Ceramic Bearings for Snowmobiles (Jim Tucker) (video)
Published on February 3, 2012 in News & Updates, Snowmobile Tech
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Ceramic Bearings for Snowmobiles

Ok, I admit it – I like speed. The feel of the wind whistling past my helmet, the relentless pull of the motor, the scenery whipping by, it all gets my adrenaline flowing and describes a multitude of motorsports but in particular snowmobiling in it’s purest form. Raw speed – there is no substitute, nothing more primal than the horsepower of the motor hitting the snow. Now what does all this talk about speed have to do with ceramic bearings for snowmobiles?

Ceramic Bearings for Snowmobiles

Well quite simply, if you want to go to the next level of speed for you drag racers and circle track jockeys out there, you need and edge on your competition. That edge could very well reside in ceramic bearings. Ceramic bearings were first developed for the aircraft industry because of their high RPM capabilities. These bearings are capable of 70,000 RPM’s and longer replacement schedules because of their durability. These are just a few of the attributes available in this camp. Just as the name implies the balls in the bearings are made of hardened ceramic. There are two types of ceramic bearings. First up is a hybrid bearing that uses steel races with ceramic balls housed in the cage and the second is full ceramic races and balls.

If you do a search on the internet for a company called Performance Bearings you will see a video of a wheel with ceramic bearings installed that continues to spin and spin and spin! Ok, just imagine those bearings in the wheels of your skid frame. The frictional savings here just flat out has to result in quicker ET’s and faster lap times. It’s all a matter of physics – lower the friction – increase the speed. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. While you are on the performance bearing website click on the heading titled “snowmobiles “ which brings you to two common bearings found on today’s sleds. Just place a call to them and give them your bearing number and they will match it up to what you have.

Well that’s the good, now the bad. Ceramic bearings are expensive! Depending on what you buy, a ceramic bearing could cost from $70 – 120 each! With about 7-8 bearings in the skid frame alone you could be talking $500 here! But you know what they say about racing: It takes money, lots of it, to go fast. Admittedly the engine is not making anymore HP, you just are cutting frictional drive train losses. With all the bearings in the skidframe there could be a significant difference. Only testing under controlled conditions would reveal the true gains.

But wait a minute, what about the engine? Could one build a snowmobile engine using ceramic bearings? What kind of gains could be gotten here? Would it withstand the cold temps and being sloshed with oil in a two stroke? Would they withstand the rigors of what snowmobiles could throw at them? One would think if jetliners use them in their turbine blades then they would survive just about anything that snowmobiles could throw at them. Clearly more research is needed here, but who knows? Ceramic bearings look to be here to stay. Hopefully as they become more popular the price will come down enough for snowmobile use!


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