Bearings are an important component of bikes. Their overall quality and design can mean a lot if you are customising your bike and looking for superior performance. Below we go into a brief description explaining the role of ceramic bearings and then compare hybrid vs. full ceramic models.
WHAT ARE BEARINGS?
Bearings are mechanical elements that constrain movement to only the desired motion. Bearings are a critical part of bike construction. The material used for the bearings can make a lot of difference in terms of intended use. For example, a person’s mountain biking might opt for stainless steel bearings while a cyclist who practices on a smooth course might want full ceramic.
HYBRID CERAMIC BEARINGS VS. FULL CERAMIC BEARINGS
A great way to look at the difference between hybrid ceramic bearings and full ceramic bearings for bike wheels is to look at the components that make up the bearing. Hybrid bearings typically include stainless steel rings (also known by some as races) but maintain ceramic balls. Full ceramic bearings on the other hand have ceramic balls and ceramic rings (races) as well. Ceramic balls on their own are smoother, lighter, tougher, and stronger. The benefits of ceramic balls are shared by both hybrid and full ceramic bearings.
A benefit of full ceramic ball bearings is weight. Ceramics are less weighty than hybrids made of stainless steel. Ceramic wheel bearings can reduce the weight of the bike, even more, speeding up the rider on hill climbs. Another benefit is the reduced friction within the bearing due to there been no grease as full ceramic bearings are essentially self-lubricating allowing for a greater rotational speed and a more consistent rotation which can make improvements to your cadence. At the same time, full ceramic bearings do stand a greater chance of chipping & cracking when subjected to severe enough impacts such as potholes & cracks on roads. Therefore we ideally recommend full ceramic ball bearings for use on track & velodrome circuits however they can be used on the road as long as you understand that they are more susceptible to failure.
In ideal conditions, full ceramic ball bearings & hybrid ceramic bearings will last 5-20 times longer than steel alternatives. While a hybrid gives you a better return on your investment, ceramic is the best option if the road conditions you expect to travel on are right. Hybrid ceramic bearings will cost on average nearly half the price of full ceramic bearings.