Remote radio-control car racing has experienced tremendous growth over the past two decades. There are even national (Remotely Operated Auto Racers) and world governing bodies (International Federation of Model Auto Racing), the latter having been established in 1979.

In Sweden, one of the up and coming stars in this type of racing is 14-year-old Elias Johannson. Over the past year, Johansson has won championships in Swedish Cup, Winter Indoor Cup, Summer Cup, World Indoor Series and European B Junior events.

Among his largest sponsors are HB Racing, Netto RC, Performa Racing and SMB Bearings Ltd., located in Oxfordshire, UK. To the outsider, sponsorship by a bearing supplier might seem a little strange. But, in fact, the EZO-brand miniature bearings that SMB distributes have been used in radio-control models and drones for several years.

“Countless hours are dedicated to testing the cars to ensure the best possible handling,” notes Johannson. “From the suspension to the aerodynamics, nothing is left to chance.

“Racing at the top level is all about performance and durability, and every hundredth of a second counts,” he continues. “Whether [it] is electric or nitro powered, a
free-spinning car is always an advantage. I’m always striving for the best possible efficiency.”

This philosophy led owner-driver Johannson to meet with SMB late last year to see if its bearings could further improve his car’s performance. More specifically, Johannson emphasized his desire for low-friction bearings, since high levels of friction can negatively impact a radio-control car’s performance.

SMB representatives, in turn, pointed out that bearing material, closures and lubricant type directly affect ball-bearing speed and friction level. They then suggested that Johannson use EZO chrome steel thin-section bearings in his car due to their low friction and exact roundness.

“Most remote radio-control cars are fitted with standard lower grade bearings that fail after just a short period of race action,” explains Chris Johnson, managing director at SMB Bearings. “We supplied these bearings, which are free running and can achieve high rpm, to give Johansson an added edge. The bearings have a smooth surface finish and are machined to a tight tolerance.”

Sized for 10- to 80-millimeter-diameter shafts, these bearings are recommended for applications where space is at a premium or weight reduction is required. The bearings have low rotational torque and high rotational accuracy, and are mainly designed for radial loads, but will support limited axial loads due to shallow raceways.

Radio-control-car drivers use the bearings in wheels, gearboxes, differentials, servos, engines and electric motors. The bearings fit cars ranging from the smaller slot size, up to one-fifth scale off-road fuel-powered models.

In addition, the bearings are available with a flange on the outer ring, harder steel for longer life or stainless steel to prevent corrosion. They can also be supplied with rubber seals for dusty environments, although the seals do increase drag.

Initially, SMB specialized in distributing miniature thin-section bearings. The company has since expanded its product range to include plastic, 316 stainless and ceramic bearings. All of the bearings are manufactured by Sapporo Precision of Japan and regularly used by manufacturers of equipment for the food processing, pharmaceutical and marine industries, as well as owner-drivers of radio-control cars.

For more information, call 01993-842-555 or visit