Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Recommend a basic headset and save me from analysis paralysis?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Recommend a basic headset and save me from analysis paralysis?

Old 08-03-15, 07:34 PM
  #1  
Spld cyclist
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Spld cyclist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Springfield, MA
Posts: 1,060

Bikes: 2012 Motobecane Fantom CXX, 2012 Motobecane Fantom CX, 1997 Bianchi Nyala, 200? Burley Rock 'n Roll

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Recommend a basic headset and save me from analysis paralysis?

I'm building up a bike for the first time, although I've done a bunch of maintenance over the years. I need to choose a headset, but despite reading a bunch of user review I'm not sure of the real-world advantages and disadvantages up what I'm seeing.

I'm using the Nashbar aluminum mountain bike frame and 1-1/8-inch threadless rigid fork: Nashbar 26" Mountain Bike Frame and Nashbar Rigid Mountain Bike Fork

The frame needs a standard 1-1/8-inch threadless headset. I verified that the ID of the head tube is 34 mm nominal. The bike will be used for all-weather commuting/utility cycling. It will be used with a front fender, which I expect will keep most of the crap out of the lower race. My goals for this bike are more durability and low-cost than low weight, but probably don't need the heaviest duty headset for how it will be used. I would like it to seal relatively well, but don't mind rebuilding the headset occasionally.

There are several choices in the $20-30 range. I would consider spending a bit more if it comes with a big jump in quality, but I have no idea if there is a meaningful difference.

I have a Ritchey Logic Comp on a road bike, and it's been perfectly fine through 4,300 miles or so. It takes some sort of cartridge bearings, which might be hard to find or expensive when the time comes: https://www.amazon.com/Ritchey-Logic-...c+comp+headset

The FSA "Pig" is cheap, has glowing reviews, and is reportedly very strongly built, but it's also much heavier than the competition. It appears to take standard bearing balls. Maybe overkill for me? Amazon.com: FSA The Pig Headset

And then there are a bunch of other choices.... Anyone have a favorite?
Spld cyclist is offline  
Old 08-03-15, 08:40 PM
  #2  
striknein
Goes to 11.
 
striknein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wichita, KS, USA
Posts: 2,547

Bikes: 2015 Soma Double Cross

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A headset is one of those rare parts on a bicycle that quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns as the price tag increases. In fact, my first criteria for a headset is usually color/finish. All other considerations are more or less irrelevant in terms of performance.

However, I will say that I greatly prefer cartridge bearings to loose or caged ball, and I'm a big fan of split crown races.

Last edited by striknein; 08-03-15 at 08:46 PM.
striknein is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 05:13 AM
  #3  
mconlonx 
Str*t*gic *quivoc*tor
 
mconlonx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 7,552
Mentioned: 46 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7069 Post(s)
Liked 76 Times in 54 Posts
I like the Cane Creek 40 series for mid-priced, cartridge bearing headset.
__________________
I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.
mconlonx is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 05:20 AM
  #4  
obed7
Senior Member
 
obed7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Porter, Texas
Posts: 4,125

Bikes: Trek Domane 5.2, Ridley Xfire, Giant Propel, KHS AeroComp

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1648 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
cane creek and origin have both worked well for me.
obed7 is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 05:38 AM
  #5  
Homebrew01
Super Moderator
 
Homebrew01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Ffld Cnty Connecticut
Posts: 21,652

Bikes: Old Steelies I made, Old Cannondales

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1066 Post(s)
Liked 496 Times in 359 Posts
Originally Posted by striknein View Post
A headset is one of those rare parts on a bicycle that quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns as the price tag increases. In fact, my first criteria for a headset is usually color/finish. All other considerations are more or less irrelevant in terms of performance.

However, I will say that I greatly prefer cartridge bearings to loose or caged ball, and I'm a big fan of split crown races.
Yes
__________________
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike.

FYI: https://www.bikeforums.net/forum-sugg...ad-please.html
Homebrew01 is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 08:05 AM
  #6  
revcp 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
Posts: 1,262

Bikes: 2019 Rocky Mountain Suzi Q -50, 2008 Salsa El Mariachi, 1988 Miyata Twelve Hundred built with Campagnolo Veloce, 1985 Trek 720,1986 Centurion Ironman

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 273 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 47 Posts
Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
I like the Cane Creek 40 series for mid-priced, cartridge bearing headset.
+1. All the benefits of the 110 series with very little weight penalty, meaning for 99.9% of us the 40 is all we need.
__________________
Don't complain about the weather and cower in fear. It's all good weather. Just different.
revcp is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 08:14 AM
  #7  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 32,903

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1686 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 564 Times in 417 Posts
Cartridge bearings by all means and a split "crown race" if you can find one. The Cane Creek 40 or the FSA Orbit II work well and are reasonably priced. There is an FSA "Pig" model that does have cartridge bearing but, as you note, it is heavy. The next real step up is a Chris King but the cost difference is huge.
HillRider is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 01:43 PM
  #8  
Cyril 
Senior Member
 
Cyril's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Southwestern, Ontario
Posts: 958
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Ird
Cyril is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 02:10 PM
  #9  
FastJake
Constant tinkerer
 
FastJake's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 7,865
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 53 Times in 44 Posts
I'm not saying this is the right approach, but in the past I've generally just bought the cheapest Cane Creek/Ritchey/name brand loose-ball headset I could find. Sometimes they are ugly and not the smoothest but functionally they've all been fine.

I've shyed away from cartridge bearings due to fear of the hassle of replacing them. But if you know where you can get replacements for cheap then go for it. I rebuild my loose ball headsets about once every two years and even on all-weather commuters (with a front fender) they seem to hold up fine. And if they die, break down and drop $10-15 for a new one.
FastJake is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 02:15 PM
  #10  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,599

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,321 Times in 831 Posts
drop it of at the LBS say 'put a new headest on' then pick it up when they finish the job .

it will spare you all your overthinking and wasting your time on that.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 02:25 PM
  #11  
easyupbug 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,742

Bikes: too many sparkly Italians, some sweet Americans and a couple interesting Japanese

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 302 Post(s)
Liked 168 Times in 125 Posts
Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
My goals for this bike are more durability and low-cost than low weight, but probably don't need the heaviest duty headset for how it will be used. I would like it to seal relatively well, but don't mind rebuilding the headset occasionally.

If occasionally is annually for clean, re-lube and bearings if needed, even with your winters I would guess a PIG would last for many many years.

There are several choices in the $20-30 range. I would consider spending a bit more if it comes with a big jump in quality, but I have no idea if there is a meaningful difference.

The recommended Cane 40 is excellent with quality bearings, no annual re-builds required.

I have a Ritchey Logic Comp on a road bike, and it's been perfectly fine through 4,300 miles or so. It takes some sort of cartridge bearings, which might be hard to find or expensive when the time comes
I doubt you will have trouble finding Ritchey bearing
easyupbug is online now  
Old 08-04-15, 02:42 PM
  #12  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,313

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2719 Post(s)
Liked 2,424 Times in 1,125 Posts
Another vote for Cane Creek.
caloso is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 03:29 PM
  #13  
SlowJoeCrow
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 444

Bikes: Redline Conquest Pro, Kona Cinder Cone, Trek Fuel EX8(RIP) Pivot Mach 5 frankenbike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Cane Creek and FSA bearings are readily available and Cane Creek keeps their bearings backward compatible so a 40 series is a good option, with an FSA Orbit as an alternative. I know the Cane Creek because I used 40 series bearings to repair an S3 headset.
SlowJoeCrow is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 03:48 PM
  #14  
Spld cyclist
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Spld cyclist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Springfield, MA
Posts: 1,060

Bikes: 2012 Motobecane Fantom CXX, 2012 Motobecane Fantom CX, 1997 Bianchi Nyala, 200? Burley Rock 'n Roll

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
drop it of at the LBS say 'put a new headest on' then pick it up when they finish the job .

it will spare you all your overthinking and wasting your time on that.
It's a mixed bag. I swore off the nearest LBS a few years ago when I finally concluded that I was a better mechanic than theirs. And I'm not saying I'm good, just that he was very bad. Enough time has passed that he has probably moved on, and maybe it's safe to go there again. There are great bike mechanics and not-so-good ones out there, and I don't know which are which at the moment.

But the real issue is that I want to do this myself. Since the time mentioned above, I haven't found any bike maintenance I wasn't able to do just fine. Slow, but it's always turned out well.
Spld cyclist is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 05:29 PM
  #15  
Spld cyclist
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Spld cyclist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Springfield, MA
Posts: 1,060

Bikes: 2012 Motobecane Fantom CXX, 2012 Motobecane Fantom CX, 1997 Bianchi Nyala, 200? Burley Rock 'n Roll

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to go a bit above my price range and buy a Cane Creek 40 Series. Currently $43 on Amazon. It appears that the cartridge bearings are fairly well-sealed, and therefore should last a long time. But when their time is done, replacements should be available for a reasonable price.
Spld cyclist is offline  
Old 08-04-15, 09:11 PM
  #16  
HillRider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 32,903

Bikes: '96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '20 Surly Midnight Special, All are 3x10. It is hilly around here!

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1686 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 564 Times in 417 Posts
Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
I've shyed away from cartridge bearings due to fear of the hassle of replacing them.
I've got a Chris King on one bike with 31,000 miles and absolutely no problems at all but, for the price, it should last that long. However, I also have an FSA Orbit X on another bike with 35,000 miles and it's just as good as the King at 1/3 the price. So, cartridge bearings don't need replacing very often and replacement cost and availability aren't an issue to worry about.
HillRider is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
RIC0
Mountain Biking
3
08-03-16 02:21 PM
bmfsiii
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
6
06-26-14 05:51 PM
RT
Bicycle Mechanics
6
10-04-11 12:50 PM
lennyk
Bicycle Mechanics
8
12-24-10 06:41 PM
rousseau
Bicycle Mechanics
23
08-22-10 04:34 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.