Tapered roller bearing

Comprehensive Analysis of Tapered Roller Bearings

by Kevin Sweeney
08 January, 2024
11 min read

Tapered roller bearings are an important bearing component for numerous types of mechanical assemblies. They are designed to efficiently handle combined radial and axial loads. This brief article provides an overview of the various types of tapered roller bearings and applications.

Unique to tapered roller bearings is the tapered geometry of the rollers, which aligns with the corresponding races often referred to as cone and cup. The design ensures optimal load distribution along the roller length, enhancing strength and reducing stress concentrations. The degree of angle for the taper is critical and dictates the bearing’s ability to handle a variety of axial and radial loads.

We will briefly explain the various types of tapered roller bearings, including single-row, double-row, and four-row configurations, each offering distinct advantages for specific applications. We will give some application information that will explain the bearings’ critical role in industries like automotive, aerospace, and heavy machinery.

Types of Tapered Roller Bearings

Single-row tapered roller bearings, have superior design attributes including simplicity in a Single cone and cup. Single-row tapered roller bearings will typically have a one-piece pressed steel cage that retains rollers on the cone and spaces them evenly for smooth operation.

Part numbers like the 320 and 302 series, are common and widely specified. Comprising a cone (inner ring with rollers) and a cup (outer ring), tapered roller bearings offer a balanced combination of strength and flexibility, making them a standard choice in automotive wheel hubs, gearboxes, and conveyor systems. Additional applications include vehicle front wheels, differential and pinion configurations, conveyor rolls, machine tool spindles, and trailer wheels. Very popular size combinations for trailer wheels include LM11949/LM11910, LM11749/LM11710 and L21549/L21511. Of course, there are numerous other variations for bore and outer diameters available.

Designed for heavy-load applications, double-row tapered roller bearings, such as the 375D – 374 and NA776 – 774D series, excel due to their enhanced load-bearing capabilities. These bearings come in two main configurations: TDO (double outer ring) and TDI (double inner ring), providing robust solutions for industrial gearboxes, rolling mills, and mining equipment where both radial and axial loads are significant.

Double- or two-row Timken® tapered roller bearings combine double cups and two single cones. Timken double-row tapered bearings are available in a variety of configurations for general industrial and automotive applications.

To learn more about different types of bearings, check prices, and place an order online, visit our bearing types page.

Metric Double Row

Timken Double Row Assembly bearing
Fig.1 Double Row Assembly bearing by Timken

​Timken features one of the industry’s largest selections of metric tapered roller bearing matched assemblies.

For the most demanding applications, particularly in rolling mills where extreme load conditions are prevalent, four-row tapered roller bearings like the 380KV5201 and 380KV5401 series are widely specified. Their design, featuring four rows of rollers, offers increased radial load capacity, making them ideal in applications demanding high-load capacity bearings.

Four Row

Timken 4-row tapered roller bearing
Fig. 2 Timken 4-row tapered roller bearing assembly

Timken® four-row tapered roller bearings combine the inherent high-load radial/thrust capacity and direct/indirect mounting variables of tapered roller bearings into assemblies offering maximum load rating in minimum space.

Additionally, precision applications such as machine tools, pumps, and compressors often rely on matched pair and quad bearings. These sets, with part numbers like 30207JR/30207J2/Q and 32020 X/QDF, consist of two or four tapered roller bearings precisely matched during manufacturing. This ensures high precision and uniform load distribution, vital in applications where alignment and accuracy are paramount.

Considerations for using Timken Tapered Roller Bearings

Pros of Tapered Roller Bearings:

  • High Load Capacity
    Tapered roller bearings are highly capable of handling heavy radial and axial loads. Their design allows them to sustain significant weight, making them ideal for applications involving high-load conditions.
  • Long Life
    These bearings are known for their long life. The ability to handle load stress effectively contributes to a longer operational life, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
  • Handling Combined Loads
    The tapered design enables these bearings to manage combined loads (both radial and axial) efficiently. This capability is crucial in applications where bearings are subject to both types of loads simultaneously.
  • Accommodation of Misalignment
    Tapered roller bearings can tolerate minor misalignments, which might occur due to shaft deflection or mounting errors. This feature provides a degree of flexibility in application and can reduce wear and tear.
  • Versatility
    They are suitable for a wide range of applications, from automotive axles to heavy-duty machinery, due to their robustness and load-handling capabilities.

Taper roller bearing sizes

Taper roller bearings are engineered in various sizes to meet different application requirements. The critical dimensions to consider include:

  • Bore Diameter: The internal measurement of the bearing, which determines shaft size . This dimension and tolerance is for a proper fit and efficient load transfer between the bearing and the shaft.
  • Outer Diameter: The outside race measurement along with the bore diameter, defines the overall size of the bearing assembly. This dimension and tolerance are vital for fitting the bearing positively within the housing.
  • Overall Width: This includes the width of the inner ring, outer ring, and rollers. The overall width is essential for determining the bearing’s load-carrying capacity and its ability to handle misalignment and axial loads.

Taper roller bearings are available in standard sizes compliant with ISO and ANSI standards, ensuring compatibility and interchangeability in various applications. For specialized requirements, custom-sized bearings can be manufactured to provide optimal performance for specific operating conditions.

For more details on the available sizes and to add your preferred items to the cart, visit our shop page.

Applications of Tapered Roller Bearings

Tapered roller bearings are commonly specified in various applications as they can efficiently manage both radial and axial loads. 

In the automotive industry, tapered roller bearings play a key role in wheel hubs, where they endure the vehicle’s weight (a radial load) while accommodating cornering forces (axial loads). The dual-load capacity of these bearings ensures smooth and reliable vehicle operation, especially during steering and at varying speeds. Tapered roller bearings play a vital role in accommodating the forces generated during gear shifting and power transmission from the engine to the wheels in transmissions and differentials.

Sensor Pac Timken Assembly
Fig. 3 Sensor Pac Timken Assembly

Additionally, tapered roller bearings encounter extreme conditions in aerospace applications. Jet engines require bearings that can withstand high rotational speeds and temperatures while landing gear bearings must bear substantial impact loads during takeoff and landing. The design of these bearings enables them to handle these stresses, ensuring safety and reliability in critical aerospace components.

In industrial settings, such as steel mills or mining operations, tapered roller bearings are subjected to heavy and constant loads. Rolling mills require bearings that can withstand high radial and axial forces during metal shaping. These heavy-duty machines rely on the bearings’ robustness and load-bearing capacity for continuous and efficient operation.

Taper roller bearings are used in gearboxes due to their ability to handle both radial and axial loads. Tapered design allows for efficient load distribution, reducing stress and enhancing performance under high-stress conditions. These bearings offer precise alignment and stability, essential for maintaining the accuracy and efficiency of gear operations. Additionally, their high-speed capability and minimal friction make them ideal for high-speed applications, ensuring smooth and reliable gearbox performance. The construction and customizable options enhance tapered roller bearings suitability for demanding environments like gearboxes.

Pinion Pac Timken Assembly
Fig. 4 Pinion Pac Timken Assembly

In precision machine tools, bearings play a crucial role in handling high-speed rotational movements with accuracy. They support the machine’s spindle, ensuring precise tool positioning and smooth operation. Precision is crucial for achieving the fine tolerances required in CNC machining and other high-precision manufacturing processes.

Precision machine tools require bearings that can handle high-speed rotational movements with accuracy to achieve the fine They support the machine’s spindle, ensuring precise tool positioning and smooth operation, tolerances needed in CNC machining and other high-precision manufacturing processes.

Timken Wheel Pac bearing assembly
Fig. 5 Timken Wheel Pac bearing assembly

Tapered roller bearings are designed to perform well in a variety of challenging environments, whether it be accommodating heavy loads in industrial machinery, enduring high speeds and temperatures in aerospace components, or ensuring precision in automotive and machine tool applications.

Integrated Timken Bearing Assemblies are available through Timken Bearing company.

Integrated Bearing Assemblies

Timken® integrated bearing assemblies are the result of our collaborations with customers to design, engineer, and test a continuous stream of next-generation solutions, including AP-2™ bearings for rail applications.


Tapered roller bearings are widely used in modern mechanical designs due to their versatility and reliability. It is wise to go with the best quality manufacturer in Timken®. Timken® precision tapered roller bearings are manufactured in both inch and metric sizes to meet the full range of precision application requirements. They are engineered for superior accuracy and control. That is why we recommend using Timken tapered roller bearings as your first choice. After all, Timken invented tapered roller bearings. Alternatively for slightly better value and top quality, both NTN and Bower are very good options.

 It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the different types, applications, and manufacturers to make an informed decision. For a wide selection of high-quality tapered roller bearings, please visit PIB Sales’ website or contact us at [email protected]  for personalized assistance. 

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Written by

Kevin Sweeney

Founder and CEO at Pacific International Bearing Sales Inc (PIB)
Education: BS Business and Economics California State University Hayward Ca
CBS (Certified Bearing Specialist)

My role with Pacific International Bearings (PIB) is currently CEO. Since 1976, I have been deeply involved in the bearing industry, working in manufacturing sales at NTN Bearing and subsequently in Bearing Distribution. Before establishing PIB in 1990, I gathered valuable experience in bearing manufacturing and distribution. The last 45 + years in the bearing industry have been both rewarding and challenging, assisting customers across a large number of diverse bearing applications.
Outside of the bearing industry, my interests are family, woodworking, motorcycling, cars, gardening, and golf.
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