Tuesday, July 25, 2023

More Enduro Bearings Stuff

 Enduro Bearings sent over its Torqtite Bottom Bracket, Max Hit Head Set, and Direct Line Pulleys for test and review to Riding Gravel/Guitar Ted Productions at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review, and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout. 

Okay, so a while back I received a Max Hit bottom bracket which I installed on my Singular Cycles Gryphon Mk3. That's been going well for me and after some more communications with the PR company rep that is my contact for Enduro, they decided to provide me these three components at no charge to try out on the Twin Six Standard Rando. So, take that as you may. (Standard Disclaimer)

Okay, that's annoying, but this is 2023, and it's the way the gubmint wants things done now. Onward....

Bearings are important and yes, they really do make a difference. As a bicycle mechanic, you learn fairly quickly that a precise bearing system rolls/turns/pivots far more easily and with less unwanted movement than lower quality bearing systems. It isn't just about the ball bearings either. This has to extend to the races, the grease, and the precision to which those all are manufactured. A high quality bearing system costs more. A lot more, but a high quality bearing system will outlast cheaper options and give you a more efficient machine to ride. Who doesn't want more efficiency? Well, maybe single speeders, but other than those freaks..... HA! 

The Max Hit bottom bracket in this bike has made a very noticeable difference.

My experiences so far with the Max Hit bottom bracket have been very encouraging. But let's talk about the practicality of the Max Hit bottom bracket a minute. Keeping in mind that this bottom bracket costs one hundred and eighty bucks, which is pretty expensive. 

The "standard" I will measure against here is the lowly Shimano outboard bearing bottom bracket. You can pick up an XTR version, (Shimano's top of the line bearings) for around $40.00 these days. That's a heck of a lot less expensive than the Enduro Max Hit. I could go through 4 XTR bottom brackets before I spent the money for one Max Hit bottom bracket. So, I get it. If penny-pinching is the only thing you consider here, then you may as well move on from this review. 

Now, remember what I said about efficiency? It matters and it hurts your efforts to be using a less than efficient bottom bracket, or wheel bearings, or what have you. In my personal experience, great bearings are a lot easier to ride, and especially in terms of wheels, where I feel top quality bearings have a huge effect on how a bicycle rides and feels to pedal. (Speaking of pedals, the bearings matter there too.) But next to wheels, what components are spinning on a bicycle that bear more forces than a bottom bracket? I'd say there aren't any that compare. (Okay, maybe pedals!)  So, a really good bottom bracket makes as much sense, or more, to me as a great wheel bearing. Why wouldn't I want a really nice, free-spinning, precision made bottom bracket? 

The Torqtite bottom bracket.

So, there is a difference and the Max Hit bottom bracket pedals so smoothly that I did not realize that the standard Shimano bottom bracket I was using before was so "not very good". The Shimano one "rumbles" when pedaled hard, and that is inefficiency exemplified right there. It's amazing to feel how that affects your ride. I bet it is measurable with a power meter, actually. However; I'm not able to find out. I don't have access to anything that measures power. It would be fun to get a set of those power measuring pedals to see what, if any, differences there are to find. 

Now I also have these Direct Line pulleys which went into the Shimano GRX rear derailleur and that is a component choice which also can make an increase in efficiency for a cyclist. This has been known for decades, but what is new is that now many feel a larger diameter pulley is more efficient still. This is why my GRX lower pulley is larger than what we used to use back in the day. But really....derailleur pulleys that are more efficient? Yes, and there is data to prove this. One report I found is here. (Note: An Enduro model scored pretty highly in this test)

So, I feel that a rear derailleur pulley upgrade isn't maybe cost effective for many, but if you are looking to eek out the last bits of watt savings, well..... You could do worse than buying a new set of jockey wheels. 

The Direct Line pulleys are not cheap, but they do make a demonstrable difference in efficiency.

Finally, we have the Max Hit head set. This component is made entirely of 440C stainless steel. So, it is heavier than your box-stock, ubiquitous Cane Creek type head set. Surprisingly it isn't crazy expensive at about 120 bucks. That's right in there with many aftermarket head sets. 

I guess this one is a bit harder to justify though. I mean, for a little more you can accessorize your bike with an anodized head set, or you can buy the Cane Creek 40 series one for about 50 or 60 bucks and heck, it'll do fine. But for the longevity and durability factors, I can see the Enduro Max Hit one as being something worth checking out. This is a bit heavier head set, but for severe conditions/uses, this might then be a head set that you could get behind. 

It might be a bit tougher to make a case for this.

The stuff all went in correctly, easily, and there were no issues at all. The riding I did over the weekend proved that nothing should fail out of the gate, at least, and that I did my job correctly! 

Sometimes I have worried about non-stock derailleur pulleys not shifting well. A lot of folks may not realize it, but the derailleur jockey wheels are a major player in shifting precision. Get the pulley wrong, in any way, and shifting suffers. 

I will say that I had nothing to worry about there with the Enduro Direct Line pulleys as each shift was accomplished as I expected. Quickly and quietly, just as I have come to know from Shimano. So, that was nice to find out.

The Torqtite bottom bracket is a bit of a mystery as to what it is I am feeling here. At times I feel a vibration, but at times I do not. I wonder if the thread-together system that Enduro uses is so rigid that I am feeling something else through the bottom bracket and that this is not the bottom bracket bearings at all. I need more time on the bike to figure this out. But I will say that the typical Shimano "grumble", or shudder on hard pedaling, is gone. 

The head set did not come loose. Bonus! The bike steered well, and well, what else is there to say about a head set? 

So, there you have it....for the time being. I need to run this stuff for a good, long time, and when that time comes to an end, I'll be doing a final take on these things. Until then.....


bnelson said...

gt,is irwin wheels still in business my front wheel has developed play and not sure if it is bearings or axle can't find any specs thought you might be able to help. Thanks

Tomcat said...

For the first time ever, I'm attempting to replace wheel hub bearings. Finding replacement bearings is kind of a wild goose chase. Even for some pretty common 6903 and 6804 bearings, I've found that many of them are either out of stock, or the stock is fairly limited (trying to avoid amazon, ebay, etc). Kind of interesting as the bike industry still seems to be flooded with parts.

Just one data point of course. Thanks for the review of the Enduro Bearings. I own a pair of fancy onyx hubs with ceramic bearings, and I can tell you my average speed is consistently, slightly higher on that setup as compared to similar setups in my stable with steel wheel bearings.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tomcat: First of all - Good luck with the bearing project. Once you get a hold of the correct ones it should go together rather easily.

I agree about the easier feel at the pedals. It's hard to explain it, but if you've ridden nicer bearings then you know.