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  1. #1
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    I like the way a classic steel frame looks and feels, but I'm not a hopeless retrogrouch. Fact is that modern hubs, rims, tires, brakes, and drive trains are all far superior to what was available years ago. One thing I don't think is an improvement, however, is the threadless headset. The quill stem of a threaded headset is quite elegant, while the threadless stem looks like something that should be bolted to a steam boiler.

    How many of you believe that threadless is a soon to be over fad?
    Last edited by cruentus; 03-16-06 at 06:25 PM.

  2. #2
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Nope. Look at a wholesale catalog. There are ten times the choices in threadless. Lots more theadless headsets. Lots more threadless forks. There would also be issues with carbon, you pretty much need a steel steerer for the headset and quill binder. Quill is pretty, but threadless, all around, is lighter.
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  3. #3
    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    Yeah, but for the steel loving commuter type, there's just something about a custom painted quill stem to match your ride.
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    I think it will be with us, for the reasons mentioned above. Also don't forget due to the huge diameters used today for bars and stems things have stiffened up on the front end which in theory leads to more accurate handling and power transfer when standing.

    Personally, I miss my quill ITT stem on my '94 Trek 5500 frameset custom built w/full Campy record. It was great to adjust bar height easily for time trials or longer rides. And there was just something elegant about that campy record headset, one of the best of a dying threaded breed as mt. bike parts took over later in the decade.

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    I actually prefer threadless, one less wrench to haul around on tour

  6. #6
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    ...and what about all those "indexed steering" systems?

    Threadless is a step up. There are good points to lots of things, but sometimes, we romantasize the past.

  7. #7
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    biggest advantage of a threadless headset is it allows for CF steerer tubes. The weight savings from eliminating the steel steerer tube are substantial.

    I saved over a pound going from a quill stem, CF fork with a steel steerer, to an all CF fork, threadless headset and stem.

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    All my bikes are "antiques," so I really am not all that familiar with the new headsets... can someone clue me in? I understand that the threadless headsets are not height adjustable... so how does one set up the bike to fit the rider?

    BTW to merlin... I still love my Columbus SL frame with downtube friction shifters and Gali gruppo... the weight of this old bike is amazingly close to that of several CF production bikes that I have hefted (what's a few ounces between friends, eh?)

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    All my bikes are "antiques," so I really am not all that familiar with the new headsets... can someone clue me in? I understand that the threadless headsets are not height adjustable... so how does one set up the bike to fit the rider?

    BTW to merlin... I still love my Columbus SL frame with downtube friction shifters and Gali gruppo... the weight of this old bike is amazingly close to that of several CF production bikes that I have hefted (what's a few ounces between friends, eh?)

    Threadless are harder to adjust for height, but you can, it's a matter of putting spacers on the steerer tube, either below (to raise) or above the stem (to lower).

    As for the weight of your Columbus SL framed bike, its like 80 ounces. Even with very light tubular wheels, without serious use of drillium, that bike can't weigh under 20lbs. CF bikes (with threadless headsets) that weigh 15lbs plus or minus are common.

    By the way, I have a 1989 Paramount OS, lugged, hand silver brazed frame. It's a great bike, and I still ride it occassionally , but by modern standards its heavy. The frame itself is only a pound or so above a typical CF frame, but the steel fork with a steel steerer and a quill stem is like a boat anchor compared to a modern all carbon fork.
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 03-16-06 at 01:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    Threadless are harder to adjust for height, but you can, it's a matter of putting spacers on the steerer tube, either below (to raise) or below the stem (to lower).

    As for the weight of your Columbus SL framed bike, its like 80 ounces. Even with very light tubular wheels, without serious use of drillium, that bike can't weigh under 20lbs. CF bikes (with threadless headsets) that weigh 15lbs plus or minus are common.

    By the way, I have a 1989 Paramount OS, lugged, hand silver brazed frame. It's a great bike, and I still ride it occassionally , but by modern standards its heavy. The frame itself is only a pound or so above a typical CF frame, but the steel fork with a steel steerer and a quill stem is like a boat anchor compared to a modern all carbon fork.
    Do you race any of your bikes?

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus
    Do you race any of your bikes?
    yes, I race on a Merlin Extralight. I used to race on the Paramount.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    yes, I race on a Merlin Extralight. I used to race on the Paramount.
    I can understand how someone who races would want every competitive edge, but is a 5 pound weight difference really going to make a difference to the casual/club rider? Is that 5 pounds really worth the extra money?

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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    It seems to me, outside of weight, that the chief advantage of a threadless headset is a better ability to keep the races properly adjusted. No more brinnelling of the races from headsets that shake out of adjustment less.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus
    I can understand how someone who races would want every competitive edge, but is a 5 pound weight difference really going to make a difference to the casual/club rider? Is that 5 pounds really worth the extra money?
    Exactly... I find that the couple of pounds difference between my bike and the typical ~2 grand CF bike is about what I should work on losing in body fat anyway.

    In fact I can easily vary my body weight +/- 5 lbs without spend much more than a few dollars at the local fast foot joint.

    Counter that with the over 20 years that my steel framed bike has lasted. What kind of history does CF have over 20 years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus
    I can understand how someone who races would want every competitive edge, but is a 5 pound weight difference really going to make a difference to the casual/club rider? Is that 5 pounds really worth the extra money?
    a 5 pound difference is pretty substantial. I know I feel a hell of a lot better as a rider when I'm 180 as opposed to 185...the only difference is that its easier to spend the $$ and have a 15 pound bike than to lose 5 pounds.

  16. #16
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Live where it is hilly and you will notice five pounds.
    My steel, fillet brazed track bike, with quill stem and tubulars(no brakes or gears, duh) weighs over a pound more than the full D/A carbon Giant in the store with twenty gears and two brakes and the same as my last road bike with bottle cages and tool bag.
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    Everybody on the "Road Bikes" Forum talks about their 16 pound bikes and their 17 pound bikes. But, the British "Cycling Plus" weighs the bikes that they test. Most of the tested bikes that sell in the USA for between $1,000 to $2,000 come in at about 20 pounds, including pedals.

    The bikes that CP tests that sell in the USA for between $500 and $1,000 come in at about 21 pounds or 22 pounds with pedals. And, these are bikes with carbon forks and "modern" threadless stems.

    The weight of most of my steel bikes with steel forks from the '80's? If weighed with racing style pedals, they also come in at 21 pounds or 22 pounds. But, they have sturdy steel forks that are "like new" after twenty years of pounding, and a number of crashes. Not like the "prezel" strength carbon forks that must be replaced after each crash, or risk sudden and total failure.

    So, I'm not tempted to replace my quill stems and steel forks for a threadless stem and carbon fork. I'd also miss the ability to dial in bar height in under thirty seconds or so. If I should ever need to lose two or three pounds off of the combined 210 pounds that my bike and I weigh, I can skip a few visits to McDonalds.

  18. #18
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruentus
    How many of you believe that threadless is a soon to be over fad?
    Haven't threadless headsets been around long enough to be thought of as something other than a fad?

    Would indexed shifting be a fad too? (I miss the old days of mixing up drivetrains with multiple parts)

  19. #19
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    The reason the threadless stem was introduced was to benefit the bike manufacturer. Customers no longer had any choice once the switch was made. They've been around long enough that most riders don't even remember that there was a time when you could adjust your handlebar height to suit your mood or conditions for that day.

    It's not a fad.

    Sky Yaeger, Bianchi VP, when asked if quill stems were totally dead in the dealer market replied, "Dead and Buried. On a factory and supplier level threadless is much better, although the customer doesn't give a whit about how it is easier to manage inventory, cut down the number of separate inventory items, and related bike-assembly issues. The only downside is the lack of minute adjustability. But now we have 2 and 4-bolt stems to swap out handlebars easily and that is key at the dealer level. Everyone in the supply chain can manage inventory better, because we need to manufacture, sell, and inventory only one fork steerer length."

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKahrl
    The reason the threadless stem was introduced was to benefit the bike manufacturer. Customers no longer had any choice once the switch was made. They've been around long enough that most riders don't even remember that there was a time when you could adjust your handlebar height to suit your mood or conditions for that day.

    It's not a fad.

    Sky Yaeger, Bianchi VP, when asked if quill stems were totally dead in the dealer market replied, "Dead and Buried. On a factory and supplier level threadless is much better, although the customer doesn't give a whit about how it is easier to manage inventory, cut down the number of separate inventory items, and related bike-assembly issues. The only downside is the lack of minute adjustability. But now we have 2 and 4-bolt stems to swap out handlebars easily and that is key at the dealer level. Everyone in the supply chain can manage inventory better, because we need to manufacture, sell, and inventory only one fork steerer length."
    I suspected as much regarding threadless. Sometimes changes are the result of improved technology, and other times it's just cheaper to do the new way.

  21. #21
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    "and other times it's just cheaper to do the new way."
    It was not cheaper in the beginning. Everyone, including the manufacturers had to carry more inventory. New tooling had to be developed. It all cost a bunch more than what was out there. The threadless system is cheaper now. Mostly because there are fewe parts and processes to make the parts. they are also lighter, AND. just as strong if not stronger.

    alanbikehouston-"Everybody on the "Road Bikes" Forum talks about their 16 pound bikes and their 17 pound bikes. But, the British "Cycling Plus" weighs the bikes that they test. Most of the tested bikes that sell in the USA for between $1,000 to $2,000 come in at about 20 pounds, including pedals.

    The bikes that CP tests that sell in the USA for between $500 and $1,000 come in at about 21 pounds or 22 pounds with pedals. And, these are bikes with carbon forks and "modern" threadless stems.

    The weight of most of my steel bikes with steel forks from the '80's? If weighed with racing style pedals, they also come in at 21 pounds or 22 pounds. But, they have sturdy steel forks that are "like new" after twenty years of pounding, and a number of crashes. Not like the "prezel" strength carbon forks that must be replaced after each crash, or risk sudden and total failure."

    I weigh the bikes either with a traditional spring scale or with a digital scale.
    I weighed a late eighties Pinarello Montello(the top line bike at that time, in a 54) it came in just under 17.9 pounds. I also weighed a Pinarello F4(57), it weighed, on the same scale, just a tick over 15.5.
    My Yamaguchi(56) weighs 17.15 pounds(no bottlecages, gears, brakes or toolbag), my TCR(M) weighed 17.82 (with all the stuff the Yami was missing)
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  22. #22
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    It's correct I'm sure to say that the threadless stem is lighter and has advantages for the manufacturer and retailer but there is something just right about a quill stem which seems in harmony on a lugged steel or even filleted, traditional frame. There is an elegance about the quill stem which is entirely in tune with the lines of the frame and everything looks as if it belongs somehow.

    A threadless stem on the same frame looks chunky and graceless destroying the impression of lightness. For me the aesthetics of a bike is really important and each time I see a machine that looks so right it gives me pleasure.

  23. #23
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    ^^ So true, that is why my old steel bikes still have quill stems.
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  24. #24
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    I like threadless for one reason: less tools.

    From a home mechanic's perspective, being able to use a simple allen key to adjust the bearing load is far better than having to buy a wrench large enough to do the job.

    I also like how you can adjust the centering of the stem without having to worry about the height changing slightly.

    Pretty much there are lots of small advantages from threadless. Sure it's not as sexy, but it's definately a good step forward as far as technology goes. Sexiness will come in time, it just takes people getting used to the design changes needed to make it look good.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    I like threadless for one reason: less tools.

    From a home mechanic's perspective, being able to use a simple allen key to adjust the bearing load is far better than having to buy a wrench large enough to do the job.

    I also like how you can adjust the centering of the stem without having to worry about the height changing slightly.

    Pretty much there are lots of small advantages from threadless. Sure it's not as sexy, but it's definately a good step forward as far as technology goes. Sexiness will come in time, it just takes people getting used to the design changes needed to make it look good.
    Never!....never while I have a breath in my body.....I will remain a bastion of good taste.

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