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Pitted headset

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Pitted headset

Old 05-28-13, 09:09 AM
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Pitted headset

I noticed last night that my headset is slightly pitted.I was wondering why I was having trouble riding handless thinking maybe something was bent and lo and behold,The headset is pitted.I'm surprised because the headset is relatively new and I figured of high quality.It's a Campagnolo Record 1 inch threaded I bought about 1 and a half years ago.And put about 5000 miles on it.Isn't it unusual to go so quick?I noticed lately that there was some movement in the headset and planned to tighten it.Could a loose headset be the reason or is the movement I feel a result of the pitting?
It's just in the beginning stage and very rideable as is but I would like to know what happened.
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Old 05-28-13, 09:15 AM
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Campy record headsets are not difficult to pit in my experience. This is particularly true on bumpy city roads. I prefer roller bearing headsets for that reason. It can pit for a number of different reasons but certainly a loose headset is a prime culprit. I'd put in new ball bearings, adjust it right, and ride it. You'll end up with slightly indexed steering (friction is better here, ) but it will be rideable. When it goes, I'd replace it with a roller bearing headset (velo orange sells them) unless you need to keep the bike all campy record.
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Old 05-28-13, 09:53 AM
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the false Brinnelling [index feel] is a result of the adjustment getting loose, add repeated banging having acceleration space.

Getting the adjustment right and held Tight, and staying that way, is the key..

I'm still on the Ofmega/Avocet headset I fitted 30 years ago, .. steel, a near identical to Campag..

Chris King makes a cartridge bearing headset, the bearing adjustment is fixed in the manufacturing.

the aluminum parts let the bearings work.. and can be made in multiple colors..

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Old 05-28-13, 10:01 AM
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Wow...you are a lucky guy. You don't have a damaged headset what you have is an "indexed headset"...lucky you...the indent is called brinnelling...

You can "pit" a brand new headset on the first ride if you hit something hard enough to indent the race.
You can do several things to remedy the problem. Replace the headset...possibly replace the damaged race only, you can often get just one part from Campy...turn the damaged race 90 degrees to the left or the right if possible, this will put the damage in an area you won't hit when turning.

It is easier to cause an indent when the headset is loose but generally you have to hit something with a decent amount of force.

I'm a huge fan of the Chris King headset. Mine is also a 1" and has been on the bike since I built it in '99 and is in perfect condition with 3000 plus miles per year on it.
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Old 05-28-13, 10:07 AM
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Headsets don't get pitted because of impacts or soft material. They get that way through a process called fretting (ala false brinelling). It's actually a lubricant failure rather than a material or impact cause.

Headsets are unique in that they are basically stationary bearings, subjected to lots of vibration but very little movement. The constant vibration on the stationary balls squeezes the grease or oil from the point of contact so you have unprotected metal to metal contact, which abrades the surfaces. Better riders, especially road riders spend long periods riding in straight lines, so the headset has little opportunity to re-spread the lube and slow the process.

Some greases are specially formulated for better anti-fretting properties, and help, and some designs dampen the energy, or use larger contact areas since friction is hardly a concern.

BTW- you can pull some more life out of the headset by knocking off the lower cup and crown race, and replacing them at a different orientation. There will still be some indexing, but it'll be less noticeable.

When I was in retail eons ago, this was a common issue affecting all good road bikes, and we learned that we could still ride even with really badly fretted headsets. But many people would be concerned so I started the rumor that Campy made special Cyclocross headsets that indexed this way so the front wheel wouldn't swing around when you carried the bike up embankments. That worked fine until someone walked in one day and insisted on buying a cyclocross headset.
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Old 05-28-13, 10:29 AM
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OP; If your momma hears that you have not been keeping your hands on the bars again, she is gonna slap you upside the head! You were supposed to have learned that lesson on your first bike after her first 3 or 4 headslaps...
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