General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings? Rss Feed  
Moderators: jmk-brooklyn, Ron Reply
2013-09-24 3:39 PM

User image

Champion
10229
5000500010010025
Austin, Texas
Bronze member
Subject: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

Like the title says, I'm planning (hoping) to get in on the next Flo sale of wheels, and I'm wondering if it worth it to spend the extra dough to get ceramic bearings. 

I'm definitely not a FOPer, but I am getting stronger as a cyclist (slowly), and I also like the idea that for each wheel that they sell with ceramic bearings, they build and donate a bike for underprivileged kids. 

http://www.flocycling.com/bike_for_a_kid.php

Other than feeling good that I've been able to help get a bike into the hands of a child that otherwise might not be able to have one, is there any real benefit that I would get from having them? 



2013-09-24 3:48 PM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Yes, you'd get a benefit, issue is whether the price makes it worth it?   If you can afford it, go for it.   My LBS has advised that ceramic BB is a better investment than upgrading 105 to DA.
2013-09-24 3:53 PM
in reply to: ChrisM

User image

Champion
10229
5000500010010025
Austin, Texas
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

Originally posted by ChrisM Yes, you'd get a benefit, issue is whether the price makes it worth it?   If you can afford it, go for it.   My LBS has advised that ceramic BB is a better investment than upgrading 105 to DA.

Thanks Chris - it would be a difference of a couple hundred dollars and I've just read that the ceramic bearings have a longer lifespan than steel ones, which also tips the scales a bit. 

I may just bite the bullet and go for it. 

2013-09-24 3:55 PM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Elite
5046
500025
Cleveland
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

What made the decision for me to not worry about them was when I read on HED's own website that they will never make wheels with them.  When you take that statement from them, and add in that the HED tri-spoke is generally viewed as one of the fastest wheels out there, I have to think that I can save the $100 per wheel, or whatever, and still do plenty good.

 

http://www.hedcycling.com/tech.asp

Q. How come you don't offer ceramic bearings?

A. While initially faster, ceramic bearings will wear out because they don't have contact seals. Contact seals are important in bearings because they keep the road grime out of the bearings. Without these seals the bearings will wear out very fast. We build all of our hubs with a high quality steel bearing that creates a low drag wheel with the durability you expect from HED. wheels. The same hubs our pro riders ride are the same hubs you get when you buy our wheels. If they are good enough for the Tour riders they will be perfect for your races or rides

 

2013-09-24 4:09 PM
in reply to: cgregg

User image

Champion
10229
5000500010010025
Austin, Texas
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Originally posted by cgregg

What made the decision for me to not worry about them was when I read on HED's own website that they will never make wheels with them.  When you take that statement from them, and add in that the HED tri-spoke is generally viewed as one of the fastest wheels out there, I have to think that I can save the $100 per wheel, or whatever, and still do plenty good.

 

http://www.hedcycling.com/tech.asp

Q. How come you don't offer ceramic bearings?

A. While initially faster, ceramic bearings will wear out because they don't have contact seals. Contact seals are important in bearings because they keep the road grime out of the bearings. Without these seals the bearings will wear out very fast. We build all of our hubs with a high quality steel bearing that creates a low drag wheel with the durability you expect from HED. wheels. The same hubs our pro riders ride are the same hubs you get when you buy our wheels. If they are good enough for the Tour riders they will be perfect for your races or rides

What about if they're maintained properly?  I've also read this:

What are the cost of ownership benefits do ceramic bearings bring?
The relative hardness of ceramic bearings results in increased durability over comparable steel bearings. Ceramic material does not rust, unlike steel, meaning exposure to moisture is less of a concern, particularly for full ceramic bearings. They require less lubrication and do not suffer from pitting.

However, there is a risk of chipping, particularly where they are located in areas that are susceptible to water or grit ingress. So whilst ceramic bearings can last between 5 and 20 times longer than steel bearings it is important that they are fitted and maintained correctly. If so, Jonathan Day says that the increased wear resistance means that an initial investment in ceramic bearings should be paid back over time.

 

2013-09-24 4:36 PM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Elite
5046
500025
Cleveland
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Originally posted by blueyedbikergirl
Originally posted by cgregg

What made the decision for me to not worry about them was when I read on HED's own website that they will never make wheels with them.  When you take that statement from them, and add in that the HED tri-spoke is generally viewed as one of the fastest wheels out there, I have to think that I can save the $100 per wheel, or whatever, and still do plenty good.

 

http://www.hedcycling.com/tech.asp

Q. How come you don't offer ceramic bearings?

A. While initially faster, ceramic bearings will wear out because they don't have contact seals. Contact seals are important in bearings because they keep the road grime out of the bearings. Without these seals the bearings will wear out very fast. We build all of our hubs with a high quality steel bearing that creates a low drag wheel with the durability you expect from HED. wheels. The same hubs our pro riders ride are the same hubs you get when you buy our wheels. If they are good enough for the Tour riders they will be perfect for your races or rides

What about if they're maintained properly?  I've also read this:

What are the cost of ownership benefits do ceramic bearings bring?
The relative hardness of ceramic bearings results in increased durability over comparable steel bearings. Ceramic material does not rust, unlike steel, meaning exposure to moisture is less of a concern, particularly for full ceramic bearings. They require less lubrication and do not suffer from pitting.

However, there is a risk of chipping, particularly where they are located in areas that are susceptible to water or grit ingress. So whilst ceramic bearings can last between 5 and 20 times longer than steel bearings it is important that they are fitted and maintained correctly. If so, Jonathan Day says that the increased wear resistance means that an initial investment in ceramic bearings should be paid back over time.

 

 

I honestly don't have an answer.  When I was struggling with the same decision last December, I made it as far as stumbling across what HED had to say, and I figured that if one of the biggest names and best performers in aero wheels won't bother even offering it as an upgrade, then I can live without them - and I didn't bother to look beyond that.   

 

I have FLO's with steel bearings, and I can tell you one thing after a very long season filled with a LOT of racing on them... those things just spin forever.  

 

 

 



2013-09-24 4:39 PM
in reply to: cgregg

User image

Champion
10229
5000500010010025
Austin, Texas
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Originally posted by cgregg
Originally posted by blueyedbikergirl
Originally posted by cgregg

What made the decision for me to not worry about them was when I read on HED's own website that they will never make wheels with them.  When you take that statement from them, and add in that the HED tri-spoke is generally viewed as one of the fastest wheels out there, I have to think that I can save the $100 per wheel, or whatever, and still do plenty good.

 

http://www.hedcycling.com/tech.asp

Q. How come you don't offer ceramic bearings?

A. While initially faster, ceramic bearings will wear out because they don't have contact seals. Contact seals are important in bearings because they keep the road grime out of the bearings. Without these seals the bearings will wear out very fast. We build all of our hubs with a high quality steel bearing that creates a low drag wheel with the durability you expect from HED. wheels. The same hubs our pro riders ride are the same hubs you get when you buy our wheels. If they are good enough for the Tour riders they will be perfect for your races or rides

What about if they're maintained properly?  I've also read this:

What are the cost of ownership benefits do ceramic bearings bring?
The relative hardness of ceramic bearings results in increased durability over comparable steel bearings. Ceramic material does not rust, unlike steel, meaning exposure to moisture is less of a concern, particularly for full ceramic bearings. They require less lubrication and do not suffer from pitting.

However, there is a risk of chipping, particularly where they are located in areas that are susceptible to water or grit ingress. So whilst ceramic bearings can last between 5 and 20 times longer than steel bearings it is important that they are fitted and maintained correctly. If so, Jonathan Day says that the increased wear resistance means that an initial investment in ceramic bearings should be paid back over time.

 

 

I honestly don't have an answer.  When I was struggling with the same decision last December, I made it as far as stumbling across what HED had to say, and I figured that if one of the biggest names and best performers in aero wheels won't bother even offering it as an upgrade, then I can live without them - and I didn't bother to look beyond that.   

 

I have FLO's with steel bearings, and I can tell you one thing after a very long season filled with a LOT of racing on them... those things just spin forever.  

 

Lol - good to know! 

2013-09-24 6:38 PM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

Does anyone have an idea on why they cost so much?  Is it that expensive to manufacture ceramic bearings?

I've never considered ceramic bearings simply because of the cost and I haven't heard anyone say that they can increase speed at the same rate as other $100ish upgrades can.  Everytime you see a thread about "what should I upgrade on my bike"...ceramic bearings never makes the list.  I really have no idea about them...maybe they should make the list?  In my uneducated mind, it's like choosing between a $10 plastic bottle cage and a $60 carbon cage. 

2013-09-24 6:41 PM
in reply to: Jason N

User image

Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Originally posted by Jason N

Does anyone have an idea on why they cost so much?  Is it that expensive to manufacture ceramic bearings?

I've never considered ceramic bearings simply because of the cost and I haven't heard anyone say that they can increase speed at the same rate as other $100ish upgrades can.  Everytime you see a thread about "what should I upgrade on my bike"...ceramic bearings never makes the list.  I really have no idea about them...maybe they should make the list?  In my uneducated mind, it's like choosing between a $10 plastic bottle cage and a $60 carbon cage. 

No idea, but when I was asking my LBS about that swapping over DA, and how much it would cost to replace the DA, he said (and this is a guy I trust, ex pro - which may be a good or bad thing, LOL) that if I were spending $$$ (about $600 to do a full ceramic BB), he'd advise ceramic --  BB and pulleys -- over going DA.  I guess it comes down to drive train friction?

2013-09-25 1:50 AM
in reply to: ChrisM

User image

Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

The pulleys in my Shimano Ultegra derailleur are ceramic.  I think that's just how they make them...they only cost about $20.  They spin like crap compared to the pulleys on my SRAM Rival RD on my road bike.  I asked my mechanic about it and he said that's just how Shimano pulleys are.  I ordered another pair just in case they were shot and the ones I got in the mail spun the same way.  If I flicked it with my finger maybe it spun around one rotation before stopping.

Maybe they're just poor quality ceramic?  My mechanic told me not to worry about it.  I would love to know if these pulleys make a difference...if anyone actually knows.  It's always bothered me a little and I would like to place some blame on them. 

But more to the point of this thread...ever since I've spun these "ceramic" pulleys...I have found it hard to believe that the material itself is actually "better."  Maybe it's more about how a bearing is made rather than what it's made out of?

2013-09-25 5:51 AM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Pro
5322
5000100100100
Greater Pittsburgh
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Yes, ceramic bearings are harder than steel, won't rust, etc., but the biggest benefit is the roundness and lack of deformation. Al2O3 is chemically inert and thermally stable, which basically means that they can last a very long time, but Al2O3 is also fairly brittle, so it needs to be protected from the outside environment. Basically, as long as it stays clean, they will spin smooth for a very long time; more maintenance, but lower resistance.

Is it worth it? It depends... a savings of a a few seconds can mean the difference between 1st or 2nd place. Also, in this case, the cost difference goes to a good cause, and with no real drawback, so why not have them installed?


2013-09-25 8:22 AM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Not a Coach
11079
500050001000252525
Media, PA
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Based on some research I did a few years ago on the topic, I would generally not spend my money on them.  Perhaps things have changed, but I would need some convincing.
2013-09-25 8:43 AM
in reply to: JohnnyKay

User image

Champion
8980
500020001000500100100100100252525
Montague Gold Mines, Nova Scotia
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?

This is a decent article:

http://www.slowtwitch.com/Tech/Bearing_Breakdown_2822.html

It is pretty cool that the ceramic upgrade through Flo helps to support buying bikes for kids in need.

Shane

2013-09-25 11:24 AM
in reply to: blueyedbikergirl

User image

Expert
3044
2000100025
Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
If it's more the bicycle donation thing that is steering you that way you could always go with the standard, non ceramic and then head over to slowtwitch and donate to Jordan Rapp's bicycle relief fund
2013-09-25 11:58 AM
in reply to: gsmacleod

User image

Champion
10229
5000500010010025
Austin, Texas
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings?
Originally posted by gsmacleod

This is a decent article:

http://www.slowtwitch.com/Tech/Bearing_Breakdown_2822.html

It is pretty cool that the ceramic upgrade through Flo helps to support buying bikes for kids in need.

Shane

Thanks for the article Shane - very informative (though even as the author put it - somewhat boring at the beginning) and I particularly liked the Spaceballs reference in there. 

The short version of the article seems to be if you WANT ceramic, make sure they are the highest grade ceramic and not ones that are then housed in steel. 

I'll have to ask Jon & Chris what they use before ponying up any extra dough, even if I really do like the idea of the bikes for kids project. 

New Thread
General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Buying a new wheelset - any benefit to ceramic bearings? Rss Feed  
RELATED POSTS

Best cost-benefit carbon Wheelset Pages: 1 2

Started by flyers
Views: 3468 Posts: 44

2012-06-28 3:31 PM jon-m

Benefits of ceramic bearings.

Started by cstoulil
Views: 562 Posts: 10

2012-02-14 1:45 PM msteiner

Ceramic Bearings for added speed Pages: 1 2

Started by eitek1
Views: 1913 Posts: 28

2010-01-25 11:51 AM jsselle

Ceramic Bearings for Crankset...worth it?

Started by Sprint_DA
Views: 660 Posts: 8

2009-03-20 5:21 PM Sprint_DA

Which wheelset to buy

Started by fgray
Views: 271 Posts: 4

2008-03-07 8:59 AM JeepFleeb
RELATED ARTICLES
date : January 28, 2010
author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0
Discussions on getting below 1:15 swim pace, how to get faster as a new swimmer, benefit of a wetsuit and sinking hips.
 
date : December 12, 2009
author : FitWerx
comments : 0
We are often asked the question, "What size frame should I buy" and the answer is “it depends”. I know that’s not the answer you want to hear, but hopefully the following will shed some more light.
date : July 12, 2009
author : FitWerx
comments : 2
I have Bontrager Race Lite wheels. I was looking into renting Zipp 303's or 404's for race day for Ironman Lake Placid. What time will I save?
 
date : October 8, 2008
author : FitWerx
comments : 2
What kind of time difference would one expect in changing from a road bike with aerobars to a tri bike with aerobars over a HIM distance if using the same wheelset?
date : August 13, 2008
author : say78
comments : 0
In February, I was given a very special gift: a gift certificate to buy a nice road bike. That's when I realized there was no turning back. I WAS doing this.
 
date : April 14, 2008
author : Coach AJ
comments : 0
Need a high-performance wheel upgrade? Watch the review of the Specialized Roval Rapide Carbon Clincher wheelset which turned out to be an excellent all-around wheelset for both training and racing.
date : April 1, 2008
author : sportfactory
comments : 0
How will a power meter help my cycling training and racing? A few questions and answers will help determine if a power meter will be good for you.
 
date : September 10, 2004
author : steve
comments : 0
Well I said that I was not going to do it this season, but I cracked. I broke down and bought a new bike. I went out and bought a shiny new Cannondale road bike.