Do polymer plain bearings in bicycles have to be lubricated?

Alexander Muzicenko | 15. September 2020

Polymer bearings have already been used in bicycles for many years and are gaining more and more popularity – whether in pedals, frame bearings or gears. iglidur® materials offer more advantages such as: weight reduction, corrosion resistance and longer service life.
In contrast to metallic bearings, the tribo-polymers from igus do not require additional lubrication, since solid lubricants are embedded in the material which are released during movement.
Nevertheless, we observe that our plain bearings are lubricated either during assembly or during the maintenance of the bicycles. This has no negative effect on the service life or performance of the polymer bearings, as they are resistant to most common lubricants.

The basically homogeneous structure of an iglidur® plain bearing is described here:

There is no thin coating that wears off or wears out very quickly with edge loads or dirt.

Some of the more than 16,000 tests performed annually in the igus laboratory, deal with the influence of additional lubrication by grease or oil on tribo-polymers.

The following 2 graphs show the wear rates and coefficient of friction when using different lubricating greases in combination with iglidur® materials. In order to compare, the values in dry operation are also shown.

Group A of the graphs shows lubrication with mineral oils, group D with silicone oils. The coloured bars stand for the iglidur® materials G, J and X on CF53 shafts:

The coefficient of friction and the wear rate are significantly lower when lubricated with mineral oils (lubricating grease A), enabling a longer service life of the polymer plain bearings and the entire system. This experience is also confirmed by our customers who lubricate their bearings with mineral oil-based substances. It’s clear that the lubrication is no problem for iglidur® plain bearings and can even offer advantages.

Furthermore, the graphics show that iglidur® J has very good values in both dry and lubricated condition. Over the years, the material has therefore virtually become the standard for bearings in bicycles.

Please contact me to select the right iglidur® material for your application.

Alexander Muzicenko
Phone: +49(0)2203-9649-7474
Mobile: +49(0)172-3579952
E-mail: amuzicenko@igus.net


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