Far from the madding crowd of bespoke frames, wheelsets and accessories that graced last weekend’s Philadelphia Bike Expo, there were a number of small component companies hawking their exquisitely made wares.
Speaking of hawking, it just so happened that there was a company by the name of Hawk Racing, who despite having a rather spartan exhibit, had a series of cranksets on display showcasing their latest low-friction bearings that intrigued me.
Allow me to digress for a moment.
Nigh on to twenty years ago, a friend at the time owned a boutique bike shop in Boston, where amongst the ultra high-end bikes and related componentry, one could find small specialty parts such as bejeweled pulley wheels, derailleur clamps, bearings and lightweight hardware crafted from titanium and magnesium. These particular parts when specifically designed to enhance groupsets from Campagnolo and Shimano by replacing the standard gubbins they came equipped with in favor of lighter, more friction-free parts.
As a result, components took on a new level of performance, wherein Campagnolo and Shimano derailleurs and wheelsets would sing with a level of smoothness and precision otherwise unseen.
To my friend’s credit, he was somewhat of a trailblazer as it related to eliminating the root causes of friction in components long before any engineer or bike hipster ever conceived of creating ceramic bearings.
Back to Hawk.
When I stepped into Hawk’s booth, I was greeted by a woman who turned out to be one of the owners and founders of the brand, Cindy Parlin.
Parlin explained that the origins of Hawk Racing lead back to the original owner of the company, Sven Folmer, who spent decades developing and perfecting what came be the Folmer Bearing.
Drawing upon their machining and manufacturing backgrounds, Parlin says she and husband have since taken the Folmer Bearing to new levels, where it compares favorably with virtually any premium ceramic bearing on the market, but at a fraction of the price.
I’ve personally owned cranksets and wheelsets that were upgraded with ceramic bearings, and I can honestly say that depending upon the application the improvement in performance was often subtle at best.
However, judging by the test comparisons I witnessed at Hawk’s booth, I must say that I was extremely impressed by what I saw. So much so, that I agreed to conduct a review of their bearings as part of an up and coming new build. (think Storck Aerofast Premium frame, Shimano R9100 Dura Ace groupset and Corima MCC S+ wheels)
As far as products are concerned, Hawk Racing makes bearings and cups to fit bottom brackets of every denomination, and then some. Indeed, it appears that there is no size or standard they can’t provide.
They also offer these marvelous derailleur pulley upgrades for Shimano and SRAM (sorry no Campagnolo yet), which use the same Folmer Bearing technology.
Stay tuned for my review.
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