CULT represents the pinnacle of Campagnolo’s ceramic bearing evolution.
Standing for Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology, CULT bearings can be found fitted to the finest hubs and cranksets, and offer a significant upgrade from all other bearings. The key to CULT’s extraordinary performance is using the highest quality materials in its hybrid construction.
Incredibly round and hard ceramic balls maintain consistent performance over time, and run on stainless steel bearing races, which have a special treatment making them resistant to wear.
Why are ceramic bearings better than steel?
Ceramic is chemically inert, so doesn’t react with other chemicals and will not corrode. It has far superior hardness and strength so it won’t deform under high rotational loads, resulting in considerable durability increases.
Although tiny, the quality and roundness of a ball bearing is critical to its performance - balls that aren’t perfectly round and smooth will increase friction within the bearing and promote wear. The properties of the material mean ceramic balls are generally rounder, smoother, lighter, and up to 30% harder than steel ones, and when installed within a similarly high-quality race, should prove far more efficient and durable, with consistent performance over time.
To maximise their potential speed, CULT bearings only need periodic cleaning, and lubricating with a light film of synthetic oil, rather than packing with grease. Grease is essentially oil with a chemical soap added, which increases its volume and viscosity, in order to adhere to moving parts and coat surfaces which are hard to regularly service, inhibiting corrosion.
To help keep dirt out and grease in place, most bearings employ seals, but both seals and grease create rolling resistance by affecting the bearing’s freedom to spin.
Because ceramic doesn’t rust, the stainless steel races and the technopolymer ball cages are almost immune to corrosion, in a design which is totally impervious to dirt ingress, CULT bearings have no need for heavy contact seals.
Combined with their grease-free lubrication, this all adds up to bearings with the lowest friction coefficient, measured as being 40% better than standard sealed bearings, and with zero wear on the balls or races.
But will I actually notice any difference on the bike?
Campy Tech Lab measured the stopping time from 78km/h of a free-spinning flywheel, equipped with different bearings. Testing recorded 30 minutes for standard sealed bearings, 124 minutes for Campagnolo’s standard cup-cone system, 131 minutes for Campagnolo USB bearings, and an astonishing 165 minutes for CULT.
With all other variables optimised, Campagnolo’s CULT bearings provide a real performance increase.