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  1. #1
    I am an incurable. delay's Avatar
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    ceramic bearings?

    Does anyone have anything to say about ceramic bearings in their hubs? Honestly, I have no idea. However, I need to replace some cartridges and am considering it. So really, aside from price, is there any reason not to get ceramic?

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    Bad Company dminor's Avatar
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    I investigated them at Boca Bearings before they got ink in Mountain Bike Action. I ended up with standard steel industrial bearings but the ceramics were intriguing. Boca had the MBA article because they were wanting to move into the MTB market and were aggressively pushing their ceramics and offering sponsorships to run them. They are supposed to be tough but I worried abouut brittleness for suspension pivots; my concern may be unfounded.

    I'd check the ceramics at Boca; they are a great company to deal with and their prices are hard to beat.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    Ceramic bearings seem like a big gimmick for use in a bike. Bike wheels spin way too slowly to see much benefit, IMO.

    Don't underestimate the amount of engineering that goes into developing even the most common, cheap, steel BB. They're cheap because they're popular. Many of these bearings are built to much higher tolerances than the hubs, and are able to withstand hundreds/thousands of pounds of force at high RPM (10,000+). If an MTB wheel spins at over 1000RPM, you're hauling ass (Kamikaze downhill).
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  4. #4
    PBR Racing RIC0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    Ceramic bearings seem like a big gimmick for use in a bike. Bike wheels spin way too slowly to see much benefit, IMO.

    I agree
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  5. #5
    Should be riding Bike Lover's Avatar
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    This is a fairly common topic in the road forum. The consensus seems to be that they're neat and you get bragging rights, because you can't see them, you'll have to tell someone you have them, they are only worth about 3% in effeciency. There is a test some where with that came up with this figure, I don't know where it is though. If you do a search in the road section you'll get many many hits on the topic.

    If you need, or just want, to have the best of everything, there's nothing wrong with 'em. If you're looking for a marked improvement, look elsewhere. YMMV.
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  6. #6
    I am an incurable. delay's Avatar
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    More specifically through sponsors I can get ceramic bearings at not much more money than ss. I was just wondering if anyone had a reason why "not" to use them. I know that generally they are probably not worth the money, but for me at this point money is not relevant.

  7. #7
    Bad Company dminor's Avatar
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    OK - -don't know if the sponsorship is Boca but I would shoot for the equivalent of their Ceramic Lightning Yellow-Seal bearings:

    http://www.bocabearings.com/main1.aspx?p=docs&id=7

    Here is what they have to say about them:
    "The Boca Bearing Company is proud to announce the new Lightning Bearing Technology (LBT) line of ceramic bicycle bearings for hubs, bottom brackets, headsets and pivot points. Ceramic bearings are particularly well suited to both competitive and recreational bicycle applications.

    They are lighter, stronger and have substantially less rolling resistance than steel bearings. Ceramic balls are virtually frictionless as well as being several times harder than steel, as a result they are faster and will last 4 or 5 times longer than standard bearings. Also, ceramic is 2/3 the weight of steel, and weight is always a factor in a bicycles performance. With unbeatable prices everyone can enjoy the advantage of Lightning Bearing Technology (LBT) by Boca Bearings. Please call or visit Boca Bearing's website for the complete cross reference guide to find the right bearings for your bike."


    They recommend them for hubs and suspension pivots and they claim to be harder than steel. Hey, I'd go for it. In fact, I may apply next year myself

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    Slackjawed idiots will stare in amazement.
    Stare at what exactly?

  9. #9
    Bad Company dminor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    For negligible price difference, go for it. Something to brag about. Slackjawed idiots will stare in amazement.

    As for Boca's claims on ceramic being "several times harder than steel", that's just BS. Steel bearings are hardened to well over 60c on the rockwell scale. Several times harder than that is not even possible for bearing materials. What's even stupider is that the inner and outer bearing races are still made out of steel. So according to Boca, the races don't matter... just the balls?
    I wondered about this as well. I think it's akin to carbide - - yes a carbide blade will cut certain metals but it's also brittle and will chip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    Like I said earlier, the real benefit of ceramic won't be noticed at measly bicycle wheel speeds. The bearing balls are lighter, yes. That reduces centripetal force, but that force is negligible at under 1000 rpm. Industrial machine spindles use ceramic bearings, but they spin anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 RPM. Small spindles can easily go well over 100,000 RPM. These bearings are typically lubed with a high pressure jet of oil. Not packed with grease with 2 rubber seals slapped on.
    I can easily see its value for low/no-load high-RPM applications where most of the loading will be radial instead of axial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    The type of grease used in the bearing will affect performance much more in bicycle applications. And sealed bearings naturally have significantly more friction than shielded and open bearings.
    That's always the pig-in-a-poke about industrial cartridge bearings, eh? What grease are they using? (Or is there any? I once had a sealed clutch throwout bearing that was assembled with no grease. One dead pressure plate later I discovered the ugly truth)

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