Ceramic bearings are said to offer reduced friction, lower weight and improved longevity. But are they worth the expense? Despite the latest advances in road bike design and technology, your bicycle still relies on the humble ball bearing to ensure it all runs smoothly. There are bearings in the wheel hubs, the headset, bottom bracket, pedals and jockey wheels, and they’re commonly made from steel. There has been a lot of hype about ceramic bearings in recent years and many people claim they offer a performance upgrade. But what are ceramic bearings and what are the pros and cons?
While regular bearings are made from stainless steel, ceramic bearings are made from ceramic silicon nitride (Si2N4). Rolling resistance is the key trump card promoted by ceramic bearing fans. Because ceramic bearings are rounder with a smoother surface and more uniform size, friction is reduced and that can contribute to a less energy required to turn the cranks or spin the wheels. A ceramic bearing is also harder than steel bearings (up to 30%), which improves durability, and they also don’t rust so less maintenance should be required.
Most sealed ceramic bearings are actually hybrid ceramic bearings, which combine a steel race […]