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Headset benign neglect

Old 06-13-05, 12:19 PM
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Headset benign neglect

I have come to the conclusion that the only people who ever have to replace a headset on a road bike are the folks who insist on taking them apart every year or so and replacing the grease in them. An informal poll of my bike riding buddies shows this to be consistent. Riders who never mess with them never feel the need to replace them. It's the compulsive mechanics that have trouble with headsets. It's the old saying: if it ain't broke, fix it till it is.

I have come to this conclusion after more than thirty years of riding and never once having a headset problem. I still have a 30+ year old Campy headset that is as good as the day it was manufactured. It has tens of thousands of miles on it and was maybe repacked three times before I retired the frame it was on. I don't think I have ever relubed the Shimano STX headset on my current road bike. It is still smooth as a baby's behind.
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Old 06-13-05, 02:30 PM
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That's probably true but I think a bit has to do with what you ride in as well. I commute almost all year long from downpour to blizzard. Freezing temps and soaking water can do a number on them.

Conversely I tend to ride my suburban on sunny days and it's had the same headset running smooth for the last 12 years or so.
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Old 06-13-05, 02:54 PM
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The non-tinkerer might also have lower standards as far as performance goes. The tinkerer will replace his headset more often since he replaces it when performance begins to degrade. The non-tinkerer doesn't have this done all that often because "it's good enough." I think the tinkerer will also be more likely to replace it in order to try something new. Also, repacking is really cheap to do...
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