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headset question(4 posts)

headset questionnodima
Mar 15, 2001 4:17 AM
I am de-lurking after following this bb for a year or so. I have learned a lot from it.

Forgive me for being naive, but I am wondering what the big deal is with upgrading headsets. I don't understand what can be so much better from spending upwards of $100.00 for say a Chris King headset. I can easily see the difference in wheels, shifters, brakes, etc. What do they do so much better than the one that comes stock? (a Ritchey something or other on a 2000 specialized Allez elite) As a baseline, I have been Mt Biking for 10 years, the last 6 of which have been on the same bike, on which I had a new shock put in last year and my headset was fine according to the LBS. I have never taken this one apart or done anything to it other than ride the bike. Am I in grave danger?


In great danger?..NoLack of Cool? maybe...
Mar 15, 2001 7:27 AM
.....More dinero in jeans .....YES!!! Just MHO. yours and others may vary....
Headsets live foreverRetro
Mar 15, 2001 8:04 AM
I'm sure I wouldn't say that if I were downhilling, but the headsets in the bikes I ride most often are 15 and six years old (road and mountain, respectively). The old roadie has been serviced once, about five years ago, and looked like new when I opened it up. The MTB hasn't been ridden much the last two years, but got heavy use until then. It's still smooth and tight, never been looked at. I agree, there are better things to spend your money on.
Is there any other kind?grz mnky
Mar 15, 2001 9:00 AM
Danger, that is. Sorry, I had to paraphrase that line from Mr. Nicholson in "A Few Good Men."

To answer your question: Danger? Not at all. Is there a difference, yes. Is it worth it and justifiable? Depends on your view point. Most of the units on complete bikes are functional and will cut some corners in manufacturing to save a few $$$.

I've got an old Campy Record headset in my ancient Motobecane that has been on the bike for 20 years (along with a Phil Wood BB). Neither of these have been opened or serviced since the day they were installed and the bike went halfway around the world and back (note: riding on Diego Garcia, B.I.O.T. is limited to 18 mi. of pavement) with no adverse affects other than some nasty surface rust. I recently built up a C'dale CAAD 4 frameset that came with a Cane Creek headset for a buddy and the damn thing binds a bit. I will yank and reinstall it with the Park tool when he comes over next time. Recently we swapped out the HS on a Swchwinn 4 banger suspension bike for some no-name unit and we noticed a huge difference. I upgraded from a Ultegra HS to a King unit on my road bike when I went threadless and feel that while a "lower price point" HS can work fine, the King unit will always work fine, virtually no matter how much abuse you throw at it and carries a 10 year warranty. It's the difference between installing an XTR or DA crank inplace of something lesser - most of the time you will not notice any difference, however, in the long run, the unit will continue to function better. Should you spend the extra $$$ if funds are limited? It's a matter of your priorities. It's no easier to justify a King headset than say a BMW.