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Cartridge vs Loose bearing Hubs


davetapson
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Right, I want to get some tubeless mtb rims made up. I have the choice of choosing hubs with cartridge bearings (e.g. Hope) or loose ball bearing hubs (e.g. Shimano XT).

 

Now, something that I have noticed with cartridge bearings is that they do have some resistance to turning, as opposed to the old-fashioned bearing and cone type that seem to have little resistance at all.

 

Does this resistance have any effect. When you consider that the average weekend warrior can only put out 1/16 of a horse power or something, every bit of lack of friction counts....

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If the choise is between the XT hubs and the Hope hubs I will take the Hope hubs....

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Cartridge bearings, when new, have some resistance to turning. Very little, in the greater scheme of things. This resistance is from the balls themselves, the grease and the seals. As they get older, they decrease in resistance up to the point where the seals don't make contact anymore and the grease is depeleted. Then they spin freely for the last few moments of their life.

 

A well adjusted and good condition cup-and-cone bearing also has some resistance. They have two or more contact seals less than cartridge bearing wheels and therefore less seal drag. But bearing drag and grease drag is just about the same.

 

I won't make my decision based on the perceived drag of the two types of hubs.

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Johan

 

What type of bearings would you choose if you were wanting to do a downhill event and every fraction of a second counted? Hubs with cartridge bearings or cup and cone?

Also what brand of hubs would you recommend and why would someone choose "x" brand over brand "y" if it only comes down to cartridge versus cup and cone?

 

What sets brands like Hope, Chris King and XTR apart from someone purchaing the cheapest lightes hubs?

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Johan

 

What type of bearings would you choose if you were wanting to do a downhill event and every fraction of a second counted? Hubs with cartridge bearings or cup and cone?

Also what brand of hubs would you recommend and why would someone choose "x" brand over brand "y" if it only comes down to cartridge versus cup and cone?

 

What sets brands like Hope, Chris King and XTR apart from someone purchaing the cheapest lightes hubs?

 

Downhill hub availability is limited in ZA, so often the choice is made for reasons other than quality.

 

Downhill hubs are generally through-axle and the rear one is 150mm wide, vs a MTB's 135mm.

 

Downhill riding, when done properly where the guys brake with the rear wheel in order to skid it and move it out, places sideload forces on the rear wheel that no other discipline does. Cartridge bearings are particularly weak with side loads and I find more crunchy downhill bearings in rear wheels than the norm...I think. (This is very subjective and based on a very small sample).

 

In terms of rolling resistance, I'd guess that cup-and-cone bearings have less, since there are less bearings on a wheel - two sets vs about four in cartridge wheels. Also, fresh cartridge bearings have somewhat more drag than cup-and-cones.

 

Having said all this, I honestly don't think it matters from a rolling resistance point of view.

 

Serviceability: cup and cones are cheap to maintain and since downhill is inherently drier than cross country, the bearing cups should last indefinitely if serviced regularly.

 

Brands? I have no preference since they're all much the same. Dowhnill hubs don't have weight issues so, big fat CNC machined hubs are OK. No need to go to the expense of lighter forged hubs.

 

You wasnt me to choose a brand? Novatek (it's good and cheap). If money is not an issue, Chris King. They have the best cup-and-cone bearings money can buy.

 

What is your favourite and why?

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Krums, Johan

 

I dont have a favourite! I simply dont know enough other than what I got on your course. I liked the cartridge bearings because they are so eay to replace. You mentioned that they were about R80,00 at the time and expensive compared tpo the cone bearings, but considering what a new hub would cost that sounds reasonable.

 

Now a very important question regarding the lubrication of cup and cone. I serviced mine some time ago and used some very fancy lubrication from america in machines we sell that have shafts sliding thousands o times a day. Its like a thick syrup, that maintains its viscosity at varying temperatures without thining and consequently draining. It also does not get absorbed in rubber seals so is safe to use on rubber o-rings compared to conventional petroleum based lubes.

Is there any reason that I should not continue with thislube? Or do I have to use the so called grease suplied by the bearing people? How crucial is the type of lubrication used in the bearings? Also I think most of the friction on my bike comes rom the sprocket mechanism on my hubs anyway.

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@ iragr: Oh dear, another sucker for misaplication of expensive grease.

 

Not trying to be mean here, but just because the grease is great for sliding mechanisms, it is probably not really ideal for bike wheels. I know nothing of the viscosity of the grease or its thickeners/soap base etc, but from your limited description, there is a high likelyhood that the wheels bearing grease you buy from a motor spares shop is actually a better match for you application. Fortunately, bike bearing turn so slowly that they are very forgiving of almost all grades of grease.

 

@davetapson: The amount of difference between the bearing types is so small that you won't see the difference. Rather consider the reliability and longterm viability of the solution.

 

General: I tend to agree with what Johan has said, I'll also add, cartridges generally have less and/or smaller balls in them and are not well suited axial loads. They however replacable. Cup and cone arrangements will last longer given their higher load carrying capacity, but when the cups are hammered, you toss the hub away (you can replace the cones if need be). For reference, I've never had a cartridge last more than 10000km. On the otherhand, my last set of Dura Ace hubs (good quality cup and cone) did 50000km and were still fine when I sold them. However, I don't rate any shimano hubs except Dura Ace and XTR - I have XT hubs on my MTB and they just simply aren't in the same league as XTR (cup and cones are only ground and polished on Dura ace and XTR and it shows).

 

In short for the MTB wheel if the options were XT or Hope, I would go with Hope. Given Hope hubs more than double XT in price and are almost the same price as XTR, then I would go with XTR. Another way of looking at it, if you can get a quality cup/cone, go for it, otherwise a cartridge might be a safer option.

 

For downhill, cup and cone all the way - you are not doing massive milage, but you need something that can take the bumps and lateral loads (axial force) and cartridges don't suit either of those criteria.

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