I want to use one way bearings for a project, but there are some things I just can't figure out about them.

So I know that a one way bearing restricts rotation of an axle in one way and allows rotation the other way. The question I have is if the wheels on that axle are able to rotate both ways, or only in rotate in the direction the bearing allows the axle to rotate?

And if the wheels can rotate both ways, does that mean that when they rotate in the direction, in which the rotation of the axle is restricted, the axle doesn't move. But when the wheels rotate in the other direction, the axle does rotate along with the wheels?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1. Is the axle free to rotate or is it clamped to the chassis? 2. Is the axle driven? 3. Where are the one-way bearings? Between the wheels and the axle or between the axle and the chassis? 4. Are the wheels free to rotate both ways on the axle with regular bearings or bushings? Please edit your question to clarify. A diagram would be very useful. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, a diagram would be helpful. What are the bearings attached to? What is on the inside and what is on the outside. There are some AWD systems for slow moving equipment that use something like this. In lower gears, the rear axle is geared slightly lower than the front axle and the rear tires can free spin enough to not engage on modest corners (think articulating loaders), but if the front wheels slip, the rears hook up. In high gears, only the front wheels are put into high range. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ Please also mention how your application would be different from a bicycle wheel mechanism? In a bicycle wheel, (if the pedals are fixed at some position), then the back wheel can rotate only in one direction. $\endgroup$
    – AJN
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ you can easily answer your questions experimentally ... get a round piece of cardboard and stick a toothpick through the center ... then rotate the cardboard while preventing the toothpick from rotating $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


So check out inclined ramp or sprag clutches or even look at the gear drive used in starter motors.

The inclined ramp means that the rollers rotate into a tapering or tightening dimension in one direction so providing drive but in the other they have little friction.


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