Every cyclist would prefer to use less energy to go faster, but is the extra expense worth it? That may be solely up to the particular cyclist. They should question where the advantage of speed comes from. It could be from any of the following:
- Reduction of rolling resistance – balls are ground rounder, smoother and more uniformly than steel, allowing them to carry close to the same load.
- Increased durability and stiffness
- Reduced weight
Another bonus is that ceramic bearings are harder than steel variations, and they are more durable, lasting up to 20 times longer, and offering minimal risk of seizure. Luckily they don’t rust and are not very sensitive to lubrication and moisture. Some ceramic bearings even require zero lubricant, which is a huge benefit. It reduces maintenance time, and prevents failure.
Ceramic balls and the “racetracks” on which they run are also more stiff than those of steel bearings. This means less flexibility within the bottom bracket. As a result, ceramic bearings are lighter and much less dense than steel. Put them together with good lubrication and proper seals to get much less friction.
Types of Ceramic Bearings
No ceramic bearing is made exactly the same, just like steel bearings they come in various levels of rolling resistance and smoothness so do ceramic. There are two types of ceramic bearings, they are full ceramic and hybrid types. Gradations are based on uniformity and the smoothness of the raceways and balls.
Hybrid Ceramic Bearings – Hybrid ceramic bearings feature ceramic balls with steel races. The weight difference makes them lighter, and they roll faster because the bearings are more uniform in size, harder, smoother and rounder. The racetrack itself is smoother as well.
Full ceramic bearings – These bearings feature both ceramic balls and ceramic races. Because of the ceramic tracks, the entire assembly is lighter. Faster rolling, more durability and minimal sensitivity to moisture makes them a great choice.
Different types of ceramics are used in bearings, and many work perfectly in bicycles. There are many choices when it comes to which would be optimal. Silicon nitride and Zirconia are a couple of the most common types of ceramic sought after by cycling enthusiasts. There are also various levels of seals one can obtain. They have different prices of course, and those are based on supply and demand which has been high in the cycling world.
The bottom line when it comes to bicycling bearings is that the main draw is with Ceramic Speed bearings. As far as historically, they were traded within the professional circuit for many years before being a hit on the market. The majority of expert cyclists still turn to this type when buying their own bearings. They can be found in a complete wheel package at retail outlets and online. Other popular purchases are derailleur pulleys, whole bottom brackets and bottom bracket bearings.