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headset quality differences

Old 08-17-10, 08:51 AM
  #1  
vladuz976
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headset quality differences

how do headsets compare really?
I have a relatively cheap Tange Techno Glide J-27.
It seems to just work fine.
How exactly is a Chris King or Cane Creek for 200 or 300 bucks better?
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Old 08-17-10, 08:56 AM
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I have an FSA orbit MX on my Madison and - while it isn't exactly a super high-end headset at 60 bucks retail - I'm never using a cheapo headset ever again.

I'd also never shell out the money for a Chris King, either.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
I'm never using a cheapo headset ever again.
I think hes wondering why that is most likely
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Old 08-17-10, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
I'd also never shell out the money for a Chris King, either.
Why's that? Been thinking of picking one up myself rather recently.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:22 AM
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High end hedsets of tighter tollerences, which make them harder to make, which makes them more expensive. The bearings are more round, they fit tighter around the fork, making for a smoother turn. And they are made with much higher quality parts, and built so well they last much longer with less need to repack. I know people that have had Kings on their cross bikes for 10 seasons.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:36 AM
  #6  
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There are many affordable headsets that'll work perfectly fine, but all I know is you can't go wrong with a Chris King.
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Old 08-17-10, 09:46 AM
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I have been using my King headset for 14 years, it's seen 7 different frames. It's never let me down, and I've never had to think about it or do any mantainence on it. I like parts like that, worth every penny of the $100 or so I spent on it. Same goes for my King mtb hubs.
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Old 08-17-10, 10:47 AM
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Have King HS on my MTB and have had them on my road bikes as well. Bombproof in its truest sense. Like Ronco- set-it and forget it. Butter smooth after 10 years, no play. Have had them on road bikes, and like other posters, just keep swapping them to the next frame over and over.

Have King SS hubs, same quality, more maintinance, but wonderfully made.

Can I tell the difference between a new, properly adjusted King HS and say an FSA or a Ritchey? No. But give it a year or two and ask the same question. The likely answer will be the King will last longer. I have had Tange HS's pit in under a few years. Same for Ritchey. I know how to turn a wrench, its not mis-adjustment that reuined my gear.

In this society where upgrading is taken to be more fun than actually riding the bike you bought.... buying one headset and never replacing it may seem counter-intuitive.
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Old 08-17-10, 11:05 AM
  #9  
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so is it just durability then?

honestly, headsets are the one component that, functionally, while riding my bike, i cant really feel/tell too much difference between a really nice one and a cheapo one.

i mean, ive felt my brothers super smooth chris king and definitely felt the difference between that and a super old headset on my schwinn beater from the 60s....

but it seems like i never need to turn my bars all that much when riding....ive never really noticed myself really turning the bars more than....i dunno, 20 degrees or so. that might be totally wrong, my visual math may be totally off kilter.


i dunno, as long as it turns.....
i like the velo orange headset i got on one of my bikes. seems nice and smooth.
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Old 08-17-10, 11:07 AM
  #10  
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i will say tho....chris kings LOOK nice lol....and they come in lots of colors!
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Old 08-17-10, 12:56 PM
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durability, longevity, zero-maintinance.....

all those.

and yes, they also look pretty.
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Old 08-17-10, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hirohsima
durability, longevity, zero-maintinance.....

all those.

and yes, they also look pretty.
you forgot status...
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Old 08-17-10, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by vw addict
you forgot status...
And generally, not lighter.
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Old 08-17-10, 01:16 PM
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I'm a long time dia-compe headset fan.
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Old 08-17-10, 01:16 PM
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It's like everything else; there's a point of diminishing returns. The difference between a $10 headset and one costing $100 is very significant and noticeable, but the incremental improvement going up to a $200 headset is very small and hardly noticeable. Same goes for hubs, cranks, pedals and anything where precision of manufacture has an impact on performance.
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Old 08-17-10, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by happypills
Why's that? Been thinking of picking one up myself rather recently.

For the same reason I'd never pay 50 bucks for a t-shirt or want a Porsche.

Chris King headsets are awesome and I'm not knocking them, I just don't think I'd ever need that much headset for bombing around town on my Madison. This is where my middle-of-the-road sealed bearing FSA suits me just fine. Someone in carleton or TT's shoes is coming from a different perspective (being a track racer) and I can understand the need for precision parts.
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Old 08-17-10, 01:56 PM
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For me, price has zero to do with it.

For years as a bmx rider I destroyed headsets. Bearings bouncing on the ground kind of destruction. BMX teaches you an aircraft maintenance type of mentality where a part's lifetime is measured in hours and a failure is not wanted. You swap it out before it busts if you can. I've had expensive parts and cheap parts fail. I've had cheap parts and expensive parts that were bulletproof. We did this with no internet to "ask" wtf worked. You did it by word of mouth or just trying stuff out.

After having so many bicycles and parts over the years I really can't chew on some of these road bikes that are 10k. I know why they are 10k and the purpose they serve. The sum of all the components on a bike should be one that makes you happy. I'm not even going to chuckle at a headset debate on here since if the bike turns hey, it's working. A $20 headset and a $200 headset that has needle bearings that lasts 2+ years with a little grease in it is the same thing to me.

Chris King = Monster Cable

If it makes you happy about your ride then have at it. I guess I can't verbalise it but really, it's a headset. If it turns effortlessly, makes no noise, adjusts nicely, no grit, lasts more than 2 seasons then hey, WIN.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:01 PM
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Velo Orange Grand Cru

"We feel that these headsets are equal in quality to headsets costing two times, perhaps even three times, as much. The sealed bearings are of top quality and the finish is simply stellar. In short, you can pay more for a headset, but we're not convinced you'll get more."

~$50

This will be the headset on my new build.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:06 PM
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yah so far everything ive bought velo orange wise has been very good and im happy with.

the headset, stem, and seatpost are all good in my book. they seem to be good value for the price you pay.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Banzai
For me, price has zero to do with it.

For years as a bmx rider I destroyed headsets. Bearings bouncing on the ground kind of destruction. BMX teaches you an aircraft maintenance type of mentality where a part's lifetime is measured in hours and a failure is not wanted. You swap it out before it busts if you can. I've had expensive parts and cheap parts fail. I've had cheap parts and expensive parts that were bulletproof. We did this with no internet to "ask" wtf worked. You did it by word of mouth or just trying stuff out.

After having so many bicycles and parts over the years I really can't chew on some of these road bikes that are 10k. I know why they are 10k and the purpose they serve. The sum of all the components on a bike should be one that makes you happy. I'm not even going to chuckle at a headset debate on here since if the bike turns hey, it's working. A $20 headset and a $200 headset that has needle bearings that lasts 2+ years with a little grease in it is the same thing to me.

Chris King = Monster Cable

If it makes you happy about your ride then have at it. I guess I can't verbalise it but really, it's a headset. If it turns effortlessly, makes no noise, adjusts nicely, no grit, lasts more than 2 seasons then hey, WIN.

ah, chris king headsets definitely make a whole lot of sense then on bikes taking beatings....i guess thats why my brothers always had them on their mountain bikes.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla
...or want a Porsche....
See? Its all perspective. I always thought that a Porsche was middle of the road.

IMHO, it is the FSA of the performance car world.

Last edited by Hirohsima; 08-17-10 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:14 PM
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We never ran Chris King headsets. We either bought the 4130 cr-mo double thick bottom cup or a put stainless banjo clip on the bottom cup. A $20 solution that worked better than some aluminium setup. If I were still riding I'd just run a $50 Solid Headset from my buddies in Sac:

https://www.danscomp.com/301046.php?cat=PARTS

My bike (T1) has an integrated headset that cost Trek maybe $1.75 - I've never had it apart. Doubt I ever will.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Banzai
Chris King = Monster Cable
Not to sound like a CK shill, but Chris King is more like MIT Cable and not Monster Cable.

Monster Cable has over-priced, underengineered, "bigger is better" cables. Their cables also "color" the sound rather than transmitting the signal unadultered.

Just because its relatively expensive does not mean its overpriced. King HS's and some of their other components are the measure by which many other bike components are often judged.

"Value" is really in the eye of beholder.
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Old 08-17-10, 02:24 PM
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Yeah, you're right. Chris King headsets are excellent. Where Monster Cable is just lies.

Still, overkill for what we do. Chris King should be purchased as jewellery not on functionality.
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Old 08-17-10, 03:41 PM
  #25  
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On a road bike, the greatest stress a headset takes is being turned 10 degrees every minute or so. The bottom bracket spins constantly at 70 to 100 rpm under torque. I service my headsets every once in awhile, just so I can say I did it if I sell the bike, but I have a hard time sinking a lot of money into a headset, considering how little stress it gets compared to the rest of the parts. Clearly this doesn't apply to bmx bikes or bikes that are actually raced.
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