How to Upgrade to Ceramic Bearings

CeramicSpeed supplies tools for removing and installing Campagnolo Ultra-Torque crank bearings, which are pressed onto the spindle. A spindle stub extends from each crankarm and the bearing sits against the arm, held in place by a snapring.

Removing the snapring is no problem, but removing the bearing is difficult to do without the proper crank puller tool, at least without marring the crank by prying against it with a screwdriver. For removing BB30 bearings, Enduro sells a Sonny's Bike Tools puller that works the same way as the outboard-bearing puller.

Pedals
Loose-bearing pedals are simple, once you remove the collar nut and pull the spindle assembly out. When you put the new balls in place, a magnetic screwdriver won't hold the tiny balls as it would steel ones; use a screwdriver dipped in grease instead.

With cartridge-bearing pedals that open on both ends, like Crankbrothers, you can remove the axle and drive each bearing out from the other side with a hex key of the right size.

Cartridge-bearing pedals that do not have an opening on the outboard end are far trickier and may not be something you want to attempt. You remove the collar nut on the inboard side and remove the axle. To get the bearing out of the bore of the pedal body, however, you need a blind-hole bearing puller, which will cost you a minimum of $100.

The tool has a two-piece collet that you collapse and push into the bearing bore, and it has lips that catch on the inner bearing race, once expanded. One type has a slide hammer attachment that you thread in and tap it out, bringing the bearing with it.

Rear Derailleur Jockey Wheels
The best solution for upgrading jockey wheels is to replace them with ones that have ceramic bearings. Enduro and Wheels Mfg., for instance, sell such jockey wheels. If you want to just buy a bearing and upgrade an existing jockey wheel, it can be done, but not with all jockey wheels. Obviously, if you want to upgrade a jockey wheel that has a bushing (a metal or ceramic sleeve within a metal or ceramic tube jockey wheel bore), rather than a bearing, the only thing you can do is buy an entire ceramic-bearing jockey wheel.

If you do have a cartridge-bearing jockey wheel, you must look at it to determine how to get it out. Some of them have no obvious stop against the bearing outside diameter (OD). In that case, find a socket that just fits around the outside of the new bearing (which is the exact same size as the old bearing, right?).

Place the new ceramic bearing on a flat surface, set the jockey wheel lined up perfectly on top of it, heat the jockey wheel with a heat gun, set the socket, open end down, on the jockey wheel so it surrounds the bearing, and smack it with a hammer. The old bearing will pop up out, and, voilá, the new bearing will have replaced it.

Some jockey wheels are injection-molded around the bearing. To get those out, you are going to have to push through 1mm or so of plastic that's lapped over the OD of the bearing. Locate two sockets, one with an ID that is just bigger than the bearing's OD, and another whose OD is just smaller than the bearing's OD.

With a hand arbor press or a drill press, or even with a vise, place one socket on one side of the jockey wheel and one on the other, both open toward each other. Apply pressure with the press or vise until the bearing pops out. Clean up the torn plastic edges and push a new bearing back in with the same press or vise, using the old bearing or the smaller socket to do so.

Installation

When you install ceramic cartridge bearings, it is worth thinking ahead of time about maintenance when you are determining the orientation of the bearings. You might as well keep it rolling smoothly, since you don't want to be frequently making this investment.

The ceramic bearings you have in your hand most likely will be hybrid ceramic bearings, so even though the ceramic balls cannot rust and are over twice as hard as steel balls, the races are still steel and can rust. And even if you do have full ceramic bearings (if you thought hybrid ceramics were pricey, well...), you are still going to get the best performance if they are clean and have a light lubricant on them.

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