[CR]Bearing quality still an issue.

(Example: Framebuilding:Restoration)

From: "garth libre" <rabbitman@mindspring.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001 19:29:18 -0400
Subject: [CR]Bearing quality still an issue.

Like so many other bike enthusiasts, I do all or most all of regular bike maintenance myself. I have found, as no doubt have many others, that modern manufacturing processes have not really perfected the bearing quality of mid-range bike gruppos. It seems that the low to mid-range bikes now, have wonderful brakes, good levers, chainwheels, stems, seatposts, cables, freewheels, chains,and bars. Modern factories churn out tons of well engineered, durable, and reliable aluminum parts. I must admit to a bias that this stuff is generally not very attractive, but should the tides of taste turn, they would churn out lovely, classic looking, lightweight gruppos instead. It does however seem that bearing quality still eludes the Japanese and Asian factories for all but their top of the line stuff. Of the half dozen Japanese-equipped bikes I have worked on in the last twenty years, the bearing quality has been uniformly so so and not up to Campy Record or Dura Ace or Suntour Superbe standards. On most of these Japanese parts, the sweet spot is a very narrow area, and it may take me several tries to get it right on, where it feels somewhat smooth and still has miniscule or no play. (I prefer no play). I have two mountain bikes (for me and wife) and while everything is so dependable, the bearings are somewhat toy like, and never feel heavenly, no matter how hard you try. This must be the rule now, even with tight quality control that Asia is known for. That said, I must say that the bearings on my Suntour Superbe Pro gruppo are about as good as one could hope for. My local pro shop had to remove the Regina freewheel for me, and while he was at it I had him overhaul my rear hub with my favorite lube, Phil Woods smelly green glop. He was truly emotionally touched when he finished the hub, and remarked that it was about as good as he ever has seen. I feel the same way, but I am at a loss to explain why it should feel so much finer than the rest of the stuff that comes from Japan nowadays. What is it that makes a fine Italian bearing feel so silky and easy to adjust? Threads are threads, and races that have been polished are just races that have been polished. The metal is much the same, and I know the ball bearings can't be much different. Fine bearings are distinct in their obvious quality. Not to be too naive, but where are these differences coming from? Garth Libre in off and on rainy South Florida.