What is the cost of a ceramic bearing upgrade for bicycles? Part 2

In part 1 of  this article we covered the  cost  of  ceramic bottom brackets and wheel bearings. Today we will look at the derailleur pulleys and the cost of ownership of a ceramic bearing upgrade.

The cost of ceramic bearing derailleur pulleys

Since the derailleur pulleys are the fastest spinning part of a bicycle (spinning your 53 ring at 110rpm results in roughly 580rpm), there are some advantages to be found in these little cogs.

Ebay offers a range of different pulleys, from all kinds of suppliers. Prices range from $50 to $65 with a wide offer in shapes and colors.

these super fragile looking pulleys from the 'brand' Omnisport sell for $50 on Ebay
these super fragile looking pulleys from the ‘brand’ Omni Racer sell for $50 on Ebay

Enduro offers their Zero pulleys at $120 and we found some pretty cool ones from CNC gurus Hope, but no ceramic option available. We will not include them in this comparison.

Once again Ceramicspeed sets the gold standard, starting at $200 for the standard pulleys and a whopping $519 for the titanium 1×11 pulleys with coated ceramic bearings.

Kogel just released a newly developed aluminum and hybrid ceramic pulley, which will retail at $100 for a set.

Here's a sneak peak at our brand new pulleys. We love how the round holes resemble a bearing.
Here’s a sneak peak at our brand new pulleys. We love how the round holes resemble a bearing.

Cost of installation

Installing ceramic bearings is a highly specialized job. Not so much for a set of derailleur pulleys, but most definitely for wheel bearings. The keys to successfully installing bearings are to own the exact fitting tools, which are expensive, and what the Germans call Fingerspitzengefühl. Directly translated: having the feeling in your fingertips.

Although a sixpack of quality beer goes a long way with most mechanics, please do not consider this a substitute for payment. Mechanics in high end bike shops need to be very skilled and educated craftsmen nowadays. They deserve to be paid for their work.

When it comes to pressing bearings, whether it is wheels or bottom brackets, we usually recommend to have it done by a professional. A shop can justify to buy a $300 tool for this, consumers do not get enough use out of such a tool to justify  the cost. It is better to fork out a couple of twenties and a sixpack to ensure your mechanic takes extra good care of your job today. Ceramic bearings are fragile if handled with the wrong tools. That threaded rod from Home Depot and a bunch of washers are great at getting the bearings in the wheels and equally great at destroying the races.

A complete ceramic upgrade of bottom bracket, wheels and pulleys will typically take between one and two hours for an experienced mechanic, so $100 for these three jobs is a reasonable amount at a premium bike shop.

Cost of warranty or replacement

In our eyes it is safe to consider that the cheapest product will wear out quicker. Ceramic bearings are similar to carbon frames in a way that you get what you pay for. Buy the cheapest and there is a good chance that the manufacturer cut some corners to bring the cost down.

Consider this when you purchase: a failed Ebay  product will probably require a new purchase. The more premium brands might have a warranty in place if your product fails prematurely. Ask questions to the manufacturers and always consider that you might have to pay your mechanic for his hours to remove and install your bearings. With this in mind, you might be able to justify buying a higher priced/better quality product from the start.

Conclusion: the cost of a ceramic bearing upgrade for a bicycle

Looking at the above numbers, the initial investment can span a huge range, depending on your source.

A set of wheel bearings, bottom bracket and derailleur pulleys can be as cheap as $139 in unbranded Ebay parts. Looking at the top end, you could spend as much as $1667. The middle ground is to be found with Enduro and Kogel Bearings at around $550.

Are ceramic bearings worth their cost? That’s up to you. Do the math and decide for yourselff!

This all seems very clear, but looking at the complete picture, things get a bit more complicated. It is fair to expect the life span of the cheapest parts to be shorter, so you would be forking out the cost of purchase and cost of installation more often. The higher end products are often serviceable, at Kogel Bearings we recommend a BB service interval of one year. This will include a $10 seal kit for a bottom bracket and some labor. This could balance a major part of the initial savings made on the cheapest available components.

The way you spend your hard earned dollars is up to you. I hope this overview is here to help your decision.




If you have any questions about Kogel Bearings, ball bearings in general or our Ball Bearing Adventures, please ask them either in the comments section below, one of our social media channels or by email via info@kogel.cc. We will answer them in a highly professional, but not always scientific way. We do not shy away from many subjects. Please ask, we are here to answer.

What is the cost of a ceramic bearing upgrade for bicycles? Part 1

Ceramic bearing upgrades come in all shapes and sizes. First there are the different parts of the bike that can be upgraded, then there is a plethora of brands and non-branded products to choose from.

There are three main parts of the bicycle where ceramic bearings can bring benefits over steel bearings: the wheels, bottom bracket and derailleur pulleys.

The cost of a ceramic Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket is a central part of the bicycle. It is similar to the transmission in a car in a way that it handles all the power transfer between the engine and wheels. Where a car transmission only handles forces along the central axis, a bottom bracket deals with oscillating movements and side loads due to the pedaling. There can be some lateral load due to wave washers or crank bolts that are tightened too much. Our bottom bracket is living a rough life down there! Needless to say that quality is key here.

A quick search on Ebay teaches us that ceramic bottom brackets are available from $35 plus shipping. From the tests we have done, these bottom brackets are hit and miss. Some are decent, some take only a few weeks before the bearings are pulverized.

A ceramic bottom bracket from the ‘exotic’ brand GUB is yours at $45 with free shipping

Enduro bearings makes two types of ceramic bearings: Zero and XD15, with the main difference being the quality of the ceramic balls and the fact that Zero are radial ball bearings and XD15 are angular contact. Their bottom brackets are priced around $200

Ceramicspeed is the gold standard by which all other bearings are measured. They sponsor many of the world’s best athletes, and like your Oakley shades, that reflects in the price. Their bottom brackets typically  cost $269, or $369 if you choose to go with the coated bearing races.

Ceramicspeed’s top offer will set you back $369

As a reference: Kogel Bearings range between $160 and $190, depending on the model.

The cost of ceramic wheel bearings

A typical bicycle wheel set runs on six bearings: two in the front hub, two in the rear hub and two in the freehub. The biggest challenge is often to find out which bearings go where. With the wheel set in hand, it is easy for a mechanic: just open the hub and note the bearing numbers, or measure the size of each bearing, which usually can be done without removing the bearings. An internet search can sometimes prevent this work, but some brands are notoriously secretive about their bearing  sizes.

For easy comparison we have determined the cost of an upgrade for two common hub types.

Ebay search results tell us a cost of $58 for a set of DTSwiss 240s and $54 for a set of 2015 zipp hubs of whichever was the cheapest we could find.

Enduro zero comes in at $224 for the DTSwiss hubs and $234 for the Zipp hubs.

Ceramicspeed leaves the shop with you for either $519 or $779, depending on your choice for coated races.

Kogel Bearings offers different bearings for road and off road use. Both retail at $260 for six bearings.

Kogel has a flat fee pricing of $260 for six bearings, regardless of wheel type.

In part two  of  this post we will look at derailleur pulleys and draw conclusions on the total cost of ownership.


If you have any questions about Kogel Bearings, ball bearings in general or our Ball Bearing Adventures, please ask them either in the comments section below, one of our social media channels or by email via info@kogel.cc. We will answer them in a highly professional, but not always scientific way. We do not shy away from many subjects. Please ask, we are here to answer.

Understanding bottom bracket issues. And why the standards are here to stay.


The good old bottom bracket, the silent work horse, hidden deep down inside the bicycle. Well, silent is referring to the ideal world in this case. With the explosion of bottom bracket and crank standards we have witnessed in the last decade, the bottom bracket has turned into a bike part that seems to be in constant need of attention. Today I will try to find out what led to this situation and if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Bottom Brackets have always had their problems

Many times in magazines, articles or forum posts we read that the bottom brackets of today are too confusing, and that is absolutely true. As a former shop owner, I always dreaded the moment when a customer walked into the shop with a random crank and frame in hand. I know I lost 20 minutes at that point: first determine the standard of the frame,  then the crank, then try to find the right pieces to fit them in a huge online ordering system.

But has this ever been different? Way back when bottom brackets were still called ‘square taper’, there was Shimano which would not fit with Campagnolo. There was Italian or English and in none of those cases a road BB would fit on a mountain bike. And then there was chain line: I found the right bottom bracket, but need a 118mm instead of a 113mm to keep my crank arms from jamming into the frame.

Like modern day bottom brackets, internal spindles developed over  time.
Like modern day bottom brackets, internal spindles developed over time.

Pushing the boundaries of bicycle development

After square taper we were ‘blessed’ with ISIS , Octalink, hollow tech II, Ultra Torque, BB30, GXP Power torque and Over Torque. And that is only on cranks! Frames spun out of control in a very similar way with a dozen press fit variations: BB30, PressFit30, PressFit without 30 which is also known as BB86 unless it is on a mountain bike, then it is called BB92 but it might measure 92.5 or 89.5 millimeter depending on the brand.

You lost me somewhere in there? I don’t blame you. Trying to fit a crank and frame seems about as easy as predicting the Euro/Dollar conversion rate for the next month.

Bottom braket standards can be confusing and overwhelming.
Bottom braket standards can be confusing and overwhelming.

The reason for this is that bicycle manufacturers are constantly looking for stiffer and lighter frame constructions. Sometimes this involves true innovations, sometimes it involves innovating for the sake of changing things for the new model year. Heck, one of the biggest players in the industry has used ‘Innovate or die’ as an advertising slogan for years.

Diversification of the bicycle industry

Another trend I have seen in the bicycle industry is a constant diversification. The village bike shop that does everything on two wheels has long vanished. Nowadays there are specialized shops for commuters, road bikes and mountain bikes.

Looking at the car industry, this development has gone much further. It is close to impossible to drive your Dodge into a BMW dealer for an oil change or to replace a light bulb, leave alone if something has gone off in the electronics. This is the auto industry’s way of making sure that the car they sold at low margin will keep coming back to the dealer for expensive service visits.

Along this path, almost every major frame designer is trying to integrate proprietary parts that can only be bought through their dealer network. It is not possible for a Trek dealer to order spare parts for a Specialized frame or Roval wheels.

How can we fix all these bottom bracket fitting problems?

I see a few solutions. The most obvious one is to always buy a complete bicycle from a brand. For the lifespan of the bike you will be replacing parts from the same manufacturers as the one that came in the catalogue. This is a good solution, unless you did not like a certain part that came on the standard build. What if you love your new cross country racing rig, but the brakes came from a brand that is notorious for quality issues? It also takes all the fun out of customizing your bike or completely building it part for part from the ground up.

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Downlad the kogel bottom bracket chart here, to make your life a bit easier.

As for bottom brackets, at Kogel Bearings we see a future in smaller boutique brands that have the ability to do small production runs and be quick to act when new fit issues arise. We pride ourselves in fitting any crank and any frame without adapters. Similar solutions are available from other brands for chain rings and setting up mountain bikes with a non-proprietary 1X drive train.

As long as the bicycle industry runs on creative people and small-time entrepreneurs, you will always be able to find a solution for your problems. It might take a bit of digging, though.