Hunt wheels shared an unexpected expansion of their Hunt Beyond family with us – the addition of a CeramicSpeed upgrade coming soon to their dynamo equipped long distance adventure bike wheels for road, gravel & MTB. The low friction ceramic bearing partnership with CeramicSpeed was born out of Hunt’s Limitless aerodynamic road wheel project. But bringing German hub dynamo maker SON into the fold meant clawing back some of the lost watts due to dynamo system drag, simply with smoother spinning hub bearings.
Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed fast dynamo adventure wheels
Hunt already makes a wide range of dynamo equipped wheelsets for the adventure rider looking to cut ties with battery charging cables. There’s a £1060 30mm deep carbon road set and three £540-550 alloy road, 650b gravel & 29er MTB wheelsets for pretty much any type of long distance riding.
All share one thing – the premium SON Deluxe 12 disc brake dynamo front hub which is said to be the most efficient dynamo on the market, with the lowest drag.
SON says the Deluxe “runs at 65% efficiency at 15km/h” to turn your leg power into electricity. That breaks down to 5W extra pedaling resistance at 18km/h to churn out 3.25W of phone or GPS charging power. That’s not bad, but Hunt wanted to boost efficiency even further for riders doing super long bikepacking tours and those competing in ultra-distance races. Don’t forget, the guy in charge of the Hunt Beyond project is ultra-racer & past TransContinental winner Josh Ibbett. So they rolled in CeramicSpeed…
So can ceramic bearing offset the dynamo drag?
The short answer… not quite. Or maybe, yes & no.
The Danish bearing & general speed fiends at CeramicSpeed were happy to play with SON trying to claw back some of that dynamo friction they could claw back with smooth bearings. So they fit CeramicSpeed bearings into the SON Deluxe 12 hub for the first time to see how it goes. The general wisdom is that you are getting maybe a max 1W savings in a single wheel with a ceramic upgrade. Look at that table above, and even adding front & rear wheels with ceramic bearings together you won’t quite overcome the resistance of the dynamo hub when it is generating electrical power.
But when your lights & charging are switched off, the ceramic bearings in two wheels do save more power than the dynamo drag.
Plus, if you want to go off the deep end in CeramicSpeed upgrades, they say tests verify that putting their ceramic bearings in your hubs, pulley wheels & bottom bracket will save between 6–9W. That’s more than the SON dynamo, even under load.
Plus, Hunt & SON do say the CeramicSpeed bearings do just feel much smoother. The bearings are more precise compared to the standard SKF steel bearings that SON uses, so there is less flex under load and when cornering, which also means improved bearing lifespan.
Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed pricing & availability
From an everyday rider’s perspective, obviously this would be a senseless upgrade. But for a serious racer looking to compete in ultra-distance endurance races, an extra few hundred pounds or euros (think less than the cost of any regular CeramicSpeed wheel upgrade kit) to shave back those lost dynamo watts, it starts to sound like a reasonably good idea.
Hunt says they will be adding CeramicSpeed bearing options to their dynamo wheelset range starting in early spring of 2020. Standard, non-dynamo gravel & adventure riding wheels will also get a premium CeramicSpeed version too. It’s worth noting that Hunt’s currently most expensive deep, wide & aerodynamic carbon road wheelset, the “world’s fastest” 48 Limitless Aero Disc sells for £1290/ $1650 /1450€ making it one of the cheapest carbon wheelsets available with CeramicSpeed bearings.