difference. A bearingis a bearing, is a bearing. Swiss, in a way, is thought of as a category or rating above ABEC. Switzerland is merely a country that makes bearings like everyone else. What can make a Swiss bearing, or any bearing, better than another is merely the quality of materials and the manufacturing process.
Besides, why should we assume that bearings from Switzerland are of a higher quality than those of the United States of America, or even China for that matter? Remember, it was the American Bearing Manufacturers Association that developed the ABEC scale to grade precision ball bearings, not the Swiss. Also, the USA is far more recognized throughout the world for manufacturing products of the highest quality and craftsmanship than Switzerland. Example: NASA.
A true "Swiss" bearing should be made in Switzerland, using Swiss material, and made on a Swiss screw machine.
Perhaps, you may want to contact various bearing manufacturers and ask them specifically what a Swiss bearing is and why they are better than all other bearings. Or is it all marketing hype?