- Bearing Break-In
Ceramic Bearing Break In
Please read the article below and also check out our blog post that also explains the break in process, click here for the blog post.
When you first receive your ceramic bearings they are unloaded and feel very smooth. It is possible to feel a slight "notchy" feel if you roll the bearings back and forth between your fingers as the grease has not been fully spread yet. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. We do not recommend spinning an unloaded crank/wheel or rolling the bearings in your fingers as a performance indicator although we understand it is neat to do! Remember, new bearings are not broken in and need to be loaded (ridden) to break in (more below).
It is important to understand that bearings work under load, which is put on the bearings when they are ridden. In the simplest terms, load is when the inner and outer race each push on the ceramic balls. This creates a hard spinning surface for the ceramic balls to spin.
Our specially designed treated steel races are extremely hard. When they are pushed towards the ceramic balls, this creates the load and the bearings then work as designed. When ridden, our bearings will spin with less friction than steel bearings as our round/smooth ceramic balls can spin much easier and with less heat than steel balls.
As the bearings are ridden they begin to break in. The most important part of this is (1) the polishing of the races, (2) the spreading of the grease and (3) the breaking in of the seals.
Polishing the races- The ceramic balls will continually polish the races every time you ride. This will, over time, make your bearings even faster.
Spreading the grease- As you ride your new bearing, the grease is spread evenly and any excess grease is pushed out of the bearing through the seal. We tend to over-grease our bearings using what we call "the bathtub method". When filling a bathtub with water, when it reaches the point of all the water in can handle, it will drain the excess water on it's own. Similarly, we over-grease our bearings knowing that the bearing will naturally push the excess grease out of the bearing as you ride, leaving behind the proper amount of grease needed.
Breaking in the seals- We tend to use slightly heavier seals than our competitors. We do so because a better seal will prolong the life of your bearing. The drawback is a slightly longer break-in time but once broken in, the performance is that of lighter seals but with improved protection.
Initial break in time will vary due to riding styles, but figure on at least a few hundred miles to get everything broken in and then with time the races will continue to get polished by the balls, improving the bearing even more.
Once the bearings have been ridden for a while they may feel different than when new. Spinning the bearings or rolling them back and forth with your fingers will feel differently than it did when the bearings were new. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. Our bearings are designed to work under load and when loaded they will have a glass like spinning surface creating more speed for you. It is hard to explain exactly how the feel changes but the easiest way to think of it is that you can sometimes feel the balls turning on the race.
My bearings seem to get faster the more I ride them, why? 3 reasons. First- as the bearings break in the grease gets spread around and pushed to the cage which reserves long-term continuous lubrication. A thin oil film forms on the balls for lubrication. The thin oil films will generate less drag on the balls. Any excess grease is pushed out of the bearing, through the seal which makes the bearing faster. Second, the seals will break in and loosen. Third- The ceramic balls continually polish the races making them slicker and faster with time.