Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 31
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    101

    Suspension Bearings Again?!?!?!

    Hi all, I just want to vent. I have a 2009 Enduro SL that I've been riding for ~2.5 years. For the most part, this bike has been a dream, although I'm increasingly feeling like I need a full time mechanic to maintain it. A year ago, I spent three months trying to track down a creaking noise that the LBS ended up diagnosing as caused by the suspension pivot bearings being completely worn out and crackling. That seemed odd that only a year and half of riding caused this. Fast forward to a year later, and some noise started to originate from my bike, and taking apart my suspension I found once again that half of the suspension bearings were shot and would not turn smoothly. I repacked all the bearings with grease and am crossing my fingers that this will work for a decent amount of time, but this seems absurd that not only do the bearings require so much service, but that Specialized does provide tools or self-service guidance to do this work that apparently needs to be done so regularly. I generally don't ride when it's raining, and my bike lives indoors so the fact that this much work needs to be done seems so perverse! Santa Cruz and some other companies at least makes bikes that either have trivial bearing work (single pivot) or provide extensive documentation for doing the work (VPP). Am I doing something fundamentally wrong? Should I consider going back to a hardtail?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    7,949
    If replacing the bearings every year or so (assuming you are using quality bearings, such as Enduro) seems to be too much, then yeah, go back to a hard tail.

    I don't see how bearings are different between SP/VPP/Horst, a bearing is a bearing. Your bike just has a couple more than a single pivot.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: WR304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,001
    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterZero View Post
    I don't see how bearings are different between SP/VPP/Horst, a bearing is a bearing. Your bike just has a couple more than a single pivot.
    The main issue with current Specialized frames rear suspension pivot bearings are that the bearings are quite small, they only rotate for a limited distance and their frame location means that they're exposed to water and mud thrown up from the rear wheel.

    Having the pivot bearings last a year and a half isn't bad really. The most I've ever got out of a set of Specialized rear suspension pivot bearings was 10 months. The shortest being the three months that the bearings on my 2012 Specialized Epic lasted (it seems to have rained constantly since getting the bike which is what's so hard on them).

    Not all full suspension bikes are equal when it comes to bearing life. A good example would be my old 1997 Marin Mount Vision. It had a single pivot design with large bearings covered by a lifetime warranty. Used in the same wet and muddy UK riding conditions that will destroy the bearings of a Specialized Epic within 3-10 months the 1997 Marin Mount Vision's pivot bearings were just as good after 10 years as when it was new.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    101
    I'm not trying to prop up one company over another, but given how fragile these bearings apparently are (I ride about ~75 hours a year in mostly dry weather, so I'm not putting ridiculous hours) and that they are "wear and tear," I would think that bike manufacturers would attempt to make it relatively easy to replace them. Based on everything I can see, Specialized has done the exact opposite.

    I'm not sure what type of bearings were put in by the LBS, when I popped open the seals they seemed pretty dry though. I don't really have the tools for replacing the bearings at this point (blind bearing puller and an arbor press) to do the job properly, and so this means an extra $150-$200 to send it to the bike shop every year, in addition to the AFR service that they claim is necessary.

    Just frustrated and venting, and looking for ideas for how to improve this.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: WR304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,001
    You could try fitting Enduro bearings instead of the stock ones (which have additional ball bearings inside compared to the stock Specialized bearings) and pack them full of waterproof grease from new. That's about it really as you're limited by the frame design

    The main reason for using small bearings in the rear suspension is that they're light. If the frame was designed around larger bearings with additional sealing they'd probably last longer but the bike would be heavier. On some full suspension frames (such as the Giant Anthem X ) you can fit a protector to shield the bearings from water and dust but it isn't so easy on a Specialized FSR.

    Some full suspension frames, such as the Santa Cruz Nomad, have bearing grease ports so that you can flush the bearings without needing to strip the bike.

    Santa Cruz Bicycles

    Pictured below: Santa Cruz Nomad pivot bearing grease ports allow the bearings to be flushed with new grease easily.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Suspension Bearings Again?!?!?!-santa_cruz_nomad_grease_ports.jpg  


  6. #6
    old fart
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,192
    Quote Originally Posted by biggrumble View Post
    Hi all, I just want to vent. I have a 2009 Enduro SL that I've been riding for ~2.5 years. For the most part, this bike has been a dream, although I'm increasingly feeling like I need a full time mechanic to maintain it. A year ago, I spent three months trying to track down a creaking noise that the LBS ended up diagnosing as caused by the suspension pivot bearings being completely worn out and crackling. That seemed odd that only a year and half of riding caused this. Fast forward to a year later, and some noise started to originate from my bike, and taking apart my suspension I found once again that half of the suspension bearings were shot and would not turn smoothly. I repacked all the bearings with grease and am crossing my fingers that this will work for a decent amount of time, but this seems absurd that not only do the bearings require so much service, but that Specialized does provide tools or self-service guidance to do this work that apparently needs to be done so regularly. I generally don't ride when it's raining, and my bike lives indoors so the fact that this much work needs to be done seems so perverse! Santa Cruz and some other companies at least makes bikes that either have trivial bearing work (single pivot) or provide extensive documentation for doing the work (VPP). Am I doing something fundamentally wrong? Should I consider going back to a hardtail?
    The bearings are, unfortunately perhaps, a regular maintenance item. I've found that the bearing life on my 2011 SW Epic is better than my old 2010 26er in that the rear bearings are better shielded and have so far just needed a lube - for example, the main pivot bearings are fully sealed with an O-ring. The S-Link bearings on the other hand needed to be replaced after a year. I'm with WR304 on this though - replace the bearings with good quality bearings from your local engineering supplies shop and then you will get a good reading on whether the issue is really the bearing location, or the bearing quality. BTW to replace all 10 (or so) bearings should give you change form $50.

    If it is any consolation, the bearings on my wife's Anthem XW are no better, and require regular lubes.
    Last edited by skiwi; 07-07-2012 at 04:45 PM.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    212
    Those Zerk fittings make no sense...the bearings rest on a track, which is either rubber sealed or metal sealed. In most cases bearings should be rubber sealed. In order to properly lubricate a bearing, you will need to remove the rubber seal and apply grease, such as a belray grease.

    The only way I can see those zerk fittings making sense if they have one side of the bearings sealed and the other open...but then that alone could cause more problems with the outside elements..water dirt and grime.

    It's the same with most bikes if ridden often, I take apart my pivot points after every season and wipe off all dirt, grime and old grease, and reapply.

    I had some issues with creaking on my rocky mountain Altitude Carbon frame..but after greasing all the pivot points, all was well..

    I doubt I will have any more issues for the season as everything was lubed fairly well. Keep your bike clean, and up to par, then I doubt you will have so many issues.

    On the flip side...my old Kona Coiler...I never took apart the pivots and never had a creek in the 5 years I owned the bike...but it also only but had 3 points lol all the newer bikes now...with trying to save weight and get all geeked with this pivot points, leaves more room for failure and upkeep.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    129
    Glad this thread came up, Im about to replace all the bearings on my 2012 SWEpic 26er I will be ordering all the bearings from Enduro since I have herd only good things from them. Ill be using non ceramic bearings in all the suspension pivots and ceramic for the wheels.

    I will be packing them with Shimano grease (Green grease) Im guessing they are a little on the dry side from the factory.?

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    212
    TKO Bearings is awesome.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: WR304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,001
    Quote Originally Posted by EpicFSR View Post
    I'll be using non ceramic bearings in all the suspension pivots and ceramic for the wheels.
    Apparently ceramic bearings don't work well as suspension pivot bearings:

    Chris Cocalias, founder of Titus: "I replaced the stock Titus Racer X steel bearings with ceramics. After three rides the bearings were shot. I've never had a pivot wear out as fast as that."

    http://www.extralite.com/images%20tech/ceramic%2004.jpg

  11. #11
    old fart
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,192
    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    Apparently ceramic bearings don't work well as suspension pivot bearings:

    Chris Cocalias, founder of Titus: "I replaced the stock Titus Racer X steel bearings with ceramics. After three rides the bearings were shot. I've never had a pivot wear out as fast as that."

    http://www.extralite.com/images%20tech/ceramic%2004.jpg
    I can't see how ceramics would be any worse than steel. That said I can't see how they would be any better as well. Perhaps the relatively low-viscosity grease doesn't stay around long enough to be useful. As these bearings have about 10 degrees of movement I "get" why they are using smaller bearings to reduce stiction. That said I've wondered why they don't use rollers more.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    129
    Thats why I said I'll be using non ceramic in the suspension pivots ,I'll be using the SRAM ceramic lube to pack them on delivery.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by biggrumble View Post
    Hi all, I just want to vent. I have a 2009 Enduro SL that I've been riding for ~2.5 years. For the most part, this bike has been a dream, although I'm increasingly feeling like I need a full time mechanic to maintain it. A year ago, I spent three months trying to track down a creaking noise that the LBS ended up diagnosing as caused by the suspension pivot bearings being completely worn out and crackling. That seemed odd that only a year and half of riding caused this. Fast forward to a year later, and some noise started to originate from my bike, and taking apart my suspension I found once again that half of the suspension bearings were shot and would not turn smoothly. I repacked all the bearings with grease and am crossing my fingers that this will work for a decent amount of time, but this seems absurd that not only do the bearings require so much service, but that Specialized does provide tools or self-service guidance to do this work that apparently needs to be done so regularly. I generally don't ride when it's raining, and my bike lives indoors so the fact that this much work needs to be done seems so perverse! Santa Cruz and some other companies at least makes bikes that either have trivial bearing work (single pivot) or provide extensive documentation for doing the work (VPP). Am I doing something fundamentally wrong? Should I consider going back to a hardtail?
    I have a question for you.

    Did your creaking sound like it was coming from your bottom bracket?

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    23
    Quote Originally Posted by EpicFSR View Post
    I will be packing them with Shimano grease (Green grease) Im guessing they are a little on the dry side from the factory.?
    Most sealed bearings are shipped on the dry side.

    It is very easy to add more grease. Use a toothpick or metal dental pick to carefully remove the seal and pack with a quality waterproof grease.

    If you have a local bearing house, it may be worth your while to price bearings from them. John Deere dealerships are also a fantastic bearing source.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    101
    Yes, that was exactly where I thought it was coming from the first time. I took the bottom bracket apart a few times thinking that was the cause but found nothing.

  16. #16
    Big Gulps, Alright!
    Reputation: Berkley's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    3,223
    Quote Originally Posted by jesse101 View Post
    Those Zerk fittings make no sense...the bearings rest on a track, which is either rubber sealed or metal sealed. In most cases bearings should be rubber sealed. In order to properly lubricate a bearing, you will need to remove the rubber seal and apply grease, such as a belray grease.

    The only way I can see those zerk fittings making sense if they have one side of the bearings sealed and the other open...but then that alone could cause more problems with the outside elements..water dirt and grime.

    It's the same with most bikes if ridden often, I take apart my pivot points after every season and wipe off all dirt, grime and old grease, and reapply.

    I had some issues with creaking on my rocky mountain Altitude Carbon frame..but after greasing all the pivot points, all was well..

    I doubt I will have any more issues for the season as everything was lubed fairly well. Keep your bike clean, and up to par, then I doubt you will have so many issues.

    On the flip side...my old Kona Coiler...I never took apart the pivots and never had a creek in the 5 years I owned the bike...but it also only but had 3 points lol all the newer bikes now...with trying to save weight and get all geeked with this pivot points, leaves more room for failure and upkeep.
    One side of the SC bearings uses a different seal, that allows grease to permeate. The idea is that the grease gun/zerk fittings are so easy to use, that you'll grease them often enough that water and grime getting in there won't matter.
    Axle Standards Explained

    Founder at North Atlantic Dirt, riding & writing about trails in the northeast.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,624
    I believe that Enduro bearings are shipped fully packed, with a claim of less than 5% void space, or something like that.

    In my limited sampling (small town, but jammed full of mtb riders), Santa Cruz bearings may be the least long-lasting of any brand. Take that for what it's worth.

    You could get a Turner. Sealed igus bushings with grease zerks. That is what I ride in the winter slop, and the pivots last FAR longer than the bearings on my Specialized Camber "dry season bike". Also, the bikes rip.

    Cartridge bearings are made to spin fast under low or no side loading. This makes them pretty suspect for rear suspension applications, but they are light and cheap. I believe the new Santa Cruz system goes quite a ways towards improving this.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by biggrumble View Post
    Yes, that was exactly where I thought it was coming from the first time. I took the bottom bracket apart a few times thinking that was the cause but found nothing.
    I'm hunting down the same creaking it sounds like you experienced. I have a 2011 Epic that was a test bike. I've put about 600 miles on it and it started about a month ago. I took off the pedals, BB, water bottle cage, seat post and it still creaks. It only happens when I'm going up hill or applying force on either pedal. What baffles me is if it's the pivot bearings, wouldn't it creak if I leaned on the seat and bounced to compress the suspension?

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,624
    Quote Originally Posted by '94 9C1 Novice View Post
    I'm hunting down the same creaking it sounds like you experienced. I have a 2011 Epic that was a test bike. I've put about 600 miles on it and it started about a month ago. I took off the pedals, BB, water bottle cage, seat post and it still creaks. It only happens when I'm going up hill or applying force on either pedal. What baffles me is if it's the pivot bearings, wouldn't it creak if I leaned on the seat and bounced to compress the suspension?
    My Epic did that, and it turned out to be the swing-link bearings and thrust washers (?). Disassembled, cleaned, greased very lightly, never heard it again.

    Of course, that was about the millionth thing I tried!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    20
    I'll try that and report back.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    93
    My creak turned out to be the shock mount bolts. A little Triflow keeps the bike quiet. My problem was getting worse each time I washed the bike. My bike is not old enough to be loosing the pilot bearings when my creak appeared.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    20
    If I had to take a guess, my bike has anywhere between 600 and 1000 miles on it. I removed and regreased the shock mounting bolt and it still creaked.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    My Epic did that, and it turned out to be the swing-link bearings and thrust washers (?). Disassembled, cleaned, greased very lightly, never heard it again.

    Of course, that was about the millionth thing I tried!
    When you are refering to the swing link bearings, which ones are you talking about? Here's a picture of the front located rear suspension pivot points from one side.


  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,167
    Make sure the linkage doesn't bind while cycling it back and fourth. I know thats obvious but one might not check it cause they might not want to know...

    Misaligned links can cause large added loads on those tiny roller elements that they really don't need to see. Never owned a spesh but I'm sure they are not perfect.
    lean forward

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: WR304's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,001
    Quote Originally Posted by '94 9C1 Novice View Post
    When you are refering to the swing link bearings, which ones are you talking about? Here's a picture of the front located rear suspension pivot points from one side.
    The S-link bearings are the bearings highlighted in green below.

    These pivots use small bearings that are fairly exposed to water and mud from the rear wheel, which is why they never seem to last that long.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Suspension Bearings Again?!?!?!-s-link2.jpg  


Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •