Bearings are essential components of a bicycle that enable smooth movement and rolling. If they are damaged or faulty, riding a bike can become dangerous. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly maintain the bearings to keep your bike safe and fast. In this article, I'll share some of my learnings and advice on proper maintenance and rebuilding of bearings.
The Proper ApproachPrecision is key when it comes to maintaining bearings. Each step – from disassembly and cleaning to performance inspection and lubrication – must be performed carefully and with the right tools. Using specialized and high quality tools is crucial. A lot of the tools for removing protective seals and opening the bearings aren't availble for purchase, so we had to make them ourselves, with the help of our local turner specialist.
Cleaning and InspectionBearings are cleaned in specific liquids and emulsions, without the use of ultrasonic cleaners. After the cleaning fluid is applied we make sure to drive it all out with air compressor. Once carefully cleansed, we'll only then check the performance of the bearings to validate they are in good condition.
Heating and LubricationDuring the riding/racing session, bearings heat up, which means their characteristics change too. To ensure the best possible rotation, bearings are heated at specific temperatures during tuning too, and spun at high speeds. Afterward, a special grease is applied, consisting of hand-selected additives and LFR (Low Friction Resistance) and HPR (High Pressure Resistance) greases. The correct combination of these greases is the key to optimal performance.
When is it Time to Replace a Bearing?
It is important to note that a bearing can be functional until it develops "play," not just when it starts to make a noise. Of course, if the sound is too loud and causes vibrations, that is also a sign that it needs to be checked and potentially replaced. In the World Cup, bearings are not changed frequently, as a used bearing often provides better performance since it is already "broken in."
ConclusionProperly maintaining bicycle bearings is essential for achieving the best performance and safety. World Cup mechanics use specialized tools, techniques, and materials to ensure the lowest possible friction coefficient and the best rotation. These details and approach, along with quality tools, are key to achieving top results in cycling races.
So, if you want to ensure the longevity and speed of your bike, pay attention to bearing maintenance. Use quality tools and materials and regularly check the condition of the bearings to ensure safety and optimal performance on the road or trail.