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Ronsonic Sez: Some Components are Over-Rated

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Ronsonic Sez: Some Components are Over-Rated

Old 08-22-09, 11:42 AM
  #1  
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Ronsonic Sez: Some Components are Over-Rated

Let's start with the most over-rated, fetishized and needlessly expensive part of all, the Chris King headset.

Yeah, they're good. Very, very good in fact.

Are they better than all the others? No. Any competent headset will last damn near forever. I've never had a headset fail except through neglect and abuse. Guess what the King can be neglected and abused as well. But they aren't why, because they cost five times as much as another perfectly suitable headset. Treat any headset with that care and reverence and it'll last. Or hell, just get it set up right the first time and never worry about it again. Come back and grease it in a decade and it'll still be okay.

Has anybody ever worn out a Tange Levin? Bueller?

How about a Shimano at or above the Deore / 105 level? Got any wore out Ultegras, Deore or even 600s? Didn't think so.

No. Good headsets don't just wear out. So what if the King doesn't either. Sure the others aren't available in all those pukey colors. They brag that one headset will last through 4 or 5 frames. I won't outlast four or five frames. And why would you keep the color coordinated headset from your old bike to go on the new one. And NO, they are not good looking. They are large and globular and clunky looking on sleek bikes and have big ugly logos on them.

It wouldn't bug me except for all the people scrimping to put together a cool bike but half the budget is gone because they think they need this thing. Read the threads around here. "I can get this artisan brazed 531 bike for $150 and I'm not sure it's worth it." Then someone plunks $120 on a headset because it's mere existence causes him to fear that a $25-40 headset will be somehow inadequate. "But it's bomber and I'll never have to worry about it"

They're all bomber and you never have to worry about them. This is technology that reached near perfection decades ago. It's like bottom brackets, they got this right. Buy a decent one, install it correctly and grease it up and go ride.

There, I feel better now.
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Old 08-22-09, 11:48 AM
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I 100% agree. I have a 50 year old Magistroni loose-ball number that will agree as well. It looks like a damn castle turret and still is just smooth and fiiiiiine.
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Old 08-22-09, 12:04 PM
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from my experience when I was working in a bike shop generally any headset will last virtually for ever if the bike taken care of. usually the people with worn out headset took lousy care of their bikes and would not notice if you put square bearings in them
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Old 08-22-09, 12:39 PM
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I buy what I like, wear what I like, ride what I like. I have a lot of fun riding my bicycle.
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Old 08-22-09, 12:49 PM
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It seems to be a truism in the bike world that there is a strong diminishing return for most riders and most conditions on most components over the mid-level ones. I can certainly think of numerous counter-examples to this though.

So, I would have to say that most top-level components are over-rated.

However, I also completely get why so many of us (myself prominently included) do have infatuations with high-level stuff. Bling is fun.

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Old 08-22-09, 02:43 PM
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Don't know if it's true, but apparently King's refusal to pay the Dia Compe / Aheadset patent for threadless headset design has caused a design issue that can lead to wear on the steerer tube with King no-threadsets. I've personally killed a really, really cheap Cane Creek headset, but that was due to my refusal to install fenders.
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Old 08-22-09, 05:41 PM
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I think the Flikstand was the most overrated component ever...

But I agree, you'd really have to work at it to wear out a headset.
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Old 08-22-09, 11:12 PM
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I love headsets.

I collect every 1" threaded roller bearing headset I run across. I have bunches. Also Hatta Swan. I even have a couple of the early, less dramatic Chris King variants. Not to mention several of the sleek Campy SR, the exotic Shimano 600 Arabesque and the exquisite jewel-like OMAS.

Sometimes late at night I pull them out and just enjoy looking at the candlelight reflect off their voluptuous curves, each one forever fresh, waiting to support me in my later years.

Excuse me now.

J
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Old 08-22-09, 11:22 PM
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Besides the pretty colors, Chris King runs a good company, and employs sustainable business practices. High quality parts which are pretty expensive, but there's a reason people have bought more than one besides a color scheme. I have a CK headset on my MTB, and it's nice. It was on there when I bought it (and I must admit, seeing it on there made me excited to buy it!), and there's no chance I'd buy one new unless it was for a "dream bike" build.
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Old 08-22-09, 11:31 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by dbakl View Post
I think the Flikstand was the most overrated component ever...

But I agree, you'd really have to work at it to wear out a headset.
A flikstand can be quite a convenience.
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Old 08-23-09, 12:09 AM
  #11  
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I hear ya. I bought an alloy Tange passage headset for my Raleigh that cost around $12.00. If I ever do wear it out I can buy a dozen more for the price of a King headset.

Still, I also agree bling is fun. How many of us drool over Campy delta brakes when most admit that they aren't the greatest brake ever?

The list goes on and on: Brooks saddles, Very expensive saddle bags etc etc etc.
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Old 08-23-09, 12:14 AM
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Can anyone say diminishing return!

Brooks glenbrook V. inexpensive bag
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Old 08-23-09, 12:21 AM
  #13  
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For some reason, headsets are one of the things that I seem to wear out very fast. I wore out Shimano 105, 600, Campagnolo Victory and Tange headsets. The 105 and Tange lasted maybe half a year, the 600 headsets 1,5 year. The Campagnolo about 15 years.
Only the Stronglight A9 with rollerbearings seemed to last forever.
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Old 08-23-09, 01:00 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by paulkal View Post
For some reason, headsets are one of the things that I seem to wear out very fast. I wore out Shimano 105, 600, Campagnolo Victory and Tange headsets. The 105 and Tange lasted maybe half a year, the 600 headsets 1,5 year. The Campagnolo about 15 years.
Only the Stronglight A9 with rollerbearings seemed to last forever.
The Stronglight A9 heaadset on my bike was last adjusted about 20 years ago when I last went on a very wet ride and I broke down the whole bike to clean/dry/relubricated everything. Rode it for a couple of more seasons after that and till now (I just restored my bike recently and started riding again), it's still working perfectly and has not developed any looseness. The Stronglight/Spidel A9 roller bearing headset was one of the French firm's best ever product that never got the accolades it deserves IMHO.

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Old 08-23-09, 01:38 AM
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I have a Cannondale with a Tange Levin installed in it right now. The bike is in really rough shape paint wise and I know for a fact that it sat in the rain/elements for the better part of its life. The head set though feels and looks perfect. I have always thought that as far as head sets go the Levin is one of the best looking because the its so damn simple.

That said I will be replacing it with my Dura Ace 7410 headset as soon as my cables from PBK get here. The only reason I am replacing the Levin is because I spent so long tracking down the parts to make a complete 7400 group. The pristine Levin will be weighting in the wings to go on another bike.

As far as headsets go for a classic bike the Levin is the "go to" for me. For more modern bikes (including MTBs) as long as the headset has sealed cartridge bearing like the inexpensive FSA or even the generic brands are great.

/wine induced ramble.
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Old 08-23-09, 02:08 AM
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I think campagnolo and phil wood grease are over-rated.

To me Campagnolo looks like regular lithium-based grease,
and the older headsets/hubs i've repacked had that dried up tan grease barely lubricating inside.

Phil "tenacious" grease sure is good,
but it looks like the higher end red grease that is in grease guns for car joints.

Seems like the brand name is slapped on a repackaged item and sold for 10 times the amount.

TP
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Old 08-23-09, 04:53 AM
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To bling or not to bling. That is the question.
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Old 08-23-09, 12:25 PM
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Sometimes it is about bling. And I respect that.

Other times it's a lack of knowledge or experience that compounds insecurity.

Yep, most specialist bicycle grease and lube is needlessly expensive. Our requirements are not special. Shimano uses the same stuff in bike parts and fishing reels.
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Old 08-23-09, 01:57 PM
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I find this thread funny. Since C&V seems to be the home of praising bikes and components that are overrated.

Originally Posted by JAG410 View Post
Chris King runs a good company, and employs sustainable business practices.
+1

I also think the main market for Chris King products is mountain bikes. The wear and tear on a MTB headset is a lot greater than on a road bike. When you're going over a very bumpy surface, even with suspension, the headset still absorbs some of that energy. And there is all that mud and crap that a road bike headset would never see.

That being said, Chris King's reputation as the most durable headset is built on how the market was years ago, and now there are a lot of other companies that are making headsets that can compete or are better than CK for cheaper.
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Old 08-23-09, 04:00 PM
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The big issue with CK headsets is ugliness. With most bling (and $) at least you get something to look at.
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Old 08-23-09, 04:07 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by afilado View Post
I love headsets.

I collect every 1" threaded roller bearing headset I run across. I have bunches. Also Hatta Swan. I even have a couple of the early, less dramatic Chris King variants. Not to mention several of the sleek Campy SR, the exotic Shimano 600 Arabesque and the exquisite jewel-like OMAS.

Sometimes late at night I pull them out and just enjoy looking at the candlelight reflect off their voluptuous curves, each one forever fresh, waiting to support me in my later years.

Excuse me now.

J
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Old 08-23-09, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by prof2k View Post
I find this thread funny. Since C&V seems to be the home of praising bikes and components that are overrated.
So true, that is what I was getting at earlier. If not CK headsets, then it's 90 dollar brooks bar tape and 250 dollar Campy delta brakes. We love fancy things here as much as anyone. I think most of us know that our fancy things are no longer, or maybe never were the tops in performance.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:14 AM
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King Headsets are very nice, but as has been said many times above, any headset treated well will last forever. I think part of the allure is how conspicuous they are without being overly flashy or gaudy. It is a way to spend $$ on your bike that only other bike nerds will notice or appreciate.

I see fixie hipsters with crap gaspipe super cheapo frames who immeditely spend $125 on a headset when the entire bike costs $300??? Now that it is cool, I no longer want one on any of my bikes.

No thanks. Give me a needle bearing Stronglight....
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Old 08-24-09, 08:05 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Rocket-Sauce View Post
No thanks. Give me a needle bearing Stronglight....
Agreed. On the whole, headsets are something I don't give much thought to (aside from checking the grease and adjustment once in a while), but I would love to find a stash of Stronglights.

In terms of other over-rated (or, overpriced) components, I would have to say pretty much anything Brooks makes aside from saddles (and some of their saddles, too.)
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Old 08-24-09, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by perichbrothers View Post
I think campagnolo and phil wood grease are over-rated.

To me Campagnolo looks like regular lithium-based grease,
and the older headsets/hubs i've repacked had that dried up tan grease barely lubricating inside.

Phil "tenacious" grease sure is good,
but it looks like the higher end red grease that is in grease guns for car joints.

Seems like the brand name is slapped on a repackaged item and sold for 10 times the amount.

TP
Phil Wood grease is the EXACT same stuff we used on submarines to grease torpedo tube fittings and that sort of thing. I was buddies with the machinist mate's and torpedomen on my last boat and would have them save the ends of the tubes of grease they used in greaseguns -- there was usually an inch or so left in the tube -- and I'd use that for bike maintenance.

Pete
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