Saturday, July 30, 2011 3.00pm
By Warren Rossiter, Cycling Plus
When you’re really serious about performance you go to whatever lengths you can to get your bike just right. What you might never consider, though, are the crucial moving parts within the bike’s mechanics. You could have the most aerodynamic and lightest wheels known to man, but if they’re running on rough, noisy and friction-filled bearings, those advantages will be dulled.
CeramicSpeed’s ceramic bearings offer much reduced friction and weight, and better longevity than standard steel bearings. It’s the reason team HTC-Highroad use them. But is the expense of going to ceramic bearings worth it for the average rider? We took our Mavic Cosmic long-term test wheels and upgraded all the bearings in the front and rear hubs to see what the difference would be.
In our speed roll down testing we found the standard bearings took, on average, 47 seconds from 20-0kph. With the ceramics fitted, the time extended to an average of 1min 16sec. That showed that the CeramicSpeeds run significantly smoother with no load (rider, or road resistance). We then tried a series of runs down one of our favourite straight hills on both setups, getting the bike up to 30kph and then freewheeling to our finish line.
The terminal speed with the ceramics rose on average by 9kph over the standard, with the best increase 12kph. Okay, these aren’t the most scientific of tests, but it’s still apparent how much smoother our test wheels were. With the CeramicSpeed-shod wheels our 60-mile test route time record has come down by 30 seconds. The wheels have more ability to hold onto speed, meaning less effort to maintain our average.
Weight wise, the gains are less significant: the total weight of the five bearings removed was 64g, with the ceramics weighing in at 50g. Would we invest £300 in upgrading our bearings? Probably not. But if your race bike has been tuned to perfection everywhere else then the CeramicSpeed upgrade is a surefire way to eke out every last bit of performance.
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