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Linkage bearings: Options to buy

1421 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  twebeast
So I tore down my bike yesterday, inspected the lower link for the first time. The 2 larger bearings were a bit gritty (the smaller ones were fine). Not a surprise actually. I had planned to take out the bearings (hopefully), pry open the seals and regrease the balls.

However, after looking at the bearings for a bit, I was really unsure if the seals would be damaged by doing so. I've never taken apart a cartridge bearing so I called Ibis. Shawn (Sean?) picked up and told me that you're not supposed to take apart the bearings but I have read multiple threads (although old) where people have said or at least implied that they "maintain" their bearings every 6months - 1 year:

Anyhow, I decided that buying the bearings would be just a more simple, safer, better solution. Replacing the entire link would just be a waste in money......BUT I want the red lower color, new bearings. $75.....hmmmmm.

So some questions.

-Tips on pushing the bearings out? I read heating helps but using what? Just a heat gun? Don't have one but could get one. I'm sure you wouldn't use a torch. I can get the right sized punch and just use a little elbow grease and bash them out (don't care if I destroy them really since they're bad anyways :D ) Shawn said to press on the inside ring when pushing them out and press on the outside ring when pressing them back in. I have a handle on what needs to be done but just looking for some set up tips on what was the most successful way.

Found this thread but it's for a Trance. The process should be the same though.

Now as far as buying new bearings, I visited Enduro's site:

$36 for what should be all 8 bearings FYI: Enduro is moving and not accepting orders over the phone. Online ordering is fine. Anyone order this kit? Or anyone else order bearings from Enduro but chose to "custom" order by size?
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The Enduro Max bearings that Enduro uses in their kit made for the Mojo are excellent bearings. I can recommend these or Phil Wood bearings, or the Enduro hybrid ceramics.

As far as removing the bearings, heating them can help. Easiest thing to do is to put them in the oven at 130ish until they're warm, and then press or pull the bearings out while they're still toasty.

Be careful when you remove the bearings that you support them properly so that you don't mangle the linkage. I'm trying to think of an easy way to describe what I mean. The upper linkage is a good example. Imagine that you were to try to press out one of the rear bearings on the upper linkage (Lopes) by pushing on the inner race of one bearing, but you pushed against the opposite outside side of the linkage for leverage. This would be the easiest way to get leverage, but what you'll end up doing is bending the two arms of the link towards eachother and ruining it. Instead, you have to push against the opposite side of the same arm. An easy, low tech way to do this is to get some sockets that are the right size - one should be small enough to push through the hole in the link, but will actually push on the bearing itself, and on the other side you put the open end of a socket with an opening big enough for the whole bearing to go into. The lips of this second socket push against the link itself, around the bearing. Now get a long bolt, thread it through both sockets, put a nut on the end, tighten the whole thing down and voila, the bearing pushes out.

Repeat for all the other bearing. Reinstallation is basically the same thing, but in reverse.

If you look at the fancy bearing presses, they do exactly what I just described above, but they're just a higher quality tool for the same job. The Enduro bearing press is nice. Get one of those and a blind bearing puller and you'll be all set for maintaining wheels, links, and lots of other stuff.

Regarding maintaining bearings without replacing them, here's what you do: Get a dental pick, or carefully use a safety pin, and very carefully poke under the edge of the seal then pry it off. You don't need to, and can't really, disassemble the bearings further than this. Take seals off both sides using the pick, then use whatever serious degreasing solvent you have available and clean all the ook out of the bearing. Get it completely clean and dry, and then squirt it completely full of a good waterproof grease, pop the seals back on, and tada, bearing good to go again.

One other thought. I ended up buying an extra lower and upper link so that I would always have a spare, so no down time if I had to order bearings. When I need to replace bearings, I just throw on the other link, then at my leisure get new bearings and replace them in the first link.
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i just did this over the weekend and i haven't heard it's bad for the bearings to re-grease them by prying open the seal. i was a bit more lazy then the above directions and didn't clean out the bearings before re-greasing, but instead noticed if it was a bit dry looking to just add more grease. i also left the l bearings in the linkage and added grease to whatever side was exposed (won't the grease just work it's way to both ends?).

if it gets to the point where the bearings have ceased, i guess i'll try the homemade press mtb143 suggested above. but you've only had the bike like 2 years so just do simple re-grease.
Mine is 3 years old and I am onto my 3rd set of lower link bearings. They come out very easily and any bearing shop should have the correct sizes in stock. There are some options - plain old steel at $20 (Aus) for the set of 4 lower link bearings, stainless steel at about $80 and ceramic for a lot more. Stainless and ceramic are probably an order-in product. I have 2 lower links now and therefore in theory could replace the bearings in one and change it over at short notice. When they go, they go fast.
for reinsertion of new bearings, stick them in the freezer overnight. That will shrink them the tiniest bit so they'll pop in easier. This is really the converse of sticking the links in the oven to get the bearings out, which is working on the principle that the links will warm and expand faster than the bearings I guess.

For a bearing press, if you know the spec of the bearings (I can't remember what Ibis use but there are two sizes I think); you can make your own bearing press by buying a stud, couple of nuts and washers. Main things to know are:

1) stud needs to be same diameter as inner diameter of bearing. So if bearing inner is 6mm you'd get an M6 stud.

2) Stud length.. really just how much you want to play with. I built mine for my Uzzi, where the bearings press in to the frame, so it needed to be wider than that plus two washers and two nuts

3) Washers will need to be thick and tough enough to spread the load. The outer diameter needs to be a close match to the outer diameter of the bearing. Any wider and you may find you can't push the bearing home the final 1mm or whatever due to the washer coming up against the linkage. The inner diameter of the bearing should hopefully also be the same as the stud, to keep it central, or things get a little more fiddly.

You'll need a spanner at either end to crank it up. I used a spanner at one and adjustable spanner at the other.

Whatever you do, go slowly and make sure the bearing is being pressed in nice and flat, you don't want to gauge or deform the link where the bearing sits.

Don't heat up the links prior to sticking new bearings in. Grease can turn liquidy and drip out of your seals (well that's what they did when I tried :-z). The freezer technique on the bearings themselves shoudl suffice
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