Get The Flex Out: How Spherical Bearings Improve Handling & Speed
Race car suspension systems endure stresses not even anticipated by the OEM engineers. That means the components that came from the factory, like stock rubber bushings, are not up to the rigors of racing conditions. As heavy loads are placed on stock rubber bushings they will begin to deform which results in unpredictable changes to the suspension geometry. Needless to say, this is a bad thing. But it can be resolved by swapping out the flexible stock rubber bushings with spherical bearings. These types of bearings articulate smoothly and are virtually free from deformation. If you are racing on OEM rubber bushings, it’s time to seriously consider putting them out to pasture.
Craig Watkins, engineer for Flying Lizard Motorsports and owner of Smart Racing Products provides a different take on spherical bearings. Since he is an engineer he will tell you that all materials deform, flex, and change shape during heavy loading. “We set up cameras looking at the rear wheel of our Porsche RSRs during testing and we saw that not only did the suspension flex, the wheels flexed as well,” said Craig. “All materials will deflect some amount. Spherical bearings will certainly deflect less than a rubber bushing, but there is still some movement. The key is to use materials that don’t deflect as much and won’t break under loading.”