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Threaded or Unthreaded Fork?

Old 03-02-12, 11:40 PM
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Threaded or Unthreaded Fork?

Hi,

I came into owning an old but sturdy frame for a road bike, with no fork. I'm trying to find a fork to fit the frame (which has a long head tube). My question is: is there anything about a frame that dictates whether the fork/headset needs to be threaded or unthreaded? Or is the only thing that matters that the fork and headset are of the same type?
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Old 03-03-12, 12:50 AM
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Yes match headset to fork.
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Old 03-03-12, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ahrena
Or is the only thing that matters that the fork and headset are of the same type?
Correct. If you just have a bare frame, you can go threaded or threadless as long as the fork has an appropriate length steerer tube for your frame and you get the headset to match.
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Old 03-03-12, 03:56 AM
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In practice, 1" threadless headsets and 1 1/8" threaded headsets are more difficult to find (if not impossible to find in some regions).

So, if your frame takes a 1" fork, then go with a 1" threaded fork and headset.

If your frame takes 1 1/8" fork (improbable for an old frame), then go with a 1 1/8" threadless fork and headset.

If your frame takes a different fork/headset than one of the above (neither 1", nor 1 1/8"), then find another frame.

Measure the inside diameter of the headtube on both ends to find out what headset and fork you need.
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Old 03-03-12, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Seb71
In practice, 1" threadless headsets and 1 1/8" threaded headsets are more difficult to find (if not impossible to find in some regions).
While 1-1/8" threaded headsets are indeed difficult to find, 1" threadless head sets are easy to obtain.

Here are two choices: https://www.jensonusa.com/Headsets?o=...c=&c=&c=&c=&c=

There are lots of others including Chris King if money is no object.
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Old 03-03-12, 09:46 PM
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I would suggest going threadless. You get a stiffer cockpit, adjustments are easier, you can cut your fork according to where you want your bars, and forks are easier to come by/work with.
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Old 03-03-12, 09:55 PM
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As often as I can, I build threadless. I love the simplicity of being able to adjust a headset with nothing but an allen key. I've had good luck with this 1" headset.

I have also been known to pair a frame with a shorter headtube with a fork from a longer headtubed bike [but similar vintage] and cut the fork below the bottom of the threads and run that threadless, but that's a different story.
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Old 03-04-12, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by IthaDan
As often as I can, I build threadless. I love the simplicity of being able to adjust a headset with nothing but an allen key. I've had good luck with this 1" headset.
Also, the choice of threadless stems is now vastly greated than quill stems and in your choice of handlebar diameters. Quill stems with 31.8 mm bar clamps are pretty much non-existant. Finally, almost all 1-1/8" threadless stems come with a bushing to allow them to be used on 1" steerers.
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Old 03-04-12, 07:24 PM
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It sounds like I have a lot more options than I initially thought, which is great. Thanks for all the info/advice!
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Old 03-04-12, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Puget Pounder
I would suggest going threadless. You get a stiffer cockpit, adjustments are easier, you can cut your fork according to where you want your bars, and forks are easier to come by/work with.
Regarding adjustments, there's a big trade-off. With threadless systems, headset bearing adjustments are easier, but stem height adjustments are much worse.
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Old 03-04-12, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by peterw_diy
Regarding adjustments, there's a big trade-off. With threadless systems, headset bearing adjustments are easier, but stem height adjustments are much worse.
Handlebar height adjustment changes are more difficult once made but setting the initial height is quite straightforward. You add spacers above and below the stem until you dial in the desired height and then cut the steerer slightly long to allow a 10 mm spacer above the stem. Done, except you can juggle the spacer stack a bit if you want to modify things in the future. Truthfully, once you have a quill stem's height set, how often do you really change it?
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Old 03-05-12, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Truthfully, once you have a quill stem's height set, how often do you really change it?
More often than I adjust the headset! When my recreational riding was primarily quick, longer (40m+) road rides, it was common for me to start each season with the stem as high as it would go, and then lower it throughout the season as I put in more miles.

BTW, I think your condition ("once you have a quill stem's height set") isn't so simple, either. Even for a bike whose bar height you don't plan on changing, it's a hassle getting it dialed in at the start. Hmm, should I drop my bars 10mm? Do I need to buy a pair of 5mm spacers so I can move it less than that? Should I splurge and buy some 2.5mm? Should I buy a whole new set so they all match? In the olden days, with a quill stem, it was easy to fine-tune bar height on a ride, as it took only seconds to move the bars up or down.

I also think threadless headsets are ugly, except for those where the stem is slammed down and the fork has been cut as short as possible. Having a bunch of spacers below the stem (as on my latest bike) looks goofy, and having more than about 5mm above it looks dorky. Quill stems look much more graceful.

With sheltered storage and fenders or headset seal wraps, most riders can go a long time between headset repacks, so I think it's silly to sell ease of headset adjustment as a selling point. Maybe it's a big deal if you're riding trails with the HS unwrapped and need to repack your HS frequently, but for most users, having a quick & easy way to tweak the handlebar height is more important, IMO.

That said, there are plenty of practical reasons to go with threadless (mainly economic concerms, not technical ones). I just didn't want to let that "adjustment" comment slide unchallenged.

-Peter
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Old 03-05-12, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by peterw_diy
More often than I adjust the headset! When my recreational riding was primarily quick, longer (40m+) road rides, it was common for me to start each season with the stem as high as it would go, and then lower it throughout the season as I put in more miles.

BTW, I think your condition ("once you have a quill stem's height set") isn't so simple, either. Even for a bike whose bar height you don't plan on changing, it's a hassle getting it dialed in at the start. Hmm, should I drop my bars 10mm? Do I need to buy a pair of 5mm spacers so I can move it less than that? Should I splurge and buy some 2.5mm? Should I buy a whole new set so they all match? In the olden days, with a quill stem, it was easy to fine-tune bar height on a ride, as it took only seconds to move the bars up or down.

I also think threadless headsets are ugly, except for those where the stem is slammed down and the fork has been cut as short as possible. Having a bunch of spacers below the stem (as on my latest bike) looks goofy, and having more than about 5mm above it looks dorky. Quill stems look much more graceful.

With sheltered storage and fenders or headset seal wraps, most riders can go a long time between headset repacks, so I think it's silly to sell ease of headset adjustment as a selling point. Maybe it's a big deal if you're riding trails with the HS unwrapped and need to repack your HS frequently, but for most users, having a quick & easy way to tweak the handlebar height is more important, IMO.

That said, there are plenty of practical reasons to go with threadless (mainly economic concerms, not technical ones). I just didn't want to let that "adjustment" comment slide unchallenged.

-Peter
I believe your technique of adjusting handlebar height throughout the riding season is unusual. Most riders set-and-forget it once they pick the preferred position and already have a pretty good idea as to where the bars should be based on earlier experience so they don't have to juggle them a lot initially. Also, most current quill stems have very short quills (in the interest of advertising lighter weight) so their vertical adjustment range is very limited too. BTW, the ease of headset adjustment is just a side benefit of threadless headsets, certainly not the main reason for using them.

As to aesthetics, that's a personal matter. I also think a graceful quill stem looks better but I'm using the bike as a tool, not a work of art, so appearance isn't the big consideration.

Despite that, the quill stem is obsolete and a specialty item these days so threadless, for all of it's perceived shortcomings, is more practical.
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Old 03-05-12, 07:19 PM
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I'd agree with most and go with threadless 1 or 1 1/8 inch in each case.

However, I tend not to saw the steer tube off unless that person really wants it. Personally, I use the extra height to affix stuff like small, shock absorbing mini DV camera mounts, or screw in a custom-fabbed bell hanger mount, or even a cyclo-computer mount or headlight mount. But YMMV.
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