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 x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings

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.

Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings

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.

Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub SON Delux 12 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?

Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings

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.

Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings

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

Hunt x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings
c. Hunt, photo by Hannah Mornement

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 x SON x CeramicSpeed, Hunt 30 Carbon Dynamo Disc dynamo generator hub gravel bike wheelset with ceramic bearings

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.

HuntBikeWheels.com

13 COMMENTS

  1. So can ceramic bearing offset the dynamo drag?
    The short answer… not quite. Or maybe, yes & no.

    [facepalm]

    • theres countless studies showing that ceramic bearings are barely better than good quality steel bearings, making these upgrades very expensive for the difference (usually less than a watt, so nearly within margin of error).

      of course, ceramic bearings are much better than meh quality steel bearings (its more like a *few* watts difference, that’s a little less negligible even if not something all that noticeable)

  2. “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.”

    I would really liked to see this backed up somehow.

    • Ditto, some very bold claims in this piece together with a complete lack of any quantifiable data… “maybe a max 1W saving”. Lols.

  3. I generally think CeramicSpeed and such like that is maybe somewhat silly for at least your average consumer. However I think this could have a small amount of potential. If you can make a dynamo hub smoother and less draggy without causing issues in dynamo performance, that is a good thing.

    Granted I haven’t noticed much drag in my dynamo hubs (SON and SP) but I also don’t race and am not an ultra light type. That being said the idea is an interesting one and one I might like to try.

  4. I’m not suggesy that ceramic speed bits are worth the money, but if they save you 1W per wheel and are happy to pay the premium then what’s the problem with that?

    And surely the point is that the dynamo hub has now got to the point that the extra drag is less than anyone would notice and a fresh bit of lube would probably be more re beneficial?

    The extended lifetime is probably more relevant than any watts saved anyway…

  5. instead of ceramic bearings…what about increasing alternator efficiency …perhaps using triple phase instead one… like car alternators!

  6. Morning and big thanks for all the replies, it’s really cool to read and gain extra info.
    I hope you all got chance to ride over the weekend. Of course pretty much all these comments are bang on, these very high spec options are not really that worth it for normal riders like myself. However, I would look at someone like Josh, whose project this is, and since he is very much at the sharp end of these ultra-distance races small differences count to him. Josh requested this option to be available to rider as just a watt or two over 4000km (such as his TransContinental Race win), and with average rider output somewhere around 150-250 watts, 1 watt is approx 0.5%, which can make hours worth of difference, which becomes worth while over those distances.

    As you all correctly say, this is very high end, it is only an option, all normal SON dynamo hub wheelsets are available and they are probably the best option for pretty much all of us. No-one is forced to buy this, just like no-one has to buy a higher spec $200+ helmet or shoes when I and all of us know the $90 pair will make probably less than 1% difference in performance, but here at HUNT our focus, as you can see by our deep range of alloy wheels, is alloy at between $350 and $600 with very competitive specs, these are the wheels most of us here at HUNT use, care about and put a lot of our effort into, my alloy MTB, my alloy Allroad/gravel/winter trainer disc dropbar bike (with lovely full lengther mudguards) are my 90% time riding steads and they all have sub $500 alloy wheels on them and they all ride great, I know I am never held back by them. Only my road racer get’s our $950 carbon wheelset and they are only used in Spring/Summer. However, I can still appreciate and am excited by seeing the special projects that top level riders are exploring at the edge of their performance, in just the same way super light bikes are exciting to learn about by me and many riders, but I don’t own one. Small gains in low friction does make sense especially over longer periods, just the same as aero and low weight all add small gains for these top athletes. Heck, even if I was very sensible in most of our ‘real-world riders eyes’ and maxed $ to performance at say $1800 carbon road bike with 105 and good alloy wheels, Sagan would still thrash me on a $300 total budget racer, but we’d all agree $1800 is a sensible road bike, also it’s worth Sagan wearing a skinsuit to win his races, just like having this Ceramicspeed option for Josh types. You’re absolutely right these projects riders like Josh are working on are very high end but I do think they add to our understanding of what us more average riders like me can think about. I know I, and many normal riders have benefited from many of the features top riders were only just starting to use 15 years ago, stiff carbon road frames, compact chainsets etc, and I do think facilitating top riders like Josh in his efforts helps us to bring the best performance to everyday products for normal devoted riders like us. Of course a key thing is that at HUNT we can pack in these tops specs often for less $ than the established wheel brands sell wheelsets without these upgrades, e.g. a dynamo carbon wheelset with a $310 SON hub and $550 ceramic speed bearing set will be less than $1800, and this is pinnacle tech wheelset used by the best riders in this speciality in the world. We think every day all day and night about how to make better wheelsets, as we love riding just like you do so thank you again to everyone and it’s all really appreciated as listening and understanding all these points helps us make better wheels for devoted riders like you.

    Kindest regards and enjoy your riding,

    Tom Marchment
    HUNT Wheels | TheRiderFirm

  7. CeramicSpeed are one of the most intellectually dishonest companies on the market IMHO. If there was a real benefit to their product at the level of 1 W per set of wheel bearings they would do a test to show it. Even if it was true riders would get more benefit from spending the money on frequent chain replacements or running steel bearings with the seals lifted off.

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