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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 10-27-08, 11:31 AM   #1
kimjo2000
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my bike has integrated headset - is that bad?

I have a 2005 Litespeed Tuscany w/ integrated headset. I’ve read comments that non-integrated is the way to go, especially if you’re planning on keeping the bike for a loooong time. What’s the big advantage of non-integrated over integrated headset? Are the top-end bikes use only non-integrated?

Thanks.
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Old 10-27-08, 11:32 AM   #2
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Pretty much everyone is going integrated nowadays. It's not good or bad, it just is.
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Old 10-27-08, 11:39 AM   #3
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Integration is good.

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Old 10-27-08, 11:42 AM   #4
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Pretty much everyone is going integrated nowadays. It's not good or bad, it just is.

Then what's this I keep hearing, especially on Chris King's website that if you have integrated headset, the possibility of frame damage is greater? Or is this another one of Bush's fear-mongering?
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Old 10-27-08, 11:56 AM   #5
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Then what's this I keep hearing, especially on Chris King's website that if you have integrated headset, the possibility of frame damage is greater? Or is this another one of Bush's fear-mongering?
I've no idea how you figure to lump George Bush and Chris King together, but let's look at the facts:

- Chris King is the premier manufacturer of traditional headsets.
- A growing number of bicycle frame manufacturers are moving towards integrated headsets
- Chris King does not make integrated headsets.
- Businesses like to protect their revenues.
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Old 10-27-08, 12:34 PM   #6
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Keep it adjusted properly and you'll be fine. Just like a regular headset.

Oh, and watch BF for the first photographs of a frame ruined due to an intergrated headset. They've been used in road bikes for perhaps 7 or 8 years now and despite all the opinions of total anihilation offered by the august mechanical engineering expertise here on the internet, I've yet to see a single example of such destruction.

But there might be one out there, I don't read every thread.
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Old 10-27-08, 12:49 PM   #7
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A regular integrated headset has the bearings roll directly on the frame-->meaning you'll eventually wear out the frame. However, I think many integrated headsets now use cartridge bearings, so they roll in their own housing instead of directly on the frame. Some integrated headsets are just internal headsets.
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Old 10-27-08, 01:02 PM   #8
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A regular integrated headset has the bearings roll directly on the frame-->meaning you'll eventually wear out the frame. However, I think many integrated headsets now use cartridge bearings, so they roll in their own housing instead of directly on the frame. Some integrated headsets are just internal headsets.
Can you name a frame where this is true (and no removable races pressed into the frame). I've heard that a couple times but have never found, or had anyone be able to cite, a frame with bearings rolling right on the frame.
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Old 10-27-08, 01:05 PM   #9
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You beat me to the question.

The only two designs I've seen are either cartridge (FSA, Cane Creek) that ride in the frame (or sometimes in a liner) or Campy which uses ball bearings in a ring that roll in pressed cups.
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Old 10-27-08, 01:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for the reassurance. I have Cane Creek IS-6 headset and I'm pretty sure those have cartridge bearings. I'll just ride and not worry about it.
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Old 10-27-08, 02:00 PM   #11
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Can you name a frame where this is true (and no removable races pressed into the frame). I've heard that a couple times but have never found, or had anyone be able to cite, a frame with bearings rolling right on the frame.

I was just basically defining what an integrated headset it. I've never personally seen a frame that has bearings roll directly on the frame...though I've seen pictures of some generic Chinese frames with them a long time ago.
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Old 10-27-08, 02:55 PM   #12
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I'm pretty sure Chris King is against cartridge type integrated headsets as well, although as long as you don't let it get loose you're fine.
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Old 10-27-08, 03:11 PM   #13
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And just what was wrong with the old-fashioned, non-integrated headset? What problem was solved with integrated headsets?

Beware of component integration, it limits your options in the future.
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Old 10-27-08, 03:48 PM   #14
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And just what was wrong with the old-fashioned, non-integrated headset? What problem was solved with integrated headsets?
Not enough fashion-conscious people buying new bikes.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:24 AM   #15
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You beat me to the question.

The only two designs I've seen are either cartridge (FSA, Cane Creek) that ride in the frame (or sometimes in a liner) or Campy which uses ball bearings in a ring that roll in pressed cups.
Can you replace the FSA with a Campy. I thought Campy was using a different angle or something like that.
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Old 02-22-09, 06:47 AM   #16
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And just what was wrong with the old-fashioned, non-integrated headset? .
Nothing at all

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What problem was solved with integrated headsets?
.
Mostly looks. It's much harder to get this look with cups.

I'm tipping it might reduce costs, too, but I could be wrong. I have a theory that frame makers started supplying headsets and seatposts with framesets to reduce warranty claims from Wallys who wrecked their bikes by using the wrong sized stuff.

The potential problems with integrated headets is yet another overstated thing in cycling, just like we were told that all aluminium frames will soon break.


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Old 02-22-09, 07:08 AM   #17
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They tend to rust into the frame if not maintained regularly,and can be a hard job hammering the things out.
I prefer Semi-Integrated(which use bearings in a cup)

Last edited by brundle_fly; 02-22-09 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 02-22-09, 07:18 AM   #18
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Aesthetically, I don't care much for them. I actually like to see a connection between the forks and the headtube but the one I have on a Cannondale works as well as any of the decent quality headsets I have on other bikes of various design (threadless, threaded, cartridge, non-cartridge).

I do think that if you have to spend much time thinking/worrying about the headset you've got the wrong one. They aren't true "set and forget" pieces but should be pretty close.
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Old 02-22-09, 07:56 AM   #19
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the only thing that's stupid with integrated is that EVERYONE who makes headsets wants to set their own standard.
are they cross compatible? no
how many "standards" are there? more than 20
is it stupid that the end user has to hunt down the specific one for their frame? yes
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Old 02-22-09, 08:31 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trogon View Post
Keep it adjusted properly and you'll be fine. Just like a regular headset.

Oh, and watch BF for the first photographs of a frame ruined due to an intergrated headset. They've been used in road bikes for perhaps 7 or 8 years now and despite all the opinions of total anihilation offered by the august mechanical engineering expertise here on the internet, I've yet to see a single example of such destruction.

But there might be one out there, I don't read every thread.
You need to add a 0. They have been used in road bikes for 70-80 years. Other than that , you are perfectly correct.

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Old 02-22-09, 08:34 AM   #21
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You can destroy a standard frame just as easily as one with an integrated headset.

If you run your headset loose, the standard press-in headset can rock in the frame and ovalize the headtube. Same with integrated headsets.

Also Integrated headsets have cartridge bearings. while the cartridge sits in the frame directly, the itself does not roll in the frame. There are some manufacturers (LOOK for sure, don't know others) who put in a aluminum replaceable cup (like zero stack but takes the "integrated" standard bearing
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Old 02-22-09, 09:41 AM   #22
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Motorcycles all use integrated bearing headsets. The bearing cartridge sits in a machined cup in the frame, exactly like integrated headset bicycles. They put a lot more force into their headsets than bicycles do, yet they don't break their headsets or damage their frames. The integrated headset is lighter because the loads go directly into the head tube rather than through a housing which has to be made heavy enought to withstand the forces.

The people who are arguing against integrated headsets either have an adjenda to promote (Chris King was late and doesn't want to license any patents) or are neo-luddites with little understanding of engineering.

The only problem I have with integrated headsets is that there are too many "standards".
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Old 02-22-09, 10:29 AM   #23
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A regular integrated headset has the bearings roll directly on the frame-->meaning you'll eventually wear out the frame. However, I think many integrated headsets now use cartridge bearings, so they roll in their own housing instead of directly on the frame. Some integrated headsets are just internal headsets.
There are no frames where ball bearings contact the frame. All integrated headsets have outer beraing races that are a slip fit into the frame. Some frames, including some Litepseeds have replaceable bearing seats in the frame, so the frame is unlikely to incur any damage. LOOK frames also have removeable bearing seats.

Aluminum frames often don't have removeable bearing seats and neither do any Cervelo frames that I know of. That was one of my complaints about the R3 that I owned for 200 miles. The bearing races were not removeable and so thin that they could probably not be recut either. Cheap, crappy construction, IMO.

There are also internal headsets are pressed into the frame and may look like an integreated, but function more like a conventional external press in type.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-23-09 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 02-22-09, 10:42 AM   #24
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Integrated headsets use fewer parts, are easier to install, require no special (and expensive) tools and usually use standard sized industrial cartridge bearings. Theoretically, bearings which are not press-fit are far more likely to damage the housing in which they rest. In this case, that's the head tube. Whether or not this is a real problem in bicycle applications given the loads and components involved is a matter of debate.

Last edited by halfspeed; 02-22-09 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 02-22-09, 09:54 PM   #25
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I recall seeing a thread on another forum (possibly BikeRadar.com?) about some Litespeeds with integrated headsets and problems with the head tubes. If you search for "Litespeed warranty", there may be some interesting results. (I'd search now, but I'm trying to avoid hearing about today's Tour of California stage until after I watch the Versus coverage tonight.) It is interesting that Litespeed seems to have moved away from the internal headset design.

Having said all of that, every mass manufacturer has some frames that fail for whatever reason. If you see some posts on-line about a few people having problems, it does not mean that every single frame of that design will suffer the same fate. People tend not to speak up when everything's going fine, but they'll shout it loudly when things go wrong, so keep it in perspective.
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