Those who have been following this blog for a while will know that I am prone to blabbering on about bearings now and again. The difference they make to a setup is negotiable but still I love them. Apologies go out to those who will find this post akin to watching paint dry…
Having raced them during two marathons (Goodwood, Rabbit Race) as well as having trained on them, I believe that I have ridden them enough to give a pretty accurate opinion. I’ve also found some pretty interesting review online that I will try to summarise here.
Out of the box these bearings at least look great, they feel really sturdy and the blue trademarked dust shields look the business. Once on the wheel good fit and built in spacer really gives you the confidence to tighten these puppies down. I got a little too carried away and managed to de-thread a lock nut, thankfully not the axel…
Performance-wise I’ve found that they run well. Here is a excerpt from the Tekton thread on Silverfish:
I don’t know why but the fastest feeling bearings I’ve used, such as Tektons and Rockin Ron’s have always sounded pretty noisy and a little loose. I’ve used Rockin Ron’s (the same set) for well over 2000 miles and they’re still going strong. They outlasted my LBL Pusher anyway.
Regarding the Tekton rusting issue, I had a set sent to my friend and I asked him to clean out the Siesmic lube and but in some speed cream (there were reports of the Tektons running slow with the original lube)…here is what he had to say:
Also, I cleaned and re-oiled the Tekton bearings and the Garvers last night. Funny thing with the Tekton’s, I dried them as soon as I could after cleaning with a hair dryer, but there was still some thin rust forming on the spacers! Crazy! So, I dried them, oiled each of them with 2 drops of speed cream, spinning each one straight after dropping the oil in, then oiled the spacers and outer races to stop the rust. I’ve never experienced that with any other bearing, and I’ve cleaned a fair few kinds!
The real test was the 2000 miles and 2 1/2 months of harsh riding…with Rain, severe heat, 4-9 hours per day of riding. For the first 40 days, I used literally no lube. None whatsoever. I just didn’t see the need because that little noise coming from the tektons never changed, and neither did the ease of pushing, even after they were completely submerged for an hour in a flooded tent. A few weeks after the flooded tent I decided to try some lube because, come on how could they not need lube after so long. There was a tiny bit of rust starting to form on the axel, so I lubed it all up. That was the last time I lubed the tektons because the lube was stolen a week later. The second half of the trip ended up being rainy as all tits, and everything rusted completely over within two weeks. The tektons were ruined and I couldn’t even change them because they were rusted onto the axles, permanently.
So it seems that they have a super-tendency to rust up – and quick! That said I really do rate their solid feel and will continue to use them as they feel better made than many bearings out there. At $35 for 8 the price isn’t bad either. We’ll see how they get on over the Winter.
Twincam ILQ X mr2
I don’t own these yet but they are pretty rated in the world of speedskating:
Here are some features:
- 29% lighter than 608 bearing.
- Exclusive design 7 ball nylon retainer with self-lubricated material.
- Inner ring with exclusive design “SCRS” (S-channel Rubber Shield) and “DCF” – Double Contamination Free.
- Provides the most maximum contamination free protection than any other in-line bearing in the market
- The ‘top hat’ style adaptors which allow these to be used with 8mm axels act as an additional dust seal
- Greater loading than standard 608 bearings
- Lubricant: TK Ultra Light Gel gives better protection inside balls and nylon retainer.
A fuller review is available here and on the manufacturer’s site. There are also ceramic versions available but at increased cost. The non-ceramic version shown above are priced at $45.50 for a set of 16.
Twincam ILQ-9 PRO (6 ball)
The original feature of these bearing is that they each contain 6 not 7 ball bearings.
Why are 6 balls better than 7? Less is more! The contact area between the balls and the inner and outer rings has been reduced with 6 balls, so ILQ-9’s spin with less friction that any other inline bearing. With larger balls, there’s also less void space inside the raceway, so the bearing can be filled with less lubrication, allowing more free spin.
Additionally, the larger balls (4.5 mm diameter) allow ILQ-9’s to handle greater laoding rates. This means they are superior for heavier skaters, and for stressful activities like hockey, aggressive skating, or hihg-speed pushing and cornering. I know that Alex Bangnoi uses these and they seem to be working pretty well for him! More info here. $45.50 for a set of 16
Anti-abec rating and with seals that are “not perfect; just really, really good”…but also every bearing is purple and green giving rise to a hard choice (steezy side out or speedy side out)…
They have been, ahem, comprehensively tested:
Magics are FAST!!!! None of the current magic bearings have died, including the prototypes I’ve had since july. Rain, dirt, general abuse, they take it. I got rained all over yesterday, went through puddles of dirty brown road-rain-water and got all nasty and gross. This morning the bearings are still smooth, though a but noisier. Looks like rain for most of the week as well so we’ll see how they hold up. And I didn’t have the luxury of spinning the wheels at 30-40mph to keep the water out.
So in review people, you should buy them because:
1. They use Unicorn semen and angel tears as lube
2. They’re purple. The color of steeze and hustle
3. But they’re also green, the color of speed
4. B*tches love Magic
5. Seals and stuff
6. They’re centerset, so you can flip them.
7. I like to think they are made out of iron man.
8. They’re Magically self aligning. Even better than Tektons!
9. They make racecar sounds
10. The lube is pizza grease.
11. They are best for sliding
12. They will make you fast like K-Rimes
13. They’re magical duh
So my weekend of training is finished. As I sit here slightly aching and full of food I know that in a weeks time the race will already be over. Seeing as I only started training properly around a month ago, I’m pretty pleased with how things have gone. I’ve learnt a couple of things too which I want to record here so that I don’t forget.
Sounds basic, but is easy to get wrong. Realising that I wasn’t going to have all that much time to put in the miles, I decided to go for an sprint approach with my regular sessions. The route I used is short in distance terms, around 4km (2.4 miles) but has an elevation of around 135m (442 ft). Here is the different times it took me to travel the route:
Jul 18, 2011: Pace: 4:04min/km, Speed: 14.47km/h
Jul 21, 2011: Pace: 3:49min/km, Speed: 15.72km/h
Jul 27, 2011: Pace: 4:20min/km, Speed: 13.83km/h
Aug 02, 2011: Pace: 4:02min/km, Speed: 14.83km/h
So what happened on the 27th July? Well, I arrived back home thinking I was going to pass out. Coming up the hill I felt like I had no energy and like I was skating through treacle. It was a horrible feeling. From that day on I decided to eat more during the late afternoon to fuel the longboarding runs. The results are that I have got a little faster (last run) and I am also decidedly less grouchy upon arrival home.
My favourite snack of choice at the moment are home-made cereal bars that I used during the Paris Ultraskate. Why make them? Well, here are some advantages:
1/ You know exactly what is in them
2/ They contain different levels of sugars to give you quick and sustained energy
3/ Really easy to make
Long Distance energy bars – all credit goes to the fantastic Diet-Sport-Coach site (in French)
By slightly changing the ingredients, you can make either a sweet or a slightly salty version – good to ward away boredom for when you have to eat a lot of them during ultras, etc…
Mix for sweet:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 100 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 50g brown sugar
> a small potato (80g) cooked and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds
For salty version:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 75 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 100g peanut butter
> 80g sweet potato steamed and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds
Mix everything up into a paste. It might at first appear really dry but just mix in enough and it will turn into a paste. Leave it to set in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut the paste into bars and wrap in cellophane. You can also wrap the paste around fillings such as dried bananas or dates.
The last big training push
During the weekend, I had some time to get the final bit of my training in. Since I setup the Illuminati not too long ago and had a couple of issues getting to grips with it and it was a real feeling of relief to feel everything come together. I’ve mainly been playing around with bushings (see last link) and also trying out ways to strengthen them.
I knew that it was possible to setup and get used to a board that is both good at pumping and pushing. From using it at the weekend, I think that I have came close to achieving that.
The weather around Lausanne has been pants for the last couple of weeks; muggy and showery. Not really very summery at all. All in all I did nearly 60km (37 miles) during the weekend at race pace for as much as possible. The most interesting run was on Saturday. I actually had a false start that day. I came out of the flat ready for a skate and after 10metres it started to rain. That was in the morning.
In the afternoon as I was waiting for the bus to take me down to the lake, I got my picture taken by a passing photographer:
Once at the lake, I’d done about 12km when again, it started to rain. Luckily, I decided to press on and the rain didn’t last – I did almost go home at one point because the rain kept threatening to come down.
Here is the route I took according to RunKeeper:
I’m happy with the speed. The route is certainly one of the more interesting ones to skate around on, but that does mean that you need to keep your wits about you. I had multiple near-misses with children on bikes, roller blade or just people randomly changing direction. There were also several crossings to deal with, although for the most part I managed to time them just right to get the ‘green man’. When you’re not dealing with all that, there is a lovely view of the lakeside. The surface really is top notch too. Physically, afterwards I felt pretty good and made sure I did my stretches. That reminds me…
Tim Pritchard recommended that I read a copy of Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. There is some interesting stuff regarding technique. After reading it, I’ve tried to keep in mind the following when I skate:
– Strike the ground when pushing with the mid-foot, making as little noise as possible
– Stay as straight as possible, lean forwards more the faster you want to go
– Don’t reach too far forwards, concentrate your push to the back
– Focus on the point where you want to be going (as much as your board and the terrain allows you)
I would really recommend this book. There are some very waffle-y sections and some running information that isn’t very relevant to longboarding, but the philosophy, warming up/warming down, stretching, race preparation and training plans are all well worth the read.
T minus 5 days-ish
So now comes a nice part of the training: eating and resting as much as possible! I’m really looking forward to the weekend, as well as the race it’ll be a good chance to catch up with old friends (Matt Elver, Keith O’Leary, Tim Pritchard, Tom Parker, Nick Randall, Zoltan Nagy), and meet some new faces for the first time in person (Chris White, Gary Ewens of Smile Longboards, the UK Longboard Larry distributor, and who knows else!).
A sad fact though is that Alex Bangnoi will unfortunately not be able to make Goodwood this year- it won’ be the same without you drifting me around the track ;-). The French will be duly represented though by Matthieu Josse, a young gun who shot to 8th place in the Ultraskate rankings at the Paris Ultraskate. I think there are going to be a few surprises this year…let’s see!