I recently purchased a used frame to swap all my components over to since my old frame is a little too big.
This new(to me at least) frame is from 2002. It came with the fork and headset already installed. The headset is a Cane Creek ZS(Zero Stack). I know almost nothing about headsets as I am just new to doing bicycle mechanical work. All I do know is from my scouring of the interwebs. So, I greased things up and properly torqued my new stem to the fork and noticed that it doesn't turn too smoothly. It's not bad, it just feels like there is a bit of uneasiness and you can hear it. My current bike and my wife's are smooth as butter. I'm assuming that I should just replace the bearings. They seem to be easily ordered either from a lbs or from the internet.
They are sealed bearings. I took it back apart and checked out all the pieces and everything seems clean with no pits or any problems that I can see. It is an old frame, so I just am assuming that the problem is most likely the bearings.
Should I just buy new bearings? Is there anything else I should look at? The price online with shipping is about $34 or so. It's an old model headset but everything seems in great condition otherwise.
Or, should I replace the entire headset? I know that my investment would be higher in the short term, but I plan on riding this bike for hopefully a long time once completed and don't want to take any shortcuts. My new frame is a 1 1/8" threadless and I see prices range from $50 or so for Cane Creek up to $120+ for Chris King, etc. I can't use my old headset from my current frame as it's 1" threaded with a quill stem.
The bearings required for my headset are I.D. 30mm, O.D. 41mm and 6.5mm thick. The cost of the two bearing cartridges would be around $35-40+ online and I'd like to avoid this if possible. I've completely taken apart my headset other than the upper and lower bearing cups, but I cleaned them and they're in great condition. Every other piece looks to be in pretty good condition as well other than the rust on the outside of the bearing cartridges.
Enclosed is a picture of one of my bearings. The outside has a good amount of rust. Excuse me as I don't know the names of each component of the bearing cartridge, but I'll call it the outer shell, inner shell, ball bearings and hard plastic top and lower rings that covers the openings to the bearings.
My questions to any of you guys are this:
Can I soak this in some degreaser for a bit and then blow some compressed air to clean it out, put new grease in and put back the two rings and reuse? None of the parts seem to be broken or pitted, etc. There is rust around the outside but it doesn't seem like it rusted inside as there was ample amount of grease, it's just a bit dirty and gritty. Sorry for the bad photo. You can still see the rust a bit and at least the type of bearing cartridge. The grease is a rust color so I can't tell the extent, if any, of rust inside the cartridge.
Have you had luck cleaning bearings like this and just regreasing and reusing or would I really be better off getting new cartridge bearings?