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  1. #1
    Junior Member aseth's Avatar
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    Threadless Headset - VO or Chris King?

    Working on my first build and still picking out the major components. Right now trying to get my headset sorted--the frame takes a 1-1/8" threadless. My guy at the LBS had me pretty sold on getting a Chris King, but encouraged me to do a little bit more research, at which point I stumbled across the Velo Orange Grand Cru. I'll admit that half the appeal is aesthetic (shiny! pretty!), but the reviews I've seen seem pretty positive, and the guy at VO I emailed said that the only plastic bit was "the little plastic piece that goes on top of the bolt that goes into the star nuts to preload the headset." It's also 1/3-1/2 the cost of the King, which for a grad student holds some appeal. So would I be foolish to get seduced by shiny chrome and a cheaper price and forsake going for top-of-the-line?

    http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...s-headset.html

    http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...-8-chrome.html

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I think the main thing about CK is that it makes the statement that the bike was worth it, and that the builder will go to great lengths to meet the highest standards. Which isn't always true with first builds anyway. That might be the objective...

  3. #3
    Senior Member mudboy's Avatar
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    VO stuff is nice. Not perfect, but nice. Chris King stuff is nice and perfect.
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  4. #4
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    I think the main thing about CK is that it makes the statement that the bike was worth it, and that the builder will go to great lengths to meet the highest standards. Which isn't always true with first builds anyway. That might be the objective...
    +1. It's bling, pure and simple. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as the bike is worth it. Otherwise it's like lipstick on a pig. But that's OK too if you really, really like your pig.

    Functionally, there are a bazillion $20ish headsets with tens of thousands of miles that are still working fine. The headset is probably the least wear prone moving part on a bike.
    Last edited by rogerstg; 09-19-11 at 10:25 AM.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    CK makes all the parts , here, in Oregon... VO goes to Taipei , gets those factories
    Over there to make the polished things that he sells..

    Headsets get beat up when they come loose, out of adjustment.

    Sealed headset cartridge bearing's races, stay in the same proximity,
    even if the cups holding them get loose.
    thats what CK makes.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-18-11 at 10:57 AM.

  6. #6
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    tange techno-glide

  7. #7
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    What's the frame and the other stuff that you have picked?

  8. #8
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    I think a CK headset is only ever justified if the rest of the bike is already up to those high standards. Because a headset is arguably the least important bearing in the bike, putting a King on a bike equipped with Tektro brakes and Tiagra derailers just makes it seem like you don't know how to spend money.

  9. #9
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
    Functionally, there are a bazillion $20ish headsets with tens of thousands of miles that are still working fine. The headset is probably the least wear prone moving part on a bike.
    +1. IMO, cheaper headsets work fine and can be more durable since they're steel as opposed to aluminum.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member commo_soulja's Avatar
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    OP didn't say what frame the headset is for. I agree with what some already said. If a high zoot bling build, definitely a CK. If not any old headset will do. I'm sorta go with Cane Creek headsets for regular builds.
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  11. #11
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    I have the older units that creak, in the last year Cane Creek's patent expired and CK headsets have that improvement and CK headsets won't creak anymore. In any case, I won't bother again (I own three), a $40 Cane Creek is just a good and cost $100 less....

  12. #12
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    I think CK headsets are the best when it comes to durability and being trouble free. They ought to be, for what they cost. Personally, I would never put one on a road bike, I think they're overkill for that, although I can see what others are saying in regard to a high bling bike, might as well go with a blingy headset.

    I put one on one of my mountain bikes once, I was having repeated problems with headsets needing adjustment, headsets wearing out, etc. Mountain biking beats a headset up. Once I installed the CK, those problems were gone. That CK headset outlasted that bike, and is now on the third mountain bike its been on. It's also out of warranty (over ten years old). Once installed, I've never had to adjust it. Truly a zero problems headset for eleven years and counting, despite the fact that 90+% of its use has been off road.
    Last edited by well biked; 09-19-11 at 07:40 AM.

  13. #13
    Junior Member aseth's Avatar
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    The frame is a Surly Cross Check. I'm building it up as a one-speed load-bearing, errand-running, 4-season around the town and possibly light touring bike, if that makes any difference.

  14. #14
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aseth View Post
    The frame is a Surly Cross Check. I'm building it up as a one-speed load-bearing,
    errand-running, 4-season around the town and possibly light touring bike, if that makes any difference.
    A Chris King headset for this stated application, as well as most of those
    I've personally seen, is a huge waste of money.



    Given the collapse of the world economy, I'm putting all my resources into Chris King headsets based on the relative strength of the Chris King Headset Composite Index (CKHCI). As you can see, the stem is not "slammed." I'm not sure why a "slammed" stem is a good thing anyway; it's the equivalent of having your saddle jammed all the way forward. I'd think you'd want a bit of adjustability in either direction. But what do I know?

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/search?q=chris+king
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  15. #15
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    I think Surly uses Cane Creek on their own builds. I put one on my wife's bike 3 years ago and it has worked flawlessly. I have also installed and used CK, Tange, fsa and Shimano headsets without a problem. If your concerned about looks I think the above mentioned Tange techno glide is pretty cool. I actually have the IRD version of that one and even parked next to my CK it looks nice for about half the price.

  16. #16
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    yeah, techno-glide or a cane creek would be my choice for a cross-check buildup.

    chris kings are great (and a great company to support as well) -- rock one of you have the money and desire. aint no shame in that.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by aseth View Post
    The frame is a Surly Cross Check. I'm building it up as a one-speed load-bearing, errand-running, 4-season around the town and possibly light touring bike, if that makes any difference.
    I agree that a CK headset is a great component but wildly overpriced and completely over the top for your purposes. It costs over 25% of the cost of your entire frame and fork! I have a CK headset on a Campy Chorus equipped Litespeed but only because it came as part of a frame/fork/headset package deal. It's been an excellent headset but I would not have paid that much as a separate purchase.

    I also have a Cross Check built up as a rain/errand/utility bike and it has a Cane Creek S8 headset that has also been completely satisfactory despite continual abuse. I also have FSA Orbit headsets on two other bikes and they have been equally satisfactory. One of the FSA's has well over 20,000 miles and is still in perfect condition.

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
    Functionally, there are a bazillion $20ish headsets with tens of thousands of miles that are still working fine. The headset is probably the least wear prone moving part on a bike.
    You've never experienced mountain bike induced indexed steering, I take it

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    +1. IMO, cheaper headsets work fine and can be more durable since they're steel as opposed to aluminum.
    All of the aluminum headsets I've ever used have had steel races. Aluminum just isn't up to the pounding.

    What all of you are forgetting is what got Chris King the reputation it has. When King headset first came out, the competition was just awful. Sure the other headsets were cheap but if you were riding a bike off-roads as I alluded to above, you could blow through from a few to several cheap headsets a year. And, given the nature of the conditions, you were constantly rebuilding loose bearing headsets in an attempt to not blow through several of them a year.

    King headsets were first rate because they were sealed and easy to set up and lasted much, much longer than the cheapies. If you have to replace 2 or 3 cheap headsets, that goes a long way towards the cost of the King that you'll basically never have to replace and it will probably outlast the bike it's on.

    The Velo Orange headset is probably a quality unit. It looks enough like a King that it should come with a warning about trademark infringement It's nice and shiny silver. But at least Kings come in various cool colors I'll keep my Kings (I've got 7 of them) and pay a premium to support a small US company.
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  19. #19
    Map maker cbchess's Avatar
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    +1 for king headsets - if you want to spend the money
    +1 for FSA orbit XL II - if you don't, just as good without the bling at 20% of the price.

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