Enduro has been using nitrogen steel for the bearing race for about three years, offered in their top end products. It’s a much tougher metal that uses stainless surgical steel that has nitrogen infused during the last remelt. This keeps it from becoming brittle under repeated rolling over the bearings, which can happen with regular metal.
The tough part for Enduro is that the raw metal has about a year lead time, which makes it difficult to scale production if there’s a sudden demand, which is why they haven’t publicized it much. They receive it in rods, then have to machine away about 90% of the material to make a race. The scrap is recycled as stainless steel.
Enduro’s Matt Harvey says they were lasting so long in bottom brackets, they had to develop better seals. New polyurethane O-rings last as long as the bearings -at least five years- and they have an oval cross section that helps it hold more grease for quieter operation and better tolerances against crank spindle variations.
Think that’s cool? There’s more…
Harvey says this set up makes it durable enough to run without lube or seals, but they do still use grease and alloy backed seal covers to keep dirt out.
They use these angular contact bearings in their high end bottom brackets to fit 24mm and 30mm spindles, the latter of which are fairly new and retail for about $200.
Their standard steel races (with steel or ceramic bearings) are used in Wheels Manufacturing’s new PFBBs. Those, too, get the new polyurethane o-ring on the outside of the shell to keep things quiet between the BB and frame, and it has a double lip silicone outer seal. They also use angular contact bearings, which handle side loads better, something BB bearings see a lot of. They’re directional bearings – should you upgrade, make sure the black side faces inward. Their testing shows they last 2.5x longer than radial steel bearings.
Another benefit to angular contact bearings is that they make up for frame misalignment or poor tolerances because they can bevel themselves into alignment with the spindle rather than bind like radial bearings. So, if your cranks seem to have too much rotational friction (ie. they don’t spin as freely as you think they should) despite your best efforts at cleaning and set up, Harvey says their BB’s (or Wheels Mfr’s) could very well be the solution.
All of this development of materials and angular contact bearings would do well for wheels, too…And they’re working on it. They’re now making three different size wheel bearings, with three more on the way. Replacement bearing kits will initially be available for Zipp, Mavic, Easton and American Classic. They’ll keep adding sizes to cover more wheels, too. And Harvey hinted that some major OE customers should be launching wheels with them soon, too. The key improvement is that once the hub has the proper preload, which they say is 3x what Shimano’s wheels recommend, there will be no play in the wheels. And that’s a good thing as disc brakes make inroads!
Lastly, they have a new pressfit BB installation tool with a stepped pilot bushing that fits inside the bearings to guide them in perfectly straight. Delrin bushings between the twisting parts of the tools help it run smoothly, and they say you can hand tighten a Pressfit BB into a frame. An allen wrench will also fit into the ends for tough jobs.
Ever used a headset press to push a BB into a frame? These parts will help keep the BB inline, reducing your angle of attack.
A split, spring loaded (by way of a rubber brand around it) fitting surrounds both sides of the bearing on each side. Once it snaps into place, use the tool in reverse to press the cups out, making removal just as easy. And gloriously free of rubber mallets.
Here are all the parts. Price? Not sure, but it’s probably aimed at shops rather than the home mechanic.