What I really mean is: are your ball bearings ceramic or steel? I read an article about these new wonders of modern cycling and decided to do some investigating of my own. What I read did, indeed, spur on a little more curiosity. Would these magic balls make me ride faster? Would their decrease in weight help me get up a hill with less effort? And, was the cost justified? So after much net surfing and reading, I decided to purchase some individual balls and replace the Shimano steel balls with these new ceramics. As with most things when purchasing cycling replacement parts, there never seems to be an even number of anything that can be bought as a replacement. I mean, the rear hub has 18 little balls, 1/4" in diameter and the front hub has 22 balls 3/16” in diameter. It seems that everyone sells these little ceramic jewels in packs of 10 or 25. So, on the up side you get more balls for your buck, but what’s a guy to do with 2-3 extra ceramic balls, eh?
I guess I was on more of quest to see how light I could get my new wheels with your average stock parts than anything else. After installing the ceramics in the rear hub, the weight difference came out to around 60 grams lighter. The wheel set together came in at a respectable shade less than 1700 grams. So, now I’m down to 1640 grams for the set! Wow, that should equate into some serious kick-ass climbing advantage! Now I’m off to the front wheel. I figure I could gain at least another 60 grams by replacing the 22 steel balls with ceramic. All this for another 50 bucks or so. Not bad for a buck a gram.
As for performance and personal satisfaction by going to ceramic balls, the jury is still out. I did get a really good deal on the Shimano hubs and built a pair of new wheels for around 200 bucks, but the advantage of ceramic hasn’t really hit me yet—and probably won’t either. Geez, I think I could put a little less water in my bottles, take an extra piss, or leave my camera at home and get the same advantage. But, like I said, the jury is still out on going ceramic. Personally, most of my balls will be like Superman and remain balls of steel!
Some interesting links on Ceramic Balls:
Ceramic Supplier VXB
More Ceramic Ball Info
Yet one more link for fun. Check it out!