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Thread: Which headset?

  1. #1
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Which headset?

    So I'm expecting the friendly UPS guy to show up with my new Surly Crosscheck frame any minute now, and to prepare for it I have completely stripped my old Trek 1000. The goal is to gradually replace components on the crosscheck and put old components back on the Trek until I get it back to being a full bike and sell it.

    So from the Trek I have this Aheadset, which is a threadless, 1 1/8, angular contact kind of headset, and I also bought this bearing-type headset because it was only $8. New. Brand is "Virtue", I'm sure it's quite low end.

    So I'm guessing the forum would recommend I put the Aheadset on the crosscheck, and slap the commodity headset onto the Trek (or not? Is a cheap new headset preferable to a decent used headset?)

    What makes a headset better? I have never had any problem turning a bike steerer, and I have never had a headset get loose so there was play. Is a headset like a bottom bracket, where you can get something cheap (like Shimano UN55 in the $20's) and it will work just fine, essentially forever (like 100K miles)?

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    What's your budget, if unlimited, Chris King or Cane Creek 110, if you just want good value, an FSA Orbit MX or XLII are great headsets. For in use, have used Cane Creek 110's ad FSA's, and there isn't really anything in them when using.

    What ever you choose, look at getting the head tube faced to ensure that the headset align correctly.

  3. #3
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    I've already gone $8 over budget, since I was planning on using the headset from the Trek until some time in the indefinite future. I'm just trying to decide whether to use the new cheap bearing one, or the used name-brand angular contact one, and trying to understand what difference it makes

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    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Besides possible dimensional issues (stack height) and assuming otherwise interchangable spec. The differences could be: grade of cup/come bearing surface (just machined or ground also), grade of balls (but this is a VERY small point), size of balls (how many know which has a higher load- half the balls of twice the diameter or twice the number with half the diameter?) and the grade of the tollerances of fit and finish. Oh, I guess one could also mention material.

    One of the trends in the last number of years is to reduce the stack height, espically the lower bearing unit. this is to makle room for the huge fork "crowns" that carbon designs want and the equally large frame tubes. And not have the top of the head tube get too high. Also the fashon to not want to see the bearing units require them small enough to fit inside the head tube yet allow for the big diameter of the steerer (that a carbon steerer wants to be).

    Why am I tangenting off in this direction? Because this reduction of bearing unit size is often done by making the balls smaller. So to answer the first question from above... The bearing unit with the bigger balls (2X) but half the number (.5Y) will have twice the load capicity as the unit that has 1X size and 2Y count. The load of a ball increases with the square of it's diameter but only linear with the number of balls.

    This is why classic high end head sets had 3/16" balls (and the taller stack height) for the bumpy roads. For years the mid priced units used 5/32" balls and these days we see many with tiny 1/8" balls. No wonder stuff wears out faster then it use to.

    So in my mechanical design world i'd favor the headset with the larger balls. An additional advantage to the larger ball is that they are also more tollerant of poof frame prep. Andy.

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    Keep the Aheadset on the Trek and relegate the $8 headset to paper-weight duty. The Cross Check deserves its own decent headset. I have a Cane Creek S3 on mine but any mid-line Cane Creek or FSA headset will work wonderfully at reasonable cost, but not $8!

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    Retro Grouch onespeedbiker's Avatar
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    Your Neco Virtue headset is made in Taiwan by a company named Chiih Chinn Industry. The Virtue headset is considered an Aheadset as it uses Cane Creels split-lip collar (the patent ran out 2010). Further pretty much every loose ball headset uses angular bearings (this is different from the angle of a cartridge bearing). I would doubt either headset is substantially better than the other as most Aheadsets are just stamped out; there are some better Aheadsets with some attention to the bearing surfaces and alloy cups, but the standard all steel seem to last the longest. There is also one one caveat, both headsets most likely have 5/32 caged bearings which is the industry standard, however the Virture on uses 16 bearings where others use 22; this could be a difference in the race, but if it's a spaced retainer, I would either buy a 22 bearing retainer or go loose bearing. I say if you bought the headset use it; Aheadsets are pretty much bullet proof and even an inexpensive one should work well for you for a long time. I currently have a standard Aheadset on my Tandem which has seen thousands of miles over the last 10 years (some off road). I bought a FSA Pig (a heavy duty headset), thinking it would need to be replaced due to the stresses it receives on a tandem, but it continues to work flawlessly. I'm not saying every Aheadset will last the same way, but the design makes them last a long time.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Got the Head Tube Bore Data? that helps to get the right headset race to press in the frame.

    Given the Steerer tube at 1.125" is pretty universal.. most will be fine, if they fit in the head tube properly.

  8. #8
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Yah, I didn't hear from enough of you guys soon enough, I already pressed the Aheadset onto the Surly (DIY headset press = 1/2" hex bolt, nut, big washers, and elbow grease), and that sucker is not coming off! I figured $8 is too cheap, and besides, one of the retainers was missing a bearing.

    fietsbob, the Surly and the Trek both work with 1 1/8 headtubes/headsets/steerers. The aheadset fit on the surly, but boy was the bottom headset cup tight! Or maybe I didn't use enough grease; I used a good bit more on the top and it slipped in a lot easier.

    HillRider, thanks for the advice, but why? What extra benefit does the extra cost of a high-end headset give? If I go cheap will my ride feel funny? Will it wear out and my steerer tube will freeze just when I'm heading straight towards a cliff and I'll die because I can't turn?

  9. #9
    Retro Grouch onespeedbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    Yah, I didn't hear from enough of you guys soon enough, I already pressed the Aheadset onto the Surly (DIY headset press = 1/2" hex bolt, nut, big washers, and elbow grease), and that sucker is not coming off! I figured $8 is too cheap, and besides, one of the retainers was missing a bearing.

    fietsbob, the Surly and the Trek both work with 1 1/8 headtubes/headsets/steerers. The aheadset fit on the surly, but boy was the bottom headset cup tight! Or maybe I didn't use enough grease; I used a good bit more on the top and it slipped in a lot easier.

    HillRider, thanks for the advice, but why? What extra benefit does the extra cost of a high-end headset give? If I go cheap will my ride feel funny? Will it wear out and my steerer tube will freeze just when I'm heading straight towards a cliff and I'll die because I can't turn?
    What am I? Chopped liver? Anyway, benefits of a higher end headset can be subtle; they tend to need less maintenance and have higher to much higher tolerances, so they work better and last longer and they tend to be better sealed; the races are harder and/or ground/polished (cheaper bb can also have spaced bearing retainers that use less ball bearings and the bearings themselves can be of poorer quality);a more expensive headset can be made of softer materials so they wear faster. Some use cartridge bearings which are very smooth and require very little maintenance, but require higher tolerances as radial bearings don't self center. With higher tolerances and ground races, it is easier to adjust the preset. Finally the more expensive headsets are usually lighter with more attention to the aesthetics (usually more polishing is involved for a cleaner and smoother look). Headsets with much higher tolerances will cost about $140, but have warranties from 10-110 years.
    Last edited by onespeedbiker; 11-23-12 at 08:10 PM.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    so you didn't measure first, just forced it in, eh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    so you didn't measure first, just forced it in, eh?
    If he knew they were both 1-1/8" headtubes and forks there was no reason to measure. There is no ISO/JIS choice to be made with 1-1/8" stuff.

    onespeedbiker: Thanks for saving me a lot of typing. I'm not convinced the costs of Chris King (although I have one on one bike) or Cane Creek 110 headsets are worth it, but there are good medium priced headsets that offer most of their advantages at a more reasonable cost but well above the $8 level.

  12. #12
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onespeedbiker View Post
    What am I? Chopped liver? Anyway, benefits of a higher end headset can be subtle...
    Well not exactly chopped liver, maybe ground chuck? But this explanation is much more along the lines of what I was looking for (although that is very helpful info about Neco/Virtue). It seems like high-end headsets are akin to high-end bottom brackets, except they are more visible, so there is also a component of aesthetics. I am happy to hear you've had good results with a standard Aheadset, even on a tandem. I look forward to similarly never thinking again about the Aheadset on my Surly!

  13. #13
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    so you didn't measure first, just forced it in, eh?

    Well I measured it to the best of my $3 calipers' abilities. I got quite a scare when it appeared that the OD of the headset was a full mm larger than the ID of the headset tube, but I was able to verify this is a systematic bias between the OD/ID arms of my calipers (OD of a 27.2 seatpost looked like 27.0-3, but ID of the seat tube it securely slides into looked like 26.notmuch)

    At that point, I was confident enough that the surly frame was manufactured as-designed, so I went ahead. Look man, I got a brand new frame on Wed.; you expect me to sit around wed night, thanksgiving and friday and saturday and sunday not building it up so I can ride it?

  14. #14
    Retro Grouch onespeedbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    I look forward to similarly never thinking again about the Aheadset on my Surly!
    The Aheadset design is so good that I'm sure you'll have years of not thinking about it.

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