$250 per watt: CeramicSpeed brings friction-cutting pulleys to gravel

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The annual Sea Otter Classic trade show isn’t happening as usual this month, unfortunately, so to fill the gaping tech news void left in its wake, we went ahead and put together our own virtual event, which we’ve playfully dubbed… Pond Beaver 2020! We’ve gathered up a mountain of information and images of new gear to come this season, and we’ll be rolling it out to you in a satisfyingly steady stream over the next few weeks.

At around US$550 / AU$750, CeramicSpeed’s Oversized Pulley Wheel aftermarket rear derailleur accessory doesn’t exactly constitute good value. However, if you’re chasing watts, it does do what it claims to, and now the range continues to grow. CeramicSpeed has announced a new model to fit Shimano’s GRX 800-series and Ultegra RX road/gravel rear derailleurs, while for mountain bikers, there are also now options for Deore XT and XTR.

The GRX/Ultegra RX version is designed to accommodate 2x drivetrain versions, while the mountain bike ones are specifically intended solely for 1x setups. For GRX/RX, CeramicSpeed also advises against using the OSPW system with 42-tooth cassettes.

Either way, the concept behind the new OSPW offerings is the same as it’s always been. The oversized pulleys (13/19T on GRX/Ultegra RX models; 14/18T on XT/XTR) spin slower than the 11-tooth ones used on stock derailleurs, and the larger diameter also forces each chain link to articulate less as it changes direction back and forth. Along with the standard hybrid ceramic bearings, CeramicSpeed claims that an OSPW upgrade can save a couple of watts without degrading shift quality.

Easing the tediousness of chain prep

CeramicSpeed’s chief technical officer, Jason Smith, cut his teeth studying chain friction while running his personal startup, Friction Facts. A primary focus of his even before CeramicSpeed brought him onboard was chain lube, and one of the fruits of that labor of that new relationship was the company’s UFO Drip, which purported to offer nearly the same friction-reducing benefits as Smith’s more involved melt-wax process, but with a much more convenient application method — just apply and go, essentially, like any other lube.

However, in order for it to work properly, you need to start with a completely clean chain — as in, no lube anywhere, either on the surface or inside the links and rollers, which is easier said than done.

First previewed at last year’s Eurobike show, CeramicSpeed’s new UFO Clean promises to be a handy one-step solution — quite literally, in this case. According to CeramicSpeed, UFO Clean can simply be applied directly to the drivetrain, and after a few minutes of waiting, a quick brush, and a thorough rinse, you’re supposedly good to go. Alternatively, you can use the stuff to fill an ultrasonic cleaner, or you can use the “shake-and-bake” method by agitating the chain inside of a sturdy screw-top jar.

CeramicSpeed claims the fluid can be reused for up to a dozen cleanings (depending on how dirty the chains are, of course), and the biodegradable, non-toxic degreaser will also supposedly dissolve stubborn wax lubes, too.

As you’d expect from anything that says “CeramicSpeed” on it, UFO Clean isn’t cheap, with a retail price of US$30 / AU$50.


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Want more news on upcoming bike tech? You can find additional coverage on our continually updated Pond Beaver 2020 main page.

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