Ceramic Bearings-Are they worth the extra expense?

My wheels are currently Roval CL40’s and whilst I am debating the pros and cons i would welcome any informed views.

For additional context I don’t race, I have no plans to race but any advantage I can get over my mates is welcome and given my improvements over last winter which were down to TrainerRoad I have been put on notice by my cycling buddies they will be following the same route as me over the coming winter.

Thank in advance

What is the cost difference and claimed benefit from Roval?

Something tells me there are better ways to spend that $.

Are they worth the extra expense?

No.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

20 Likes

$125 difference

And claimed advantage?

In general, ceramic upgrades are WAY expensive and I expect you can gain more in other places for less money.

Nope - if spinning at, say, 400,000 rpm then perhaps, but not for bikes…total waste of money.

9 Likes

Other than the ceramic bearings being a component on the CLX version which adorns the S works Tarmac along with aero spokes there’s no marketing to define any advantage.

Looks like I’ll opt for quality steel bearings :+1:

Get an aero road helmet, tighter fitting clothing, get a bike fit, clean up your cables in front, get an aero road handlebar…all of those things will get you actual advantages vs. ceramic bearings.

If you have maximized every other aspect of your bike, kit and fitness, and have money to burn, then I guess you can try ceramic bearings…but you won’t see any advantage.

2 Likes

I’ve had ceramic wheel and BB bearings. They always seem to have more resistance than high quality steel. It’s possibly related to the grease used.

1 Like

The ceramic bearings, no. But the round spokes on the CL vs CLX, probably. On Josh Poertner’s podcast they talk about the CL vs CLX specifically and he says the round spokes vs aero spokes like the Sapim CX Ray can make a difference of upwards of 12 watts.

2 Likes

He’s a little polarizing, but Hambini has a video on YouTube on the matter.

The conclusion is basically no, not worth it.

They’re not going to make you go faster but they might make you feel cooler!

When i got my Madone a few weeks ago, I had a ceramic bottom bracket put in since it only added $80 to the cost. I had to ask if they actually installed it. Noticed zero difference. Only reason I wouldn’t regret it is because, living in South Florida, ceramic doesn’t rust! :slight_smile:

1 Like

The balls might not but the races can.

3 Likes

Very common with ceramic bearings initially…they seem to break in after awhile. But remember that spinning a wheel by hand (unweighted) or spinning cranks w/o a chain on it are not good tests of the real world resistance those bearings are meant for.

Yup…bladed spokes are a worthwhile investment.

Speak for yourself. Oh wait…you meant the balls in the bearings. My bad. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

About the only agreed upon benefit for ceramic bearings is that they last substantially longer. But that rarely justifies the HUGE price tag associated with them. You’ll never own a bike long enough to replace the bearings enough to pay off ceramics.

Just to add to the con list. I think because they are so hard they can pit the races sooner than steel bearings and can be slower then.

A large percentage of the drag in bearing are the seals and grease used. Fully sealed Ceramic bearing will probably have more friction than a zero contact steel bearing (assuming both are of similar quality).

Because of this, there is a pretty direct inverse relationship between the longevity of the bearing and their drag.

IF the expense is not a big deal for you, the its worth the money. Otherwise, unless you race or are a top level athlete, then no…probably there are other things you can to obtain better gains (like latex tubes for example).

I would opt out of ceramic bearings.

I know science falls a distant second to opinion for bike related things, especially on this forum, but this is probably worth a read if you are interested.

6 Likes

I’d like to see the SKF MTRX bearings compared in a test like that. I’ve switched to these for my bikes due to the lack of maintenance. They may spin a little slower, but the resistance hasn’t increased like a dirty bottom bracket typically would.