Quantcast

Ceramic Bearings?

nowlan

Monkey
Jul 30, 2008
496
2
Ive heard ceramic bearings in a BB make a big difference, but for suspension does anyone have experience with them? Speficially in VPP applications? I need to change the bearings soon in my upper linkage and was considering trying them.
Thoughts?
 

jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
6,074
2,585
in a single wide, cooking meth...
I've always thought they are useful in applications where they actually spin a lot (i.e. BBs, hubs, etc...), which would mean their benefits aren't fully appreciated in a suspension pivot. In my experience, what usually wears out on pivot bearings is the plastic retainer, which is probably due to the side loading most pivot bearings undergo. And I would also guess the the ceramic bearings are notably more expensive than a standard Enduro set, so I'd just stay old school in this case.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
I've always thought they are useful in applications where they actually spin a lot (i.e. BBs, hubs, etc...), which would mean their benefits aren't fully appreciated in a suspension pivot. In my experience, what usually wears out on pivot bearings is the plastic retainer, which is probably due to the side loading most pivot bearings undergo. And I would also guess the the ceramic bearings are notably more expensive than a standard Enduro set, so I'd just stay old school in this case.
this.
 

wood booger

Monkey
Jul 16, 2008
669
73
the land of cheap beer
One benefit of ceramic bearings that would apply to suspension pivots is the fact they don't corrode and seize up like steel balls. I have a set in the BB that has gotten hammered by mud/water, and feels a bit dry and gritty but still spins great. If they were not ceramic they would be all seized up and rusted solid.

Don't know how well ceramics would handle violent side loads experienced in suspension pivots. They may be prone to shattering.

Try it out and report back!:thumb:
 

mattmatt86

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2005
5,354
10
Bleedmore, Murderland
I bought some ceramic bearings for my DT swiss hubs on my DH bike and those things spin FOREVER. I put my bike in the gondola at Mountain creek and the front wheel spun the entire time till I got to the top of the mountain.

That is all.
 

nowlan

Monkey
Jul 30, 2008
496
2
My issue with my upper linkage, and this has happened in numerous cases with VPP bikes I have owned is that after some time, they spin fine and roll free in your hand, without the shock attached, cycling pivots feels notchy, which im guessing means the bearings are etched. As soon as I torque the pivot bolts down properly and hook up the shock it feels great, but I know im just eating through the bearings over time. So I guess the question is, what is the best application for bearings that dont spin 360 degrees?
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
I bought some ceramic bearings for my DT swiss hubs on my DH bike and those things spin FOREVER. I put my bike in the gondola at Mountain creek and the front wheel spun the entire time till I got to the top of the mountain.

That is all.
not really that impressive. that gondola is quick, like less than 2 minutes
 

RoboDonkey713

Monkey
Feb 24, 2011
679
462
Maine
I had a friend a few years back put them in the links of his Trance X. About a week later, the balls were all shattered and they were useless. Save your cash.
 

jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
6,074
2,585
in a single wide, cooking meth...
One benefit of ceramic bearings that would apply to suspension pivots is the fact they don't corrode and seize up like steel balls. I have a set in the BB that has gotten hammered by mud/water, and feels a bit dry and gritty but still spins great. If they were not ceramic they would be all seized up and rusted solid.

Don't know how well ceramics would handle violent side loads experienced in suspension pivots. They may be prone to shattering.

Try it out and report back
Interesting, as I would think the main reason why the actual ball bearings are seized up and corroded is because the retainer has been compromised and basically all the grease is gone. So to me, if you ride in slop all the time and the retainer gets eaten up, the bearings are going to get packed with crud regardless. Maybe they won't actually rust like metal balls, but I dare say they probably wouldn't work very well.
 

yd35

Monkey
Oct 28, 2008
743
61
NY
Copy and pasted from the Enduro Bearings website http://enduroforkseals.com/id55.html

It has come to our attention that certain bearing kits that are not well-suited to suspension applications are being marketed as "upgrades." Such kits may actually compromise your bicycle's performance and/or cost you extra money for "benefits" that do not exist. Here are some suspension bearing facts that will help you to make an informed decision:

1) Stainless steel bearing kits are not necessarily an upgrade. Stainless bearings and races are SOFTER and will not last as long as hardened chromium steel in high-load suspension applications.

2) Generally speaking, "caged" bearings (those that have ball retainers) are not the best for suspension loads. When possible, be sure that you are getting "MAX" bearings (also known as "full complement"), which use no retainers or cages, contain more balls per bearing, and are designed specifically for high-load, low rotational applications. Unlike caged bearings, MAX bearings are ideally suited for extreme axial and thrust loads. MAX bearings are stronger. For example, a standard 6903 2RS cartridge bearing has a static capacity rating of 477. The 6903 2RS MAX cartridge bearing has a rating of 763.

NOTE: Since not all bearing sizes specified by manufacturers are available in a MAX version, some kits may contain caged bearings, but these exceptions will be few, and often are double-row bearings, which also offer exceptional strength.

3) ABEC ratings above 3 are overkill for suspension bearings. ABEC ratings are based on a number of things, including tolerances, noise, and vibration levels at very high RPM's. Suspension bearings do not even make a full rotation. Our MAX bearings are ABEC 3 rated. If you purchase a bearing with a higher ABEC rating, it will likely be a caged bearing and will handle less static load.

4) Certain companies are offering ceramic and ceramic hybrid bearings for suspension pivots. They are either ignorant or dishonest. In these high-load, low-rotation applications, you will be spending a lot of money for no performance gain. In fact, you will be paying extra for weaker bearings. Never use a full ceramic bearing for a suspension pivot. The races are much more sensitive to shock and could crack.
 

yd35

Monkey
Oct 28, 2008
743
61
NY
Take into consideration that Enduro sells MAX bearings and some of the above stuff is definitely a sales pitch for their product, but I think the general ideas expressed, especially about staying away from ceramic for suspension pivots, are valid.
 
Last edited:

JRogers

talks too much
Mar 19, 2002
3,789
1
Claremont, CA
Take into consideration that Enduro sells MAX bearings and some of the above stuff is definitely a sales pitch for their product, but I think the general ideas expressed, especially about staying away from ceramic for suspension pivots, are valid.
Enduro also sells ceramic bearings, which are of course more expensive than MAX bearings. I am usually pretty suspicious of things coming from companies like this, but I don't see much of an ulterior motive. They just only mention their own products.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
Enduro also sells ceramic bearings, which are of course more expensive than MAX bearings. I am usually pretty suspicious of things coming from companies like this, but I don't see much of an ulterior motive. They just only mention their own products.
pretty sure they only do ceramic for hubs and BB's
 

nowlan

Monkey
Jul 30, 2008
496
2
Copy and pasted from the Enduro Bearings website http://enduroforkseals.com/id55.html

It has come to our attention that certain bearing kits that are not well-suited to suspension applications are being marketed as "upgrades." Such kits may actually compromise your bicycle's performance and/or cost you extra money for "benefits" that do not exist. Here are some suspension bearing facts that will help you to make an informed decision:

1) Stainless steel bearing kits are not necessarily an upgrade. Stainless bearings and races are SOFTER and will not last as long as hardened chromium steel in high-load suspension applications.

2) Generally speaking, "caged" bearings (those that have ball retainers) are not the best for suspension loads. When possible, be sure that you are getting "MAX" bearings (also known as "full complement"), which use no retainers or cages, contain more balls per bearing, and are designed specifically for high-load, low rotational applications. Unlike caged bearings, MAX bearings are ideally suited for extreme axial and thrust loads. MAX bearings are stronger. For example, a standard 6903 2RS cartridge bearing has a static capacity rating of 477. The 6903 2RS MAX cartridge bearing has a rating of 763.

NOTE: Since not all bearing sizes specified by manufacturers are available in a MAX version, some kits may contain caged bearings, but these exceptions will be few, and often are double-row bearings, which also offer exceptional strength.

3) ABEC ratings above 3 are overkill for suspension bearings. ABEC ratings are based on a number of things, including tolerances, noise, and vibration levels at very high RPM's. Suspension bearings do not even make a full rotation. Our MAX bearings are ABEC 3 rated. If you purchase a bearing with a higher ABEC rating, it will likely be a caged bearing and will handle less static load.

4) Certain companies are offering ceramic and ceramic hybrid bearings for suspension pivots. They are either ignorant or dishonest. In these high-load, low-rotation applications, you will be spending a lot of money for no performance gain. In fact, you will be paying extra for weaker bearings. Never use a full ceramic bearing for a suspension pivot. The races are much more sensitive to shock and could crack.
Guess you cant argue with a bearing company. Thanks man.
 

dilzy

Monkey
Sep 7, 2008
567
1
Ceramic bearings are really only of use in ultra high speed/high temperature conditions like a turbine. A bb bearing doesn't count, you simply will not notice any difference at room temp and 120rpm.

Spend your money on lighter wheels, cocaine/hookers, anything but ceramic bloody bearings.
 

HAB

Chelsea from Seattle
Apr 28, 2007
10,714
997
Seattle
Ceramic bearings are really only of use in ultra high speed/high temperature conditions like a turbine. A bb bearing doesn't count, you simply will not notice any difference at room temp and 120rpm.

Spend your money on lighter wheels, cocaine/hookers, anything but ceramic bloody bearings.
This. Ceramic bearings make no sense anywhere on a bike. Sure, they might let your wheel spin a bit longer if it's just up in the air but that means fvck all in terms of how much of a difference they make once they're actually loaded and being used normally. It's a completely negligible difference.
 
Last edited:

ZenkiGarage

Monkey
Jan 9, 2007
342
0
Portland, Or
Copy and pasted from the Enduro Bearings website http://enduroforkseals.com/id55.html

It has come to our attention that certain bearing kits that are not well-suited to suspension applications are being marketed as "upgrades." Such kits may actually compromise your bicycle's performance and/or cost you extra money for "benefits" that do not exist. Here are some suspension bearing facts that will help you to make an informed decision:

1) Stainless steel bearing kits are not necessarily an upgrade. Stainless bearings and races are SOFTER and will not last as long as hardened chromium steel in high-load suspension applications.

2) Generally speaking, "caged" bearings (those that have ball retainers) are not the best for suspension loads. When possible, be sure that you are getting "MAX" bearings (also known as "full complement"), which use no retainers or cages, contain more balls per bearing, and are designed specifically for high-load, low rotational applications. Unlike caged bearings, MAX bearings are ideally suited for extreme axial and thrust loads. MAX bearings are stronger. For example, a standard 6903 2RS cartridge bearing has a static capacity rating of 477. The 6903 2RS MAX cartridge bearing has a rating of 763.

NOTE: Since not all bearing sizes specified by manufacturers are available in a MAX version, some kits may contain caged bearings, but these exceptions will be few, and often are double-row bearings, which also offer exceptional strength.

3) ABEC ratings above 3 are overkill for suspension bearings. ABEC ratings are based on a number of things, including tolerances, noise, and vibration levels at very high RPM's. Suspension bearings do not even make a full rotation. Our MAX bearings are ABEC 3 rated. If you purchase a bearing with a higher ABEC rating, it will likely be a caged bearing and will handle less static load.

4) Certain companies are offering ceramic and ceramic hybrid bearings for suspension pivots. They are either ignorant or dishonest. In these high-load, low-rotation applications, you will be spending a lot of money for no performance gain. In fact, you will be paying extra for weaker bearings. Never use a full ceramic bearing for a suspension pivot. The races are much more sensitive to shock and could crack.
I work in the bearing industry and am a representative for one of the largest distributers on the west coast and agree with this 100%. In all reality a ball bearing shouldn't be used in a suspension pivot period. Max type or not.
 

iRider

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2008
2,154
449
I have to disagree with the "MAX bearings are better" thing. For me things that kill the bearings is not the load but the dirt and rust getting into them. I regrease the MAX bearings that come OE on the VPP bikes quite often, so get a decent life span out of them. But I switched to SKF 2RSH (H stands for the better sealing system SKF uses) bearings instead of the Enduro MAX bearings on my VPPs when they were due for new bearings. The Enduro might have moar ballz, but the 2RSH are way better sealed, causing less issues with corroding and dirt getting in. Overall they seem to last longer and I don't see performance issues regarding suspension movement.
 

nowlan

Monkey
Jul 30, 2008
496
2
I work in the bearing industry and am a representative for one of the largest distributers on the west coast and agree with this 100%. In all reality a ball bearing shouldn't be used in a suspension pivot period. Max type or not.

What would you suggest then for suspension application?
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
16,498
1,276
01776
Needle bearings? Though I thought there was some issue with those as well, as they don't really rotate so only a few needles take the brunt of the forces.

I know a guy who used to work for a high-end road bike wheel company and IIRC, he agreed that ceramics don't belong on a bike. Maybe he'll chime in, but he's probably busy on reddit...or working.
 

mattmatt86

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2005
5,354
10
Bleedmore, Murderland
Needle bearings? Though I thought there was some issue with those as well, as they don't really rotate so only a few needles take the brunt of the forces.

I know a guy who used to work for a high-end road bike wheel company and IIRC, he agreed that ceramics don't belong on a bike. Maybe he'll chime in, but he's probably busy on reddit...or working.
I saw a nerdy road article once where they tested a ton of different upgrades and measured how many Watts they saved. The biggest advantages were an Aero Helmet and Aero Wheels. But they did test a bunch of smaller things like lightweight tubes, tires, skin suits and ceramic bearings on various parts of the bike. They showed some nominal Watt savings for ceramic wheel bearings and bottom brackets, they said that at 25 mph the decreased resistence of ceramic bearings was equal to dropping about 400 grams from the bike. :nerd:

How that translates to DH? Who knows. I needed new bearings for my wheelset and ceramic bearings for both wheels were only 40 bucks shipped so I gave them a shot.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
16,498
1,276
01776
I saw a nerdy road article once where they tested a ton of different upgrades and measured how many Watts they saved. The biggest advantages were an Aero Helmet and Aero Wheels. But they did test a bunch of smaller things like lightweight tubes, tires, skin suits and ceramic bearings on various parts of the bike. They showed some nominal Watt savings for ceramic wheel bearings and bottom brackets, they said that at 25 mph the decreased resistence of ceramic bearings was equal to dropping about 400 grams from the bike. :nerd:
That's pretty significant, and it sounds like a scientific test, which is good. He's a bit of a bike-curmudgeon so if it doesn't have 7 speeds then it's ****, but he was with them for a while, so he saw it all. Maybe I'm remembering wrong.

How that translates to DH? Who knows. I needed new bearings for my wheelset and ceramic bearings for both wheels were only 40 bucks shipped so I gave them a shot.
$40 bucks??? I think I spent $6 on a pair of 6902 Abec 3 bearings for my rear outlaw. I guess it'll be cool to see how they last though, post up at the end of the season.
 

ZenkiGarage

Monkey
Jan 9, 2007
342
0
Portland, Or
What would you suggest then for suspension application?
In a suspension pivot, the best solution(from an engineering standpoint), is sealed needle bearings, or sintered bronze bushings(sbb). The only real issue with sealed needle bearings, is if you gum up the seal for any reason, the bearing will pretty much fail immediately. SBB's, are much more lenient to grime, but do require cleaning every so often. Every bike Ive owned has had the bearings replaced with sbb's, and I've never had to replace them after I install them. For those who dont know, Sintered Bronze bushings, are made up of ground bronze alloy, that is then mixed with a lubricant, then basically forged into shape. This makes the bushing self lubricating and very strong. These are generally used in offroad, heavy equipment like earthmovers, railcars, and other heavy loaded applications, that are also prone to dirty conditions. A ball bearing(conrad or max), is about the worst bearing to use...

I always replace my a-arm needle bearings(or sphericals) on my quads with SBB's, as well as my swingarm needle bearings on my MX bikes, and have never had them fail.
 
Last edited:

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
In a suspension pivot, the best solution(from an engineering standpoint), is sealed needle bearings, or sintered bronze bushings(sbb). The only real issue with sealed needle bearings, is if you gum up the seal for any reason, the bearing will pretty much fail immediately. SBB's, are much more lenient to grime, but do require cleaning every so often. Every bike Ive owned has had the bearings replaced with sbb's, and I've never had to replace them after I install them. For those who dont know, Sintered Bronze bushings, are made up of ground bronze alloy, that is then mixed with a lubricant, then basically forged into shape. This makes the bushing self lubricating and very strong. These are generally used in offroad, heavy equipment like earthmovers, railcars, and other heavy loaded applications, that are also prone to dirty conditions. A ball bearing(conrad or max), is about the worst bearing to use...

I always replace my a-arm needle bearings on my quads with SBB's, as well as my swingarm needle bearings on my MX bikes, and have never had them fail.
where do you source them?
 

ZenkiGarage

Monkey
Jan 9, 2007
342
0
Portland, Or
Any good/knowledgable bearing house should be able to get them for you if its a standard size. I have had to make my own on my lathe out of sintered bronze stock, because they were an odd size. So if that becomes an Issue, I can help you guys out with that.
Mcguire Bearing is a good source. They have a few branches, mostly on the west coast, but they take phone orders, with no minimum and ship all over the country.
 

jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
6,074
2,585
in a single wide, cooking meth...
At the risk of firing up the tired bushing vs bearing debate, but having just gone through an, umm, frustrating experience with a Spitfire, I wonder if bushings are really the best long term solution, especially if frame bore tolerances are less than ideal (ie - they suck)? In my case, the bushings (nylon no less) weren't wearing that much compared to the frame bores.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
At the risk of firing up the tired bushing vs bearing debate, but having just gone through an, umm, frustrating experience with a Spitfire, I wonder if bushings are really the best long term solution, especially if frame bore tolerances are less than ideal (ie - they suck)? In my case, the bushings (nylon no less) weren't wearing that much compared to the frame bores.
nylon bushings are as different from sintered bushings as they are from bearings.
 

jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
6,074
2,585
in a single wide, cooking meth...
Fair enough, but if the frame bore tolerances are off from the get go, I don't see how it's going to matter unless the bushing is somehow mated to individual bores (I fully recognize some frame manufacturers are better at building frames to tight tolerances than others).
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
59,459
7,086
media blackout
Fair enough, but if the frame bore tolerances are off from the get go, I don't see how it's going to matter unless the bushing is somehow mated to individual bores (I fully recognize some frame manufacturers are better at building frames to tight tolerances than others).
are you sure it was the frame tolerances and not the bushing? also, in theory, both the bushing and the bore hole could have been within spec and still have created enough of a gap to cause premature wear; ie the bore hole was at the max spec and the bushing was at the min spec.
 

ZenkiGarage

Monkey
Jan 9, 2007
342
0
Portland, Or
Fair enough, but if the frame bore tolerances are off from the get go, I don't see how it's going to matter unless the bushing is somehow mated to individual bores (I fully recognize some frame manufacturers are better at building frames to tight tolerances than others).
If the frame is bored correctly for said bearing, then you shouldnt have any problems with the sbb's of the same nominal size as they are actually slightly over sized on the o.d.(for a tight fit), and slightly oversized on the i.d.(for a smooth roatational fit).

example: a 1/4 x 1/2 bushing, is actually .252 x .503
 
Last edited:

jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
6,074
2,585
in a single wide, cooking meth...
are you sure it was the frame tolerances and not the bushing? also, in theory, both the bushing and the bore hole could have been within spec and still have created enough of a gap to cause premature wear; ie the bore hole was at the max spec and the bushing was at the min spec.
That is the $64,000 question, as I was measuring the bores (with calipers) on a frame with almost 2 years of riding on it. After lengthy conversations with IGUS and Banshee, it kinda got to a point of: "must be out of spec bushings" vs. "if those are your measurements, the bushing are dead on spec and you've got a frame issue". That's when I just gave up and got a new frame. There was some rumors of out of spec bushings, but who knows. It could've very well been what you said at the end in terms of max spec and min spec. All that said, I am still very much a pro-bushing dude, as long as hardware materials and frame tolerances are appropriate. I think Turner uses bushings on their 5 Spot, and I've heard nothing but good things about those frames.

Good info on the SBBs - thanks.