Article written by: Ard Kessels. All credits go to him.
Two weeks after an amazing trip to Kona to see the 2022 Ironman World Championships, I still catch my mind wandering back to the event. Seeing Fenella Langridge take the front of the bike race using a blue Kolossos that perfectly matched her bike and kit made me emotional (Not a good time to ask me any questions and the sun glasses stay on in the shade kinda situation).
If I received a dollar for every time I heard “Are you guys like CeramicSpeed?” I could buy their entire team a beer or two at Huggo’s on race day. So let’s address it: Kogel and CeramicSpeed do very similar things but approach problem solving from a different angle.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, I wish to express my sincere respect for CeramicSpeed. They have done incredible things to introduce ceramic bearings to bicycles at least a decade before anyone else did. They are always on a hunt to push the boundaries, innovate and make sure cyclists have the best possible experience on two wheels.
If I did not think Kogel was the best invention since hot water, I would probably use their products. In fact, during IRONMAN, we were special ordering parts from the mainland for one of the oldest athletes in the race and our package got lost in the mail system. I did not hesitate to call my friends at CeramicSpeed, pay the price and set this particular athlete up with a hybrid CeramicSpeed by Kogel drivetrain. We had a good laugh that my credit card company would probably mark the charge as fraudulent.
CeramicSpeed: eliminate friction at all cost
Our Danish frenemies will build the fastest possible race-day focused products period. No holds barred, they are here to make you go as fast as possible and are clear in their communication. Reduce friction in every rotating component on a bicycle and the result can only be that you will be at the finish line in less time than you planned.
This is the reason they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a friction lab to develop drivetrain components and even spent an ungodly amount of money to invent a drivetrain that is more efficient than a standard derailleur setup.
Every athlete has the same technology available that top racers in the Tour de France and Ironman use. Along with having access to this technology, you are also expected to maintain your components like a professional.
Imagine a chain that is super fast, but the treatment only lasts a couple hundred kilometers. After that you have to repeat the complicated process to reactivate the potential. Pulley wheels are sold with a bottle of lube that needs to be reapplied every few hundred kilometers. Your bike becomes like Formula 1 cars: the fastest machines on the planet that require a lot of garage time for 90 minutes on the track.
Kogel: make you fast every day of the year
As a retired mountain bike marathon racer, I feel it is important to build a bit of a safety net into racing parts. Nothing is worse than standing in the middle of the forest with no cell reception and a broken super lightweight saddle in your hand. I’ve been there.
Also: we need to admit to ourselves that our personal bikes do not get torn apart and rebuilt between races or even between training rides and races like the bikes of our heroes do.
Durability and reliability are better suited for anyone that cannot afford a personal mechanic or does not have the need for one. My imaginary personal mechanic would probably get bored maintaining bikes that see only five to ten hours of use per week.
Kogel designs racing parts for use in the real world; for example, we ship pulleys with grease inside the bearings. This means you have to break them in for a few hours, but after that they are good with annual service. Also, we do not release a road bike product until it is strong enough to be used in the roughest of gravel races.
The line of thought is that there’s no point having the fastest bike on mile one of a race if the performance wears off while you’re out on track. Or even worse: your parts were super fast when you bought them a few months ago, but now you’re lining up at the start of a gran fondo and your bearings are running drier than Death Valley.
If athletes are looking for maximum performance to squeeze those last few milliwatts out of their drivetrain, we have solutions. Hit me up at any time and I will be happy to talk about the steps we took to propel Ellen Van Dijk to breaking the Hour Record. She came with a team of mechanics though and knew she was going to ride exactly 3600 seconds in a clean environment.
Kogel or CeramicSpeed. Which brand is for me?
So, here we are. I cannot draw this conclusion for you, but I will say a sentence you might have read in earlier blogs on this page: It is time to be totally and completely honest with yourself.
If you are the kind of rider that will bring their bike to the shop every one or two weeks to filter out the smallest of creaks and pays for a teardown level service at least once a month: go with CeramicSpeed. If you take that level of care, running oil in pulleys is completely justifiable.
If you are a rider that takes good care of their bike, imagine weekly cleaning at home and bringing your bike to the shop once or twice per year for a full teardown, Kogel is probably better suited for your needs. All our bearing products require annual service to maintain their warranty status.
Then there are other things to consider: cage stiffness for shifting accuracy, warranty: 2 years very few questions asked or lifetime with exceptions for corrosion, local support (try sending a message to both companies through their online chat or give them a call!).
I wish you all the best choosing the ultimate drivetrain upgrade for your ride. If you have any questions, please reach out to me any time via firstname.lastname@example.org