I’m still blaming Levi.
A month or two ago, Levi, this guy I met in a Facebook group who’s my age, also in the education game, and lives in the same state as I, mentioned he was upgrading to ceramic bearings for his 3-wheelers. Through the haze of exhaustion that has been teaching this school year and a bit—OK, maybe a lot—of alcohol, I started searching for some of the less-expensive brands of ceramic bearings and came across the brand Bank Roll. Or Bank Rolls. Or Bankrolls. Really, it depends on which site is listing them, but Amazon (through whom I eventually purchased them) has them as the 2-word version, sans s, despite the packaging sporting the s. But whatever, I had a set of ceramic bearings—and for less than a c-note at that. Take that, Levi.
The bearings were sold as a 16-pack for $54 (shipped) but arrived as two 8-packs. No matter. They were nicely packaged, and the first one I took out spun smooth. Like, buttery smooth.
Ceramic bearings had been a thing on my mind since at least Ironman Texas, but even more-so at Ironman Arizona in 2016, where CeramicSpeed was doing on-the-fly switch-outs of rear-derailleur pulleys for their oversized, ceramic versions. Sure, I was tempted, but I knew even that wouldn’t have helped me had a (much) better bike split that day.
Back to present-day and present application of inline skating, the Bank Rolls went on to the same Rollerblade Supreme 110mm 85A wheels that came with the Macroblade 3WD skates I purchased a couple of months back. The wheels had been recently rotated, since I had about 20 or 30 miles on them, and removing them, one-by-one, to swap out the bearings proved to be a somewhat therapeutic task, clocking in at a little less than a quarter-hour for all six wheels.
The inaugural skate came a couple of days later when I ventured out for a stroll about town to break in the bearings billed as requiring “no break-in period.”
I can’t say with any certainty just how true this marketing pitch was, but the bearings on-the-whole certainly did roll smoother than the stock ILQ-9 bearings—and far smoother than the ABEC-5 bearings the last set of skates I had used—that came with the Macroblade 110 3WDs. Skating on chipseal, however, was still no easier than it had been on the stock setup. Other road surfaces on my route, though, were significantly smoother.
On the way home (the last couple of miles or so), one or more of the wheels started chirping, a sure-fire way to know that something was not spinning properly and was in need of lubrication or adjustment.
Earlier this week, I was doing some reading on reviews of both metal and other ceramic bearings. Both revealed that—on especially, though not exclusively—the cheaper sets, one or more bearings would prove faulty, rendering it essentially useless.It was obviously not the random one pulled for quality control. My guess was that one or more bearings in my Bank Rolls was faulty, so I’d need to play spin the wheel in order to isolate the offending bearing(s). Talk about your fun ways to spend a a Friday evening, eh?
Really, the process took little more than a minute. I actually think it took longer to get the skates out of the storage bag hanging on the wall than it did to find the bad bearing. Though they were no longer chirping, they were obviously spinning less freely than their counterparts.
Fortunately, the Bank Rolls setup included a total of sixteen bearings, and my skate setup needed but 12. Four spares meant I had the ability to swap out both bearings on the guilty wheel (which were compared to those I was replacing, and there was an obvious quality difference). and still have two more in reserve.
Well, one is actually in reserve. Of the sixteen bearings in the Bank Rolls setup, three of them were not up-t0-snuff.
Depending on the weather, I’m hoping to get out about either my town/streets here or somewhere and put in some miles or other serious time on skates tomorrow. Regardless, I’m not overly optimistic about the Bank Rolls and am already planning a return to Amazon. Once I found a better set of bearings at not-too-high of a price. My eyes are on Yellow Jacket Stingers (in white), Rush All-weather Ceramics, or Bones Reds Ceramics, but there is that whole money thing. At this point, though, even the ridiculously affordable Kveni ceramic bearings have better reviews than do the Bank Rolls.
I’ll continue mulling over my options as I hopefully get out & skate this weekend. Regardless, if you find yourself in the market or even considering ceramic bearings, roll on by the Bank Rolls. Their QC and overall reliability is just not what I would say is worth it.
Regardless, still blame Levi.
Thanks for reading.