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Old 03-17-12, 02:50 PM   #1
gear
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Ceramic bearings

I never thought switching to ceramic bearings would be noticeable (aside from in the wallet), but I'll be darned, they are.

I purchased a nice off the rack bike that came with lower end components, the shifters and derailuers didn't bother me but the squeaky (FSA) crank did, so I switched it out with a SRAM Red crank with ceramic bearings, I also switched the pullies to ceramic ones.

First ride and the drive train feels real smooth, real real smooth. I just didn't think it would be noticeable but it really is.
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Old 03-17-12, 03:09 PM   #2
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Did you gain at least 1 mph average speed on your regular loop?

Regular Sram bearings are pretty smooth. You should do a blind A/B test to be sure.
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Old 03-17-12, 03:18 PM   #3
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These new fangled Bottom bracket beraing that come on all the bikes now are the only ones that I would consider changing to Ceramic. I have Dure ace and Ultegra BB's and compared to the "Old" style BB's- they don't turn that easily. They may be a better design- but the friction seems to have gone up manyfold.
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Old 03-18-12, 07:21 AM   #4
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FWIW, My Masi came with an FSA carbon crank and the I couldn't keep the bolt from pulling out. Posted my problem on Bike Forums and got a "yeah, same with my FSA crank" kind of response. I won't be buying anything with FSA cranks again.
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Old 03-18-12, 07:29 PM   #5
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You said the FSA crank was squeaky. Sounds like it had a problem. So how can you tell that the improvement was ceramic bearings as opposed to simply not having that problem?

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Old 03-18-12, 09:50 PM   #6
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When making more than one change it is difficult to determine what caused any improvement.
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Old 03-19-12, 03:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
You said the FSA crank was squeaky. Sounds like it had a problem. So how can you tell that the improvement was ceramic bearings as opposed to simply not having that problem?

Don in Austin
Don,
The cranks squeaked on uphill climbs, FSA cranks have a reputation for squeaking, otherwise the cranks worked just fine (for now).

Cranks are just arms holding pedals so I'm not sure how changing them would make the drivetrain feel like it was suddenly greased up. I'm certain the difference was the bearings in the BB and the pullies not the crank arms (those were the changes I made). But hey if you want to believe the cranks could have made the bike feel smoother, be my guest.
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Old 03-19-12, 11:05 AM   #8
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Properly installed ceramic bearings certainly should spin a bit more freely and last longer than either steel ball or steel roller bearings, but the key is often in getting them properly installed and adjusted in either case. As far as the difference in the noticable friction of these two cranksets is concerned however, I would guess that the difference is more related to the bearing's seal design than the actual bearings efficiency. Either way though, I would be very surprised to see much of a difference that this minute amount of friction has in real world power transfer to the wheel.

Also, I run FSA cranks on two of my bikes (one road, one mountain bike), and if all I did was slap in the parts and tighten everything down they might squeak too. However I take a great deal of care when installing every part on my bike, and so far neither set of cranks has squeaked or loosened up, and both sets spin quite freely. I do use telfon tape when installing any threaded BB cup though, so that could contribute to the lack of squeking too.

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Old 03-19-12, 11:20 AM   #9
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Don,
The cranks squeaked on uphill climbs, FSA cranks have a reputation for squeaking, otherwise the cranks worked just fine (for now).

Cranks are just arms holding pedals so I'm not sure how changing them would make the drivetrain feel like it was suddenly greased up. I'm certain the difference was the bearings in the BB and the pullies not the crank arms (those were the changes I made). But hey if you want to believe the cranks could have made the bike feel smoother, be my guest.
Perhaps the BB bearings were not so good. Could they have been squeaking? Why do FSA crank arms squeak? Only reason I can imagine is not cinched tight to the bottom bracket or chain rings. When I said "You said the FSA crank was squeaky. Sounds like it had a problem," I should have said, "FSA crank arm/bottom bracket set had a problem."

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Old 03-19-12, 11:53 AM   #10
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they using that stuff in hip and knee replacements yet?
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Old 03-20-12, 01:56 PM   #11
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I logged 17, 399 km on FSA Carbon Pro cranks before the left crank failed - the carbon crank separated from the aluminum insert that slides onto the bb spindle. This was a 165mm track crank used exclusively on a fixed gear bike on the road, attached to an internal ISIS bottom bracket (probably one of the worst bottom bracket designs ever thought up! The first bb (Nashbar ISIS) lasted 14,260 km, and the one being used at the time (FSA-VP) was feeling quite loose and ready for replacement already).

I think that cranks used on road fixies are subjected to much higher loads than cranks used with multispeed bikes. I weigh 175 lbs, and on climbs I'm out of the saddle cranking on the 42x16 or 44x17. If I could drop down to 39x23, I'd be sitting down and spinning easily, with very little load on the cranks. So I would think that the wear on bike components installed on my fixie gets accelerated.

Also, the problem with ceramic bb's is that they need lots of attention. I replaced the FSA with a 165mm SRAM Omnium track crank with GXP bb. (BTW, I am not a big fan of SRAM's crank attachment method, but Shimano does not make an external-bb version of their track crank unfortunately.) I replaced the steel GXP bb with an F1 ceramic unit and didn't touch it for 13,092 km, at which point it was getting quite loose and needed to be sent back to F1 for maintenance. They suggested that for the conditions I was riding in (wet Pac NW), I should be popping the seals and adding grease every month or so. I've started doing this with the steel SRAM unit, and I think it's making the bearings last longer, so I've got the special ceramic bearing grease ready to go for when I reinstall the F1 unit for the summer.

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Old 03-20-12, 02:28 PM   #12
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The power of placebo.
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Old 03-20-12, 04:45 PM   #13
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they using that stuff in hip and knee replacements yet?
Both my hips are titanium and ceramic composites. They work very well. Manufactured by Encore Medical http://www.djosurgical.com/products/hip/index.htm

I am a much better cyclist because of the titanium and ceramic in me and my bikes.
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Old 03-21-12, 01:41 PM   #14
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The power of placebo.
My drug of choice!
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