Again on the 2019 Eurobike commerce present (keep in mind when commerce reveals had been nonetheless occurring?), Cane Creek introduced a bottom bracket that was constructed with particular bearings developed by SKF. As an alternative of being full of standard grease, the cartridges had been filled with a novel oil-infused strong polymer that was supposedly fully maintenance-free and self-lubricating. Even sooner than that, CeramicSpeed showcased one thing related with its SLT bearings, though it’s unclear if that ever got here to fruition.
Both means, it appears there would possibly really be one thing to these claims, as Enduro has now unveiled a solid-lubricant bearing design of its personal.
Enduro’s new bearing — merely known as Stable Lube — begins out as a standard cartridge with bearing balls held inside a metal retainer ring and the identical 52100 chromium metal races that Enduro makes use of in its different ABEC 5 bearings. However as an alternative of utilizing typical grease, a particular “foamed polymer” is then injection molded into the cartridge inside, filling the whole cavity. Just like the SKF bearing, that polymer is then infused with oil so the bearing is actually self-lubricating.
“Whereas a nylon cage is feasible, a metal cage is preferable to carry extra of the polymer and extra fully cowl the balls,” defined Enduro proprietor Matt Harvey. “We’ve been engaged on getting the best system on and off for 15 years. Some strong lubricants are very stiff and grip the balls so tightly that they skid and really feel tough. Different strong lubricants that run smoother are brittle or tender, and might self-destruct or break aside. We’ve discovered a steadiness in our system that has a waxy clean run, however [is] strong and hard on the similar time.”
The porous nature of Enduro’s polymer and that infusion of oil are clearly what supplies the self-lubricating functionality. Nonetheless, Harvey says that the very shut match of all of the elements can be one of many key components to the bearing’s claimed sturdiness. Even when grime or water will get previous the standard outer seals, there supposedly isn’t sufficient room for any of that stuff to remain inside.
“At 20 hours [on our test machine], you start to get some put on on the races on our customary bearings,” defined Enduro proprietor Matt Harvey. “In some circumstances for bearings we take a look at towards, they’ve catastrophically failed at 12 hours, or are severely worn at 18-20 hours. For the Stable Lube bearings, the races had been nonetheless clean and as-new feeling. We don’t get any important put on with the Stable Lube till about 40-50 hours.
“We then ran the identical assessments with salt spray and an acid. This usually cuts in half the time the bearings will survive because it promotes early galling. Surprisingly, the salt and acid combos didn’t change the outcomes.”
Harvey says that Enduro has had quite a lot of “prime gravel, ‘cross, and highway riders” testing its new bearings as nicely (he couldn’t identify them resulting from sponsor conflicts), and to this point, “the bearings are holding up in the identical method because the lab testing I point out above. We did take a look at them additionally with out seals whereas energy washing them after each journey. On this case, you possibly can finally drive the oil out of the strong lube. We gained’t advocate doing this, but it surely appears the simple resolution is simply so as to add some new gentle oil of which you should use a number of sorts — or [DuPont] Krytox if you wish to get fancy.”
Simply backside brackets for now, however extra functions on the best way
Enduro is launching its new Stable Lube cartridges solely in its TorqTite thread-together press-fit backside brackets for now, which is sensible provided that they’re arguably the hardest-working — and most failure-prone — bearings in your bike. In an indication of confidence in its new bearing design, Enduro is backing these Stable Lube backside brackets with a two-year guarantee that has no upkeep necessities hooked up.
The brand new backside brackets additionally characteristic a extra simplified two-piece development instead of the unique three-piece design, with a smaller-diameter middle part that leaves extra room for internally routed hoses and housings.
The retail value isn’t unhealthy, both, at US$129 / AU$166 / £94 / €109, and manufacturing items needs to be arriving at on-line and brick-and-mortar retailers any day now.
As you’d count on, Enduro has different functions pending.
“We’ll finally offer MAX-type bearings for suspension pivots with Stable Lube, with no upkeep and the identical guarantee,” Harvey mentioned. “Ultimately, ABEC 5 bearings for hubs may even have this selection. With the promise of no upkeep for appreciable intervals of time measured in years, these bearings method a number of the similar efficiency options of XD-15 bearings, however at a fraction of the worth.”
Probably the most promising functions could also be be headsets. Enduro already makes headset bearings and full headsets, in any case, and the rising recognition of highway bikes with absolutely inner routing is now inserting the next precedence on headset bearing longevity provided that once-simple replacements now require you to disconnect most (if not all) of the derailleur and brake traces.
We’ll be watching this one carefully for positive.
Extra data might be discovered at www.endurobearings.com.