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Headset thoughts, anyone?

Old 12-27-11, 06:48 PM
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Headset thoughts, anyone?

If you had to acquire and install a headset on a high-end vintage bike what would you consider acceptable? One can buy a new, seemingly very good headset from Harris or VO for under $50. Vintage Campy sets on ebay are going for two to three times that. Let us put aside for now any question of restoration; for now I'm interested in performance, not appearance.

VO has a model with needle bearings, seems like a good idea. They also have a model with a split fork crown race to make it easier to install. I can see how the bearing pressure would force the split joint closed, but I do wonder how that joint would survive long-term use.

Any thoughts or experiences?

TIA,
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Old 12-27-11, 06:49 PM
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So far I'm liking my new Campy Record headset but have also had good experiences with more reasonably priced Tange headsets.
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Old 12-27-11, 06:57 PM
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for the few headsets I have needed to install I was lucky enough to have a few old Campi ones on hand. I did install a Ritchey in the Basso frame I traded to TxVintage. it seemed pretty good for the price I paid.

personally unless you want a period correct or exact replacement I don't think it really matters. fit astetics and durability are what matters.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:01 PM
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I stuck a Chris King on my Bianchi...It's absolutely amazing.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BentLink View Post
I stuck a Chris King on my Bianchi...It's absolutely amazing.
+1. I'd go with any of the modern cartridge style.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:17 PM
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Campy Record, Chris King, or even a 600.

They are all overkill and I routinely use them all.

Depends on what type of vintage performance bicycle for the op though.

I'd have to pony up the big bucks for the right vintage bicycle from the 70s for example.

I'd pay for Campy.

Here's a pic of the CK on my Hollands.

Came with the frameset, so it was a no-brainer.

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Old 12-27-11, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by BentLink View Post
I stuck a Chris King on my Bianchi...It's absolutely amazing.
they are very nice headsets but IMO they look really funny on vintage bikes cause they're more modern and they have chris king written all over the headset, so unless you're not going for a fully vintage look then they'd fit great.

I always try to match the headsets with whatever group is on the bike, sure it may cost a bit more but it makes me happier, cause when i'm out riding i'm not looking down at my bike and say, "man i wish i had that matching headset".
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Old 12-27-11, 07:29 PM
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Iíd like to own a Chris King headset one day, but I havenít been able to justify the expense. I think the Tange Levin is still a good workhorse headset that looks pretty good as well, without the embellishments.
https://sheldonbrown.com/harris/heads...eaded-iso.html
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Old 12-27-11, 07:30 PM
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The CK headsets are nice of course...9 times out of 10 a Tange Levin will do the job and look period correct as well.

Recently I bought one of the Token needle bearing headsets, but have not used it yet.

The high polish VO headset also looks the part, and works well on my Gilmour.

Ben's may have some of the black Paramount labeled Stronglights left as well...

Of course, you can never go wrong with Campy (other than $$$).
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Old 12-27-11, 07:35 PM
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I'd be interested in the Token's performance.
I've always liked the Stronglight A9.

So much of the C&V headset performance is in the adjustment and packing.
For that reason, I sort of like the Shimano 6500, it's Robbie-proof, almost.

I packed a Miche the other day with the some new Finish Line grease with teflon.
Seems pretty cool.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:44 PM
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I think cane creek has a nice classic (campy) looking headset also.
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Old 12-27-11, 07:45 PM
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What about the Tange Passage headset? I'm in need of replacing a headset on my Hercules Royal Prince and obtaining another one for the Hercules Kestrel which I received only as a frameset.

Has anyone here use the Tange Passage?
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Old 12-27-11, 08:00 PM
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Old 12-27-11, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by photogravity View Post
What about the Tange Passage headset? I'm in need of replacing a headset on my Hercules Royal Prince and obtaining another one for the Hercules Kestrel which I received only as a frameset.

Has anyone here use the Tange Passage?
I believe the Passage is the identical cup design as the Levin, with lesser quality bearings.
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Old 12-27-11, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
I believe the Passage is the identical cup design as the Levin, with lesser quality bearings.
Thaks for the information. That is good stuff to know. I just went to their website and looked at their spec and the base of the crown race is only 26.4mm though, which is problematic as the inner dimension on the Hercules forks is 27.0mm. Back to the drawing board.
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Old 12-27-11, 09:17 PM
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Do I have to comment in two threads that I think Tange Levins are garbanzo beans? My test sample is only 1, but that 1 is junk (or my head tube needs to be faced, I'll get that done and then check back in and possibly eat my words).

I've had great luck with Campy Record (vintage and modern), Chris King (logos can be polished off) and Shimano 600.

Robbie, I agree about the 600 too, it is also Alex-proof.

If I'm buying a new headset, for any bike but a flip, it will be a sealed cartridge type.
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Old 12-27-11, 09:37 PM
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I've had excellent experience with the Stronglight A9 roller bearing headset. If the VO headset is similar, I would anticipate decades of trouble-free use.

Re: the split crown race: this should not be a problem if the unit uses cartridge bearings or floating races like the Stronglight unit.
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Old 12-27-11, 09:38 PM
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Tange Passage has the most minimal stack height of any mainstream threaded headset IIRC. Something to consider with regard to your front end handling and also the given amount of thread on your steerer.
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Old 12-27-11, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 4Rings6Stars View Post
Do I have to comment in two threads that I think Tange Levins are garbanzo beans? My test sample is only 1, but that 1 is junk (or my head tube needs to be faced, I'll get that done and then check back in and possibly eat my words).

I've had great luck with Campy Record (vintage and modern), Chris King (logos can be polished off) and Shimano 600.

Robbie, I agree about the 600 too, it is also Alex-proof.

If I'm buying a new headset, for any bike but a flip, it will be a sealed cartridge type.
My test sample is one as well, and Iíve had no issues with the one I had. But most of the bikes that I have worked on are for sale; and IMHO, you will not get your money back when trying to sell a bike with an expensive headset on it. The typical buyer just wouldnít get the $100 increase in price because youíve installed a headset that will last a lifetime. I agree with you though, if itís a bike that you plan on riding for years to come, putting more money into the headset would be my option as well.
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Old 12-27-11, 10:08 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Part of my quandary is that I'm not sure where to go with the restoration level. Before I spend big bucks on parts I need to make it rideable. A period-correct restoration will be very expensive and probably take a long time. The frame deserves the expense, but it cannot happen overnight. A Cane Creek headset is maybe $100, probably what a Campy R or NR would be on ebay. Nice-looking VO or similar units are $30-35. I could end up riding that for years. This is NOT a bike I'd ever expect to sell.
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Old 12-27-11, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mapleleafs-13 View Post
they are very nice headsets but IMO they look really funny on vintage bikes cause they're more modern and they have chris king written all over the headset, so unless you're not going for a fully vintage look then they'd fit great.

I always try to match the headsets with whatever group is on the bike, sure it may cost a bit more but it makes me happier, cause when i'm out riding i'm not looking down at my bike and say, "man i wish i had that matching headset".
Surprisingly Chris King headsets have been around for quite some time...1976 to be exact. The earlier models didn't have his name all over it but use a Sotto Voce version where the name isn't so visible. But looks they haven't really changed from when they first came out. On a nice vintage american made frame it would match perfectly IMHO more so then Campy or asian made headset.
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Old 12-27-11, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by photogravity View Post
What about the Tange Passage headset? I'm in need of replacing a headset on my Hercules Royal Prince and obtaining another one for the Hercules Kestrel which I received only as a frameset.

Has anyone here use the Tange Passage?
I used an alloy passage on my Raleigh Professional. It seems just fine and I would buy another one. I've honestly never seen many "bad" headsets unless it was abused. There are some real cheapos, like the galvanized kind you find on cruisers but that is a different story.

My Tange passage:
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Old 12-28-11, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I've had excellent experience with the Stronglight A9 roller bearing headset. If the VO headset is similar, I would anticipate decades of trouble-free use.

Re: the split crown race: this should not be a problem if the unit uses cartridge bearings or floating races like the Stronglight unit.
I've used an A9 for over 15 years on my Battaglin and it has worked great!!!

Based on my experience with the A9, I'm going to try a Stronglight delta on the Ciocc I'm building up. I really like the styling:

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Old 12-28-11, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by photogravity View Post
Thaks for the information. That is good stuff to know. I just went to their website and looked at their spec and the base of the crown race is only 26.4mm though, which is problematic as the inner dimension on the Hercules forks is 27.0mm. Back to the drawing board.
I'm surprised that the headset in question is only available in one crown sizing. Used to be you'd specify thread and crown race diameter.

How do we know about the various Tange cup designs?
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Old 12-28-11, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
I've used an A9 for over 15 years on my Battaglin and it has worked great!!!

Based on my experience with the A9, I'm going to try a Stronglight delta on the Ciocc I'm building up. I really like the styling:

I haven't seen these for quite a while - where have you seen them for sale? is there an issue with recent ones made with ball bearings rather than needle?
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