Rotors in electrical machines are supported by various types of bearings. In general, the rotor bearings have nonlinear stiffness properties and they influence the rotor vibrations significantly. In this work, this influence of these nonlinearities is investigated. A simplified finite element model using Timoshenko beam elements is set up for the heterogeneous structure of the rotor. A transversally isotropic material model is adopted for the rotor core stack. Imposing the nonlinear bearing stiffnesses on the model, the Newton‐Raphson procedure is used to carry out a run up simulation. The spectral content of these results shows nonlinear effects due to the bearings. The rotor vibrations are further investigated in detail for various constant speeds. These results show non‐harmonic vibrations of the rotor in a section of the investigated speed range.