CeramicSpeed establishes Lubrication Development Lab

Known for its super-smooth ceramic bearings, CeramicSpeed has hired Friction Facts' Jason Smith as its chief technology officer to develop a new lubrication product for the company. TriathlonWorld.com caught up with Smith to learn about the new move and how it affects Friction Facts.

| January 3, 2017 | GEAR

Last month CeramicSpeed announced that it had acquired Friction Facts, a drivetrain efficiency test lab founded by Jason Smith. Smith becomes the new chief technology officer for CeramicSpeed and will head up the company's new Lubrication Development Lab.

"As a manager of the new lab, Smith will apply his fine understanding of fluid dynamics and engineering to the development of cutting-edge premium products," according to a press release from CeramicSpeed. "Using innovative approaches, Jason aims to map myths and claims made regarding chain lubrication efficiency and lifetime."

"Extending Smith's research on the fastest chain lubes, originally for a report commissioned by VeloNews in 2013, the Lubriction Development Lab will focus on what is a new field of interest for CeramicSpeed. Crucial to bicycle performance, the lab will investigate how lubricants can improve the efficiency and durability of different drivetrain components. To obtain the most accurate data, all results of the lab are backed up by thorough road testing under a variety of different riding conditions and protocols."

Friction Facts was started in 2012 to "provide cyclists and triathletes with quantitative data to assist with component selection."

TriathlonWorld.com reached out to Smith to get some more information about the new move:

TriathlonWorld.com: First off, congrats on the new position. Based on the press release, it sounds like you’ll be working on new lubrication products for CeramicSpeed – is that correct? Or is this more of a testing scenario? Will you be involved in the development of other products, too?

Jason Smith: This is a great opportunity for me to personally and professionally grow beyond the very specific role I performed with Friction Facts.

Yes on both parts of your question regarding testing.  Friction Facts will continue its traditional work as a testing lab, but will also have a substantial role in new product development for CeramicSpeed, which does include a new lubricant.

Friction Facts started out with a business model “similar to that of Consumer Reports” – how will the acquisition by CeramicSpeed change what you do? Or will it?

The acquisition will change certain types of tests. As you might know, the existing Friction Facts reports are divided into two groups. The first group is considered the “Product Test Reports.”  The second group is the “Practices and Techniques Test Reports.” The Practices and Techniques Reports do not involve products; they analyze cycling practices. For example, the existing Cross Chaining and Ring Size Report, Chain Friction Mechanisms Paper, Chain Wear (elongation) vs Friction, The Effects of Chain Break-in vs Friction, etc, are all part of this group. Friction Facts will continue to perform these types of tests, which are very informative to cyclists and triathletes. Since no products are analyzed in these reports, a conflict of interest does not exist by CeramicSpeed owning Friction Facts.

The existing and future Practice and Techniques Reports will reside on the Friction Facts site.  

The Friction Facts site will be going through a remodel in the near future, at which time the reports will be reorganized and the present US$14.95 fee to view the reports will be removed making the reports free to download and view.

Friction Facts will continue to perform “Product Testing.” However, this group of tests will not reside on the Friction Facts site.  As CeramicSpeed is now the parent company of Friction Facts, it was felt the best practice would be to segregate these types of Product Reports.  

The ultimate goal is to provide transparency to the viewer; ie, the Friction Facts site will be the home to the Practices and Techniques Reports.  The CeramicSpeed site will contain the Product Reports.

Where do you see the most potential when it comes to improving drive train efficiency?

On your last question of potential improvements, my opinion is that every rotating component that produces friction has the potential for improvement. This statement may sound obvious. Yet, until the day a completely friction-free drivetrain exists, we will continue to pick apart every finite friction producing mechanism and continue to develop products to minimize this friction.  

The component which has the most potential for friction reduction? The chain. It creates the largest amount of friction within the drivetrain of all individual components.  Developing products which minimize the chain and chain/tooth friction is one of our priorities.