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  1. #1
    steve bell
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    Can someone demystify headset manufacturers for me?

    Hey Mechanics and other dudes who know what they're talking about,

    I've searched and searched, trying to find out information on headsets. Particularly why some are better than others, and who's are the best, beyond the hype. So i'm wondering if someone out there can just give me a little tutorial. I know the difference between threaded and threadless, loose-ball and cartiridge bearings, how to overhaul, etc. I'm just not really clear on who makes what and what's good and what's a deal.

    Can anyone give me a good breakdown?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    <3s bikes Re-Cycle's Avatar
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    The first person that says Chris King is the only way to go gets a kick in the dick.


    My personal philosophy is that headsets, if cared for, will last for a long time even if they arn't fancy. I have a $10 ritchey on my all purpose touring/mountain bike. It has a section of innertube around the lower assembly to keep dirt and grime out. I have cane creeks on various other bikes and they work great to.

    Skimp on the headset, care for it, and put the extra $ elsewhere on your bike

    $10 ritchey:


    $30 cane creeek

  3. #3
    Resident Old Fart Olebiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    My personal philosophy is that headsets, if cared for, will last for a long time even if they arn't fancy. ]
    The only people I have ever known to have trouble with headsets are the folks who insist on repacking them every year or so. I still have a Campy headset that I used for over 20 years with maybe two repacks. Headsets thrive on benign neglect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    $30 cane creeek
    This is the one on my new Douglas Precision Ti. Works just fine.
    Wag more, bark less

  4. #4
    fishologist cohophysh's Avatar
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    so do the bearings usually come with new headsets??
    We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. A.E.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member concernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cohophysh
    so do the bearings usually come with new headsets??
    always.

    there are a few types of headsets, sealed bearing and loose ball. loose ball headsets are a little more vulnerable to the elements, and need more TLC. sealed bearing headsets, such as chris king or cane creek, can be forgotten about for awhile.

    chris king headsets are fancastic, but there are other great ones. i have a few cane creek s-3's, as well as a king. while there is no difference in performance, i know that the king will likely last longer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Regarding the inevitable potshots at Chris King as "the" benchmark in headsets... yeah, you can get years of good service from value-priced headsets. I have myself, there's nothing wrong with that. But if you think anyone else is quite like Chris King, then name another headset manufacturer that will make you a custom headset with ovalized cup flanges, to fit your own measurements, in order to save your irreplaceable ______ frame that's suffered an ovalized headtube.

    *crickets*

    All rightie then. Having sold lots of Kings in my time, and lots of other stuff too, I won't be casting aspersions on people who decide to budget for a King when they're wallowing in $300-$500 cranksets, carbon forks/stems/bars/derailleurs/bottle cages/seatposts. If you're in the Shimano 105 bracket, however, get something like this: Dia-Compe AL-series. Lightweight, forgiving of imperfect frame alignment, cheap and easily serviced. And they don't scrape & drag like I've seen Ritcheys do with their plastic upper overcup. Do watch for that upper seal if it decides to herniate out the edge of the cup during assembly, however.

  7. #7
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    The best way to ruin a headset is to ride it loose (assuming it wasn't boogered up by ham-handed installation in the first place).

    I like my Chris Kings because they piss off people like Re-Cycle...

    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  8. #8
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    Headset

    I have old ones that have held up OK.


    BUT really Chris King is the way to go. Kick away.

  9. #9
    d_D
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    Quote Originally Posted by concernicus
    there are a few types of headsets, sealed bearing and loose ball. loose ball headsets are a little more vulnerable to the elements, and need more TLC. sealed bearing headsets, such as chris king or cane creek, can be forgotten about for awhile.
    You mean cartridge bearing not sealed bearing. Lots of loose ball headsets also have seals.

  10. #10
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon
    But if you think anyone else is quite like Chris King, then name another headset manufacturer that will make you a custom headset with ovalized cup flanges, to fit your own measurements, in order to save your irreplaceable ______ frame that's suffered an ovalized headtube.

    [
    Geeze, why not just ream it out round?
    FWIW, my Atala has the same no-name Italian headset it was shipped with 30-odd years ago. Loose balls, non-sealed cups. I've cleaned it out and re-packed it every five years or so, and it rides on.
    Top

  11. #11
    blithering idiot jhota's Avatar
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    i like my CK because i was able to get it in pretty colours.

  12. #12
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    My experience with headsets is pretty much limited to those in use in the early 1970's when I worked in the LBS. In those days, Campagnolo was the "Chris King." Better - but so what... Headsets are the least stressed, most reliable, most overbuilt moving part on any bicycle, period. Any headset that is properly installed, maintained at proper tension, and kept free of grit will last the life of the bike, to the best of my knowledge. I agree with the poster who said "spend your $$ elsewhere."

  13. #13
    <3s bikes Re-Cycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhota
    i like my CK because i was able to get it in pretty colours.
    Bingo. Also installing it upsidedown gains 2x cool points. SHizaM!!!!1

  14. #14
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    SHizaM!!!!1
    That's 'Shazam!" Captian Marvel would not be impressed.
    Top
    (not quite that old, but a student of comics)

  15. #15
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    I found a Chris King used for my fixed gear. I have to say it's very nice but not worth what they cost new. If I find a deal on another used one I will snap it up though.

    The biggest advantage of a higher quality headset in my opinion is you can have it a little tighter and therefore the front end feels more solid. As far as steering smoothness goes, as long as a headset isn't trashed you will not notice that much of a difference when actually riding the bike. For an MTB it would be worth spending more $$$ on a beefy headset since it will be subjected to more abuse.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Chris King = overrated

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