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Ceramic Bearings: Are They Worth It?

Ceramic Bearing Options

There are two different types of ceramic bearings. A full ceramic bearing has both ceramic ball bearings and races. The type of bearing that is more commonly found bicycle hubs is in fact a mixed ceramic one. The races are made of steel, and the balls are ceramic. This combination allows bearings to run at higher speeds

The Benefits of Ceramic Bearings

Ceramic bearings have two main benefits. The first is that they can reduce rolling resistance. The other is that they can increase the lifespan of components. There is another minor benefit, which is they can weight up to 50% less than steel bearings.

When it comes to rolling resistance, ceramic bearings can be made to be more spherical. This means that they can carry rider loads without stressing balls or races, leading to better less need for lubrication and better performance. Ceramic balls are also 3-5x harder than steel bearings and can therefore withstand more force. Furthermore, they insulate steel races. When using steel bearings, if there is contamination inside for a prolonged amount of time, corrosive wear can occur. Mixed ceramic bearings do not suffer from this problem.

Not All Ceramic Bearings are Created Equal

In theory, ceramic bearings should offer lower rolling resistance and an increased lifespan. However, that is not always the case considering bearing brands, quality level, and riding conditions. Some ceramic bearings are worse than steel bearing counterparts. Some brands don’t use high-quality ceramic balls or meet the ISO 9001 manufacturing standards. These require heavier grease and perform poorly. Elitewheels only chooses high-quality ceramic bearings for its hubs, for example S&S. Information on each wheelset’s bearings can be found on their individual product pages.

Not All Hubs Are Created Equal

Most of the issues riders have with ceramic bearings has nothing to do with the bearings. Instead it has to do with accuracy of hubs. Lower-end hubs with poorer tolerances can lead to issues, namely damage to the bearings and races. Due to our 5-axis CNC Machining, we are able to manufacture hubs with higher concentricity, reducing the likelihood of uneven pressure on the bearing, extending their service life of bearings and reducing rolling resistance

As a result of this experience, we have sold over 5,000 pairs of wheelset which uses ceramic bearings and they have been in use for over 3 years. Sales statistics and more users’ feedback have proved that our point is right.

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