Bearing Care & Installation

Care & Installation Tips for Maximum Bearing Life

While bearings may appear to be solid and robust, incorrect installation or application can lead to a very short life.  Here are some basic tips:

Bearing Care & Installation1.  Application

The best bearings in the wrong application will not last.  Understand the application and choose the appropriate bearings for the job.  Talk to us at Shockcraft if you need help and/or check out our bearing selection guide.

2.  Alignment

Bearings usually run in pairs and alignment of the two bearings on a common axis is critical.  If they're out of line they'll feel tight and wear themselves out.

3.  Side-loads

Side loading greatly shortens bearing life.  While a deep groove ball bearing can take a reasonable side load, every little bit of side load applied reduces the amount of vertical load it can take and shortens the bearing life-span.  If bearings feel tight or notchy by hand, then side-load is the first thing to check.  A little play is far better than a little too tight.

4.  Pressing

Bearings are usually a light press fit on either the inner or outer race.  If the outside is press-fit then you can only use the outer ring to press the bearing in.  If the inside is press-fit then you can only use the inner ring to press the bearing in.  If your application has a press fit on inner and outer races, then you have our pity; it will be almost impossible to achieve smooth running bearings.  A good solution is to modify one fit (usually shaft or axle) to a slip-fit so side-loading can be controlled.

5.  Removal

To remove a press-fit bearing you usually need to drive the bearing out from the inner race.  This often damages the balls and races.  For this reason don't remove a bearing unless necessary and don't expect good performance from re-used bearings.

6.  Lubrication

Bearings come pre-filled with grease to about 30% and don't require more.  Adding more grease can cause the rotating action to pop the seals out or push grease through them.  This both makes a mess and attracts dirt.  If you wish to re-grease a bearing, then you need to remove the old grease first.  Check out our bearing greases here.

7.  Contamination

To work properly bearings must be clean and lubricated.  Any contaminants can have two detrimental effects.  Firstly they bridge the lubricant film, causing friction, damage and wear.  Secondly they can degrade the lubricant and/or the bearing itself.  Water is an excellent example that does all these bad things.  Keep water out of your bearings at all costs.  If you suspect water got in, strip the assembly down and give it a chance to dry out.

Written by:
Dougal
Shockcraft

You may also be interested in our range of Technical Articles & Resources, written to help with bike maintenance.