The Major Types of Tricone Bit Bearings

What’s makes tricone bits so powerful and effective? A lot of it has to do with their strong materials, but just as important are the way their parts work together. At KBS we know that the more people understand about our products, the better they can put those products to work. Here’s a guide on what makes tricone bits tick.



At the heart of the tricone bit are the bearings, hidden underneath the bits themselves. The bearings are what allow the cones to spin in sync smoothly without losing power. There are a variety of different bearing systems used in tricone bits, and we’ll cover the most common ones here.

Open Roller Bearings

Inexpensive, and ideal for shallow drilling projects, the defining feature of open roller bearings is that they have no seal. The disadvantage there is that debris can get inside the cones and in turn cause blocks in the bearings. Regular cleaning can mitigate this problem, though.

Sealed Roller Bearings

Sealed bearings are very similar to open bearings. The primary differences are that there are seals to keep debris out of the cone and bearings, and there is also often a lubrication system to help keep the bearings clear and moving smoothly. These elements can make them more demanding to clean, but they tend to have longer lifetimes.

Air Cooled Bearings

Also referred to as air blast bearings, these are exclusive to air circulation bits. They use air passages to simultaneously cool and clear the bearings and bits of debris so that they can drill uninhibited. These are more specialized drills and bits, but also very effective.

Sealed Friction Bearings

Highly durable and very resistant to wear, friction bearings (also known as journal bearings) use floating bushing and a ball where most other bits would use a roller bearing. These usually need to be made of special material to have the heat resistance and durability they do, but it makes them very powerful.

Knowing what bearings offer, you can make a more informed decision when you need to purchase the tools. Can’t find what you’re looking for in our inventory? Take advantage of our bit sourcing service! We’re happy to use our industry connections and experience to help you find the bit you need for your project.