Bearings, Hardware & Parts Explained
Bearings represent the inner workings of the wheel. Simply put, they make your wheels spin on your trucks' axles. There are two bearings per wheel. The more you spend on a set of bearings, the more you will get. The more expensive the set of bearings, the more perfect the ball bearings inside, and the faster and more durable the bearing will be.
The ABEC scale is a standard for the tolerances of a ball bearing. Bearings used for skateboarding typically start with a class 5 tolerance, also known as ABEC 5, and go up to ABEC 9. The higher the ABEC class, the more precise, efficient, and faster a bearing will be. Higher rated bearings also typically last longer. Not every brand states their ABEC tolerance, but it can be easily determined by the price of the set of bearings. Bones Swiss bearings have long been the standard for high-performance skateboard bearings, while Bones Reds reign as the go-to bearing of choice for most skaters. Bearings are universal in size.
Hardware is the nuts and bolts that hold the trucks to the deck. 1" is a standard bolt size for any basic street setup where risers aren't typically used. If you're wanting to put together a cruiser setup, or even if you just like to rock bigger wheels, you will want riser pads, which will require longer hardware. Typically, 1.25"-1.5" hardware will work with risers, depending on the thickness of the risers. Here's the general breakdown:
No risers -> 7/8"-1" hardware
1/8" risers -> 1"-1 1/8" hardware
1/4" risers -> 1 1/4" hardware
1/2" risers -> 1 1/2" hardware
From griptape to bushings to riser pads, they all serve their purpose.
Griptape is ubiquitous in skateboarding. Your personal preference will determine what level of grit you want, or if you want to go with the standard black, some kind of funky color, or graphically-enhanced grip.
Aftermarket bushings allow you to customize the feel of your trucks. Softer bushings make turning easier, and harder bushings make your trucks ride stiffer. Medium, of course, is for skaters who prefer something in the middle.
Riser pads can be inserted between the skateboard trucks and deck to raise the overall height of the skateboard. They're used to avoid wheel bite. They also provide a certain level of dampening...and can help preserve your skateboard deck by reducing the occurrence stress cracks where the deck and the trucks meet. If you take bigger wheels, you'll probably need a set of risers.