Ever heard of max complement bearings?
What are the most suitable sort of bearings to use in your suspension frame? Is upgrading from steel balls worth the extra cash?
Hybrid ceramic bearings are a worthwhile upgrade for components where reducing friction will improve function.
The hubs and the bottom bracket are the only major parts that rotate fully during use, so if you’re going to spend big, then it’s here where the biggest gains in performance and durability can be had.
But for headset and suspension bearings — neither of which complete a full revolution — maintaining inertia is irrelevant. What you’re looking for here is strength and load bearing over speed.
While many good quality headsets, such as Hope, keep the bearings well sealed from the weather, many suspension bearings are exposed to the elements.
So ceramics are a goer then?
Not quite. “An expensive bearing, if it’s the wrong type, will be no better than a cheap one,” explained Matt Thompson from airevelobearings.com.
“People often go for the wrong bearing choosing purely on brand and price rather than asking for advice on the most suitable type for the application,” Matt says.
There you have it — get the right bearing for the job rather than heading straight for the Gucci material.
So what’s most suitable for suspension performance?
“That’ll be max complement bearings”, Matt says.
“Standard bearings have balls evenly distributed within a cage to allow the bearing to rotate at high speeds. Max complement bearings have up to 25 per cent more balls and no cage, so the bearing can handle greater loads, as it will only be pivoting between two points, not rotating at high speeds.”