Enduro Bearings: born from a convergence of necessity, friendship, timing and, believe it or not, inspiration derived from a forklift.
Co-founder Matt Harvey was born in the East Bay, not too far from where Enduro Bearings is headquartered today. He spent his childhood finding creative ways to break BMX bikes and by age thirteen Matt was working in bike shops, learning how to fix not just his broken bikes but also how to repair and build every other kind of bicycle. This trajectory, along with a degree from San Francisco State, led him to product design work at Gary Fisher Bicycles, then White Industries, then Bianchi. Matt found himself involved in such notable projects as the Fisher RS-1 (one of the very first legitimate mountain bike full suspension designs), White Industries bottom brackets and hubs, and the radical fully suspended Bianchi race bike that Johann Museeuw piloted in the Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic.
During the bike shop days, Matt worked alongside a guy named Mike Alders. They attended the same high school, went to the same punk rock shows, and, according to Matt, “worked crazy Christmas shifts at the Handlebar bike shop building Peugeot UO8’s for last minute dads who forgot to buy their kids something.” College beckoned, Matt went to SFSU, Mike went to Cal, with the pair reconnecting on occasion, usually at a live music venue.
By 1995, Matt had been neck-deep for several years designing suspension pivots, hubs and bottom brackets; long enough to have more than a few thoughts about the shortcomings of existing bicycle bearing technology. Mike, meanwhile, was working for his dad’s forklift business, Hydraulic Electro Forklift, and had resorted to custom machining massive forklift mast guide bearings; bearings which were no longer readily available for older forklifts. With no access to engineering drawings, Mike called on his high school buddy Matt to render designs in AutoCAD.
Matt immediately realized the ginormous bearings he was designing – full of balls with no retainer ring – could be scaled down perfectly for some of the relatively slow spinning, high load demands found on bikes, and would result in dramatic improvements in reliability and lifespan. This led in short order to the first Enduro Max bicycle bearings. A new business was founded in the attic of Hydraulic Electro Forklift; one push-button phone, two Apple II computers, and a pile of bearing balls and steel bar stock.