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Old 08-09-06, 08:00 AM   #1
All1NTao
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Do you grease a sealed bearing headset?

I just installed a Cane Creek S2 headset with sealed bearing cartridges. Do I need to grease the cups and races? Just lighty, packed or not really needed?
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Old 08-09-06, 08:13 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by All1NTao
I just installed a Cane Creek S2 headset with sealed bearing cartridges. Do I need to grease the cups and races? Just lighty, packed or not really needed?
Sealed bearings are, generally, maintenance free. You shouldn't need to lubricate them for quite a while. However you might want to check with Cane Creek just to be sure.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:29 AM   #3
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Not really needed but a very light coat seems prudent, the moving parts are 'sealed'. Packing would just extrude grease out the gaps as you tighten up the headset. www.canecreek.com has a pdf that does not mention grease or lube at all.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:00 AM   #4
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I read CaneCreeks PDF and it did not mention grease on the parts, but I agree a light layer seems prudent. Will those seals break down over time?
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Old 08-09-06, 10:45 AM   #5
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Seals are not hermetic, but for most purposes adequate especially on road bikes or cleanly ridden ATB.
The seals 'loosen' over time, the grease evaporates (volatiles) or polymerizes and gradually loses effectiveness. I had a pair of Phil BB that were put in service in the mid '70s and stored from '77 to '82 and then from '84 to '99. The grease had converted to paraffin. I popped the seals out, rinsed and relubed then reinstalled the seals and the BB lasted several thousand miles til the bike was off loaded to a brother. Plastic seals are removable, metal seals are 'not' removeable without damage. A Chinese machine tool bought in '94 and sporadically used til '02 was found to have a frozen spindle. Dissassembly again showed paraffinized lube. Clean and relube solved the problem. Sealed bearings of the type in headsets would be more difficult to get at for clean/lube than BB bearings and are not designed for user maintenance, though this is in theory possible. They are a lot better protected than loose/caged ball bearing headsets from the environment.
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Old 08-09-06, 11:25 AM   #6
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I'd be pretty surprised if a mid 70s Phil BB had cartridge bearings, ya know...
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Old 08-09-06, 11:31 AM   #7
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I'd be pretty surprised if a mid 70s Phil BB had cartridge bearings, ya know...
They did.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:36 PM   #8
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I have Cane Creek sealed bearing headsets on three of my bikes, and no, the Cane Creek instructions have never mentioned greasing the cups and races. However, one of the popular maintenance books (Zinn? Park? Bicycling?) does recommend a light layer of grease, from what I remember.

I can't say for sure if it's necessary, but I use a little grease and have suffered no ill effects.
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