Despite not being visible, the bearings are a fundamental component for the proper functioning of the bicycle, since the performance of the bicycle depends largely on them.


They are found in different key parts: in the headset, wheel hubs, bottom bracket, suspension pivots … and their function is to allow the turning movement between two unit parts by rolling, unlike friction bushings that they do so by displacement of the contact surfaces. This allows a smoother turn with less friction, being able to turn at a higher speed.


These characteristics mean that we find different types of bearings for the different rolling points that we can have on the bicycle since the functional requirements are quite different: high speed in the wheel hubs, high loads capacities and slow speed in the joints of the suspension pivot frame system, angular contact bearings for headset …


At ISB Sport we have developed a range of products that covers the needs of both the location of the bearings and the application to which they are intended (MTB, road bikes …)


Steel bearings are the most common in bicycles as they are very durable as long as proper cleaning and good lubrication are maintained. They have steel balls located radially inside the rings or raceways. They are really very effective, and significantly decrease friction when rolling compared to other systems such as bushings.

In the case of ISB steel bearings, the tests carried out show that the use of superior quality materials in these bearings makes their average life (in equal load conditions and speed than standard) is up to 1.5 times higher than standard.

Other characteristics of ISB steel bearings:

  • Greater resistance to sudden impact loads
  • Greater smoothness and ease of rolling to reduce resistance and energy conservation.
  • Superior balance between good sealing performance and lower rolling torque.
  • Exclusive heat treatment, to reduce deformation of the rings and ensure their resistance.

Steel bearings can be Chrome Steel or Stainless Steel (in this case the reference will include the suffix SS)


We call ceramic bearings those bearings in which the usual steel used in its manufacture is replaced by a ceramic material either only the balls for the bearings hybrids or both balls and rings for Full Ceramic. Normally located in wheels hubs, ceramic bearings are able to provide a significant improvement in efficiency, maximizing the performance of the bicycle itself.

Its main advantages over standard bearings are, on the one hand, a higher operating speed and, on the other, a longer useful life under the same conditions of use. Its low coefficient of friction (up to 10 times lower than in steel bearings) due to the lightness of the balls, provides an extremely smooth operation generating less heating, less wear and therefore, prolonging its durability.

Ceramic balls, being lighter, generate less centrifugal force which translates into less friction and allows the bearings to move faster as they require less energy to maintain speed. Ceramic is highly resistant to corrosion so its working life is also longer than steel bearings. Ceramic balls retain their rolling charac­teristics longer and do not have the same need for maintenance as steel balls, working properly even with a very small quantity of lubricating oil.

The higher degree of hardness of this type of bearings requires a more demanding surface finishing than steel ones and in the case of hybrids, much smoother and more resistant ceramic balls, they mi­croscopically polish the steel races, improving their grinding and producing a smoother rolling. Hence the expression that ceramic balls “clean” the tracks and require a break-in period.

ISB ceramic bearings range is divided on three different series:

  • SC: stainless steel ceramic ball bearings. They are the perfect complement to protect the bearing avoiding corrosion and deterioration produced by polluting agents, most common external such as water, dust, mud …
  • CB: chrome steel bearings with ceramic balls
  • Full ceramic: all ceramic bearings, suitable for track cycling


XForce bearings are the Premium range of the ISB brand, evolved through a nano-technological coating process that makes them one of the most revolutionary and competitive bearings on the market.

The NanoTech is based on a nanotechnological process that increases the rolling fluidity obtaining an extremely smooth and silent movement. The process modifies the nanostructure of its surface, obtaining superior performance and highly visible improvements in relation to conventional products. The chemical

transformation of the surface is produced through the use of atoms and molecules that, through this exclusive process, provide spectacular results, according to the tests carried out by professional cycling teams. At the same time, the possible effects of corrosion and abrasion are reduced by decreasing the intensity of friction and providing a longer life.

Main advantages:

  • 88% – 90% reduction in friction
  • Power savings of 7.15 to 9.45 watts
  • Corrosion resistance tested up to 1,500 hours

With the NanoTech coating, the rotation of the balls is optimized and their durability is increased. After the tests carried out by the Mapei Sport Research Center with an SRM potentiometer, the saving of watts is decisive to stand out compared to other steel bearings, showing once again that in cycling, the small details make the difference.

This Premium Bearing rage includes two series of bearings:

  • XForce: composed by steel bearings
  • XForce Ceramic: composed by hybrid ceramic bearings


For the suspension area, bearings have been developed to support certain levels of load, without involving a significant increase in weight or size. These are the VMax series bearings that have been specially designed for the entire suspension pivots, connecting rod and shock absorber, to withstandtight turns.

Its main characteristic resides in its special “full ball” design, which consists in the elimination of the usual internal cage or retainer that separates the balls and then allows the insertion of the maximum possible number of balls The race grooves are deeper on these bearings for more lateral support for the twisting and multiple forces associated with suspension pivots, especially mountain bike.

In addition, in these bearings the amount of grease with which they are lubricated is maximized to avoid “the suspension squeaking”. VMax ISB bearings use Mobil XHP-222 grease and fill from 40% (on some double row models) to 80%, depending on bearing measurements.

VMax bearings have up to 35% -40% higher load capacity than ISB’s standard series steel bearings.


The steering of the bicycle is the mechanism housed between the fork and the frame that in turn houses the bearings that allow the fork tube to rotate, allowing the lateral movement of the front wheel and therefore, the change of direction of the bicycle. To know what type of bearing to use, it is necessary to know that there are 2 types of directions depending on the way it is attached to the frame and the type of power used. The named “threaded” and the “non-threaded” (threadless) or ahead where the fork tube is completely smooth, without any thread.

When talking about the different types of ahead directions, reference is made to the different ways of housing the bearings in the frame, depending on how it is built, to the headset pipe

  • Conventional directions: in frames without internal space to place the cups in which case the bearings are mounted in the external cups
  • Semi-integrated directions: in frames that do allow the steering cups and the bearings to be mounted.
  • Integrated directions: in which the bearings are mounted directly, without resorting to the use of cups.

These bearings have a special design different from the conventional one that visibly incorporates slight chamfers both inside and outside, whose measurements are determined by the different angles degrees. Therefore, to choose the most suitable bearings for our headset, it is necessary to take into account the measurements of the inner diameter, the outer diameter, the height and the contact angles with each of the chamfers.

If we take, for example, the ISB 45º / 45º MH-P08 bearings indicated for ahead directions, the first 45º measurement refers to the internal angle and the second 45º to the external angle. In any case, this information is usually engraved on the outer ring of the bearing itself.

Bearings located in these types of directions are usually sealed. This avoids recurring maintenance since the grease remains inside, preventing wear on the balls and extending their useful life. The sealing protects them in addition to the usual pollutants, temperature, dust, humidity, etc …

Despite the fact that the bicycle market includes a large number of options  for different types of directions, the ISB brand offers a wide selection of measurements and contact angles that place it among the favorites of the most demanding specialist workshops.