By Francisco Ramirez
The ILQ-9 Pros are Twincam's top of the line steel bearings. They differ in construction from most. Instead of seven balls, they have six, and the balls themselves are a little larger than normal: 4.5mm in diameter. Twincam says that cutting the number of balls reduces rolling friction and increasing their size allows them to carry more weight.
The balls are made of chrome; the retainers that hold them in place are nylon. The bearings are open on one side (the side that goes on the inside of the wheel). On the other side, they are sealed with a rubber shield.
ILQ-9 Pro bearings
The bearings are lubricated with Twincam's lightweight TK Gel, which is thin like a racing oil. Twincam sells the bearings in packages of 20 for $50-55 (USD).
I first tried the ILQ-9 Pros several years ago. At the time, I was using expensive seven-ball ceramic bearings. But I fell in love with the Pros immediately. They are still my favorite bearings for training. They feel fast; they roll effortlessly and with no apparent play from side to side.
With proper care, these bearings last a very long time. I am still using my first set. They may not be quite as good as new. But they are still good enough for training.
The ILQ-9 Pros do an excellent job of resisting rust. I was somewhat surprised about this given the fact that they are open on one side. I had expected the fully sealed ILQ Classics to do a better job in wet weather. But the Pros out-performed them. With the Pros, I can skate an entire rain-soaked marathon without my bearings starting to seize up.
ILQ-9 Pros don't need to be cleaned very often. One reason for this is their large retainers, which keep dirt out of the bearings. When they do need to be cleaned (such as after skating in the rain), the job is relatively easy. The single rubber seals are easily removed with a needle or knife point — and there are no nasty C-clips to remove and replace.
For the price, the ILQ-9 Pros are outstanding bearings. They offer a great combination of speed, stability and durability. And they are race ready right out of the box (unlike the ILQ Classics, which need to be broken in.)
They are not the absolute best bearings for racing. If you are willing to spend considerably more, you can find bearings (e.g., the Swiss Bones Ceramic) that provide a slight edge. But for training, you can't beat the ILQ-9 Pros. They are my top pick for every day skating.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson