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  1. #1
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    Perhaps a dumb question regarding headset bearings...

    Does the orientation of either the top or bottom headset bearing race make any difference? I'm not sure that they were correctly oriented in an older bike I'm rebuilding, and then I thought that perhaps there was no correct way to load the bearing races in a headset. Any experts who can help me out with this? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Unimatrix Zero whatwolf's Avatar
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    They do have an up/down orientation... putting them in the wrong way, or up-side down, would cause the bearing retainer to contact the race.

  3. #3
    billy chuck eschlwc's Avatar
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    not sure what you mean. refer to this schematic and maybe elaborate a bit...


  4. #4
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    The more exposed part of the bearing normally sits against the bearing cup. That picture pretty much sums it up though.

  5. #5
    Senior Member auchencrow's Avatar
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    Don't use caged bearings.
    End of problem!
    - Auchen

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lascauxcaveman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
    Don't use caged bearings.
    End of problem!
    Heh. I didn't even know those things existed, until I took apart my newfangled 1993 Trek 2100.

  7. #7
    Ride for Life wearyourtruth's Avatar
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    i'll trade the minuscule knowledge needed to put a caged bearing in right side up for dealing with loose bearings all the time any day.
    before posting, a "noob" should always ask themselves "could this have been answered by first visiting Sheldon Brown

    -Tim-
    www.velocipedebikeproject.org

  8. #8
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    In most headsets, like the logic posted above, the difference in the upper and lower cups (although they are called races in the pic) is pretty evident. I have seen some cheap headsets (mostly like you find on Huffy, roadmaster and other lowend bikes) that it seems there is no difference to which is which. When in doubt test fit the parts in your hands to ensure they are smooth and align well.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wearyourtruth View Post
    i'll trade the minuscule knowledge needed to put a caged bearing in right side up for dealing with loose bearings all the time any day.
    Use thicker "green" or "red" grease. Turn the bike upside down to add the balls and fork. Loose balls, unlike caged balls, are not prone to false brinelling.

  10. #10
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wearyourtruth View Post
    i'll trade the minuscule knowledge needed to put a caged bearing in right side up for dealing with loose bearings all the time any day.
    For real!
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  11. #11
    slow as I ever was Ex Pres's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
    not sure what you mean. refer to this schematic and maybe elaborate a bit...

    That schematic is all screwed up. The upper head-tube race shown isn't a race, it's a cup. And it's not going to fit inside of that adjustable "race" shown, which is also a cup.

    I've always used the term race for the "inside" contact of the caged/loose bearing, and cup for the "outside". Calling all 4 pieces races just confuses the situation. A threaded headset has a crown race, a lower cup, an upper race, and an adjustable cup. Having clearly definable terminology for each part makes it a lot easier to understand.

  12. #12
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    I agree that diagram is seriously mislabled. Adding to the confusion is that from what I've seen there are two different types of headsets used on 1" threaded forks, differing mainly in the cup/bearing/race arrangement on top:

    SchwinnHeadsets (Medium).jpg

    In this diagram the lower headset (#10) is considered the "Deluxe" model, where a fixed race (#13) is inserted into the top of the headtube, followed by the bearing retainer and an adjustable cup (#11).

    The upper headset (#3) is considered the "Standard" model, and differs from the Deluxe model in that instead of having a fixed race and adjustable cup, it has a fixed cup (#7) and an adjustable race (#5). Note that the upper and lower cups and bearings in the standard model are identical parts.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ex Pres View Post
    That schematic is all screwed up. The upper head-tube race shown isn't a race, it's a cup. And it's not going to fit inside of that adjustable "race" shown, which is also a cup.

    I've always used the term race for the "inside" contact of the caged/loose bearing, and cup for the "outside". Calling all 4 pieces races just confuses the situation. A threaded headset has a crown race, a lower cup, an upper race, and an adjustable cup. Having clearly definable terminology for each part makes it a lot easier to understand.
    Oh no, Sheldon Brown used the wrong terminology!

    The world is ending!

  14. #14
    Senior Member DiegoFrogs's Avatar
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    I've always used the word "race" to identify any surface that touches the bearing in a generic way. Then I further clarify by using either the word "cup" or the word "cone."

  15. #15
    Senior Member Hudson308's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs View Post
    I've always used the word "race" to identify any surface that touches the bearing in a generic way. Then I further clarify by using either the word "cup" or the word "cone."
    Yeah, that's how I differentiate. The bearing cage should be oriented toward the cone, with the exposed side of the bearings installed toward the cup. This way the cone slips inside the bearing cage. If you try to install the bearings the other way, the cage will contact the cup.
    "I'd rather have what I don't need than need what I don't have." -Fred Sanford

  16. #16
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    I wonder if the OP's question has been answered. Sort of seems like (s)he used "race" to mean bearing cage. In which case I suppose the answer has been given.

  17. #17
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    Yes, Thanks for all of your input on this. Appreciate it!

  18. #18
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    FWIW, Park Tool website also refers to the "four races" in it's headset maintenance instructions.

  19. #19
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    Use thicker "green" or "red" grease. Turn the bike upside down to add the balls and fork. Loose balls, unlike caged balls, are not prone to false brinelling.
    +1 on the green grease. Those balls won't move while you're installing the headset. Plus, you get to use more of them.

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