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Headset recommendation

Old 04-13-20, 04:26 PM
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Abe_Froman
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Headset recommendation

Hello all.

I'm looking to replace the headset on my cyclocross bike. I've had issues with my front end for the last couple years. Vibration when braking, loosens up periodically. Lately I've developed 'indexed' steering...so I assume one way or another I need to take action. I likely could just put new cartridge bearings in there...but I assume I'll just have the same progression of problems.

Any recommendations for an upgraded headset with an eye towards durability? Threadless headset I should add...and this bike sees hard use...it is raced ~10 times a year in often muddy conditions.
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Old 04-13-20, 06:16 PM
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Press-in cups or integrated? Steerer diameter?
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Old 04-13-20, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Press-in cups or integrated? Steerer diameter?

Oh dear....

Well. Sounds like I should probably be going to a bike shop for this then. I havent the slightest idea lol..
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Old 04-13-20, 07:27 PM
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What name brand, model and year is the bike. You may want to go the new headset route, but it likely would be good with a cleaning, new bearings and grease. I was going to install a new one on a 2001 Lemond Tourmalet but decided to try the clean/new bearings and grease route instead. It works like new. I had never done a headset before and had to do it a couple of times to get it right. It worked out in the end. Like always, proper tools make things easier.
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Old 04-13-20, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
What name brand, model and year is the bike. You may want to go the new headset route, but it likely would be good with a cleaning, new bearings and grease. I was going to install a new one on a 2001 Lemond Tourmalet but decided to try the clean/new bearings and grease route instead. It works like new. I had never done a headset before and had to do it a couple of times to get it right. It worked out in the end. Like always, proper tools make things easier.
It's a 2018 Focus Mares Al 105. Last fall I took everything apart, regreased, reassembled, etc. It was improved...but not quite right. I have a feeling the stock headset is just fairly low quality honestly.

You're right...a new set of cartridge bearings would probably make it better. But seeing as how the original didnt make it through a season of racing...I'm kinda hoping to find something more durable/better sealed.
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Old 04-13-20, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
Oh dear....

Well. Sounds like I should probably be going to a bike shop for this then. I havent the slightest idea lol..
Not to be mean but given this response and the fact that you previously took it apart to service, I'm wondering if it's user error in disassembly/reassembly that ruined your setup.
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Old 04-13-20, 10:12 PM
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From my Googlin', the Focus, Mares, Cayo, and Paralane all use the same headset bearings:

Upper Bearing – 30.5id x 41.8od x 8h – 45/45
Lower Bearing – 34.1id x 46.9od x 7h – 45/45

Speaking from my own limited experience, working with IS (integrated) headsets is kind of a nightmare. There are no standards, there are no rules.

Edit: The Ritchey WCS drop-in fits, you just need to buy the bearings individually in upper and lower. About 25 bucks each.

This is the exact headset in my Ritchey SwissCross, the OEM bearings have nearly 20,000 miles on them.
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Old 04-13-20, 10:24 PM
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If you really want to explore putting in a whole new headset (although, I'm in the "just new bearings" camp), go to the Cane Creek site. They have a headset finder and sometimes you can actually find your frame on it. Cane Creek make several grades of headsets from inexpensive to expensive, and a good value for the quality. Are they the "best"? Who knows. I'm not a super headset guy and usually buy mid-grade headsets.

My 1996 Litespeed frame that I bought used from a BF member last year came with a 1" threaded type head tube fitted with a threadless press-fit threadless headset and accompanying fork. It's what's considered to be a top of the line headset, Chris King. I think the upper end Cane Creek (and others) probably give King a run for the money quality and cost-wise. I think that people who really like to spend money on really nice headsets (like the King), look at years and years and years and years of durability under tough usage. They're not quite that important to me, actually. I don't put enough annual mileage on each of my 5 bikes to need that sort of quality, and the relatively inexpensive headsets work very perfectly for enough years so I forget how old they are. I do replace bearing cartridges every now and then though.

Last edited by Camilo; 04-13-20 at 10:31 PM.
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