On finding better bearings for a better Trikke ride.
Wow! What a difference new bearings make in my carve! Hills are easier, flat ground is smoother, and I go faster (by a little more than 10%, when averaged over three moderate-exertion workout sessions with a cumulative distance of about 14 miles). Best yet, I don’t have to work as hard to carve. I even have enough energy left after my typical workout to ride an extra mile!
While I am thrilled with my improved ride, I have to admit: it was a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which bearings were best for my needs…
When I first searched Google, I couldn’t believe the sheer variety of bearings available: ceramic, steel, or stainless steel; ABEC 3/5/7/9, Swiss, or skate rated; 6, 7, or 8 balls; shielded or sealed; with or without labyrinth … and the list of considerations goes on. So I took a deep, cleansing breath and set about becoming proficient in bearing lingo.
By the time I emerged from my research, I was sweating profusely, thoroughly exhausted, and partially brain dead. But I had managed to scale an Everest-sized mountain of data, condensing it into a few key factors that matter most for my style of riding (mostly fun and fitness, no stunts, and no marathon distances).
I settled on stainless steel, ABEC 9-equivalent bearings with labyrinths and non-contact rubber seals. Why? Well, because:
- With ceramic bearings, I’d have to worry about whether my bearings crack or shatter when I hit a pothole or land a jump (okay, so I don’t jump, but you might).
- Steel bearings – even with proper lubrication – rust easily. I’m not a fan of disassembling my wheels to clean, dry, and re-lube the bearings after rolling through a puddle. Boo, hiss!
- Although the bearing I chose isn’t manufactured to ABEC specifications (standardized tolerances that allow less lateral motion/decreased drag with each progressively higher ABEC number), this bearing has been judged by pros to be equivalent to an ABEC 9 (the highest ABEC rating). In addition, it’s manufactured specifically to accommodate the torsion and side-load forces we Trikke riders generate in spades each time we lean.
- Labyrinths keep bearings cleaner longer, giving dirt, liquid, and contaminants a more complex path to travel between the outside environment and the bearing’s inner workings.
- Rubber seals are removable and make accessing and cleaning a bearing’s innards easier and more efficient. A clean bearing is a happy, long-lived bearing that delivers a consistent, smooth ride.
- Non-contact seals do not touch the balls that are inside the bearings. While many experts say that the drag resulting from seal-to-ball contact is minimal, I’d just as soon roll as fast as I can, thank you very much!
After several rides on these new bearings, I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I’d say that these little stainless steel beauties represent the best $30 I’ve ever spent! If you’re in the market for new bearings, check out Oust MOC 7 Speed Bearings (available through various online retailers). They’ve certainly earned the much-coveted Trikke-O-Babbler Seal of Approval.
Carve on, y’all!