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Author Topic: Ceramic bearings  (Read 1421 times)

Doug S

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Ceramic bearings
« on: March 20, 2016, 06:55:29 AM »

So I just got my bike (2014 SR with 24,000 on the clock) back from the shop. The rear wheel bearings failed a week ago Thursday, and I decided to replace them with an all-ceramic bearing. I was fortunate that I decided to do the fronts at the same time, so I ordered four bearings. Turns out there are three in the rear --two on the belt side! So I'll have to order one more before I can have the front done.

I thought I'd start a thread and if I have an early failure, let people know. I'm a little worried because, though the ceramic is harder than the steel, it's less ductile, and the weight rating is actually lower. I think failure at 24,000 miles is a wear issue, not a breakage issue, so I'm hopeful the ceramic bearing will hold up better....but I'll let you know what happens.
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Burton

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2016, 08:59:18 AM »

I am still apprehensive about ceramics. I think in a racing situation it is required if you want to be competitive assuming you are on the same skill level with the field.

But having the bearings in my motor fail around 10k miles points out a serious flaw in their design for long term use ... at least in a motor with exposed internals and with 10 kN higher tension above stock ;)

So while the bearings were subject to near constant axial forces they didn't experience sudden jolts a wheel would experience. That said ... if they were such a bad idea for wheels then they wouldn't be able to sell them nearly as much as most motorcyclist are cheap bastards who flinch when they have to replace a 0.10$ part :D

Are your bearings fully ceramic, hybrid, or other?
What brand did you get?

I installed new wheel bearings on my rear wheel when I replaced the tire at around 13k just for the hell of it. If I recall correctly they are sealed steel bearings. I have two more bearings sitting around for whenever I replace my first front tire which I suspect will last 21 k miles or so.
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evtricity

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2016, 10:44:41 AM »

Doug, what are the specifications of the stock bearings and suitable replacements.

Thanks
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Doug S

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2016, 08:11:37 PM »

I went with a full ceramic, sealed bearing:

http://www.bocabearings.com/bearing-inventory/Radial-Full-Ceramic-Bearings/16454/20x37x9-6904BBTPC3ZS5SRL

They were a bit cheaper when I bought them, apparently their "special price" isn't quite as special now.

On the ride home yesterday (20 miles, all freeway), the rear of the bike felt a bit tighter than it was, both in the "under better control" sense and in the "won't coast as far" sense. It also felt extremely smooth and vibration-free. I presume all of these changes are just comparing worn bearings to fresh ones, but maybe the ceramic ones are better. The ones I picked do have an ABEC 5 rating with grade 5 balls and a C3 fit.
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evtricity

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2016, 06:20:26 AM »

Thanks Doug
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laramie LC4

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2016, 07:10:39 AM »

you guys also need to understand that manufacturers will only spend so much on bearings. at some point they start loosing money or people start to complaining about the prices. any time you remove an OEM bearing, the first thing you should do is take the bearings and any seals down to a real bearing shop (MY FAV) and speak to someone who knows what they are talking about. they will get you better bearings and seals, and it's usually much cheaper than going back to the original manufacturer of the bike. they will also be able to tell you if ceramic, steel, roller, ball, .... is going to work best.

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Killroy

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2016, 08:21:41 AM »

How many miles are you getting out of a bearing?  Should last over 30K miles.
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Richard230

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2016, 08:22:02 PM »

How many miles are you getting out of a bearing?  Should last over 30K miles.

My daughter's 1986 VFR 700FII and her 1981 BMW R65LS both have around 100K miles on their clocks and they still have their original wheel bearings, which have never even been re-greased (being of the sealed-type) or serviced in any way. So good quality wheel bearings, properly greased at the factory, can last a very long time under normal (no wheelies or off-road) use.  :)
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Killroy

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2016, 03:58:17 AM »

Agreed.  I have never replaced a wheel bearing on a car. 

A motorcycle noes not need to have parts last as long since most motorcycles don't drive that much, but it would be sad to replace a wheel bearing before a car replaces a touring tire.

Sure there will be premature failure, but wheel bearings should last >50,000 miles. 
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BrianTRice

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2016, 04:02:00 AM »

Just chiming in agreement with the above about bearing expectations.

One reason for upgrading or considering a 15-16 Zero model over older models is the more robust bearing size/spec for touring. My V-Strom bearings lasted 40k miles (with 10% offroad use and 10% 500 mile touring days) compared to ~13k miles for the 13 DS. Having a long interval just makes it easier to take off on long trips.
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evtricity

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2016, 04:08:48 AM »

Saw this in another thread and I had to call it out here.

It's difficult to justify buying a new bike when replacement bearings are under $100 for front and rear wheels. I'm a great supporter of Zero but like most of us, I can't afford to replace our expensive bikes every 2 or 3 years!
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BrianTRice

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2016, 05:03:25 AM »

Saw this in another thread and I had to call it out here.

It's difficult to justify buying a new bike when replacement bearings are under $100 for front and rear wheels. I'm a great supporter of Zero but like most of us, I can't afford to replace our expensive bikes every 2 or 3 years!

Whoa, hey, I listed it as a reason; that's all. I have different goals and priorities than normal, so I acted differently. If it makes you feel any better, I have no kids, don't own a car, use Craigslist/EBay to find secondhand deals, and scrounge for cheaper real estate that fits my needs and saves money. So, upgrading my bike is something I design my budget around.

Also, it took me months to justify the expense, when I had already stocked up on secondhand spare consumable parts [bearings, brake pads, etc] for the 13 DS which I will pass on to its eventual buyer.

On to chapter N+1 of "saying things on the internet is fraught with misunderstanding"...
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RickXB

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2016, 05:39:26 AM »

Did it increase the range vs stock bearing?
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evtricity

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2016, 05:40:20 AM »

Hi Brian, didn't mean to have a go at you personally. Apologies if it came across that way.  I acknowledge you stated it was "one reason" to upgrade but given the cost to change one set of bearings it's not compelling for me. As mentioned, my comment also referred to another post on another "bearing" topic on this forum. In hindsight, I should have made my post there.

It said - "If you have a 2012, 2013 or 2014 and are having issues with little things, instead of trying to replace all these little things one by one, it might cost less in the long run to upgrade to a 2015 or new 2016 bike." Since a replacement of OEM bearings is cheap and you only do it once (after that you should have the same quality bearing as any other motorcycle), I believe it's a minor reason at best.

I can't speak about the 2012 or 2013 bikes (as I have a 2014 SR) but I doubt there are enough "little issues" in the 2014 bikes to justify spending anywhere near USD10,000+ or AUD20,000+ on a new bike!

There are "big issues" in the 2014 with suspension, motor etc but even then it's still difficult to justify upgrading every 2-3 years especially when the resale value on Zeros (like other motorcycles) is pretty low (at least in Australia where a new AUD25,000 SR sells for AUD15,000 after 1 year and AUD10,000 after 2 years).

Apologies for the hijack, back to the bearing discussion ...
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Doug S

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Re: Ceramic bearings
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2016, 06:22:29 AM »

Did it increase the range vs stock bearing?

If that's directed at me, it doesn't seem so, or at least not enough to be immediately obvious. I've only commuted on it twice now, and it's doing exactly what it's always done.

I've seen a thousand of those "wheel spins forever on ceramic bearing" videos, and I suspect they're all comparing a greased, sealed metal bearing with an open, ungreased ceramic bearing. Both the grease and the seal add some friction, but it's not worth talking about, and you'd be crazy to ever run a bearing (even a ceramic bearing) ungreased. I don't think the "it spins forever" test is very representative of the bearing's performance under real-world load.
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