- Bearing Specs
They say you can't buy speed, but they were wrong! I've been hand building bearings since 1990, starting with steel skate bearings. In 2000 I began experimenting with ceramic balls and selling them to local racers. Since then I've been offering a high quality, Made in the USA, ceramic bearing to cyclists and skaters worldwide.
What does upgrading to ceramic bearings mean for you?
Quite simply they allow you to gain and maintain speed easier. The facts are simple. Ceramic balls are rounder than steel balls and do not generate as much heat as steel balls. A rounder ball will accelerate faster and easier than a less round ball. You've probably heard a lot about "marginal gains" lately in pro cycling. This is what they are talking about. Tweaking the bike for "free speed". Simply replacing your bearings will allow you to gain and maintain speed easier.
Please read the tech specs below for more insight into what I use to build each bearing and why. There is a lot of information, but it is well worth your time to learn more about the different parts of a bearing.
F1 Ceramic Grade 3 Balls:
We use F1 Premium Grade 3 Full Ceramic Balls. This is the best grade ceramic ball available and they are made to our specs. Grade 3 means it is rounder, faster, harder and more durable than lower quality grades. The better the ball grade, the faster the bearing will be because it takes less energy to turn something that is round than if it was less round. Our grade 3 balls are made completely of silicon nitride (full ceramic balls). Our grade 3 balls are round to 3 millionths of an inch. Most steel bearings use balls that are grade 25 and more often even worse. Competing ceramic balls are usually grade 10.
Anyone can make a grade 3 ball but not everyone can make one that is durable. We decided to test our balls in a very unconventional way. We hit them with a hammer! Similar to driving a nail with a hammer, we struck our ceramic balls repeatedly with a hammer. Sadly, our hammer became badly dented while the balls look good as new
Our grade 3 balls will not flat-spot (which causes the bearing to slow down) nor will they produce much heat (another reason for a bearing to slow down). Our grade 3 ceramic ball will reduce friction, improve wear and improve the stiffness of the bearing.
For arguments sake, say you had a grade 3 steel ball (even though they don't make them that high of a grade) and a grade 3 ceramic ball. While similarly round, the ceramic still has the edge in hardness and durability. The ceramic ball will not deform, flat-spot, crack, wear out and most importantly, will not create heat (friction, very bad!). The steel ball will! Not to mention the ceramic ball will clean the bearing race with use, making the bearing faster and much more durable!
F1 Speed Races:
We take our perfect grade 3 silicon nitride balls and pair them to our F1 Speed Races. The race is what the ceramic balls rotate on. There is no point in making such a perfect ball if you are going to use a sub-par race. We spec a 52100 high carbon chrome race built to our tolerances to make sure the race will work with our ceramic balls. The incredible hardness of our ceramic balls is perfectly matched by our F1 Speed Races. This creates a glass like spinning surface for the balls to rotate on. Since we pair a metal race to our ceramic balls, our bearings are referred to as "Hybrid" ceramic bearings. This is compared to a full ceramic bearing that uses a ceramic race. Click here for information concerning why we do not use ceramic races.
We offer 2 different types of options for grease when ordering. The default is Rocket Sauce and you can upgrade to COATED for the absolute BEST performance.
Our Incredibly FAST grease is called F1 Rocket Sauce. This grease is made to withstand extreme cold and wet while also able to handle high temperatures. Break-in time is quick. This grease is a very advanced and long lasting, high performance lube. It has excellent water resistance & rust protective properties. It is also available in 10 ML tubes should you need extra. F1 Rocket Sauce is white.
Not to rest on our laurels, we have created yet another, FASTER option, available as an upgrade when ordering. It's called our COATED bearing and it uses a special coating to coat the races. This coating will actually help improve bearing life since the balls and race won't touch. Rather the balls turn on the coating instead. We then top the bearing off with a small amount of Rocket Sauce to make our FASTEST BEARING yet!
Our retired grease, used for so many years, is called Turbo Grease. You'll still find it used in select clearance items. This grease is no slouch but has been surpassed in longevity and thickness by Rocket Sauce. If you see a clearance item built with Turbo Grease, don't worry about the bearing be fast, it's be plenty fast after break-in and you can also re-grease with Rocket Sauce.
F1 Speed Seal:
Our F1 Speed Seals were designed for the best performance and protection. Some seals can cause excess drag and you need the right type to provide protection but also allow the balls to rotate rapidly. Our seals are reinforced rubber seals designed for the least amount of friction possible while still offering the protection demanding riders require. For 2017 we have released our SPEED SEAL 2.0 on select bottom brackets! What is it? We further increased protection (for even longer bearing life) while maintaining the same level of friction (minimal). This was no easy task, it's something Matt has been working on for OVER 10 Years!
F1 Cyclocross Seal:
A specially designed seal that offers more sealing protection but take longer to break-in. A good option if you ride in lots of wet weather, race cyclocross or just want to maximize the life of your BB bearings. This seal is an optional upgrade on our BBs.
F1 Speed Retainer:
Some companies offer what is referred to as a "full compliment" bearings. This means the balls are packed into the bearing, able to touch each other. With this type of design, the balls rub against each other during use, greatly slowing the bearing down with excess friction. Not to mention the rapid wear rate. F1 Ceramic bearings on the other hand use F1 Speed Retainers. These retainers keep the balls evenly spaced so they can turn freely without touching each other. This greatly reduces friction and makes an already durable bearing much more so. Our retainers are high performance polyamide or steel depending on size.