Ceramic Bearings on FSA MegaExo BB

Speed is where it's at, and as avid cyclists if we all had an unlimited bank account or a tooth fairy life would be much easier. This is especially true when you look at the cost of bottom brackets fabricated with the newest in ceramic bearings.

Does it make sense to spend four times the money for ceramic bearings or is it just a cool thing to talk about? This is the typical issue when debating the choice of which of the many FSA bottom brackets is right for you.

So, are ceramic bearings worth paying for... maybe ..

  • they are 60% lighter than steel so the centrifugal forces are reduced with less rotating mass and offer the bicycle rider faster speeds and more responsive acceleration and deceleration

  • ceramic balls will not "cold weld" to the bearing rings, so friction is reduced and wear particles don't build up in the lubricant, giving you longer life.

  • silicon nitride balls have a 50% higher modulus of elasticity. In other words they are not nearly as likely to get out of shape than their steel cousins. This offers reduced vibration.

  • Ceramic has 35% less thermal expansion, so FSA is able to build their ceramic bearings, inner and outer rings, the raceway and seals to tighter tolerances for smoother riding.

  • Rust is not a concern. Ceramic is chemically inert, thus less maintenance and less lubrication necessary.

FSA bottom bracketFSA suggests that their raw ceramic pellets are made via a secret process! It was developed by a small Swedish firm that was spun off from the international bearing manufacture SKF, the original inventors of ceramic bearing technology.

Although ceramic bearings can be made from silicon nitride or zirconium oxide, FSA ONLY uses silicon nitride for its reduced weight/strength characteristics. It is formed under extremely high pressure, lapped to a precise spherical shape with fine diamond grit and then sintered into hard balls to create the perfect FSA bottom bracket bearing.

They use ceramic only for the balls and steel for the raceways, retainers and rings to create what is known in the industry as a "hybrid" bearing.

So should you spend the money? Well FSA has been testing these bearings for 2 years now and their data would suggest 5-10 times longer life expectancy. Thus if you pay 5 times the price of a regular steel version then you pretty well come out even and all the riding benifits of faster speeds, reduced vibration and less maintenance are all bonuses.

Maybe it is at this point I should tell you that tests by the Danish magazine Cykel-Motion and SKF suggested up to a 50% reduction in rolling resitance with the use of ceramic bearings

Of course if you're a casual rider then you'll never reach the intended mileage of your bearing and bottom bracket so you're probably wasting your money, but see if on the internet you can find a real bargain and make the math work for you, happy riding.

Further Information:
FSA Bike Parts
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copyright Jan. 2007