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  1. #1
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Advantage/Disadvantages of Integrated Headsets?

    As a novice interested in building up a bike, I've been looking at a lot of frames lately. I understand the structural difference between integrated and non-integrated headsets, but I'm not sure that I understand the tradeoffs involved. I've seen some rants about it being a bad thing (from a wear/replacement perspective), but many of the newer bikes seem to come with them as a "feature" (easy install/build).

    Anyone care to weigh in and enlighten me?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    ^^....dang, Wonder how many times this one has been kicked around.FWIW, take the negatives as primarily barn yard waste. Integrated and zero stack has been on the market long enough to have proven the doomsadyers and fear mongers wrong.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Thanks Sydney - I knew I could count on you to not pull any punches!

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    Senior Member rufvelo's Avatar
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    This is just personal preference - but integrated also looks nicer especially for bigger frames instead of that super long head tube!

    Biggest knock against integrated is limited replacement options when the headset does pit.
    Last edited by rufvelo; 09-13-05 at 02:20 PM.

  5. #5
    fmw
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    Hoosier Pedaler fmw's Avatar
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    I can't think of any negatives. Integrated headsets are lighter and (with the exception of the crown race) can be installed and taken apart with just a hex wrench.

  6. #6
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    I don't know about their advantages but the limited replacement options and dedicated frame geometry that is wedded to one design is not progress.

    FWIW Litespeed seems to be getting away from them and they were one of the first and most enthusiastic users.

  7. #7
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    ^^....dang, Wonder how many times this one has been kicked around.FWIW, take the negatives as primarily barn yard waste. Integrated and zero stack has been on the market long enough to have proven the doomsadyers and fear mongers wrong.
    I refuse to allow a frame maker to tell me what headset I'll use.
    http://www.chrisking.com/tech/int_he...explain_1.html

  8. #8
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    I refuse to allow a frame maker to tell me what headset I'll use.
    http://www.chrisking.com/tech/int_he...explain_1.html
    There had to be a nose picker just waiting to drag out that lame link.

  9. #9
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    I don't know about their advantages but the limited replacement options.........
    A valid point that likely really stress out the CK crowd.

  10. #10
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    There had to be a nose picker just waiting to drag out that lame link.
    Can you disprove ANY of it or are you just talking out of your posterior again?

  11. #11
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    There had to be a nose picker just waiting to drag out that lame link.
    Yep - that's the link that got me anguishing over this question to begin with...

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    I loathe!! integrated headsets. For all the Reasons that Chris King describes and more to boot. I have to agree fully with "Barnyard Waste" crowd as well as the manufacturer of world's finest headsets.

    @ Sydney: Yes indeed, rather than calling people nosepickers or links lame come up with some sort of substance, argument or refutation of that link. Otherwise all your post amounts to is unsubstantiated opinion which according to Raiyn you seem to give out more often...?

    I don't mean to be offensive Sydney by the way. To each his own. I simply disagree with you.

    As for the other 'Pro's' But i personally find "looks" and a few grams of weight savings of a bike significantly less important than standardization. As for simplicty in replacement and installation, i find this pretty insignificant as well. Installing or replacing any headset is not particularly hard or expensive (if you have it done instead). If you have a decent or good headset doing so is a rare event anyway so saving a few minutes seems moot. I think the only people served by integrated are frame manufacturers and assembly lines where bikes are put together.

    My advice to you (and this is purely opinion if an informed one!) is what i write on my page go for a non integrated design and maybe even threaded. If you do that then you can choose the the Tange Levin CDS I.S.O. headset.

    According to Rivendell (manufacturers of some of the finest frames/bikes i think) "This is the workhorse of the headset world. Spec'd on thousands of bikes over the years, basically the same design as the Campy Nuovo Record but it is steel so it might even last longer. It's a no frills, no logo, bundle o' value of a headset...good enough for any bike. Made for 1" threaded steerers."

    It uses smaller 5/32" ball bearings and more of them than a standard headset. I have the same headset on my other bike and it is smooth and durable, i recommend it highly.

    My page with a pic of the headset can be found on:

    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html

    But if you choose something completely different that is of course your perogative but i would advice anything!! (1/ 1/8, threadless, whatever) but an integrated.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    Can you disprove ANY of it or are you just talking out of your posterior again?
    Well, how many documented failures can you point your posterior to.....?

  14. #14
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce
    I loathe!! integrated headsets. For all the Reasons that Chris King describes and more to boot. I have to agree fully with "Barnyard Waste" crowd as well as the manufacturer of world's finest headsets.

    @ Sydney: Yes indeed, rather than calling people nosepickers or links lame come up with some sort of substance, argument or refutation of that link. Otherwise all your post amounts to is unsubstantiated opinion which according to Raiyn you seem to give out more often...?

    I don't mean to be offensive Sydney by the way. To each his own. I simply disagree with you.

    As for the other 'Pro's' But i personally find "looks" and a few grams of weight savings of a bike significantly less important than standardization. As for simplicty in replacement and installation, i find this pretty insignificant as well. Installing or replacing any headset is not particularly hard or expensive (if you have it done instead). If you have a decent or good headset doing so is a rare event anyway so saving a few minutes seems moot. I think the only people served by integrated are frame manufacturers and assembly lines where bikes are put together.

    My advice to you (and this is purely opinion if an informed one!) is what i write on my page go for a non integrated design and maybe even threaded. If you do that then you can choose the the Tange Levin CDS I.S.O. headset.

    According to Rivendell (manufacturers of some of the finest frames/bikes i think) "This is the workhorse of the headset world. Spec'd on thousands of bikes over the years, basically the same design as the Campy Nuovo Record but it is steel so it might even last longer. It's a no frills, no logo, bundle o' value of a headset...good enough for any bike. Made for 1" threaded steerers."

    It uses smaller 5/32" ball bearings and more of them than a standard headset. I have the same headset on my other bike and it is smooth and durable, i recommend it highly.

    My page with a pic of the headset can be found on:

    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html

    But if you choose something completely different that is of course your perogative but i would advice anything!! (1/ 1/8, threadless, whatever) but an integrated.
    Diasgree all you want but you have done nothng more than regurgitate more barnyard waste. Have any actual experience with them, or just find a nice soap box today?? There is no white paper that statistically validates greater or lesser problems with either type. The refudiation is the fact the Kings self serving doomsday senario and fear mongering haven't been proven out in years of actual use. The easy answer for the thinking person is that if integrated or zero stack gives you the willies,go with traitional.There are plenty of options.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    ... The easy answer for the thinking person is that if integrated or zero stack gives you the willies,go with traitional.There are plenty of options.
    But aren't one's choices dictated by the frame?

  16. #16
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    ^^^... Well yes ...They aren't all integreatd or zero stack tho.So make a decision....The whole point you raise is so lame and beaten to death it just stinks. It gets dredged up on a regular basis and then just dies. It's like a number of other arguments that can't be proven or disproven either way. You will get lots of ' opinion ' .

  17. #17
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    ^^^... Well yes ...They aren't all integreatd or zero stack tho.So make a decision....The whole point you raise is so lame and beaten to death it just stinks. It gets dredged up on a regular basis and then just dies. It's like a number of other arguments that can't be proven or disproven either way. You will get lots of ' opinion ' .
    It's not my intention to befoul the air -- I am just trying to learn about this stuff...

  18. #18
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Isn't this really the Shimano vs. Campy debate in drag? First off, your frame of course is going to dictate your type of headset so unless you go after frames with only a specific headset design, the point is moot. Secondly, some people may like or dislike integrated HS, but I have to agree with Syd that aside from personal preference neither style has been proven to be better or worse than the other. Been there, done that on this and the other forum many times.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rufvelo's Avatar
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    I've had no problem with either type, having owned both - a traditional setup for 20 years, integrated for about 10. When it does come to replacing that old headset after 20 years, I'd probably replace the frame/bike anyway.

    ALthough I suspect if you need to replace (a properly installed headset) every few years, you're probably not steering

  20. #20
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    Sure, it is opinion, everything written by me and anyone else here is pretty much opinion (some of it based on a foundation some less so, it is for each to make up one's own mind). Nothing wrong with that or even with disagreeying completely with one another. As for some other personal attack type comments, sorry but i don't feel like dignifying them with a response.

    @ Jazzy Cyclist, personally i don't think your questions or this thread stinks or is lame or whatever at all. Of course you should ask questions, any you like. That's what a forum is for after all. Even if the question has been posed before it would appear there are still a lot of people that feel it is good to give their two cents. If people feel the question is useless or doesn't warrant response well,... no nobody is making them read it or reply to it..

    Personally i Would let my choice for a frame or bike be dictated to a fairly large degree by standardization, and that includes the headset. That's for a couple of reasons. I am really into durability/long term use of a bike. Even if i replace my bike with another one, i like the idea that the next owner will be able to find all the replacement parts and have a big choice in what he mounts. Secondly if parts are standardized there are usually much more and better deals to be had. The headset i refer to for example is relatively very cheap and extremely established. The quality it offers would only be matched by integrated headsets that are double the cost or more.

    Obviously you should select a frame you really like loads, but there is so much choice these days that you can get what you want as well as a frame with standard components.

    I am not (and never was) arguing that one type of headset is more (or less) durable or technically superior per se. I am just saying that certain ones are more standardized, more readily available, often cheaper and have been doing the job more than fine for decades.

    But once again, i am not trying to win you to my camp or start a holy war, choose what you like for whatever reasons you feel work for you. And if you want to get informed before you make that choice, well i applaud that.

    Biking is all about personal preference and thanks the stars for that.

  21. #21
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    - the big worry about integrated seems to be concerning frame damage... CK's ominous: "All bicycle frames that use integrated headsets will ultimately have substantial performance and reliability problems due to the inherent flaws in this design." does nothing to inspire confidence in the design...

    - if i were to spend more than $1000 for a frame that i knew i was going to use for a long, long time i might be concerned... but if i were building up a less inexpensive bike, i'd get the frame that works for me regardless of design...

    - especially if it's your first build?

    (oh, and don't forget to let us know how it goes - pics, please!)

    :-)

  22. #22
    Senior Member nick burns's Avatar
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    Forgive my ignorance, I have absolutely no experience with integrated headsets, but what options does a person have if the races become pitted?
    I'm assuming they are replaceable, but I've learned never to assume too much.

    If they are indeed easily replaced I don't see the big controversy here.

  23. #23
    fmw
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    Hoosier Pedaler fmw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick burns
    Forgive my ignorance, I have absolutely no experience with integrated headsets, but what options does a person have if the races become pitted?
    I'm assuming they are replaceable, but I've learned never to assume too much.

    If they are indeed easily replaced I don't see the big controversy here.
    The bearings are sealed units and easily replaceable. In fact it should take less than 5 minutes.

  24. #24
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick burns
    Forgive my ignorance, I have absolutely no experience with integrated headsets, but what options does a person have if the races become pitted?
    I'm assuming they are replaceable, but I've learned never to assume too much.

    If they are indeed easily replaced I don't see the big controversy here.
    The issue is not with the bearings,but the cartridge bearing running in an unprotected headtube as with the true integrated type. Semi integrated or zero stack HS use cups in the HT for the bearings to run in.

  25. #25
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmw
    The bearings are sealed units and easily replaceable. In fact it should take less than 5 minutes.
    See post #24.

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