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Forget ceramic, Coo Space loses the grease to get 10x less bearing friction!

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coo space greaseless bearings have 10x less friction

Thus far, we’ve all had to rely on some sort of lubrication in our bearings to keep the balls spinning freely. Why? It’s not because of the inner and outer surfaces. It’s all because we’ve relied on cages in between them to keep each ball bearing separated from its neighbor.

That prevents the balls from rotating against each other and slowing things down, but it also adds friction.

Now, Japanese company Coo Space has developed an entirely new inside surface that separates the balls without the need for a cage. And without any grease, lube or oil.

Check it out in the video below that’ll leave your head spinning…and spinning…and spinning…

Essentially, there are small recesses in the outer ring that let the balls speed up to stay ahead of the ball behind it. By placing them just so, they maintain a constant speeding and slowing of each ball and keeping them spaced apart. It’s called Autonomous Decentralized Bearing, and here’s how it appears to work:

coo-space-autonomous-decentralized-bearing-race-example

As the ball rolls over the divot, the contact patch (and radius) on which it’s rolling changes.

coo-space-autonomous-decentralized-bearing-race-example2The divot (left) changes the contact patch of the ball from a single spot at it’s outermost point to two spots at a smaller radius, allowing it to spin faster. This speeds it up and lets it jump ahead of the ball behind it, keeping them separated.

They’re looking for licensees, so here’s hoping someone jumps on this for bottom bracket and wheel bearings ASAP.

Via PopularMechanics by way of BikeBiz, with our own technical research added.

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DCT
DCT
7 years ago

Interesting. Anyone have data on hand about the drivetrain loss attributable to the bottom bracket? Related: I’ve noticed that pedals seem to have a relatively high amount of drag…

masterblaster
masterblaster
7 years ago

A practical application for space – under load, without heat dissipation, those bearings will lose material quicker than your mother can unbutton her coveralls. Think of what will happen.

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

Cool! I hope this catches on fast (and has no drawbacks). Leave it to Japan to master the art of bearings!

PbJoe
PbJoe
7 years ago

Lubrication’s purposes include a few things, one is to reduce friction, but the other has to do with trapping elements that would cause wear to parts. This is why we change oil in our cars an bikes, it’s not that the oil is bad at that point, but particles start to build up.

Without the lube catching dirt and grime, I wonder how these will react to build up and wear.

Bog
Bog
7 years ago

Did these guys forget about contamination and corrosion? Grease and seals are REQUIRED for most applications to prevent contamination and corrosion.

Todd
Todd
7 years ago

Use those lubes on the outermost seals to keep the gunk from migrating into the rolling assembly. Seems pretty interesting for the “ultimate” in drag reduction. The reality is that these parts will likely lose tolerance fairly fast compared to traditional ball bearings…

Is nice to see some new thinking though.

nunyab
nunyab
7 years ago

@DCT, Not on bottom brackets, but in relation to hubs, FairWheel has some calculations for bearing drag. They state 1.2w of drag in a wheelset. https://fairwheelbikes.com/c/reviews-and-testing/hub-review/

JasonK
JasonK
7 years ago

There’s a major point people seem to be missing: similar steels will gall when in direct contact. That essentially means cold welding. Metal bearings with no lube will stick to the races when in contact and then tear out tiny bits as they’re forced to lose contact. That’s what galling is.

One of the major uses of full ceramic bearings is in environments where lubricants won’t work, such as space and inside industrial furnaces. You can run full ceramic bearings without any lube. You can even run hybrid ceramic bearings without lube because you don’t have steel in contact with steel, so there is no galling.

Fun fact: if you put one metal plate on another of the same material, they don’t stick. This is mostly due to the air and thin oxide layer separating them. (Titanium, stainless steel and aluminum all develop a thin oxide layer. That’s what keeps them from corroding further). In space, there’s no air and therefore no oxygen to create an oxide layer. So similar metals in contact tend to weld to each other pretty firmly.

PbJoe, the oil in a car’s engine isn’t there to trap particulates. What’s going on is that even engines with lubrication generate those particulates, and they naturally end up in the oil. Oil filters generally do a fine job of catching these. But in cars, the oil really does “go bad.” engine oil’s viscosity and shear strength degrade in the presence of heat, so used oil eventually breaks down and doesn’t lubricate as well as it did when it was new. Synthetic oils last much longer in the presence of heat, which is why manufacturers’ recommended oil change intervals have stretched from 3,000 miles 20 years ago to 7,500-15,000 miles today. It’s because synthetic oil doesn’t “go bad” as fast as dino oil does.

Coach Rob
7 years ago

Looks like we need to have these tested at http://Friction-Facts.com

'Merika
'Merika
7 years ago

Wow, lot of engineers on this forum. Instead of posting on the internet, complaining about other people’s projects, why not go start a company yourselves? Evidently, this company forgot to hire all the top-level ball bearing engineers who have suddenly come out of the woodwork.

JasonK
JasonK
7 years ago

Merika, you’re adorable.

I’m a mechanical engineer who, among other things, worked in a nanotribology lab in grad school. (“Tribology” is engineer-speak for the study of bearings and friction). I have a day job designing scientific instruments, but sometimes it’s fun to come here and provide information for those who might be interested.

When I was a 14-year-old junior racer, I wondered about all of these things, but no one I knew–not mechanics, not coaches and not even local framebuilders–had any definitive answers. There was no internet then, so I was just stuck wondering. I post these things in case there’s anyone (like the 14-year-old me) who’s interested in the “why” of bicycle physics but doesn’t even know where to start.

Evidently, Merika, you’re not especially interested in the “why,” and that’s fine. The world needs all kinds of people.

J
J
7 years ago

Even Fletch knows it…. “It’s all ball bearings these days”

Demetri Mamacos
7 years ago

Bradley Wiggins can make it 56km now for the Hour Record next month. Someone please tell him its marginal gains at play here.

Garth
Garth
7 years ago

Neat idea but talk to me when they are installed into a less-than-perfect-tolerance frame and then inconsistently loaded and unloaded over time. Grease helps give a little tolerance to things that are not a perfect fit….you heard me…and it’s Friday night…bow chica wow wow.

Luigi
Luigi
7 years ago

There´s oil traces in the big picture..so it´s not oil-free!, and it´s logical, if not heat would destroy the bearings.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

Luigi has a good point. Is this about eliminating grease, or eliminating the cages that keep the bearings separated?

I’m curious about how the inner bearing surface maintains proper tolerances where the grooves create a larger diameter outer bearing surface.

matt
matt
7 years ago

this has been thoroughly debunked already.

this product doesn’t work as advertised, and will not be used in cycling products.

Gunnstein
Gunnstein
7 years ago

10x less bearing friction – even if it is true, does it matter? What percentage of total resistance for a competition cyclist is due to bearing friction?

My limited understanding is that while aerodynamic resistance increases exponentially with speed, bearing resistance hardly increases at all, so it becomes less significant the faster you go. If it is 1% it might help win a competition. If it is 0.1%, it wouldn’t be detectable outside of labs, would it?

54
54
7 years ago

Having the balls constantly accelerating and decelerating will create more heat/energy/material lost, wouldn’t it?

Jack
Jack
7 years ago

While there are polymer (plastic) ball bearings in production that do not need lubrication, they’re a bit unproven and have some known limitations.

These… well, I’m not buying it.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

My bet is that the divot has to cause friction and/or loss in spinning speed. The sucky part of the video is that they picked the worse bearing they could possibly find to compare their bearing with

What?
What?
7 years ago

Jason K, great posts by the way, but car oil is designed to trap particulates, in fact lubes and traps. Worked for Pennzoil for a number of years.

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

Sounds like “Snake Oil” to me…

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

Also, the video doesn’t show the bearings under any load. That’s the whole idea of bearings, to carry a load.

Emily
Emily
7 years ago

Doesn’t seem to be made for bikes. He seemed to be mentioning factory settings only.

Gunnstein
Gunnstein
7 years ago

@54 Yes, there must be some acceleration/deceleration losses, but these could of course be less than losses due to grease and ball cages (one pic shows some grease, but that might be there only to illustrate the principle). The acceleration/deceleration might even out over the whole bearing – as one ball spins up, another slows down, returning it’s energy to the bearing. In that case there is only minimal frictional losses.

Interesting tech, but uncertain at this point if it will ever be applicable to bikes. It’s probably good for some uses but certainly not for all.

S. Molnar
S. Molnar
7 years ago

Cages? What cages? I’ve been using (the same) Campagnolo hubs for over 40 years, and they don’t have no stinkin’ cages. Even the new ones that are only 20 years old have no cages.

Ajax
Ajax
7 years ago

Whoa! This is a HUGE development not just for bikes, but automotive, motorcycle, industrial machinery, and ANY type of machine or vehicle that uses ball bearings.

The theoretical calculation with getting rid of grease and the race retainer would result in significantly reduced friction. In theory up to 10x less friction. If this bearing retainer system can even give half of the theoretical results the results would be astounding.

Cat 5 riders would turn into Cat 1 riders. At least on the flats.

Greg
Greg
7 years ago

Un-sterile environments need not apply.

Tad Dickman
Tad Dickman
7 years ago

JasonK thanks for your post. That actually was very interesting.

Kimberly
Kimberly
7 years ago

Hi JasonK & Merika,

Appreciate your input.

May I ask one question since both of you are really good in Mechanic?
Is there any benefit in having new fancy bottom bracket ( e.g 386EVO, bb30,90,pf30 ) ?
I’m planning to buy a frame come with pf30 and what if i change it to adapter with Durace-ace crank. Is there any real-life performance penalty ?

Matt Holland
Matt Holland
7 years ago

I have two concerns here-
First is the increase in the hertzian contact stress of the the balls as they pass over the ‘divot’.
Second if the noise in the torque trace caused by this motion. For a space application, you’d typically use lead or MoS2 (Molybdenum disulfide) sputter coated races with a leaded bronze cage. After run in and the ball track has formed, you would expect a very low level of noise. Having a hole that the bearings drop into is not going to help that.
For reference, bearings I was testing yesterday (for space application) have torque resistance of around 1mNm with noise in region of 0.1mNm.

JasonK
JasonK
7 years ago

Matt, yeah, the Hertzian contact stress would go through the roof, but in the area of the divot, the radius of the outer race is now larger, so there’s no load going through the divot. That doesn’t mean this design is a good idea.

I would argue that torque noise in bicycle bearings is really not a major issue.

Matt Holland
Matt Holland
7 years ago

Oh i know, it’s not at all.
Anyway, these are an interesting development for space bearings (my job is testing bearings for space applications), its interesting that if you google coo space bearings, how many bike sites are reporting this. I can’t foresee them being suitable for low tolerance applications like bikes.

mabuse
mabuse
7 years ago

ALL bearings are spinning…. w/o grease:)

JasonP
JasonP
7 years ago

mabuse,
how about the balls ? still there ?
I think balls are gone too, spinning with ‘thick’ mud.
You better check your chain, noise can come from your dirty chain.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago

Where did the idea come from that the bearing does not use grease? It uses lubrication, it is just more resistant to a lack of it. Says so right in the video.

kylie
kylie
7 years ago

Wow soooo interestingly cool. I just love bicycles, making em, breaking em. best thing ever for the amateur bike mechanic….who knows not of bearing casings…yet..lol

Wilson
Wilson
7 years ago

@Matt Holland

Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II is pretty good for your torque..very silent and accurate.
I have to admin Italian are good at mechanic parts. Highly recommend you to try it out and see if it’s still got “little noise 1mNm” after balls pass over the ‘divot’.

rob c
rob c
7 years ago

unless I am being really thick?

didn’t we have major problems with ‘full contact’ bearings in mountain bike applications some years back – I’m specifically thinking of Race Face X-Type bottom brackets which had a crazy short service life compared to Shimano HT2 with their retainer space ball bearings?

if I remember correctly, and please correct me as i was an industrial designer, not a full blown engineering guy, the lack of a retainer in the X-Type BB’s meant the bearings would quickly lose their free rotation once the bearing package was contaminated, whilst the lubricant-impregnated polymer retainer in the HT2 BB meant those bearings kept on turning even when contaminted?

morgan
morgan
7 years ago

Your right rob, this is how its designed and it should work that way. But u know … 😉

Thatguy
Thatguy
7 years ago

The Raceface BB’s mostly failed due to poor grease characteristics, and some poor quality assurance. Raceface ended up building a monster of a test machine that weighed some ~400lbs and would bash the shit out of BB’s and run water through them and ran this weird cam system for loading and such, and through extensive testing have done amazing things with their new BB’s. Shame the tester got scrapped in the move to their new location though. Probably worth a few hundred dollars just in steel scrap.

Thatguy
Thatguy
7 years ago

PS: That’s why they use Phil Wood grease now.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

I have no opinion on these new possibly improved bearings.Am curious though,wouldnt these bearings be subjected to all kinds of grueling real world test before ever making claims and sending them out to other companies?

Thanks Joe

ProveIT
ProveIT
7 years ago

@Joe
I’m with you on this.
Claims without proof is something that we don’t want to buy.

Phil
Phil
7 years ago

I’ve made roller bearings that did not need a cage, and did not use any grease or oil. I used magnets for the rollers. They were installed to repulse each other, thereby keeping a uniform distance. But dust seals were an issue…

Andrea
7 years ago

Thanks for the info. Where did you buy the “super grease” and what is the official name of it?

Wade
4 years ago

Skeptical until they show an application. I can strip a bearing of grease and have it spin for a few seconds too. Throw these on a set of rollerblades or on a skateboard or something to show how they will deal with heat or pressure not just free spinning on a table next to a bearing loaded with thick grease

Sam Kresslein
3 years ago

it looks good. i want to ask you : how long they will last under load compared to regular bearings?

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