Plant & Works Engineering
Olympic gold with polymer bearings
Published:  05 December, 2008

Her lightweight bike weighing just only 7.3 kg, the German mountain biker Sabine Spitz won the Olympic gold in Beijing by a solid lead of 41 seconds. Also on the winners' podium were the lightweight "iglidur" polymer plain bearings from igus which were fitted into the precision "Magura" spring fork. The German company Magura is a leading manufacturer of brakes and suspension technology for bikes, amongst other things.


The polymer bearing experts from igus developed a special bearing for the "Magura Durin Race" fork suspension used in the Olympic bikes. The particular type of bearing used, is a weight-saving "iglidur J" special plain bearing. Polymer bearings made of this material are ideal due to the high wear resistance and perfect response in this application. Four of these special bearings are used in the suspension. The bearings are about five times lighter than metal bearings of the same size. The polymer components stood up to the constant impacts, edge loads, and dirt on the difficult and spectacular Olympic course at the Laoshan Mountain Bike Course. "Sabine Spitz successfully pulled ahead of the competition on the 26.7 km course over rough ground," wrote the press agencies about the Olympic victory.


Polymer replaces metal

Polymer plain bearings for bicycles combine stiffness with comfort. The "iglidur" plain bearings are used in many bicycle applications, offering a superior alternative to traditional metal ball bearings. They range from cantilever brakes, gear shift units and derailleurs to rear swinging arms and shock absorber eyes as well as seat posts, disc brakes, and pedals.


More information on medal-winning races with "iglidur" polymer plain bearings in mountain bikes can be found at Racers won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Those bikes used "iglidur G" plain bearings from igus installed in the gear shift units.