Types of wheel bearings

Bicycle wheels need bearings to turn smoothly. There are two types of bearings commonly used in bicycle wheels: steel bearings and ceramic bearings. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss below.

Advantages of steel bearings:

  1. Cost: Steel bearings are generally less expensive than ceramic bearings, making them an attractive option for cyclists on a budget.

  2. Reliability: Steel bearings have a long history of use in bicycles and are proven to be reliable. They are readily available and can be replaced when they wear out.

  3. Durability: Steel bearings are generally more durable than ceramic bearings, making them more resistant to wear and damage.

Disadvantages of steel bearings:

  1. Friction: Steel bearings generally have more friction than ceramic bearings, making the wheels rotate less smoothly.

  2. Weight: Steel bearings are generally heavier than ceramic bearings, which can increase the overall weight of the bike.

  3. Maintenance: Steel bearings require regular maintenance, such as lubrication and cleaning, to continue to function optimally.

Advantages of ceramic bearings:

  1. Smoothness: Ceramic bearings generally have less friction than steel bearings, resulting in smoother wheel rotation and less effort for the cyclist.

  2. Weight: Ceramic bearings are generally lighter than steel bearings, allowing them to reduce the overall weight of the bike.

  3. Durability: Ceramic bearings are harder and more resistant to wear and damage than steel bearings.

Disadvantages of ceramic bearings:

  1. Cost: Ceramic bearings are generally more expensive than steel bearings, making them less attractive to cyclists on a budget.

  2. Fragility: Ceramic bearings are generally more fragile than steel bearings and are more likely to be damaged if subjected to shock or impact.

  3. Availability: Ceramic bearings are not as readily available as steel bearings and can be more difficult to replace when they wear out.


The choice between steel and ceramic bearings in bicycle wheels depends on several factors, such as budget, performance, reliability and maintenance. Steel bearings are reliable and durable, but have more friction and are heavier than ceramic bearings. Ceramic bearings are lighter, smoother and more durable, but also more expensive and more fragile than steel bearings. It is important to consider these pros and cons when choosing bearings for bicycle wheels and consider which aspects are most important for your specific cycling situation.

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