What Ceramic Bearings & Components Do for Gravel Riders & Racers
Congratulations on pursuing your passion for gravel riding and checking out this article. Its sole intention is to help guide you through which drivetrain components to upgrade first and have the best gravel riding and racing season possible.
We have proven data that just upgrading to a Kogel bottom bracket with road seals, a Kolossos oversized derailleur cage and a waxed racing chain will reduce drivetrain drag by 3 percent.
That’s right! If you average 200 watts on a ride, that makes six free watts times the distance (miles) of your typical ride or upcoming race! Imagine how much additional training it would take to gain six watts while your body is already optimized.
Ready to find what ceramic bearings & components can do for gravel riding?
Long live gravel!
Gravel riding and racing is hugely popular at the moment. Whether you’re getting out on a quick local loop after work, going out on a multi day bikepacking adventure or hanging a number plate from your bars for an all day gravel race, it’s all good! Getting into the great wide open and being fully self sufficient is an amazing experience.
My recommendations for gravel riding are focused first on building reliability and second on saving small wattages that add up to more distance traveled or less tired legs after a long day in the saddle.
This article lays out Kogel upgrades in order of priority so if you don’t feel like reading the entire article or upgrading your entire bike at one time, you can come back anytime and continue where your upgrades left off.
Upgrade 1: Start with the bottom bracket
You know what is no fun at all? Listening to a creaky bike for 12 hours. Kogel bottom brackets are designed to avoid the use of adapters and unnecessary spacers. We have designed a native solution for almost any combination of crank and frame available on modern bicycles. Less parts means less potential for unwanted flex and sounds.
Since your adventures will be taking you off-road, select cross seals. They add about 0.5W of friction over our road seals, but they will make sure your bike keeps running smoothly when you have to cross a creek or get caught in a rainstorm. Set and forget is nice for graveling!
Upgrade 2: Maximize your drivetrain efficiency with Kolossos
This might sound weird at first, but a Kolossos oversized cage will reduce drivetrain friction by two to three watts. This does not sound like a lot, but 2 watts equals 1% from a single component and adds up over a 12 or 14 hour event like Unbound or one of the Belgian Waffle Ride events.
All our oversized cages are designed to be stiffer than the stock cage on your derailleur to maintain accurate shifting. Since they are made from machined aluminum, they can also take a punch from road debris.
We have seen our sponsored athletes take a huge rock strike in the derailleur, which bent their cage. In both cases the rider was able to bend the Kolossos back into shape and finish the ride. A carbon cage would have simply snapped and left the rider stranded.
Upgrade 3: Wheel bearings are your secret weapon
Wheel bearings are probably THE most overlooked upgrade in cycling, which is ironic given their significance in the entire concept of cycling. Wheel bearings are at the heart of the components that gave the bicycle its name.
Wheel bearings are always under load and they are moving as long as the bike is moving. It pays off to save some watts here!
Make the effort to get these installed and you’ll enjoy the benefits of going faster with less effort and years of significant performance gains beyond what’s been mentioned so far.
Upgrade 4: Maximize your brake system capacity
The Kogel line of brake pads have been built for durability. We only use sintered materials, which are less susceptible to contamination and all pads come with a ceramic barrier to keep heat in the pads and out of the system.
Our Kratos hard compound is best for long days where you don’t necessarily know where you are going to end up. We all know that mud and rain can eat up a set of soft compound brake pads in less than an hour.
Switching to Kratos compound will make sure you will maintain braking power and modulation when the conditions get soggy.
Upgrade 5: Add stealth performance with Kogel titanium bolts
Most gravel racers I know love personalizing the look of their bike AND saving weight too and even those of us that do not aspire to compete, can appreciate the look and performance of titanium.
Kogel offers titanium fasteners for stem clamps and face plates, rotors, bottle cages and preload adjuster cinch bolts. That’s a lot of places you can upgrade the look and lower the weight on your favorite gravel bike!
Using a full set of titanium bolts will make your bike lighter, but equally important: makes it look 110% personalized and better able to take on the stressors of the sport.
Your best gravel cycling EVER!
Want to find out what Kogel components will help your gravel bike go faster with less effort? Call, email or text us and just ask; "What Kogel parts do I need for my gravel bike?" and tell us a little bit about the bike you want to upgrade. Easy peasy!