Twisted Stringz Trifecta Bearing
Jen over at Twisted Strings is well known for her amazing, high quality strings, the incredible care she takes with each players order and of course her incredible personality. Jen is one of those people in the community that make it the fun place we all love and know. Recently Twisted Stringz has moved into a new realm and has offered us all a new and quite honestly impressive bearing called the Trifecta. During my chats with Jen she mentioned that the Trifecta was an idea that came from an absence in the bearings available today. There was simply nothing like it available and Jen really wanted to offer something new, different and a bearing that would enhance the community’s evolution.
The Trifecta bearing is aptly named as it combines three attributes of popular bearings into a single C size bearing that is suitable for players of all skill levels. In the Trifecta Jen offers us the increased durability, smoothness and noise reduction of a ten ball bearing, the centering capability of a grooved bearing as well as the smooth concave surface of a concave bearing that allows the string to move freely along the outer race. All in all its as if some mystic alchemist transmuted the Trifecta from some magical mix of elements and (cue puff of brilliant blue smoke here) BAM…we have the Trifecta!
So lets get into what makes this bearing great!
Anyone who has used a grooved bearing knows that the little indentation on the outer race surface does an amazing job at maintaining a string at dead center thereby reducing friction against the response and the wall. Since friction is a bad, bad thing that tends to kill sleep time this small groove is definitely a very, very good thing!
The Concave Surface:
In the yoyo world bearings evolved slowly over time and the first true movement came with the advent of the KK bearing. The idea was simple enough; create a bearing with an outer race that would direct the string inwards towards the center of the race using the curved surface of a sphere. To date there are many that will swear by the efficacy of such a design. The concave surface of the Trifecta will most assuredly allow layers of string to effortlessly glide over the smooth steel race towards the center greatly reducing friction as well as offering a slight increase in stability by reducing that same drag against the response and wall.
The Ten Ball Bearings:
So lets get geeky technical here as I strain my gray matter and wrap my brain around the concept of bearing dynamics and radial load to explain the genius of using ten balls in a bearing as opposed to the traditional eight. A ball bearing is an engineering marvel when you consider the somewhat simplistic design and how said design can handle incredible forces while reducing friction and moving incredible amounts of load and radial strain. Seriously, ever try to drive a car with shot bearings in a wheel? Its not a pretty site and most assuredly can be heard in the next county. So when you play an 8 ball you get more noise and the 8 balls have to carry more of the load; the slow wear and tear on the bearing is distributed across these same 8 balls. Enter the 10 ball and the radial load is carried across 2 more balls reducing not only this same wear and tear but offering less noise during play and less lateral movement between the bearings, the bearing cage and the races which means a more stable bearing. Its a winning design that Jen decided to incorporate into the Trifecta.
So you see, the Trifecta gives you the play of a ten ball with the string centering of a concave and grooved bearing. What’s not to love?
When I received my Trifecta I decided to swap it into one of my daily throws and play it for a week as I usually do with yoyos that I review. A generous member of one of the forums sent me an additional Trifecta and I put that one into another of my daily throws as a means of comparison across two different yoyos. So over the course of the week I played the bearing in my Cascade and the other in my Decapod before sitting down to write up this review.
The Trifecta On a Throw:
I would think that its safe to assume that I am not alone when I say I expected the Trifecta bearing to sound the same as a 10 ball on the first throw. What I found was that the sound was different in a way; not different bad but just different. I had the pleasure of sharing my experience with an engineer friend of mine and we decided to visually dissect the bearing (no we didn’t totally take it apart…but almost) and try to see where the difference was. What we surmised was that the outer race having a different shape resonates in a similar way to the flat 10 ball but due to the change in shape the sound of the bearing in motion brings out a slight difference in the sound. Where a 10 ball has what we deemed a more “whispy” sound to it the Trifecta takes on a higher pitch but nothing that is unpleasant to say the least and in terms of sound it is still on the more quiet side of available bearings.
Our little think-tank session led us to the decision to actually do some real-life, nerdy, technical testing…
…so we broke out the bearings that many will compare to the Trifecta and did some sound testing and measured the noise in decibels using a meter, the One Drop Cascade, a Dragon String and took our measurements in a sound chamber. We recorded our measurements with the yoyo spinning at 5000 rpm and exactly 15 inches from the meter. Every bearing was cleaned in acetone, blown dry with compressed air and run without any lubrication. Each bearing was run for 3 trials to provide an average decibel range for greater consistency and depth of data as well as to help decrease slight variations in our readings.
[b]Here are the results:
Standard C size 8 ball steel bearing: 67.5 dB
Grooved Bearing: 66.2 dB
Konkave Bearing: 57.9 dB
10 Ball: 40.0 dB
Trifecta Bearing: 48.7 dB[/b]
So as far as how a Trifecta Bearing stands up to the other bearings…this thing is a quiet beast! Only 8.7 dB louder than a flat 10 ball bearing. Not nearly as silent as a 10 ball but as you can see definitely a quieter throw when compared to any of the other bearings that carry 8 balls.
The Trifecta is a smooth bearing and there is no questioning this. It feels smooth, it sounds smooth and when you consider that the bearing really is the heart of any yoyo this is simply and undeniably important to anyone who throws. The string centering capabilities of the Trifecta are on par with the KK and the grooved bearings available today but offers the smooth, nearly silent play of a 10 ball. The groove does not restrict movement with string layers and upon visual inspection this can be attributed to the fact that the groove in the Trifecta is more narrow and appears to be slightly more shallow than a grooved bearing’s central groove. Also another noticeable different between the Trifecta and a grooved bearing is that the Trifecta’s outer race is truly a concave surface where the grooved bearing resembles more of a “V” shape. If you consider the genius of the KK bearing and how it gently channels the string towards the center, coupling this with a groove really does make a difference. A “V” shaped bearing has a more steep recess towards the center which means the string must impart greater force to contact the response in order to complete a successful and not to mention neat bind. I’ve spoken with many a player regarding binding inconsistency with grooved bearings before and have experienced it myself. The spherical surface of the Trifecta offers a gentle slope making binds much more consistent while providing greater string centering with the addition of the groove. If you check out the macro shot below you can see the difference in the Trifecta’s (left) outer race and groove in comparison to a Crucial grooved bearing (right). Pay particular attention to the groove width and depth as well as the outer race upward angle. This slight difference means drastic differences in play and especially binds.
Behind the Bearing:
I asked Jen if there was any special way to maintain and clean the Trifecta and she offered up her own method which involves a baby food jar and some Goo Gone followed by some light oil. Jen acknowledged that overall there are so many methods to bearing care and that in the end most people have their own way of doing things. So with your own Trifecta you can care for it just as you have done with your other bearings in the past.
The Future of the Trifecta:
I received numerous requests to write up this review and I had a blast doing it. Plus I had the pleasure of chatting with Jen and I can say that she is as down to earth as they come and she has a love for the community that is true. I inquired as to if the Trifecta would be offered later on in other sizes or in a hybrid format much like some of the other bearings available today. Jen let me know that when it comes down to it Twisted Stringz right now is really focusing on the quality and variety of professional grade strings and that is where the company is currently directing effort. The future however may hold some variations to the Trifecta but as of right now the bearing is a single diamond among the rough.
The Trifecta is a wonderful bearing and I can’t recommend it enough to others. Now I know that some people will state that string centering bearings limit your play and on and on and on. I’m a realist. I play for fun. I play to entertain. If I go pro then I’ll smile and wave like a fool but if not I’m happy just the same. I think that any player worth their prized yoyo knows that sticking to one bearing is what limits you and is like sticking to one yoyo and never trying another again. Bearings are essential tools and therefore its good to try different ones as well as realize the benefits of doing so. I use string centering bearings to learn new tricks and then I switch to a flat bearing, preferably a 10 ball, to perfect the trick. For me its about convenience and frustration control. But, all in all, its a bearing and without it your yoyo isn’t much good. So give the Trifecta a try! Its like breathing new life into your yoyos!