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  1. #1
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    Ceramic bottom bracket worth it?

    Has anyone tried out a ceramic outboard BB? Are they worth it? how is the longevity?

    My M980 XTR BB cups are pretty much toast so I need to decide what to get next. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    I have tried the Enduro and it lasts much better than the Shimano stock ones.

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    I have used the enduro steel bearings and it didn't last very long...I think because the seal is not as protective as the shimano plastic piece. So, I am reluctant to spend a lot of money on ceramic bearings that also lack the plastic protective piece of the shimano BB. I know there is some benefit to the larger enduro bearings but if I can't even get a year of use out of them, for me its not worth it.

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    Too bad the hybrid ceramics last me about a 1 1/2 years versus about 3 months for the Shimano...
    Last edited by jeffscott; 08-23-2012 at 08:25 AM.

  5. #5
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    Personally, I find the RaceFace BB bearings pretty nice these days. Economical and durable, and if you want to they are in fact servicable.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJ_92606 View Post
    I have used the enduro steel bearings and it didn't last very long...I think because the seal is not as protective as the shimano plastic piece. So, I am reluctant to spend a lot of money on ceramic bearings that also lack the plastic protective piece of the shimano BB. I know there is some benefit to the larger enduro bearings but if I can't even get a year of use out of them, for me its not worth it.
    Ya, had that issue also.. got on the phone with them and they sent me a new bearing & cup for the drive side as it was toast in 2 months... come to find out, you need to use VERY LITTLE grease on the seals, if you put too much on it'll space the seal off the bearing and cup too far and allow crap in. after learning that, I'm now at 2 yrs and just last month I pulled and cheacked them.. clean as a whistle.. was kinda surprised to be honest as the non contact seal system seems kinda wimpy to me, but as long as you install them with low grease, and NEVER hit with powered water or AIR!! that will push the dirt in, they seem to last...

    are they worth the $$$ ya... though for Shimano, I'll look around as I always see after market BB sets with ceramic bearings on sale. Personally EJ,.. I'd just buy the cheapest BB you can now and watch around for sales on ceramic BB (everything's going on sale with the yr model change and Black Friday/Xmas coming in the next few months) then switch out when you find a good deal on an upgrade
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  7. #7
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    Ceramic is ridiculously low value in terms of the frictional difference over steel bearings, in a bicycle application. They do make sense for very high rpm applications, like turbochargers.

    If I buy something new and it has ceramic bearings, I must have bought it for other reasons. If/when the ceramic bearing wears out, I would replace it with steel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    Ceramic is ridiculously low value in terms of the frictional difference over steel bearings, in a bicycle application. They do make sense for very high rpm applications, like turbochargers.

    If I buy something new and it has ceramic bearings, I must have bought it for other reasons. If/when the ceramic bearing wears out, I would replace it with steel.
    actually.. for a BB the ceramics are good (as I was tryng to get across above, kinda not worth full price but if you can get them on sale )

    there is a noticeable performance diff right off the bat, and at least for me, the longevity has WAY surpasses that of steel... Most BB's last me 6 months - yr riding in New England all yr long, where like I said above, the ceramics are over 2 yrs now and still super smooth.. maybe even smoother than new
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    actually.. for a BB the ceramics are good (as I was tryng to get across above, kinda not worth full price but if you can get them on sale )

    there is a noticeable performance diff right off the bat, and at least for me, the longevity has WAY surpasses that of steel... Most BB's last me 6 months - yr riding in New England all yr long, where like I said above, the ceramics are over 2 yrs now and still super smooth.. maybe even smoother than new
    I agree ceramics are more for durability than for drag. But with hybrid ceramics you won't necessarily get the benefit of longer life. I use Token Tiramic which have titanium coated steel races which last much longer than steel only since it doesn't corrode as fast. I've got over 2 full season on the same bearings on my XC hardtail and they have seen crappy conditions very often. I do repack them every so often depending on the conditions I have to deal with.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    actually.. for a BB the ceramics are good (as I was tryng to get across above, kinda not worth full price but if you can get them on sale )

    there is a noticeable performance diff right off the bat, and at least for me, the longevity has WAY surpasses that of steel... Most BB's last me 6 months - yr riding in New England all yr long, where like I said above, the ceramics are over 2 yrs now and still super smooth.. maybe even smoother than new
    bearing in mind this man's personal stake, but also considerable personal expertise and knowledge: Boyd Cycling: Ceramic bearings. . .nope

    there are many other sources that confirm my first post about it. ceramic bearings are of very performance value for a bicycle.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    bearing in mind this man's personal stake, but also considerable personal expertise and knowledge: Boyd Cycling: Ceramic bearings. . .nope

    there are many other sources that confirm my first post about it. ceramic bearings are of very performance value for a bicycle.
    hmmm if you actually read their opinion they state about the races wearing.. if you read the Enduro (and many other manufacturer) they mostly use a much higher/harder race making their objection null....

    again, would i pay $200+ for a ceramic BB..? no, not unless I was racing, but under $100 when on sale.. yup... sure would-will again..
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    Ya, had that issue also.. got on the phone with them and they sent me a new bearing & cup for the drive side as it was toast in 2 months... come to find out, you need to use VERY LITTLE grease on the seals, if you put too much on it'll space the seal off the bearing and cup too far and allow crap in. after learning that, I'm now at 2 yrs and just last month I pulled and cheacked them.. clean as a whistle.. was kinda surprised to be honest as the non contact seal system seems kinda wimpy to me, but as long as you install them with low grease, and NEVER hit with powered water or AIR!! that will push the dirt in, they seem to last...

    are they worth the $$$ ya... though for Shimano, I'll look around as I always see after market BB sets with ceramic bearings on sale. Personally EJ,.. I'd just buy the cheapest BB you can now and watch around for sales on ceramic BB (everything's going on sale with the yr model change and Black Friday/Xmas coming in the next few months) then switch out when you find a good deal on an upgrade
    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Regarding grease on the seals, are you referring to the orange seals? I don't recall that I put any grease on them. They just don't seem to fit that well and thus let in more contaminants.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJ_92606 View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Regarding grease on the seals, are you referring to the orange seals? I don't recall that I put any grease on them. They just don't seem to fit that well and thus let in more contaminants.
    ya.. the two custom enduro outer seals... there should be a very light coat of grease put on the inside of them before install.. this kinda sticks them to the actual bearing and inner seals while keeping it clean (use only water proof type grease)

    also I've seen a few people push them on the crank spindle too far on the drive side.. Most (Sram/shimano and a few others but NOT race face) the non drive side bearing kinda floats on the spindle, they use the non drive side to hold the cranks in place and keep from moving side to side.. if you push it on all the way to the spider it'll be gapped off the bearing cup a tad and allow dirt in.. more so on my SRAM cranks than Shimano but it still can happen with Shimmy's
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    hmmm if you actually read their opinion they state about the races wearing.. if you read the Enduro (and many other manufacturer) they mostly use a much higher/harder race making their objection null....

    again, would i pay $200+ for a ceramic BB..? no, not unless I was racing, but under $100 when on sale.. yup... sure would-will again..
    you clearly are not interested in any differing opinions regarding the value of ceramic bearings. I am simply answering the OP's thread title question. I have no personal stake in this at all.

    no, it is not worth paying for a ceramic bearing separately. if a high-end crankset or bottom bracket includes ceramic bearings, they aren't really 'free' but they are a non-separable cost.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    you clearly are not interested in any differing opinions regarding the value of ceramic bearings. I am simply answering the OP's thread title question. I have no personal stake in this at all.

    no, it is not worth paying for a ceramic bearing separately. if a high-end crankset or bottom bracket includes ceramic bearings, they aren't really 'free' but they are a non-separable cost.
    actually once again you are mistaken.. I fully read the link you posted and agree with it 80%.. but 2 points.... they are talking about wheels which use smaller balls. races and such than BB's do, and again, they stated issues with the races wearing faster, which most decent quality companies have worked to fix with the BB races...

    I know tone of voice doesn't come across well on the net.. but basically I'm agreeing ith you.. to a point... no they aren't worth massive cash... but a decent (50% off or more ) sale on a set.. then it's worth it...
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  16. #16
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    Oh. It didn't come across that way at all, and I offer my apologies.

    Really, I love bicycling and any money spent on it I would be hard pressed to say it is "wasted". It's not, but it's a low return on investment.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    Oh. It didn't come across that way at all, and I offer my apologies.

    Really, I love bicycling and any money spent on it I would be hard pressed to say it is "wasted". It's not, but it's a low return on investment.
    s'all good
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    It's not, but it's a low return on investment.
    That would depend on your accounting. Many people who opt for ceramic bearings do so purely for the silky smooth feel and not for any performance gains or longevity. It's hard to quantify this benefit, but it's clearly worthwhile for some while worthless for others.

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  19. #19
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    I toasted a set of stock Shimano BB bearings in a mud bath race, it is about $40 for a new one, I tried out a set of Enduro ceramic bearings that cost $65 (so a difference of $25). Done a couple of races since where others wrecked stock BB's and the enduro's are still going strong. I wouldn't say the performance is any better but so far they have proved pretty durable and worth the extra cash. I also like the silky smooth feel, who doesn't.
    I wouldn't waste my money on ceramic jockey wheels for the RD or the like though

  20. #20
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    I went in to the lbs wanting King Ceramic, but walked out with SS on the owners advice. Stating that they have had three riders much smaller than me (mostly roadies I think) toast their ceramics in short order.

    This is only local folklore, and could be due to many different variables.

  21. #21
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    i want to try ceramic bearing for BB and hubs. by Spring, after the rainy season, I'll want a new wheelset and BB.
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  22. #22
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    I have a hub with ceramic bearings and they're crap. I have the same hub with steel bearings and they've lasted much, much longer. Unfortunatey, the ceramics cost 2-3 times as much as the steel counterpart. This has left a bad enough taste in my mouth, that I won't buy ceramic bearings for my bike. And I agree with the comment above about RPM. We have such low RPM on a bicycle, it really negates any real advantages.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJ_92606 View Post
    Has anyone tried out a ceramic outboard BB? Are they worth it? how is the longevity?

    My M980 XTR BB cups are pretty much toast so I need to decide what to get next. Any suggestions?
    Ceramic bearings are used when you have high rev machinery. There are several types of ceramics and the best ones are silicon nitride or something (its black usually), thgis is much lighter than the regular "ceramic" (white) used. In the end what breaks a bearing when revving too high is the certifugal or is it possibly the centripetal force turning the steel balls into bullets when they come blasting out of the bearing. If you can lower the rotating weight of those balls you can rev the machine much higher.

    Also its used for high temp applications since the ceramics don't expand as much or anneal with temps that would turn steel soft. also its better suited for corroosive types of chemicals and such. And it wont oxidize at highish temps.

    Regarding there "hybrid" caramic bearings i call ******** all day long for bike use. First the races are steel, usually crap steel. And the balls are so much harder and durable so when the dirt gets inside there the races wear out very fast. the ceramicsa used are ultrahard materials usually employed as industrial abrasives...

    What you really want is the balls and races being made of the exact same material. A stainless steel for bike use. and the best stainless steel for this application is a steel called bg-42 and its made by timken-latrobe. Who also makes bearings. This is way WAY better than regular 440C crap stainless usually found in stainless bearings. and its also the only stainless steel specially developed for bearings. ok they say 440C is also developed for that but its ********, its a dirty **** steel that cannot be 1: hardened consitently from batch to batch and 2: has carbides and grain size as large as the eiffel tower and 3: compared to bg42 has really crappy wear resistance both adhesively and abrasively, basically its ****.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post

    Questions?
    Yes.

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  25. #25
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    Its my intellectual heritage I guess sometimes i just have to let out a few facts, relieving the pressure.

    Just say no to ceramics (**** ceramics that is)
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