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Skating at 40km/h speed skate wheels spin at more than 1900 revolutions per minute. Skate wheels are fitted with ball bearings to allow them to spin freely with minimal friction.
Ball bearings (or 'bearings') are an assembly of small balls contained between two circular raceways. The balls are evenly distributed by a cage and can roll freely within the raceways. The rolling action of the balls permits the inner raceway to be stationary (on the frame axle) while the outer raceway spins with the wheel.
Most of the world's bearings are produced for use inside machines. Machine bearings are fast but not made for the vibration, impact, dust and angular loads of speed skating.
Speed skating bearings are made for the sport. They'll spin up easily at starting speeds, and roll freely while being twisted through a corner, or vibrating across a dusty road. They'll also last a long time and be easy to service.
Lower-priced bearings are perfect for new speed skaters and for training use. High end bearings are best appreciated by advanced skaters wanting to maximise energy savings.