What Ceramic Bearings & Components Do For Triathletes

AK
posted by Ard Kessels
July 28, 2022

Congratulations on pursuing your passion for triathlons and checking out this article. Its sole intention is to help guide you through which drivetrain components to upgrade first and ensure the bike leg of your race shows the best of you.

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 put out 200 watts average on a full Ironman leg, that makes six free watts times 112 miles! 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 triathletes and how to maximize your performance on the bike?

Incremental Gains

So much of being a triathlete revolves around incremental gains achieved through prescribed training blocks. 

Maximizing the efficiency of your bike can also be approached in this manner, but is not required; you can do all your drivetrain upgrades at one time, or in order of importance.  

Your first step in upgrading your tri bike to ceramic and/or oversized components is understanding the facts of how they help you go faster with less effort.

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 on where your upgrades left off.

Laura Siddall prepares for another training workout on the bike

Have you been able accomplish your goals or training objectives (speed, watts, etc) with more ease with our products? It's the confidence that comes from the Kogel components that allows me to focus on my training and hitting the required powers and speed. - Laura Siddall 8th-Ranked Women's Professional Triathlete

Saving Watts

Triathlon bikes inherently are designed to minimize drag and help slipstream through the wind. Adding Kogel parts in the right places helps you minimize drag by improving your bike’s drivetrain performance with the use of oversized pulleys and ceramic bearings. 

There are a number of facts that compel top-level athletes, like Laura Siddall, to utilize oversized and ceramic-based drivetrain components. Here are a few in no particular order:

  • Ceramic bearings are smoother, rounder and harder than steel bearings. Plus, they won’t compress under load. For example, ever watched how a glass marble seems to effortlessly move on a smooth surface? (Try this with a golf ball). A perfectly smooth round ceramic ball is in its natural state when moving.
  • Ceramic balls won’t rust: Although ceramic bearings typically have rings made of steel, the balls are not susceptible to any oxidation. This means the two won’t seize together if any water enters the bearing. This is one of the main reasons why we consider ceramic bearings more durable than full steel bearings.

Now let’s talk a little about oversized pulleys on your rear derailleur. There are also a few undeniable facts related to leveraging larger pulleys.

  • Oversized pulleys require less energy: While traveling up through the derailleur, your chain needs to articulate less around big wheels then they do around a smaller stock pulley wheel. Bending a chain takes effort, this is the main reason why oversized pulleys save watts.
  • Kogel Oversized cages improve your shifting response: Kolossos oversized cages are designed for stiffness, which results in more accurate gear changes and smoother pedaling. We often hear pedaling and shifting under load as feeling “buttery”. Toast anyone?
  • Aluminum pulleys are harder than stock pulleys: yes, those plastic pulleys that came with your stock derailleur cage will wear down, bend and eventually crack or break. Just one more thing working against maximizing the power from your months of hard work training.

Laura Siddall - Professional Triathlete and Kogel Ambassador

Can you share a brief description of why you chose to "go beyond" the stock BB or components that came with your bike? As above - I know that the team at Kogel have put the research into the products and they have been manufactured to the highest quality, which conveys into performance. - Laura Siddall

Now that we’ve covered the facts of improving your power preservation via ceramic bearings and oversized pulleys, let’s talk about prioritizing upgrades to your tri bikes.

Upgrade 1: Bottom brackets: your first line of defense

Kogel BB30 ceramic bottom bracket

We say this because a bottom bracket handles 100% of your power output and is the first major point of energy transfer.

Since the bottom bracket handles 100% of your power output, we recommend starting here. Make it rock solid so you can set and forget about it. Make sure to use a generous amount of Aqua Proof Paste for the installation too. It’s called ‘Shut Up Grease” for good reason! Use the paste on any pressed or threaded parts and to waterproof your head set.

Upgrade 2: Oversize your pulleys

The simple facts are that oversized ceramic pulley wheels create less drag on your drivetrain, roll smoother and last longer than your stock steel and plastic counterparts. Oh, and it is also a fact that they look SO much cooler than stock pulleys.

Oversized derailleur cages

Kogel Kolossos oversized derailleur cages can be completely customized to match your tri bike

To get the most efficiency and performance out of your stock derailleur, choose the Kolossos oversized cage. It’ll add some free speed, a ton of pedaling & shifting smoothness and transform the appearance of your drivetrain. Really the only downside is that you may be answering a few questions from curious riders.

Oversized derailleur pulleys

Kogel oversized derailleur pulleys also come in a variety of colors

A slightly less expensive option would be to pick a set of oversized ceramic pulleys in your favorite color and mount them on your existing derailleur cage. You’ll get better performance and longevity over your steel/plastic stock pulleys and a complimentary bling upgrade!

Laura Siddall trusts Kogel oversized derailleur cages and ceramic wheel bearings to maximize her effort on the bike

Do you feel there is a competitive edge to having the Kolossos or our ceramic BB's and wheel bearings? - I definitely feel more confident knowing I have the support of Kogel through the Kolossos and ceramic BB and wheel bearings. We are always looking to have the best equipment, and the Kogel components give me the confidence that I'm getting the best out of the bike - Laura Siddall

Upgrade 3: Wheel bearings are your secret weapon

Kogel ceramic wheel bearings kit including freehub bearings

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.

Ellen van Dijk - 2022 1hr Distance World Record Holder used Kogel ceramic wheel bearings for her record breaking effort.

Upgrade 4: Add stealth performance with Kogel titanium bolts

Kogel titanium stem and bottle cage bolts

Most triathlon racers I know are undiagnosed watt geeks and even those of us that do not aspire to complete, 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 tri bikes! 

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.

Upgrade 5: Brake later with Kogel brake pads

Kogel brake pads

We get it. In the perfect bike segment you wouldn't need or want brakes. That being said, Kogel’s entire line of brake pads have been built for durability and performance. If you’re leveraging Kogel drivetrain components to go faster with less effort, it only makes sense to get the most out of your gains by wasting less of it slowing down.

Kogel brake pads use only 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.

Go with our Bia soft compound for the best braking performance and modulation or choose our Kratos compound if you frequently train/compete on wet roads.

Your winning formula

Want to find out what Kogel components will help your tri bike go faster with less effort? Call, email or text us and just ask; "What Kogel parts do I need for my tri bike?" and tell us a little bit about the bike you want to upgrade. Easy peasy!