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  1. #1
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    Ceramic Bearings and use with Clydes?

    I've read all the hype, looked over some in-use bearings and I'm thinking of biting on a set of hub bearings and BB bearings for my new Gary Fisher Paragon. Anyone here have any cause NOT to buy some of these?

    My bike is one of those super Clean MTB's. I get it dirty, but I've got it built up so tear down is quick and easy. About the only thing I won't ride this bike in yet is Salt encrusted roads or areas near road run off due to the amount of salt they put down around here.

    What say you?

    Chris
    A Mess of old bikes...
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    08 Gary Fisher Paragon

  2. #2
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    I have wondered this, too.

  3. #3
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    From what I've found re: ceramic bearings, they should hold up very well in MTB type conditions. The rollers and races are so hard, they grind up dirt and debris that may get in them. The types of stuff that ruin steel bearings by flatting the rollers and gouging the races. I may try them when I need to replace bearings. They are spendy, though.

  4. #4
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    Unless you are really really racing there are cheaper ways to make you bike faster and lighter than ceramic bearings. From what I understand they are good for about one to three watts of power savings if you were to replace all the applicable bearings in the bike, hubs, bb, and rd pulleys. On a TT bike that amounts to something like 25 seconds in a 50k tt, on an mtb...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdq 5oh View Post
    From what I've found re: ceramic bearings, they should hold up very well in MTB type conditions. The rollers and races are so hard, they grind up dirt and debris that may get in them. The types of stuff that ruin steel bearings by flatting the rollers and gouging the races. I may try them when I need to replace bearings. They are spendy, though.
    Most ceramic bearings are ceramic ball and steel race. Be aware also that unless you really really spend on ceramic bearings you may often get bearings that are inferior to a good quality steel bearings as while they may be using high durability ceramic, the sloppy tolerances make them less efficient than a good steel bearing with high precision tolerances. There are several web pages about it but the only one that comes to mind atm is Zipp.com

  6. #6
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    This always seems like a fairly large expense for not much of a performance return.

  7. #7
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    Folks, the only Performance return I am looking for is reduced maintenance from better quality bearings. SOME Outboard Bearings have very poor seals and the lubricants wash out very quickly if not kept in check. I do some water crossings, and grease washing out of an LX OBB has been an issue for me.

    As a Mechanic for many many years, I am interested in maintaining my bikes to the highest standards and using the best I can AFFORD. To me, a $100 upgrade in the bottom bracket on a $2000 bike is not pricey.

    I will look over the Zipp.com site and see what they have to say. The Vendor that I am thinking of using is Enduro and I have had good luck with any bearing we have received from that vendor.

    Thanks for the Zipp tip.

    Chris
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    08 Gary Fisher Paragon

  8. #8
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    I'm not a bearing expert but I wouldn't expect to see that much of an improvement in your maintenance patterns with ceramics under those conditions (you'll probably see some, but I don't know that it will be enough to offset the price increase,) submerging semi-sealed bearings like those found in low end bbs is gonna trash the lube any way you look at it, and once the lube is trashed, nothing else is going to matter, ceramics, or no.

    Think about your price variance as well. Ceramic bearings are absolutely more expensive to make, by a pretty substantial factor. Top end ceramic bearings are 4-5 times the cost of top end steel bearings. So if an after-market ceramic BB is only 10% more than a standard LX BB keep this in mind.


    Paul

  9. #9
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    Paul,

    I agree with the lube and semi-submerging factor. In a case like this I'd be better off with some of the Synthetic Long fiber greases used in Marine bearings and the like.

    Performance wise, the only time I'm really fast is going downhill with a tailwind!

    Chris
    A Mess of old bikes...
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    If your hubs have cartridge bearings check out Phil Wood bearings. They are filled with waterproof grease and are surprisingly not too expensive. They also have BB bearings. A set should last you a long time as the bearings with an 'X' in the code number are made to submersible pump standards.

    http://www.philwood.com/products/Bearings.pdf

    P.S Ceramic bearings are for the pros and wanna bes.....

  11. #11
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    Paul, sounds like I need to research ceramics more............and probably not bother.

  12. #12
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    Yep, you read Phil's site, and then Zipp's site, and then some of the Generic Ceramic sites and you do get confused to be sure. I think that while a better quality bearing can indeed help with coast down and spin up, there is a point where even a better bearing will not net the gains that one would think.

    On my current bike I know I have Enduro Metal Bearings in the wheels and an XT Bottom bracket. All should give me good service as long as I keep out of deep water. Like submerging the BB and Hubs. As much as I like water crossings, that IS too deep. Washing out of thin grease due to water intrusion is a huge problem at the shop level. This is one thing that I ask when I bring a bike in for a Customer tune up. MTB riders get asked about water crossings, and Road riders get asked how much they ride in the rain. It's not a pretty sight when you pop a seal off and find either no grease and a white to black film where grease should be. Best to replace these when it's that bad.

    One Bearing company has already told me that for longevity, use the right grease, and then they recommended CRC Marine Bearing grease even for their ceramic hybrid bearing.

    On the Phil's bearings with the "X" code on the part number, you have increase stiction due to that very thorough seal they put on. While nothing will get through it, it will cause some amount of drag on the BB.

    LOL...I'm probably trying too hard on this subject. Dang I need to go for a ride!

    Chris
    A Mess of old bikes...
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    08 Gary Fisher Paragon

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    ^^^

    You're not going to notice any difference in drag in the Phil bearings over another type. What you will notice is that your BB and hubs roll smooth for a long time without the need for bearing replacements. Phil's are know to be some of the smoothest rolling hubs around.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ang1sgt View Post
    I've read all the hype, looked over some in-use bearings and I'm thinking of biting on a set of hub bearings and BB bearings for my new Gary Fisher Paragon. Anyone here have any cause NOT to buy some of these?

    My bike is one of those super Clean MTB's. I get it dirty, but I've got it built up so tear down is quick and easy. About the only thing I won't ride this bike in yet is Salt encrusted roads or areas near road run off due to the amount of salt they put down around here.

    What say you?

    Chris
    From what I understand, when compared to a properly lubed steel bearing you really gain about 0.0001% performance. They charge twice as much for the ceramics, which will last half again as long. In other words, a good steel bearing properly overhauled at the right interval*, ends up performing just as well. If you like riding in the wet, then use a grease intended for boat trailer hubs, which get submerged on a regular basis. For performance, a dirty and improperly lubed cassette and chain can steal 25%. BTW those knobby mountain tires will suck up about 20% if used on the road.

    I'd say forget the ceramic bearings, maybe if your riding in races where the difference between the winner and second place is under a second over 100 miles, then it might be worth it.....

    * If you ride a lot in muddy conditions and ride more then twice a week, then you might need to overhaul the hubs and BB as often as monthly, especially if you use a pressure washer during cleanup. Quarterly is sufficient for most mountain bikes, and annually for road bikes.

  15. #15
    Bus wrestling roadie. 'flyer's Avatar
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    I've wondered about ceramics too...
    But then I remember my $130 Mavic sealed bottom bracket that hasn't been touched in 6 years, and if there's any drag, (there ain't), it's miniscule next to the aerodyamic inefficiency of my fat *****...
    Just get back up on the bike. That'll heal in no time...

  16. #16
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    The ROI with ceramics in bikes just isn't there. If you're trying to scavenge every watt of power no matter the cost, then maybe. If they're free, then what the hell.
    Mike
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