Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Brompton Accessories #21 - Ceramic Ball Bearings For The Brompton Hub Gear

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                                                   AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                                  
"Goofy" my Brompton P6R have loyally taken me for rides all over the world for years. The long journeys we have been on together has taken it's toll. To give it a new look after tons of scratches and dents, I had it Brompton copper plated and was very proud of it's new look.
Soon I will be embarking on a overseas tour with Goofy, one that will require us to ride more than a hundred kilometres per day and one that will have us facing strong headwinds. My riding legs are getting old too, so how should I overcome this or at least alleviate it.
A few of my friends, have had ceramic ball bearings installed into the hub-gear and had given good feed-backs. So why not give Goofy a technical up-grade instead of the usual cosmetic one?

Ceramic ball bearings are made of sintered materials that are then ground to size and shape as above. Common materials include: silicon nitride ((Si3N4) and zirconium dioxide.

Ceramics have many advantages over the usual steel bearings, among which are their hardness and corrosion resistance which will extend the effeciency of the bearings over a longer period. No wonder I have seen those "ceramic-balled" friends easily coasting by me while I was still pedalling hard!
The table above shows a comparison between different the materials used for ball bearings.

The Brompton has a Sturmey-Archer BSR 3 speed rear hub, with the gearing cosily hidden and effeciently doing their work. It is a robust system, fully hermetically sealed and hardly needing any maintenance. But it is also a complicated piece of equipment, and I am quite apprehensive of having the hub-gear opened up, especially in the hands of an inexperienced person. A friend, Jason from Chain Story, has been regularly opening up and servicing this hub gear; and he has these ceramic ball bearings too! So it is to him that I sent Goofy to have this latest upgrade. The above photo shows the gear dismantled but not yet un-assembled.

To do a full servicing of the hub and install the bearings, it has to be totally un-assembled; and this I leave it in the expert hands of Jason who is quite meticoulous and organised. The above photos shows the hub fully taken apart, the smaller bearings are in an O-ring shown at the centre right.

A total of fourteen big bearings and fourteen small bearings are required. The smaller bearings are installed onto an inner black O-ring; while the bigger ones are put into an outer grooved ring. Here's a photo of the large bearings assembly.

Well, since everything is already opened up, Jason also did a full servicing of the rear derailluer (seen above, spotlessly cleaned).

Here's the hub installed backed onto the wheel, looking good - but how will it perform?
I will be doing a short tour cycling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Island and hope I will be able to give positive feedbacks soon - will I be coasting pass my friends while giving them a silly grin?

Phone: +6012-9077679         |          Email: jason2leong.wixsite.com/chainstory
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whatisyourchainstory/

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  1. Hi, what’s your feedback on the ceramic bearings, any good?

    1. So far performing ok. There's improvement in ride and roll. Even when stopped pedaling it coast for a much longer distance.