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Upgrading to threadless headset(6 posts)

Upgrading to threadless headsetscotj
Dec 8, 2001 7:48 PM
I am contemplating upgrading my headset on a 1990 Lemond Maillot Jaune to threadless headset, and wanted some confirmation on information I have heard. I was told in addition to replacing the stem(knew that); I would need to upgrade the fork. I would like to know why I would need to upgrade the fork, and what is a threadless headset fork? Since I heard this information, I have checked out forks, and I do not see how my fork is any different then other fork, other then the weight of steel vs. carbon fiber. Can someone explain?
re: Upgrading to threadless headsetnee Spoke Wrench
Dec 8, 2001 8:09 PM
On a threaded headset bike, like you have now, the steer tube on the fork ends only slightly above the head tube on your main frame. The top bearing cone is held in adjustment with a threaded locknut.

On a bike with a threadless headset, the steer tube has to extend about 3 or 4 inches above the head tube on your main frame because the stem, which clamps onto the steer tube, is what holds the headset in adjustment.

Even if you were to find a threaded fork that was long enough to use with a threadless headset, it still might not work because it could break off at the threads.

Honestly, unless you are planning to replace your fork anyway, it looks to me like the disadvantages of switching to a threadless headset outweigh any advantages of making the switch. I definitely think that the more nicely finished quil stems, like Cinelli's, are much prettier and more streamlined looking.
Agree about threadlessDMoore
Dec 8, 2001 10:09 PM
The concensus of opinion is that threadless headset didn't arrive because they were an improvement in function; they're an improvement for the manufacturer's bottom line because "one size fits all."

With a threadless fork, once you cut the steering tube to length you can no longer adjust the height of the stem. Since many people become more flexible as the season progresses and may want to lower their stem (or raise it at the start of the next season) you're precluded from doing that unless you buy a new stem with a different rise.

Most threadless headsets are actually a little heavier than comparable threaded headsets, although the threadless stems tend to be lighter. There's no functional difference whatever between a threaded or threadless headset.

I agree with the previous poster - unless you have a valid reason to change out your fork, (it's broken, or you have got to save a few more grams) don't change.
Not necessarily...KEN2
Dec 9, 2001 8:48 AM
It's not true that "once you cut the steering tube to length you can no longer adjust the height of the stem." You can allow as much adjustment as you want, by using spacers above/below the stem. They come in different sizes and you can mix and match; only downside is the funky look of more than one small spacer above the stem.
Not necessarily...kechinbo
Dec 10, 2001 5:38 AM
You can also buy a stem with no graphics/writing (or writing that looks the same upside down as right-side up) and you can flip it upside down to essentially achieve a different handlebar height. With a -15 degree stem, 120mm, simply flipping upside down would result in a 2 or 3 inch handlebar height difference...couple that with few spacers and the possibilities are endless.
Dec 10, 2001 9:51 AM
I wouldn't say that it's the consensus that threadless headsets aren't an improvement in function. I would agree that there are some drawbacks to the threadless vs a threaded system, but the threadless system has allowed for more innovation that you give it credit.

Without threadless stems, none of the current wave of forks could exist (carbon steerer tubes cannot be threaded). Contrary to your statement, most threadless headsets are marginally lighter than their threaded counterparts (see Damon Rinard). And threadless stems are almost always lighter than threaded.

There is no functional difference between the two, but the threadless system allows for a not insignificant weight savings of nearly 1/2 lbs.