Aug 23, 2022
This week Randall sits down with Enduro Bearings co-founder, Matt Harvey. Randall and Matt go deep on the origin story of Enduro Bearings (circe 1996), bearing science and myth, and how this often overlooked component enables the ride experience.
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[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport
I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.
This week on the show, I'm handing the microphone back to my co-host Randall Jacobs. Who's got Matt Harvey. Founder of Enduro bearings on the show. You might've heard us talk about Inderal bearings a few times in the, in the dirt episodes, as I was deciding and debating what bottom bracket to run on my new custom bike.
Well, I decided on the Enduro stainless steel bottom bracket. And I couldn't be happier with the performance thus far. I was happy that Randall volunteered to take a deep dive into bearing technology. With Matt, as I think he's got better perspective on the technical elements. And certainly there's no one better to talk about this product than Matt himself. Before we jump in i need to thank this week sponsor athletic greens
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With that said, I'm going to hand the microphone over to Randall. For his interview with matt harvey from enduro bearings
[00:02:37] Randall Jacobs: So I cut you off last time we spoke because there are just too many things that I was interested in diving into.
And there's the obvious technical aspects of what goes into making a bearing? Of the myths about bearings that we might debunk and things like this. But before we dive in, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
[00:02:57] Matt Harvey: well, I've always been in bicycles ever since I can remember. So I started out as a BMX rat, you know, when I was like 13, 12 or 13, and I started working at a bike shop when I was 13. So I immediately into the mechanical, well, spraying, WD 40 on POJO drive, tra is an exactly super high end mechanical things, but that's how it started.
So, you know, and you know, through there, I worked in bike shops, my business partner. Now I met in a bike shop when I was 17. We worked in the same bike shop. I ended up working at Fisher mountain bikes. I got an engineering degree, ended up working at Fisher mountain bikes, wide industries Bianchi bicycles, starting out in warranty.
Became a product manager, went to Italy, did their mountain bike wine designed a bunch of road bikes and mountain bikes full suspension road bike that got written in Perry RBA. and that was kind of like when I was looking at bearings because everybody was using plane bearings or bushings at the time. And the Fisher RS one with Mert Lawwell work. That was his design. And one of the first full suspension bikes, I think. Well, not first, but you know what I mean? Like current more modern production type, full suspension bike, I should say. Cuz suspension, bikes go back.
You know, turn of the last century. So, so that's when I was starting to look at bearings and rolling elements and that's when they were getting popular. And that guy I worked with at a bike shop when I was 17, he was in the forklift business by then. And he was starting to make bearings for old forklifts.
And you know, we hadn't lost touch and we were talking and I started doing drawings for him cuz he needed CAD drawings for certain things. I was working at Bianchi. And then we, at one point we decided, Hey, this could become a business. So let's start making bearings for forklifts and bicycles. And that's what we still do.
30 years later.
[00:04:58] Randall Jacobs: Well, and I'm curious, we'll, we'll dive into the Enduro bearing story in a minute, but I wanna dive more into that background cuz there's a few things that I find interesting one is, you have what sounds like a technical understanding of the bike that comes from, getting your hands dirty at a young age. I share that experience. And in fact, working on bikes I think is a great way for any person to learn how mechanical systems work. But then also you worked in warranty, so you saw what was going wrong. How did your experience working in shops and working in warranty inform your perspective on product.
[00:05:30] Matt Harvey: yeah. They're all related, right? You can't separate it. Obviously at one point I realized I needed more school to do what I was thinking about doing, I wanted my boss's job. I wanted to do what he was doing, which was designing bikes, but I didn't have the background or experience. So I went back to school, but yeah, I mean, Your hands are in the bikes, you ride bikes.
So you get a certain aspect, which is super important, the practical aspect, but then you know, getting into engineering and so forth, you have to have, you know, the math, the, you know, the history, the you know, and then you get into business. You need business stuff too, but there there's a lot of corners.
You need to go explore to put the whole thing together. I, I think, and, and that's what I ended up, ended up doing. So at, at the beginning it was practical aspect, you know, seed of the pan stuff, cuz I'm just working on stuff. And that's the way, a lot of the way a lot of things happened in the late eighties, early nineties, that's kind of the period I was working on it.
But you mentioned warranty. Yeah. I learned a lot in warranty cuz I saw everything that got broken.
[00:06:43] Randall Jacobs: Yeah.
[00:06:44] Matt Harvey: at Bianchi bicycles and it was the eighties and. Ola was king, you know, shaman was coming with index shifting, but you know, things were being made in in Italy or, or Taiwan or, or various countries at the time, still a lot in the us.
And, and then there was people were trying to, you know, save money and then things break. And what happens with heat treating what happens with why did that thing break? Why was there too much heat treating? Well, I wanted to find out, well, that seems like a good thing. How can there be too much heat treating?
So, you know, you learn, I, you see the broken parts, you see a box of broken pedals and that's not good. Nobody likes to break a pedal, but you find out like why things get crispy and break and and all the, so I, I wanted to learn about especially metal steel, aluminum at the time it was Prebon fiber.
[00:07:40] Randall Jacobs: Mm
[00:07:40] Matt Harvey: But so yeah I, you go into, I went into back to school in metal shop too. And but I, I was lucky because I also had, I was going to Taiwan. I was still working for Bianchi. I was going to factories, seeing things you know, forged, spin, welded you know, all the different ways you make things. So I was, I was getting a practical eyes on learning experience in Taiwan where all the production was kind of going.
I was also going to Italy and, you know, Italy was still making a lot of stuff. Then Bianchi was making bikes at the main factory there. I mean, they're getting back to it again, but at the time it was sort of Asia was taking over on a lot of the production. So it was kind of split between, you know, Asia and Italy at the time.
[00:08:26] Randall Jacobs: So you were right in there at a number of big transitions in the industry. The advent of the mountain bike, which was very much a us and in particular bay area phenomenon . And in fact I've talked about different tariff codes in for mountain bikes there was a significant domestic manufacturing operation. And materials were that much more critical cuz you had this really high stress application that hadn't really been done before. Like those clunks were not were not holding up all that well.
And then the transition to index shifting that's another major transition in the industry. That's the reason why Shao is so dominant today. And also Asia manufacturing, a lot of which was people in the us and European bike industries who were going over and helping to, transfer that knowledge and set up that production in what is now, Taiwan in particular some of the, the best, highest end manufacturing for bikes anywhere.
It's no, it's no longer a cost thing. It's a quality thing.
[00:09:23] Matt Harvey: Yeah. And in the beginning they were, they had the ability to make really high end stuff, but the knowledge needed to come from the people who were practically riding bikes, because they weren't practically riding bikes. They knew how to make things, but they had to know how to make it now, you know, the Taiwanese it feeds back a lot of times they, they do new products that they develop their own new products that are really great.
So, but yeah, you're right. Those were the early days of figuring all that stuff out.
[00:09:53] Randall Jacobs: Well, and I'd, and I'd say I definitely see more domain knowledge on the product side in Taiwan than there was in the past, but still it, it does seem that the, the most successful Taiwanese manufacturers are those that have, European or American team that is in the market and kind of on top of the trends and the trends are still largely driven by those two markets.
[00:10:15] Matt Harvey: sure. But you know, in Taiwan now it's an entire, since I started there, it's an entirely new generation that has now grown up in the bike industry. And there a lot of 'em are riders now and stuff. And back then nobody was riding mountain bikes who worked at the factories or made stuff or design stuff.
But now you have a lot of people there that are enthusiast. And I mean, as big an enthusiast as anybody in the world for
[00:10:39] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. True.
[00:10:40] Matt Harvey: riding. And so it's, it's an entirely new generation that. I mean, it's great. They've embraced it and they know it and they develop things materials and design it's incredible.
And at the time, you know, historically you go back, so Italy was, you know, Italy and France were the huge innovators back when right. They came out well, derailer, it's a French word and Italians didn't embrace it immediately. They had other things, other ideas. But at the time when I went there, it was an interesting time because Italy was king, but not quite becoming, you know, they, they didn't catch the mountain bike wave.
They were looking at specialized and these innovators at the time Fisher, all, you know, Richie, all the people that were innovating and they couldn't keep up, they didn't quite cuz they're, they were a mature market and not looking at that. So I was the American brought in to be the eyes and.
Practicality of that part which I was, you know, it was a little frustrating cuz you couldn't quite keep up and then the name Bianchi and mountain bikes at the time no people are gonna buy a, a Fisher or a Richie or something or an Ibis, you know? So that was a uphill battle and that, and that's why European brands or track, you know, they bought mountain bike brands.
They bought, you know, Gary Fisher brand and to sell it because they were known as a road bike company. And that's what people were doing at the time. So it wasn't always necessarily not great ideas at these companies. It was marketing to, you know, you have to have it all.
[00:12:16] Randall Jacobs: it's interesting, like you think about camp. No. Which was a really great and, and major player, and they're still significant, but substantially diminished, vis Avi Shao and STR the, the two, you know, arguably we have a duopoly in our industry and it's those two and camp Nolo makes some good stuff, but they didn't come out with hydraulic disc brakes until much later. and, and even then I think they work with McGurk on that. I don't know if that's in house now. They're more recent offerings with the ECAR group, I think are, are innovative. And I'd like to see them contest from more spec because the industry does benefit from competition.
But yeah, it's interesting to hear your perspective on how the industry has evolved. What year did you enter? When were you working in those shops?
[00:12:59] Matt Harvey: So first bike shop was 1976. And then let's see, I worked in shops until about 81 and I ended up starting at Bianchi warranty in the 82, maybe through 80, 85. And then I went over to Fisher. I went back to school. I, I simultaneously worked at Fisher and was in school and, and then I started moonlighting at white industries because Doug white was, he was pretty, he was making titanium spindles for Fisher.
So that's how I made the connection there. And I would go over to his shop. They were pretty close by. There was a lot of people around then Dave GU DKG make, he still makes seat clamps. He was making motorcycle stuff. You know, there was salsa. Everybody was kind of in the same area and everything was happening up in Marin then.
So, you know, I talked to lot of people, Peter Johnson, all these people that were making stuff. And so I went back when I finished school. I it just coincided with Bianchi needing a product manager for a mountain bike specifically. So they, I got rehired at Bianchi as product manager, and then it was a lot of a lot of whirlwind you know, once a month to Taiwan. Once every two months to Italy, I was on the plane all the time, doing a lot of stuff and developed two mountain bikes there. And that was a transition of going from bushings to rolling elements bearings and seeing that, you know, the bearings weren't hacking it. I wanted bearings cuz they're faster, you know, than bushings bushings are slow in a suspension linkage.
And if you're going over a high you know, water bars or high frequency stuff,
[00:14:46] Randall Jacobs: Yeah.
[00:14:46] Matt Harvey: they're, they're just too slow. Bushings can't react. So rolling elements work better, but they were wearing out fast. So it was trying to figure out how to do better ones. And then that was kind of my transition into bearings.
My friend from the bike shop was he was down at his shop in Emoryville making LAR much larger bearings, like five, six inch diameter bearings for forklifts, but they were max type, which we use in suspension, bearings. And I go, oh, that's a cool idea. Forklifts use these full complement bearings full of balls.
And why don't, why don't we do that for mountain bikes, but just a make a micro version. And that was the beginning of trying to make bearings for suspension, bikes, and kind of the beginning of it.
[00:15:32] Randall Jacobs: so let let's talk about that. I remember a lot of it was cup and cone for bearings. I remember bushings in mountain bike linkages, and then cartridge bearings, when did those come to the four? Is that where you started or were you doing loose ball initially?
[00:15:46] Matt Harvey: No, it was cartridge bearings, but yeah, you're you're right too. Like cup and cone were often max type bearings, as you say, no retainer, you know? And, but
[00:15:56] Randall Jacobs: which is to say the balls are, are rubbing up against each other, spinning an opposite direction. So there's a high degree of friction between those two surfaces of the balls versus having a retainer with a lower friction coefficient separating them.
[00:16:09] Matt Harvey: that's true. But surprisingly the friction between the balls is actually extremely low. Believe it or not. I mean, theoretically, you would imagine that there is, but the balls are so smooth. And I've studied this a little bit. There there's very little friction from the balls rubbing against each other without a retainer.
It is a little bit better with a retainer, but it's almost immeasurable. It's really small coefficient of friction between
[00:16:35] Randall Jacobs: Oh, that's super interesting. Are there applications where you would not want a retainer then?
[00:16:40] Matt Harvey: Usually, bearings run smoother with a retainer. The thing about max bearings is you have to get the balls in there. So there's a a side hole, if you will, to feed the balls into their slots and, and it, it gets into the ball path and that creates more friction than the ball's rubbing against each other, especially in an axial, like if they get off center and they rub against that fill slot.
So that's why they're really good for pivot bearings. Not really recommended for hub bearings or, or bottom bracket bearings for that matter.
[00:17:19] Randall Jacobs: yeah. Cuz you have those, those non radial loads that are being applied to them.
[00:17:23] Matt Harvey: right now, the old
[00:17:25] Randall Jacobs: I just wanna state, we did, we did promise a properly nerdy podcast for this. So we're gonna get into the weeds. I'm loving this. I hope that our listeners will as well. There's a lot that goes into bearings that we kind of take for granted
[00:17:37] Matt Harvey: sorry, I can go into the weeds pretty quick. Just you
[00:17:40] Randall Jacobs: that's, that's the point? That's the point? This I, this is, this is as much for me as it is the audience. So let's go into the weeds. And so you have this, I was actually going to ask how you get the bearings in there in the first place. So you have a, a single location where there's a, a notch, and then you have this retainer that makes sure that the bearings never track into that notch.
[00:17:59] Matt Harvey: Well, yeah. So in a retainer bearing, you can assemble the bearing without a fill slot. So you put in all the balls on one side and it kind of, well, I'm not gonna demonstrate it here, but they, they all go in on they're all on one side of the lower race and you kind of snap it together in the, so there's no fill slot on a retainer.
There's only so many balls you can get in there because of that design and, and that was developed in Germany in the late 18 hundreds. And then max Barings, or, you know, those were the first ones actually in S hubs going back to 1860 1870s and their angular contact Aless hubs.
[00:18:39] Randall Jacobs: that's a, I think Bontrager had a line of wheels called OLIS. Is that the same,
[00:18:44] Matt Harvey: Yeah. I think they revived the name. But yeah, it's an old, it's a really old hub name and developed for bicycles. Like the first precision bearings are interchangeable. Part bearings were developed for early bicycles. Rolling elements that standardized rolling elements,
[00:19:02] Randall Jacobs: Were they even bicycles at that point? Or were they like velos or some of these
[00:19:07] Matt Harvey: speeds.
[00:19:07] Randall Jacobs: yeah, so,
[00:19:09] Matt Harvey: safety bicycle was until 1885. So, but you know, same bearings were used in those and, and bone shakers or, you know, the various things that you saw developed, you know, three wheels and four wheels and so forth back
[00:19:25] Randall Jacobs: and this term, this term Velo you know, velocipede and safety bicycle for those who don't know the, the history of the evolution of the bicycle. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[00:19:35] Matt Harvey: yeah. So I think philosophy is anything that rolls by human locomotion, whereas safety bicycle, you, penny farthing is the large wheel up front because it was pre chain gearing. And that's how you got your gearing was to use a really big wheel in the front or medium, you know, various size wheels.
The race bikes had a huge wheel. Extremely dangerous. And then they called it the safety bicycle with two wheels, the same size chain drive, because it was much safer than a bone shaker or penny far with the big wheel. Cuz the crashes on those were horrendous.
[00:20:13] Randall Jacobs: sure you're starting from a high point. And then if you hit anything, you're going, lawn dart but then still fixed gear. And then you had to have ratchet mechanisms or some sort of free hub or free wheel and all these things that we take for granted they had to be invented and evolved and materials had to be there and, and the production tolerances had to be there for all of this to exist.
[00:20:34] Matt Harvey: That's right. It, it took it, it was pretty quick how the the development of the bicycle, all the things that came became developed came in quick succession. It's amazing how early things were invented that. We see as quite advanced. In fact, I was just looking at something recently, cuz you know, there's a two speed rear hub that has become pretty popular in the industry classified and you know, the first two speed rear hub was actually like 1896.
That's how far back stuff
[00:21:03] Randall Jacobs: was, what was the company behind that?
[00:21:06] Matt Harvey: it was called, believe it or not. The name of it was they, it was so early. They just called it the hub. That was the name of the company. And I forget the guy who developed it, but he called it the hub and it was extremely popular at two speed rear hub. And then there was like five companies within two years making them back
[00:21:25] Randall Jacobs: Got it.
[00:21:26] Matt Harvey: We, we are getting into the weeds here but you know, it all comes together. It makes sense because people are always looking for, you know, right now it's a front derailer thing with full suspension bikes. It's hard to put a front derailer on the bike and you know, so the two speed hub here, we have it again because it solves a problem.
But it's interesting to know that it was developed a hundred years or over a hundred years ago too.
[00:21:52] Randall Jacobs: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. And it's also like the, the solution that you had in the bearing space, it had a context. It's another one of these enabling technologies that had to be put in there to have, you know, you look at something like the Delta suspension design that Dave weel came up with for, for evil and just the number of bearings in there.
And imagine having that with a bunch of bushings that have a high static friction and so on, it just doesn't work, never mind the high rolling efficiency of our wheels and bottom brackets and all these things. So let's go back to bearings. You alluded to how Enduro got started and you were doing forklift bearings
so let's continue on that Bain.
[00:22:31] Matt Harvey: all right. So we were making bearings for forklifts that you couldn't get anymore because forklifts last their electric vehicles, or, you know, you can put a new engine on 'em. So the, the car that you of the forklift keeps going, so, or the truck. So, yeah, we were making specifically the bearings that go up and down in the mast that hold the forks.
So those have to be. They carry extremely high loads and they don't spin very fast. They're max bearings. And that's
[00:23:01] Randall Jacobs: What, what defines a max bearing?
[00:23:04] Matt Harvey: maximum fill of balls. So not a retainer bearing. You can put, if you take the retainer out and just fill it full of balls on max maximum fill, you can put about 35% more balls into the bearing and then your, yeah.
Your load capacity increases. By that amount, 35%
[00:23:27] Randall Jacobs: Mm-hmm so you can either have a bigger bearing or you can have one of these max bearings to fit the same amount of load capacity into a smaller form factor.
[00:23:36] Matt Harvey: Exactly. And as long as the rolling element, isn't spinning really fast. Like, you know, it's not an electric motor going 10,000 RPM. It's, it's going maybe I don't know, 20 or 80 RPM, pretty, pretty slow. Even on a bicycle, you know, cranks and wheels. They're hundreds of RPM, not thousands. So, well in a suspension pivot, it's just swiveling back and forth.
Maybe 15 degrees. So max bearing makes sense, cuz it's not spinning. You're not looking at a lot of friction from the fill slot or whatever. So we started making we were making those forklift bearings and ironic white industries was actually making 'em for us up in Nevada, those early ones.
We made some at the shop. We were turning at the shop, but when we got into larger numbers, white industries was doing it. And. So I was working with them and then we ended up making some hub bearings which are retainer bearings, which for hubs, hubs need to have higher precision to spin smoothly because in a, in a back hub you have four or five bearings that you're stacking up and you need a higher level of precision.
That's why we do ABAC five bearings at Enduro for, for hubs specifically, because you need a higher level of tolerance. Now, ABAC ratings are significant in that they give you a level of the precision. However, all of the Abe parameters are not really applicable to bicycle application, cuz it's really a lot about noise ratings and spinning at 10 20,000 RPM, which bicycle bearings never do.
So we do. Abe grading, Abe bearings for the ID OD with tolerance to make the alignment. Correct. But we do very deep groove to take higher loads than most high spinning bearings.
[00:25:31] Randall Jacobs: Got it. That makes sense. So you have a bigger surface area where the bearings are contacting those races and thus you have less deformation of the balls, less deformation of those races as the, you know, as that as it's spinning. And that load is, you know, coming on and off of each ball.
[00:25:47] Matt Harvey: right. And so a lot of high Abbe rated bearings may not be good for bicycles because to reach the noise level testing you want it's easier to make an Abbe, a high Abbe rated bearing with shallower grooves. And less surface contact, but that's not good for a bicycle because you have pretty high axial loads and everybody who makes hubs and bicycle components in general, they're always trying to save weight.
So they try and use the lightest weight bearings possible. So you need that bearing to be as robust as possible to resist the the the loads of, of the you know, axial loads, radial loads that, that small bearing has to put up with
[00:26:35] Randall Jacobs: And just to clarify terms for those in the audience who don't have an engineering background, radio loads, being those in plane with the bearings. So in, in, in the same plane as the bearings, so if it's a wheel it's like a load that's coming, straight up perpendicular the ground through the center of the bearing essentially versus an axial load is, would be like a twisting load on that same bearing.
So if you have a lateral force on that wheel or something like that, which you can have, presumably you have somewhat significant axial loads in especially in like mountain bike linkages and rear wheels and things like that.
[00:27:09] Matt Harvey: oh yeah. Or even road wheels, like a rear hub. When you're going up a hill, like a really strong rider out of the saddle, going back and forth. There's significant axial loads and twisting between the cassette mechanism, the, where the Sprockets are and the hub shell. It's, you're literally trying to pull the thing apart because it's not a motor running it on a chain, like sitting stationary, you know, like a you know, a generator motor or something, you know, the human is just, doesn't put out constant power.
So that's why you see elliptical. Sprockets and stuff, but you you're basically putting on a, a as you're going up a steep hill, let's say you're, you're twisting everything apart. So there's high axial loads on the rear bearings, and even the front bearing, you know, when you're sprinting the front wheel bearing it's, it's moving side to side when people are throwing their bike and you have now dis brakes too, which puts on unequal loads, cuz it's one side of the hub onto the bearings.
So you're pulling the bearings over again with dis brakes and that's brought a whole new well for me, I like it cuz it's a challenge, but that's another new challenge of conundrum of of problems to address with front wheel loading cuz front wheels were just mostly along for the ride with rim breaks.
But with dis brakes, you gotta, you gotta look at it closer. They're asymmetric forces on the front wheel now too. Uneven
[00:28:37] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And it's on the hub, it's also on the fork itself. And fork legs had to be redesigned a primary driver of the creation and adoption of through axles was also because the torque loads were so great. And in fact, if that quick release was not tightened fully, you could actually have a wheel eject itself.
So yeah, just massive forces in those areas that people don't really consider when they throw on a 1300 gram wheel set and say, okay, this is gonna support my entire weight and keep me safe at 30 miles an hour on a steep mountainous descent.
[00:29:09] Matt Harvey: exactly. And, and a lot of times the bearings are even by the designers, surprisingly, sometimes they're the last thing thought about, and they say, oh, we need a bearing to fit in this. You know, it's gotta fit under the disc and over the through axle and it become. Extremely thin. And then you gotta look at other ways to make a solution for that.
So it holds up and doesn't burn out. I mean, early in disc breaks that you'd see hubs that the disc would get so hot. You could burn out the, the the disc side bearing in one downhill run,
[00:29:43] Randall Jacobs: Oh, wow.
[00:29:44] Matt Harvey: and some
[00:29:45] Randall Jacobs: I didn't realize that.
[00:29:46] Matt Harvey: Oh yeah. And some riders were buying like full tubes of the, this side, front wheel bearings for certain hubs, because they would knock it out after every run and put a new bearing in.
It got so hot, it would like boil the grease out of it and just toast the thing. It would practically set the weeds on fire, you know, cuz , it got so hot. I mean the dis brakes have improved and cooling and some other things and people have gotten smarter about the hub bearings on that side. But like about eight years ago we were selling a lot of certain sizes of bearings cuz for downhill guys.
[00:30:20] Randall Jacobs: Well, and disc diameters have gotten much bigger. You have aluminum spiders with venting that can help to shed some of that transfer it to the air versus early disc breaks were I mean, a lot of it was what, 140 millimeters
[00:30:34] Matt Harvey: yeah, small ones.
[00:30:35] Randall Jacobs: lot of,
[00:30:36] Matt Harvey: when we start, there was no dis when we started with that RS one with Mert Lawwell we needed a disc break. There were none around. We used to fill disc break from back then. That was a all fiber disk. I don't know if you remember that one, but there weren't any discs that would that, you know, and they faded, you know, faded miserably.
That was really hard thing to slow that bike down.
[00:30:57] Randall Jacobs: yeah, again, I can't impress upon our audience enough of just how good we have it right now, in terms of how, you can have an extraordinarily lightweight breaking system that will stop you plus your bike, plus whatever gear you have reliably and consistently for long periods of time and everything just works.
And it's actually, I, I mean, I remember my first bikes, you know, I'm only, I'm only turning 40, my first bikes didn't just work. There was a lot of service. There was a lot of parts failures and so on, and now things just seemed to be engineered and manufactured to a much higher standard such that it's increasingly surprising when things don't just work. And bearings are a big part of that.
[00:31:39] Matt Harvey: And so, what if you don't mind, like the there's one development that I worked on A long from a long time ago, I had heard about this metal that air Airbus had developed and for their, for making bearings in the planes. And I read about it and I immediately wanted it.
And there's only a couple foundries that make this particular steel in the world, but I knew it was gonna be perfect for ceramic bearings. And but you know, it was frustrating because the amount of steel that I needed even though it was a lot of money for me who they, they would never be interested in.
I, I got my business partner, speaks Germany called the Foundry in Germany and they basically hung up on him, you know, or they didn't hang up on him, but, you know, I was like, yeah, thanks kids. See you later. And I was at a show and I met this guy who. To you know, I, people sign trying to sell me metal all the time.
Cuz we make bearings, but this guy, I heard the word nitrogen steel and I said, wait a minute, you can get nitrogen steel. And he's like, oh yeah, you know, I represent the company. So the long and shorts of the story is he's a mountain biker who worked for the Foundry in France. There's only two foundries.
So he got me in there and was able to get me some steel. And, and so we'd been making XD 15 bearings now for over 10 years, I think maybe 12 or something. But that material cuz ceramic bearings, they're when you think about ceramic bearings, they're kind of fragile, right? They they're really great because they do spin really well.
Cuz you have a super hard ball. It's seven times harder than steel. It won't flex or, or push out of the way deform and but it wears the races out. If there's no grease or. They can rust and all these things, and here's this material XD 15, it won't rust it won't corrode and you can run a ceramic ball in it with dirt, whatever you want and it won't wear out.
[00:33:33] Randall Jacobs: It'll just Ize it, whatever gets in there.
[00:33:35] Matt Harvey: it, yeah, it burnishes the races it'll like Polish and so you don't get Goling or pitting. So what usually happens with a bearing when it wears out, it'll just, you know, you get dirt or no grease in there and what happens. You get a pothole, essentially. If you're in the race and it's a little pit in the race, and then as the ball rolls over that the P like a car running over a pothole gets bigger and bigger until you feel that it's rough.
So that's what happens when a bearing wears out. Well, that doesn't happen with XD 15, nor does it corrode. So, me and this guy, you know, we're, we're, we're still buddies and he he still rides his mountain bikes and he gets me the steel. Still we're still friends, but you know, the bike industry is so small.
We're probably 20 minutes of, or not even 10 minutes of production out of this Foundry for all we buy in a. Because Airbus soaks that stuff up by the, you know, it's just aviation uses so much more material than, you know, any sports industry thing. So, I'm just lucky to be able to get it. But it's it's an interesting material to work with.
We have to get raw, we can't get tubing, you gotta drill it. There there's a lot of it's hard to make these bearings, but I'm kind of proud of it. I mean, it's my favorite thing that we make because it answers the question when somebody calls and says, I want something to put in my bike and then I never wanna work on it again, which is kind of my goal too.
Cause I never have time to work on my bike. And it's just like, I want to, you know, you can put these bearings in your bike and never think about 'em again. So that's why I like them.
[00:35:12] Randall Jacobs: well, and this is a great segue into a topic that I think a number of our more performance or competition oriented listeners will be curious about, which is the ceramic bearing landscape, right? There are a few options out there. Maybe they're included on a very premium wheel set. Maybe it's some bearing kit that you can press into your existing hubs, but the perception that these are better or even necessarily faster or more efficient is not really backed up. And there's a phenomenon where, you know, you end up and, and I made this mistake.
I. Ceramic bearings early on trying to get every little edge. And the science simply says that, well, it may give you a slight, maybe imperceptible benefit for a few hundred miles and then, the performance is going to a degree rather quickly because they're a significant part of that performance benefit has less to do with the bearing and more to do with say the thinner grease that's being used or the lighter seals that are being used.
And then you have contamination, you have the Goling and, and pitting that you just described and so on. So maybe help us to understand the ceramic bearing landscape generally. And what's true and not true about ceramic bearings. How do you make a good one? How do you make a bad one?
[00:36:21] Matt Harvey: right. Well, what you just said is, is all true. You know, friction and bearings has more to do usually with the seals and the grease at first grease dissipates. And, you know, after you've ridden it, a couple of rides, it dissipates and it's less of a factor, but right. Brand new out of the box, there's some grease not friction, but resistance
[00:36:43] Randall Jacobs: to the viscosity of the grease, the thicker, the grease, the more resistance it applies. It's simply just within the friction of the material within itself.
[00:36:52] Matt Harvey: Exactly. And, you know, first of all, the reason you don't see a lot of data about what actual test data about what that is, is because it's really small and hard to measure what that wattage difference is. So the drive train is your drive train is about seven Watts of suck, or if you will, or, you know, the and five of the Watts are the chain because it's basically a chain is 110 plane bearings rolling around on your Sprockets.
So that's, that's,
[00:37:24] Randall Jacobs: Plain bearings, meaning not having a ball bearing. It's just a metal on metal interface.
[00:37:29] Matt Harvey: Rolling element. So it's a, it's a metal, a steel ring that rolls over your chain rings and there chain is extremely efficient. It's great. That's why everybody we use 'em but so that leaves two Watts for all the bearings in your bike. So if you do the math, you know, there's at least 12 bearings.
[00:37:44] Randall Jacobs: So two in the front wheel, four or five in the rear wheel. Two in the bottom bracket and then
[00:37:51] Matt Harvey: couple in the pedals
[00:37:53] Randall Jacobs: Oh, in
[00:37:53] Matt Harvey: and the pedals
[00:37:55] Randall Jacobs: Yep. Yep. Can't forget that. Usually it's a cartridge ball bearing and then maybe a needle bearing
[00:38:00] Matt Harvey: needle bearing. Yeah,
[00:38:01] Randall Jacobs: has to fit in that really tight form factor.
[00:38:04] Matt Harvey: exactly. So.
[00:38:07] Randall Jacobs: for all of that.
[00:38:08] Matt Harvey: Yeah. So you're talking under a wat it's it's it's per, per bearing. So it's really hard to measure because not very many people have equipment that can measure under a wat, you know, and even a bad bearing is still under a wat, you know, we're talking 0.2 0.2, five Watts per bearing, something like that.
So, but so there are some efficiencies of ceramic what that is, you know, I'll let you leave it to your imagination, but it's not, it's not like, full Watts. Let's say it's you know, and my interest, so ceramic bearings in general are always best as you just pointed out right out of the box, and then they go downhill.
From, if you will, from there, they, they deteriorate and you have to keep up with servicing XD 15. The reason I really like it, it's, it's more of a longevity story than a wattage story. Well, it is a wad story because they actually get better over time. The balls burnish, the races and they get smoother, but what's nice about 'em is they don't wear out.
And if you don't wanna service 'em, you don't have to. So, you can never open 'em up and put grease on 'em. You can just keep riding 'em and they won't get loose or they won't get rough. They might get rough when you get some dirt in them, but the rough, the dirt will dissipate get ground up or come out and it they're fine again.
So that's what I like about 'em. They're if you're talking about wattage there's yeah, they're a little bit better, but it's. Almost immeasurable. So right now we're doing some wattage testing on bearings, but how we're able to do it and see the differences is we have to amplify the tests. So we're, overtraining the bearings so that we get out of one bearing.
We can get 10 Watts. Actually it's less than that's seven Watts of resistance, but we're over straining this bearing and we'll publish this next year. You'll see it. But in a way to amplify the results. And then we do comparison tests,
[00:40:20] Randall Jacobs: and there's some assumptions that need to be made as to whether the relationship between the, load applied and the change in wattage, is it linear? Is it exponential? That's interesting. And I appreciate how transparent you are about this, because it's, it's a question that we looked into when we were developing our wheel line, which use your bearings by the
[00:40:40] Matt Harvey: mm-hmm . Oh,
[00:40:41] Randall Jacobs: and I had, I had a great conversation. No, thank you. One, you make a great bearing and two you had product available when we needed it, which at that time was, was a big challenge. I had a long conversation with one of your either support people or engineers.
I suspect if it was a support person, they have an engineering background cuz they really knew their stuff and talked about the, the different ceramic options and the only one that. That really resonated with me as a potential offering in the future was this XD 15 because of the purported benefits you cite.
But listeners should not lose sight of the fact that this is a marginal gain at best in terms of performance. A lot of it is probably coming from the ability to use less restrictive seals and a lighter lubricant in there as opposed to bearings for themselves. But, the, the benefit is there, but if you are unless you are, you know, either riding to the ends of the earth for years on end and want something ultra durable, or you are a high level competitive athlete with a sponsorship and a team car and a mechanic who works on your stuff, ceramic bearings it's not the lowest lying fruit in terms of improving your performance.
But at the bleeding edge, if you're going to do it. You would want to do it with something that maintains its performance advantage over time. And that is not true of a lot of ceramic bearings out there. And in fact, quite a few of them are manufactured to a standard such that they're actually worse out of the box than even a traditional steel bearing.
[00:42:11] Matt Harvey: Yeah, it, it depends on, so there's a lot of different balls out there. There's only really there's very few factories in the world that make really good ceramic balls, San GOBA, or Panasonic or Toshiba in Japan. And then there's, you, you, there's a lot of balls you don't wanna put in there that are worse than steel balls.
So, you know, that's another reason for the price, because if they're really cheap, ceramic bearings, they're probably really cheap for a reason. Cause I know what the price of the balls good balls are, cuz we buy 'em all the time. But that's the first thing is good. Good ceramic balls. You do on sta if you use, so what we're talking about, the other steel, so there's XD 15 steel that we've been talking about, which is called a nitrogen stainless steel.
And the other steel that is used almost across the board is called 52, 100 chromium steel. So that's the, it's a that's the steel that everybody pretty much uses in ceramic bearings and it can rust. It's extremely hard. Get it up to like 60 Rockwell, which is really hard. That's why people, that's why factories use it for bearings it's industry standard.
But with a ceramic ball, it can wear it out unless you keep up with the maintenance. So that means when the grease is gone, you probably got about two weeks left before that bearing. If you keep riding, if you're running, riding a couple hundred miles a week, you probably. Couple weeks left and then it's gonna be rough.
So you gotta keep up with cleaning it and greasing it. And you know, if you clean 'em and grease, 'em ceramic bearings on a regular basis. They, they last a long time and they work. But that's the reality of ceramic bearings with that
[00:44:00] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. I look forward to getting some data sets from you because the XD fifteens are actually something that I'm quite interested in for a future offering for us. They're not cheap, but if you, if you actually want to have the benefits both upfront and over time, it is what it costs.
Otherwise unless you have a mechanic constantly taking care of your bearings, popping seals and repacking grease, and so on. You're better off with a high quality steel bearing.
[00:44:24] Matt Harvey: Yeah, I think so. But you know, I tell people the story. They still buy the regular ceramic bearings all the time. Cuz I, I just can't I come from engineering background, not marketing. So I just kind of tell it like it is, I'll get 'em anyway and they put 'em in and say, you know what, you're wrong.
They, they roll better. I can feel it, but you know, that's, I, I get it all the time and it's like, well, it's okay. You know? It's you know, there is a lot of in the mind, especially with bike racers, it is psychological thing, you know, like, if you, if you're on the best bike you think you have, then you probably are faster too.
[00:45:00] Randall Jacobs: yeah. There's that? I'll tell you too though. I was friends with the European pro who I was talking. Because I was just coming up and I was never at his level, but asking does it matter all that much? What you're riding and so on. He's like, you honestly, yeah.
I wanna win. I wanna have the best equipment, but there's a lot of parody between what's out there and if you pay me enough, I'll ride a shopping cart.
[00:45:20] Matt Harvey: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. If you're strong, you're strong you'll you are gonna win the race.
[00:45:26] Randall Jacobs: Yeah.
[00:45:27] Matt Harvey: no, it's, that's very true. I agree.
[00:45:30] Randall Jacobs: well, I think ceramic bearings, they have a lot of bling factor. So if you say that your product has ceramic bearings in there, it doesn't really matter. If the bearings are better than a non ceramic bearing, it just matters that you can say ceramic bearings.
And now you just marked your product. In the case of a wheel set, it's anywhere from several hundred to a thousand or more that you're able to mark that product up because it is perceived as having the best of the best, even if it's not necessarily the case.
[00:45:58] Matt Harvey: Yeah. And in, in the case of XD 15 so it, the ceramic ball is perfect for that material. Number one, when we started, there were no XD 15 balls available. So you would have to use chromium steel or four 40 C stainless balls, which is another bearing steel that's out there. But the problem with four 40 C or an unmatched steel ball in XD 15 is at micro weld.
And then you do have problems. So with X micro weld is the ball actually under pressure welds itself to the race in certain situations. So for XD 15, you have to run ceramic balls. And the benefits also are that they won't corrode like the XD 15 material. So. They're they're kind of made for each other in, in this instance.
[00:46:49] Randall Jacobs: Interesting. It reminds me of a phenomenon with the doors of the space station, where they were finding that the door could seal shut because you had raw aluminum surfaces that had no oxidization on them. And so that it basically would bond and, and weld in that vacuum.
[00:47:04] Matt Harvey: oh my God. And then right when alien shows up, you can't get you can't jettison out of the, your
[00:47:11] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. So, so thank you for this dive on ceramics. I find it really fascinating and it was no less. So when I was talking to one of your teammates, so let's talk about the bearings that most of us are riding, which is a steel bearing, typically a stainless steel bearing, what goes into a good bearing for all the different applications on the bicycle so this is everything from headsets to bottom brackets and radio bearings versus angular, contact bearings, and so on. What makes the kind of the best bearing for each one of those applications?
[00:47:42] Matt Harvey: so it's a really good question. Let's just go to the com most common bearings. The most common bearing in the bike industry is this number 6, 9 0 2. And so that's an industry standard of a bearing in just briefly 6, 9 0 2. The six refers to radio nine is the series. And then, oh two is the internal diameter.
That's if anybody's interested, that's how that works. So 6, 9 0 2 though. So it gives you some specificity about the bearing, because that gives you the ID, the OD and the width. However, what's inside the bearing can vary greatly. You can have different size balls, you can have different. So there's no standard on the 6, 9 0 2 as to what it looks like on the inside, but that's the important part, right?
So you can buy a 6, 9 0 2 that works in a printing machine. It's very common in big printers and it's going back and forth, or you can put a 6, 9 0 2 and a turbo charger, and now it's going 50,000 RPM. And now you can put it in a hub and it's going 200 RPM. And it has a lot of axial loads that we talked about earlier.
So you'd have a different 6, 9 0 2, even though it's a standard bearing in each of those applications. For instance, if you put a bunch of grease, like we do 85% grease fill in a bicycle 6, 9 0 2, because it's only going 200 RPM and you want it full of grease. If you put that in a turbo charger, bearing, going. 40,000 RPM, that grease is gonna fly out and set the car on fire,
[00:49:19] Randall Jacobs: I was gonna say, yeah, I was expecting a flammable situation.
[00:49:22] Matt Harvey: Yeah. So, for bicycle application, we or I started by designing the inside of the bearing for the bicycle application. So number one, it's got the biggest ball possible, cuz that's your biggest load bearing capabilities to start with that
[00:49:41] Randall Jacobs: okay.
[00:49:41] Matt Harvey: second you use the deepest grooves possible that you can design around cuz some of 'em are shallow grooves and you have loads side to side loads, axial loads, and you need to support the ball once the ball rolls past the groove and it's on the edge, you're either like doing some damage or it's not supporting how it can.
So deepest grooves, largest balls. And then we look at the seals and we do groove type seals. A lot of, so two RS, 6, 9 0 2, 2 RS, two RS litter means two rubber seals. That's but it doesn't tell you what kind of seal. So we do these seals called LL B and L L U. And those are, we actually machine a groove into the seal at that point.
And there's two lips that run inside that groove
[00:50:33] Randall Jacobs: Machine into the the races, right?
[00:50:36] Matt Harvey: yeah.
[00:50:36] Randall Jacobs: Where the seal is interfacing with the race?
[00:50:39] Matt Harvey: Exactly. And there's always an external groove to hold the seal, but on the ID, there's often just a flat surface that one lip, a two RS seal just rubs against, but it's not very, and sometimes they don't even make contact on cheaper bearings. You know, you can hold them up to the light and see the light shine
[00:50:57] Randall Jacobs: oh, wow.
[00:50:57] Matt Harvey: well, it's, it's not even making contact.
[00:51:01] Randall Jacobs: which means that all sorts of grime and dirt and dust and water is getting in there in a bike application.
[00:51:07] Matt Harvey: Right. And so, like our, so our dual lip LL B L O use one lip, keeps the grease in and then the other is kind of a sweeper seal that keeps the dust out from the outside. And then in between the seals, you get some, when you start turning it, the reason for the full grease fill is some grease comes out and that makes an extra grease seal, if you will, on the, on the idea of the bearing.
[00:51:33] Randall Jacobs: inner inner diameter of the bearing.
[00:51:35] Matt Harvey: exactly helps keep the moisture from crawling in, or, you know,
[00:51:40] Randall Jacobs: The seal is static relative to the outer race, but the inner race is turning be presumably because it's a smaller surface area. So you have less friction
[00:51:48] Matt Harvey: Exactly. Oh,
[00:51:50] Randall Jacobs: Yeah.
[00:51:50] Matt Harvey: engineering mine there. Yeah. So less friction on the
[00:51:53] Randall Jacobs: physics, physics nerd.
[00:51:55] Matt Harvey: No, that's good. Yeah. And so yeah, and, and the grease so that's the dynamic lip on the inside and the grease. You got kind of a grease barrier there. So on Enduro bearings, you'll have some grease come out and that's a good thing cuz grease is another barrier that catches dust and holds it back from getting inside.
So, that's, that's the basics of how we design the bearing. Of course you have to start out with good balls good material, good steel. It's like making bread or you know, food. You, you gotta start out with good ingredients to have good end results.
[00:52:30] Randall Jacobs: And when you say good ingredients, you're talking high precision in the formulation, the right heat treatments, really tight tolerances, high hardness that is also consistent across the entire material. And there's all sorts of technologies that make that possible too. There's a lot that goes into a bearing, even if it looks the same as a cheap bearing.
[00:52:51] Matt Harvey: exactly. You gotta get the steel from a good Foundry. It's gotta be clean without pollutants in it. And we're lucky cuz we have the industrial side that we, we buy a lot of steel every year. And so we're able to buy from the bigger foundries that supply, the big boys, you know, the big bearing companies, cuz we're a little teeny bearing company, you know, in this, in the universe of bearing companies, but very niche, you know, area.
But we do enough that we can buy good steel because of both sides. But yeah, so you start out with really good, 52, 100 or four 40 C or well, XD 15, obviously you have to start out with really good steel and good steel balls and then heat treatment. So for XD 15, that stuff has to be heat treated on ceramic tables in a you have to pull a atmosphere you know, it it's of gas.
So to, to do it properly, it's, it's not just in
[00:53:50] Randall Jacobs: an atmosphere of gas. Do you mean like you're doing this in a vacuum?
[00:53:53] Matt Harvey: yeah. In an inner gas to to keep it stable.
[00:53:56] Randall Jacobs: have oxidization or something like this.
[00:53:59] Matt Harvey: we do the same with four 40 C and then we do tri cryogenic treatment as well. So you bring it down to almost absolute zero and that normalizes. The steel, so it lasts longer. So these are the things people don't really know about.
With four 40 C and XD 15 it's similar heat treatment. Not exactly the same, but it does go from those ceramic table induction heat treatment to cryogenic treatment. And other bearings can be heat treated in like a gas environment without that atmosphere and so forth. That's why they cost less.
But you know, there's different processes for different levels of, of bearings. They're not just all the going through the same process says.
[00:54:43] Randall Jacobs: yeah. And it's the sort of stuff where even if you have the technical expertise to be able to understand the nuances of this conversation that we've just had. I think the thing to really make clear is that again, two things that look very similar can have very, very different properties in terms of how they perform out the gate and how they perform over time and to make a quality product.
Well, when you buy a product, you're essentially trusting that company and that product manager and, and the decision makers on that product to, to really focus on those details. And it's not just the company, it's not just the product manager. It's also, the team at all of vendors.
[00:55:18] Matt Harvey: Yeah, there's a lot of things. You know, I obviously go deep here, one other, we do a lot of things that people just don't know about. Cuz you buy it and you see it. And it's like, well, what's the difference between this one and this other one. And we do for the For the suspension, bearings, the pivot bearings, we do a black oxide treatment.
And when we do it, it turns the bearing black and people like it, cuz it looks cool, but it's people like black things and it you know, it, there is an advantage to it because it actually does a second heat treatment to the metal besides making it corrosion resistant. But we gotta take those and we gotta grind it off where the ball rolls because you can't have the black oxide treatment where the ball rolls.
Well, there's similar products out there and they're black and they're max bearings, but it's almost like a paint that they do, or sometimes it's black oxide treatment, but that they don't take it off the inside of the, where the balls roll. And what happens is if you do black oxide treatment and you leave it on where the balls roll, that stuff rubs off mixes with the grease and makes a nice paste that wears the bearing out faster than if you just didn't do it at.
[00:56:29] Randall Jacobs: Yeah, and there's so much of that in our industry. I think that that's something across the board, but we are a highly technical industry. The bicycle is a highly technical product, and there's so much to know in order to do things right, that you can't really expect a rider to know all of this stuff.
And so they're like, oh, ceramic, great. Oh, this black coating. Well, it looks like the other one and it's cheaper. Okay, great. I have the, the latest and greatest but I've seen so many examples, so many examples across the industry, including on projects that I have been involved with and didn't have authority over where decisions are made purely for marketing purposes, purely to get you to think that it's a better thing and to spend more money on something that oftentimes at best it's neutral.
And oftentimes it actually makes the bike worse in ways that you will experience over its lifetime.
[00:57:21] Matt Harvey: Yeah. And it's, it's hard to get, you know, it's hard to get people interested in say bearings sometimes, cuz you don't see 'em on the bikes now they're all buried. Like, you know, new carbon bikes, you, oh, there's bearings inside that thing you, I mean there's not, you know, used to be, you could see a headset, you know?
[00:57:39] Randall Jacobs: We used to press them directly into the carbon frame. cuz that was a good idea. There's there's one other thing that I wanted to call out, which I thought was interesting when I was looking through your bearing catalog, which is using different seals on one side of the bearing versus the other and because the, the risk of contamination is always much greater on the exterior facing seal, but the one on the inside.
Well there's not much to contaminate there for example, facing the inside of the hub. So you can run a, a seal that keeps the grease in, but doesn't need to be as as tight for water ingress and dust and dust can be lower friction. So even like those little micro optimizations matter.
[00:58:17] Matt Harvey: Yeah. And so, you know, if you roll back like 10 or 15 years ago, everybody wanted bearings in their wheels to spin, like, you know, like a metal roller skate wheel, you know, where you spin it and it won't stop or you see those videos, people doing
[00:58:33] Randall Jacobs: The YouTube videos look at how efficient my bike is because when, when there's no rider on it and it's up on a stand, it just spins for a long time. And somehow that is a good proxy for how it performs in the wild
[00:58:44] Matt Harvey: Yeah. And so if you take the seals out and put sewing machine oil in there, yeah. You can get it. The spin, like CRA you know, old track bikes used to do that. They'd do that. And but it's on a track, you know, but if you're riding out in the rain and stuff so we used to do getting back to your question.
We used to do just LL B seals, both sides on the ABAC five bearings, which was real popular wheel bearing. And, you know, in certain environments especially like Vancouver, wet environments, you know, Vancouver, different places where there's a lot more rain. People say, Hey, you know, we're just the water's the grease is getting washed out too quick.
We're getting dirt ingression. So we, we always had L L U seals, but L L U if you use a factory, sorry, industry standard, LLL U seal, it's really tight. And
[00:59:32] Randall Jacobs: In L L B versus L L U L L U is the, the tighter,
[00:59:38] Matt Harvey: medium contact. Yeah.
[00:59:39] Randall Jacobs: okay. Yep.
[00:59:41] Matt Harvey: Or,
[00:59:41] Randall Jacobs: Versus the LLL B, which is
[00:59:44] Matt Harvey: light contact. Yeah. LL B light contact, but LL U in the industry is pretty tight contact. So we make it medium contact. So we had to, we reengineered L L U for bicycle industry, basically. So ours is, is medium contact. So it's an acceptable amount of seal friction. If you do it too much, people just don't like the way their wheels spin and it's really sealed.
Right. But it just, you know, you spin it and it goes once around and stops. Like if you had a really tight seal in there, so there's compromises
[01:00:19] Randall Jacobs: it's kinda like, you want a bike that lasts forever, but are you willing to add that half pound of weight across the entire bike to make it more durable? You know, that's a half pound that I'll add every day, but if you wanna be in the magazine listed at some headline weight, well some people are only looking at that number.
[01:00:37] Matt Harvey: Right. Right. And you know, when you, and, and that's a good point if I could just touch on this, like really super lightweight hubs, which people were going crazy, you know, again, 10 years ago with extremely lightweight hubs with really small bearings. And one of my customers did some tests on those hubs, like versus his hubs, cuz they were heavier and he used a thicker axle and so forth.
And in some of those hubs, when you're going up a hill, the bearings, the thin bearings, cuz they're so thin, they're only a millimeter. Thickness of the race. They
[01:01:15] Randall Jacobs: Oh, they're distorting. Yeah.
[01:01:17] Matt Harvey: they're, they're twisting so much that they're actually locking up and skidding. So you, if you're going up a hill, you essentially have a drag break that you're working against and sure.
They're light, you know, you just shaved some weight off your bike. But you're working against yourself because that's, that's like the worst case scenario. Now you got a drag break going uphill.
[01:01:40] Randall Jacobs: So I think at this point anyone who's made it this far into the conversation should have an appreciation of just how much goes into not just bearings, but the bike generally to make it function as well as it does. And, kind of a sense of the depth of innovation and all the layers of innovation that have to happen at every level, from the steel maker to how it's heat treated to new coatings to how it's assembled.
And so on that go into making a product like a 20 pound bike that can go over single track at high speeds, under a heavy rider and do so day in, day out for years on end. I hope also that folks get a sense of. What you compromise when you push up against the limits of that, because technology and material science and so on can take you so far in, in pushing the envelope in terms of performance and weight and strength and so on.
But there is a point at which you're compromising something. And so I want to acknowledge how cool it is to hear and detail the innovation that you and your team have done in order to enable the sorts of highly reliable, high performance bicycles that we have today. And then also the transparency on how that process works and the trade offs and so on.
And being able to unpack that with you today has been a lot of fun and hopefully has been informative to some of our listeners here. Is there anything else that you think listeners should know about bearings and, and how to think about them and what to look for?
[01:03:07] Matt Harvey: Yeah, I mean, obviously when you're talking about our product line, you XD fifteen's the best stuff, but you might not be able to afford it, but we try and engineer you know, what we learn at the very top end all the way down into the ABAC three, the blue seal bearings, which is our most popular, you know, it.
You'll pay for the blue seal bearings, you know, retail $10 for a bearing, but it it's still a really good bearing because it has LL B seals. It has designed with the larger balls, deeper groove. So we pass all that technology all the way through the wine, so that what we learn at the top, we put onto the, to the very entry level.
And so it's still a really good, well designed bearing with all the hallmark points of the high end stuff. So, and you know, that's what we're trying to do, trying to, that's what I spend my all my time doing is making the best. Thing at all the different levels. We're, we're kind of different. Cuz some companies only make bearings at the very high end, some companies making 'em at the low medium end.
And so we're unusual that we have this spectrum and the amount of bearings we have too is crazy. But anyway, we, with every single bearing and we have over 1200 for just the bicycle industry, my eye's been on every single one to make it different and better than or for the bicycle application it's made for.
[01:04:41] Randall Jacobs: Yeah. And that really shines, that really shines through in how in, in the, in just how much passion you have for this as well.
[01:04:47] Matt Harvey: it sounds a bit boring, but I actually, I, I like it. It's fun. You know, it's it's, it's a good challenge and I have fun doing, I love the bicycle industry obviously, but
[01:04:58] Randall Jacobs: Yeah,
[01:04:59] Matt Harvey: fun doing it.
[01:05:00] Randall Jacobs: no, it's that's that, that shines through very clearly and is something that I appreciate the opportunity to share with you today. Thank you very much for coming on.
[01:05:09] Matt Harvey: Thank you so much for having me. It's been fun. I love this is my favorite part talking about this stuff. so I appreciate it.
[01:05:16] Craig Dalton: So that's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Huge. Thanks to Randall Jacobs for taking over the reins this week. And diving into bearing technology with Matt Harvey. I hope you enjoyed that deep dive into the tech and learning a little bit more about the Enduro brand and Matt's long history in the sport.
Additional big. Thanks goes out to athletic greens. I hope you go check out athletic greens.com/the gravel ride to learn more about that product that I wholeheartedly endorse. If you're interested in connecting with me or Randall, I encourage you to join us at the ridership. That's www.theridership.com.
It's a free global cycling community where you can connect with athletes from all over the world. And talk about really anything you want. If you're able to support the show, please visit buy me a coffee.com or ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt under your wheels