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Old 02-18-06, 03:12 AM   #1
rykoala
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Recommend sealed 1" threaded headset?

Lets just say I haven't been keeping up on maintenence of my bike. I've had it for almost 2 years. Its a 88 rockhopper. I've never had the head set apart. I commute, in all sorts of weather. Today I noticed the headset was squeeky when it turned.... not good. I finally (after tons of searching a few months ago) came across the only adjustable wrench I have that is big enough, and tore into the headset tonight. First time I've done that with the intention of putting it back together Anyway I found the reason for the squeeks. Dry bearings! No grease at all. I greased up the bearings with axle grease (my favorite) and reinstalled them. Its still a bit gritty but its quiet at least.

So now I need a new headset. I'd like one that's sealed so that the next winter won't destroy it, too. I don't have tons of $$ to spend, so a King or high end headset is out of the question. I just need one that's servicable and sealed.

Thanks for any recommendations you can offer
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Old 02-18-06, 05:19 AM   #2
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Threaded or threadless fork? Betting on the vintage of the bike, I'd say threaded, right?
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Old 02-18-06, 06:17 AM   #3
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Threaded or threadless fork? Betting on the vintage of the bike, I'd say threaded, right?
Ummmm......Recommended sealed 1" threaded headset?.....
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Old 02-18-06, 08:27 AM   #4
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Nashbar has a house-branded 1" threaded headset with cartridge bearings usually on sale for less than $20. I installed one on my rain/beater bike a couple of years ago and it has held up just fine. It's not the lighest or prettiest but it's very functional and a real bargain.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:42 AM   #5
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I have a couple of questions:
1. Do you have fenders? A front fender can keep water/crud out of the bottom half, which sees the highest loading.
2. Was both the top and the bottom dry, or just the bottom? The bottom usually sees the most water and dirt, when fenders or some other protection are not used.
3. You said it was an 88 rochhopper that you have had almost 2 years - so someone else owned it before you? Are you sure that it had much grease in it when you got it? It may have been nearly dry when you got it, but hadn't gotten so bad yet that you noticed. And you may put the bike to more severe duty than the last owner.

I have used a Specialized brand neoprene-stretchy wrap with velcro tab that you wrap around the lower part of the headset at the fork, supposedly to keep dirt out. I don't know if it really works or just makes me feel better about it, but I can't believe it would hurt. I think fenders are better, but I actually have both - just left the thing on when I put the fenders on.

If you want a really low-tech, maybe rather ugly version of the wrap thing: after you re-pack the headset with some good grease, like Phil Wood, take some jute twine, maybe 10-12 inches, and soak it in melted beeswax, then after it firms up, wrap it aound the bottom of the lower headset. You can just tie it in place so it doesn't fall off, or fasten by some other means. I know this sounds really nasty - and I have never tried it, but I am inspired by having used stuff called oakum packing joints in old sewer pipes, to keep liquids inside a loose pipe joint. Not unlike rope style valve packing - if you have ever seen this. It's coarse string impregnated with a greasy graphite material.
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Old 02-18-06, 02:43 PM   #6
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If you can find it.... an old suntour XC greaseguard headset. I found one for my old bianchi volpe when the old tange headset was worn out. It has a port for a grease gun, so you can periodically shoot new grease into the bearings and push out the old grease. You are still supposed to periodically overhaul the bearings. The headset is really smooth and cuts down on maintenance time when you're riding in the rain every day.
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Old 02-18-06, 02:56 PM   #7
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Shimano 105 isn't bad, but it's a cartridge headset. It's threaded though.
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Old 02-18-06, 04:00 PM   #8
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To answer ridesoldtrek:
1) Yes I have fenders, but only recently. The bearings have seen plenty of water I'm sure.
2) Both top and bottom were dry.
3) I most definitely put it through rougher use than any previous owners. It was in great shape when I got it. I don't know what the bearings were like then, I never tore into them.

That twine/beeswax method seems really low tech. I like it!
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Old 02-18-06, 04:33 PM   #9
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I put Lizard Skins neoprane wrap (shuts with velcro) on the lower headset race of all my bikes. Same as the Specialized that someone mentioned above. Works great, and costs $3. I've had the same one on my road bike without touching it for 10 years, and the bearings were still in nearly-perfect shape when I overhauled them this past summer.
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Old 02-18-06, 07:45 PM   #10
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+1 on the lizard skin. commuting in all kinds of crappy weather without a front fender just about killed my STX cartridge headset. cleaned it out and put a lizard skin on, it's been running good ever since (granted only about two months, but the headset was only installed for about 3 months before it started acting up).

someone mentioned that a mtn tube would do the same thing if you have a used one laying around. but then you have to take the fork completely out.

it's not going to be very easy to reintstall any headset using a giant adjustable wrench. maybe it's time to start buying bike tools.
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Old 02-18-06, 07:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekorn
If you can find it.... an old suntour XC greaseguard headset. I found one for my old bianchi volpe when the old tange headset was worn out. It has a port for a grease gun, so you can periodically shoot new grease into the bearings and push out the old grease. You are still supposed to periodically overhaul the bearings. The headset is really smooth and cuts down on maintenance time when you're riding in the rain every day.
+1 all suntour greaseguard everything. IMHO, the peak of bicycle components.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:03 PM   #12
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Note that not all 1" headsets are the same. There was ISO and JIS standards. For a Rockhopper, you will most likely need a JIS headset but it's best to measure. The crown race for a JIS 1" headset measures 27.0mm and the frame race is 30.0mm. If your measurements are 26.4mm and 30.2mm respectively then you'll need an ISO 1" headset.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genericbikedude
+1 all suntour greaseguard everything. IMHO, the peak of bicycle components.
Agreed. Of course, WTB, the inventor of the GreaseGuard system which SunTour was licensed to use still makes GG headsets but no longer in 1"/threaded format.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:07 PM   #14
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i'd look on ebay and buy any 1" shimano sealed cartridge bearing heaset that find at a decent price as long as the stack height works (and shimano HSs have a lower stack than most).

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Old 02-18-06, 10:55 PM   #15
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Wow thanks for all the well thought out responses. My not so local LBS (the best one in town, but its 20 minutes away) has quoted me $35 for a Shimano STX headset installed. I was thinking of using that, with a lizard skin on the bottom. Would that do what I need??
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Old 02-19-06, 03:20 AM   #16
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If the bearing surfaces are ok and smooth and it is a beater bike you could just keep it packed in a good marine lube and repack the head set every year.
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Old 02-19-06, 11:48 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rykoala
Wow thanks for all the well thought out responses. My not so local LBS (the best one in town, but its 20 minutes away) has quoted me $35 for a Shimano STX headset installed. I was thinking of using that, with a lizard skin on the bottom. Would that do what I need??
That's a good price for a decent headset, particularly as it includes installation. Go for it.
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Old 02-19-06, 12:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rykoala
Wow thanks for all the well thought out responses. My not so local LBS (the best one in town, but its 20 minutes away) has quoted me $35 for a Shimano STX headset installed. I was thinking of using that, with a lizard skin on the bottom. Would that do what I need??
I would also recommend going for this.
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