How we build our bearings in the USA!
How we build our bearings by hand
As many of you know, we don't sell pre-built, machine made bearings. A lot of our competitors are sourcing bearings from the far east, buying them as completed bearings and marketing them as a high quality ceramic bearing. On the other hand, we select what we feel are the best components, (races, seals, retainer, balls, etc.) from our partners in Europe, Taiwan and the USA and then build them by hand when you place your order.
In this post we thought showing you how we build each bearing by hand might shed some light on why our bearings are highly regarded and have a good track record of longevity.
Below we are building our Ceramic BB for Shimano 10/11 speed cranks. The process is the same for all of our bearings, but this will show more in depth what we do to a full BB, rather than just wheel bearings.
Step one is to select the parts. For this build we need an inner and outer race, a retainer, two seals (shown a few steps down) and a bunch of our shiny perfect ceramic balls.
Next we take the ceramic balls and place them into the outer race, making sure they are all on the bottom half:
Now we install the inner race being careful not to drop any of the ceramic balls. Right now there is nothing holding them in place.
Now we have to spread all the balls evenly so that the retainer will snap into place. Once we have spread the balls around, they hold the two races together well enough that we no longer have to worry that the balls might fall out.
Now that the balls are spread out, we snap the retainer into place. The retainer has little plastic "arms" that hold each ball. Here you see the back of the retainer and a seal next to the bearing.
Now we snap the rubber seal onto the backside of the bearing (the backside is the retainer side) and also the side we laser our logo onto (look at the inner race).
Now we are ready to press the bearing into the cup. Here is the bearing next to the cup. We will flip the bearing and press the laser logo side in first, so that the ceramic balls will face outward (making it easier for you to grease them in the future):
Here are both cups with the bearings pressed in. You can see the retainer and how each ceramic ball is evenly spread by the retainer. The retainer will hold the balls in place so they rotate easily:
Next we add some grease. We differ from every other maker of ceramic bearings in that we apply as much grease as we can into the bearing. A lot of companies will go really light on the grease knowing that the first thing you will do when you get the bearing is spin it in your hand. So they use a low grease fill to make you think the bearing is really fast since it turns so easily. We think that is a marketing gimmick and also a sure fire way to have early bearing failure. So we load up on the grease, knowing that it's the ceramic balls that are what makes a ceramic bearing so fast. The grease will break in over the first few hundred miles of riding and our bearings will loosen up quite a bit.
Now we snap the outer seal in place. If chosen, we would've installed our orange cyclocross seals in this step but this customer chose regular seals.
Now, we apply some grease to the outside of the seal. This will help protect the bearing from contamination and also keep the dustcap quiet since it won't rub.
Now we are getting close to a finished BB. We then install our dustcaps. Note the dry ID of the dustcap.
Now we apply some grease to the ID of the dustcap. This is to help eliminate spindle wear on your crank and also to keep things quiet. Note the grease on the ID of the dustcap.
Now we flip the bearing over so we can access the inside. You can see the backside seal here, the one we installed before we pressed the bearing into the cup.
And then we add more grease, this time over the backside seal so that no water enters the bearing from inside your frame.
That is pretty much how we build our bearings. We left out a few secret things we do, but in a nutshell, this is the correct way to build a bearing and ensure it not only is fast, but also lasts.
Remember that grease is the best thing for a bearing, so it is very important you follow our maintenance guide and grease your bearings periodically.
Thanks for reading!