You might not give the bearings on your bike much thought, but as CeramicSpeed puts it, they are the “smallest, yet most important part.” That may be a bit hard to quantify, but one thing is for sure – without bearings, all of the spinning and moving parts on your bicycle would be pretty rough. Because of that philosophy, CeramicSpeed has spent the last 11 years making some of the world’s best bearings by hand at the company’s headquarters in Denmark.
After cornering the market on top level upgrades for hubs, bottom brackets, and derailleur pulleys (including their new $1000 3D printed Titanium pulleys), CeramicSpeed has their sights set on headsets. Well, at least the headsets of current Cervelo and Specialized road bikes. Most people are familiar with the claims of better rolling resistance and wear from ceramic bearings, but we were a bit surprised to hear CeramicSpeed’s claims of their new headset actually making the front end of the bike stiffer…
Just how does a headset manage to make a bicycle more stiff? According to CeramicSpeed, that increase in front end precision is due to the material of the ball bearings themselves. Compared to a steel ball, the ceramic balls found in the new headset are 63% stiffer and 128% harder. Those numbers mean the balls should deform less on a minute scale under heavy load such as cornering, sprinting, or hard braking, ultimately making the front end of the bike more stiff. CeramicSpeed also claims the surface of the ceramic ball is 400% smoother than steel (and 100% smoother than competing ceramic) which prevents the ball from wearing the race like a steel bearing would. Reduced wear results in the performance of the headset staying more or less constant, instead of degrading over time.
Sounds great, but how much is this going to cost you? Like most CeramicSpeed products, the top level performance is reflected in the price with the complete headset, top cap, and spacers selling for 249€/$339. The headset is also only currently available for Specialized and Cervelo bikes though technically it should be compatible with other road bikes using the same headset standard. Officially, CeramicSpeed told us they are producing 4 different kits to match all of the Specialized S-Works models since they use different headsets, and one kit for all Cervelo models. The piece of the kit that is unique to the two brands is the headset cap and while CeramicSpeed says it should work on other models, currently the can only guarantee the perfect fit on Specialized and Cervelo frames. Once the kits are available in May, they will provide a fit chart that will outline the sizes used in each kit to make the selection process easier.
The headset has already been road tested by pro cycling teams including Tinkoff-Saxo who have used it for the past two seasons, stating “they may not be highly visible on our S-Works bikes but the riders’ feedback is they can notice that the steering is highly improved. We can easily feel it in the racing experience and we’re glad to be using it this season again.”