Ceramic ones tend to outweigh their steel counterparts in a few different areas. First, these are able to handle more weight than steel ones, resulting in them lasting longer and providing a better performance. Cyclists, for example, often appreciate how much easier it is to ride a bicycle that uses ceramic parts in place of steel parts. They are able to get the same speed and performance, but with much less effort.
Ceramic material also does not rust like steel does, and has an increased resistance to heat. Because of this, many ceramic parts cost more than the steel version, but they save consumers money in the long run.
Steel bearings still have their place in the world, despite the many benefits of ceramic ones. The steel version is often more affordable than ceramic products are, and they provide many of the same benefits. Ceramic rolls with less resistance, but the difference is rather small when comparing the two when it comes to bicycles. This same improved performance will be hardly noticeable in many things that need replacement parts.
The primary downfall of steel is that it does not have the same resistance to rust that is seen in ceramic. If a person were to leave the two in a bucket of water, the ceramic one would do just fine while the steel one would show damage as time goes on.
Which one do you get?
With all of the hype about ceramic products, and the avid defenders of steel parts, it can be difficult to decide exactly which one you should get. The amount of difference in performance is so low that it seems like a waste to invest in a ceramic one solely for performance purposes.
The one area that is largely different in the two is the resistance to corrosion and extreme temperatures. Ceramic will not corrode when exposed to harsh weather conditions, and it will work perfectly in extreme temperatures. If you need a bearing, and are aware that it may be exposed to harsher elements and high temperatures, you want to go with ceramic.
In other cases, steel will still do the job. It may not be able to handle as much weight and does not roll quite as easily, but these minor differences are hardly noticeable when using the different products.
What about bicycles?
This single topic takes up page after page of bicycles forums on custom ceramic plate the internet. Cyclists everywhere have heard the rumors that ceramic is better, but they have also heard that nothing is wrong with steel. Cyclists always have the option to purchase ceramic products, but there is nothing wrong with steel products on a bike. Bikes are not exposed to the extreme temperatures or harsh conditions that ceramic ones are designed for, and the difference in performance is so small that most cyclists will not notice it.
When browsing the internet looking for parts, things can be a bit confusing. One website may swear by ceramic while another one claims that steel is better any day. When it all comes down to it, it is all about what you plant to use it on. Heavy machinery will obviously get hotter than any part on a bicycle, so ceramic would be a wise choice.