Which is better, Steel or Ceramic Bearings?

Hello everyone!   I usually don't get political, but here's a choice between candidates: Steel or Ceramic bearings?

When thinking about which is better, it's good to consider the intended purpose.  That is the most important criteria for deciding which is best for your application.  I also think that a certain portion of the decision is an opinion, just like an election.  Experience is a part of the decision too.  Those who are very experienced with ceramic bearings are pretty likely to stick with them.  There are riders who feel very strongly that only steel is the way to go, others who feel that only ceramic is the way to go, and everywhere in between.  Who's right?   Like voting, that is for you to decide for yourself, of course.

Steel Bearings
Steel bearings are an overall workhorse that are easy to maintain and pretty forgiving when it comes to operating in mucky conditions.  They also cost less, and that's a consideration too.  They typically need only periodic maintenance, depending on the conditions you ride in.  It's really hard to go wrong when you choose steel bearings.  They don't have the ultra-low rolling resistance of ceramic bearings however.

Ceramic Bearings
Ceramic bearings are sweet, no doubt about it.  When properly lubricated, clean, and with the correct bearing pre-load, the rolling resistance is so low that it's almost like defying gravity.  But, there's no free lunch.  To run ceramic bearings at their optimum, they must be kept CLEAN.  Grit will increase the rolling resistance, especially with the extra tight tolerances that ceramic bearings have.  And, they do cost more, that has to count for something.

My opinion is that ceramic bearings are best on a "premium bike" or for use in a "race day" situation.  If you want the best and are willing to do the maintenance, ceramic bearings cannot be beat.  On the other hand, if you just want to get out and ride or don't like fussing with cleaning and lubricating, then you're probably better off with steel bearings.  If it suits you, the ideal situation might be to have a steel bearing bike for every day riding and training, then another ceramic bearing bike for those nice sunny days and for race day.  And really, we just can't have too many bikes, can we?

Happy Riding from Mike & the Team @ AVT.BIke!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ceramic Bearings in Chris King Wheels - A Great Buy!
 
 
 
 
Being a spreadsheet nerd, I put together the chart below that compares the cost between a sample of Chris King hubs purchased separately with steel or ceramic bearings.  I was curious because as I was updating our website with the latest Chris King built wheels, I noticed that it's only a $100 (USD) upcharge for ceramic bearings for the complete wheelset.  Right off, I thought that sounds like a bargain, and it turns out that it is.

See the spreadsheet chart below and you'll see that if you were to buy the hubs separately, it will cost over $200 more for the ceramic hub set upgrade than if you purchased them in a factory built wheel by Chris King.  That's certainly something to consider when choosing one of the Chris King wheelsets.
 
 
 
 
(all prices above in USD with hubs purchased separately from a Chris King built wheelset)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tons of Chris King Wheel Options!

Our website has just been updated with the latest in the Chris King built wheels.  Depending on the wheel, you've got lots of choices!  (not all options are available on all wheelsets.)

Bearing Type: Steel or Ceramic (add $100 USD for ceramic for the wheelset)

Nipple Choices (some wheelsets): Black alloy, silver alloy, silver colored brass

Rims: HED Belgium Plus, ENVE 3.4, ENVE 4.5, ENVE M60, Stan's Arch MK3, Stans Flow MK3

Driveshells: Shimano/SRAM, SRAM XD, Stainless Steel, Campagnolo compatible

Hub Colors: Black, pewter, blue, mango, gold, pink, pewter, turquoise, and red.

Front Hub Configurations:
Standard QR, 15mm SD, 15mm LD, 20mm LD, Lefty, Lefty Supermax, Boost ISO B 110 x 15, R45D Standard QR, R45D 100 x 12, R45D Centerlock Standard QR, R45D Centerlock 100 x 12 Thru,

Rear Hub Configurations:
135mm Standard QR, 135 x 12 Thru, 142 x 12 Thru, Boost ISO B 148 x 12, R45D 135mm Standard QR, R45D 135 x 12 Thru, R45D Centerlock 135mm Standard QR, 142 x 12

Decal Colors (MK3 Rims): Red/white, blue, dark grey, silver, yellow, orange, green

 
 
 
 
 

CeramiGlide™ is a 100% pure synthetic 10w oil that is optimized for ceramic bearings.  It purposely contains no particulates that can interfere with the absolute smooth, low friction environment necessary for ceramic bearings.

CeramiGlide™ ceramic bearing lubricant also protects your ceramic bearings and takes them to a level beyond smooth, it makes them glide.
 
 
 
 
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