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Old 01-31-11, 03:14 PM   #1
matt0ne
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Stronglight Headset w/ Cylinder bearings

Man, this headset is something else:



I cleaned it all up, greased it nice and put it back together. It's not the quietest of things. That's normal right? It's not like I hear a grinding noise, but I can clearly hear the bearings spinning. More grease perhaps?

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Old 01-31-11, 03:37 PM   #2
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Yeah, that's fairly normal.
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Old 01-31-11, 03:42 PM   #3
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I never noticed that any of mine make a noise.
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Old 01-31-11, 03:51 PM   #4
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and they're called needle bearings...in this case they are trapped in a Delrin or nylon cage. Mine are also perfectly quiet...they take a bit more care to get correctly adjusted than standard ball bearings.
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Old 01-31-11, 03:55 PM   #5
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My A9s (the none cartridge bearing ones like you have pictured) never made any noise either. Try more grease and/or check if you assembled/stacked the pieces in the correct sequence.....it happens to the even the best of us.....You might even have it on a little too tight,
although, these A9s do require a bit of tension/pre-load (Just a little bit tighter than regular ball bearing types). Once you get them adjusted correctly they stay good for a very long time.
Play around with it a bit. it should not be that noisy.

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Old 01-31-11, 05:37 PM   #6
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and they're called needle bearings...in this case they are trapped in a Delrin or nylon cage. Mine are also perfectly quiet...they take a bit more care to get correctly adjusted than standard ball bearings.
Oops, Needle bearings. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll soak that cage and make sure to get them really clean and thoroughly lubed up.
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Old 01-31-11, 05:53 PM   #7
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if you can hear the bearing spinning, then the headset is probably loose. Adjusting the A9 is a little harder than regular ball bearing headset. I am in Federal Way, if you need a hand to try to solve the problem, PM me.
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Old 01-31-11, 06:22 PM   #8
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if you can hear the bearing spinning, then the headset is probably loose. Adjusting the A9 is a little harder than regular ball bearing headset. I am in Federal Way, if you need a hand to try to solve the problem, PM me.
Very cool. I'll try again tonight and let you know.
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Old 01-31-11, 06:38 PM   #9
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I have a Torelli needle bearing headset on my Pinarello, it looks pretty much identical to the Stronglight in the pics. My Torelli has been a good headset, and it's quiet. Very smooth, too. I have a brand new Campy Record headset waiting in the wings for when the Torrelli wears out, but that may be a long while.
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Old 01-31-11, 07:17 PM   #10
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I have a Torelli needle bearing headset on my Pinarello, it looks pretty much identical to the Stronglight in the pics. My Torelli has been a good headset, and it's quiet. Very smooth, too. I have a brand new Campy Record headset waiting in the wings for when the Torrelli wears out, but that may be a long while.
I suspect that your Torelli headset is just a rebadged Stronglight A9.
Miche had their own version of a needle bearing headset. It's under the "Primato" model name and looks a bit different from the Stronglights but very similar on the inside. I think that most of these other makers also got licensing to produce them from Stronglight (Unless the Stronglight patents expired already). It's one of the best ideas the French had ever come up with in bicycling. It's so simple that I'm sure many other manufacturers thought "Why didn't I ever think of this??" when it first came out. I'm surprised that Stronglight quit making them and just used cartridge sealed bearings on their last version of the A9, which is available today. The needle bearing design was good as it is already. It only resulted in the old design A9 becoming so expensive in the NOS market.

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Old 01-31-11, 07:27 PM   #11
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Hmm. My A9 makes a very little bit of noise when I spin the fork around.
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Old 01-31-11, 08:03 PM   #12
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I suspect that your Torelli headset is just a rebadged Stronglight A9.
After seeing MattOne's pics of his A9 disassembled, I think you're right. My Torelli looks absolutely like that. I strongly suspect that this headset is the original headset on my Pinarello, which is a 1997 year model bike, FWIW. I had never owned a needle bearing headset before, and I'm very impressed with it.
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Old 01-31-11, 08:03 PM   #13
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and they're called needle bearings....
they are called roller bearings now:
http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2010...-headsets.html
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Old 01-31-11, 08:58 PM   #14
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they are called roller bearings now:
http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2010...-headsets.html
I was just reading up on the Miche Primato headset that Chombi mentions above, and I noticed that Miche refers to this type of bearing as "needle roller bearings."
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Old 01-31-11, 11:45 PM   #15
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they are called roller bearings now:
http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2010...-headsets.html
I'm not sure there is a temporal dimension to how rolling element bearings are/have been labeled. Roller bearing is rather generic and comprehends needle beariings. Arguably, it also comprehends, for instance, spherical roller bearing. Needle bearing implies a cylindrical roller bearing with a relatively high aspect ratio of axial length to diameter.
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Old 02-01-11, 12:27 AM   #16
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So I cleaned, greased to the max, and adjusted many times, but it's still not silent. It is smooth though - I don't "feel" friction. Should I stay concerned?
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Old 02-01-11, 12:33 AM   #17
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I tightened my A9 until there was no side-to-side play felt. It did feel tighter than a regular headset but that's how they're supposed to be (or so I've read).
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Old 02-01-11, 12:51 AM   #18
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I guess if I was a bearing engineer I'd know exactly where the cut-off was, but I use both "needle" and "roller" to describe this style of bearing...but needle for small size elements and roller when they get to be too big to be considered needle-ish. It's very inexact. These are small enough to fall into the needle category, for me, but if you called them roller bearings I'd know exactly what you meant. In automotive applications roller-shaped bearings a lot bigger diameter than these are still called "needles", so they certainly don't correspond to sewing needles in size.
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Old 02-01-11, 12:53 AM   #19
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I tightened my A9 until there was no side-to-side play felt. It did feel tighter than a regular headset but that's how they're supposed to be (or so I've read).
Correct. When you adjust the A9 headset, you tighten it until there are no more play. It will be tighter then ball bearing headset but still smooth.
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Old 02-01-11, 08:07 AM   #20
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So I cleaned, greased to the max, and adjusted many times, but it's still not silent. It is smooth though - I don't "feel" friction. Should I stay concerned?
As far as adjustment, the first test is to squeeze the front brake lever to lock up the front wheel and then rock the bike back and forth to check for play in the headset. If there's no play, the next step is to check to see if you have it too tight. The way I check for that is to hold the bike by the seatpost and lift it completely off the ground; the front wheel will hang down. Then turn the front wheel to one side and let go; it should immediately and smoothly return to center on its own. If it doesn't, the headset is binding and is too tight. Do it at least twice, turning the wheel to both sides to make sure there's no binding no matter which way you turn it.

So if there's no play and the wheel turns smoothly and quickly to center on its own, you're within the "window" of proper headset adjustment.

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Old 02-01-11, 11:17 AM   #21
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I tightened my A9 until there was no side-to-side play felt. It did feel tighter than a regular headset but that's how they're supposed to be (or so I've read).
Yes, because the bearings are cylindrical rather than tapered, there is always some sliding contact when it rotates. This is only noticeable when the bearing is not loaded; on the road it works just fine.
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