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headset indexing questions...(16 posts)

headset indexing questions...bianchi boy
May 5, 2002 11:23 AM
My Chorus threadless headset has started indexing or brinelling at about 5,000 miles. Does this means it needs to be replaced or just relubed and packed? If it's shot, would this likely be covered under Campy warranty or considered normal wear and tear? I've never worn out a headset before and I'm somewhat surprised that a Campy headset could wear out so quickly; the bike is 11 months old. I guess this is why so many people tout Chris King headsets.
re: headset indexing questions...Jekyll
May 5, 2002 12:13 PM
You may want to take it apart and clean and grease everything. This may or may not help - but probably well worth the effort. But in my experience, if its indexing its probably toast. BTW you're right, this IS why you buy a Chris King.
warranty issues ...bianchi boy
May 5, 2002 12:55 PM
Does anyone know if Campy warrant claims can be handled by any bikeshop that carries their products, or would I have to go through the place where I bought the headset? I bought the bike and group from Excel, but obviously I am not going to mail it back to them for repairs. I would rather not have to remove the headset, mail it back to them for replacement, and have to wait a week or more for a new headset to arrive and get installed.
My Campy Athenagrandemamou
May 5, 2002 1:32 PM
headset on my Gios is 10 yo. Athena was a step below Chorus. But then again it is a threaded headset. The headset on my Bianchi is threadless. It's a Cane Creek and other than some inital set up problems works like a charm with more than twice that many miles. The short of it is you should get a lot more out of it.

It should be covered under warranty. I think the warranty period is 1 yr but I may be wrong. You should be able to take it to any bike shop that handles Campy. If it's a decent shop they will take care of it.
One thing to tryNessism
May 5, 2002 2:53 PM
If the warranty thing doesn't work out, you can often get some extra life out of your headest by rotating it 90 degrees.
The most common reason for indexing is over tightening or just a bad headset to begin with. I always try to run mine just tight enough to not rattle. Of course if you get a King, you don't have to fart around. Just install and forget.

Replace with loose ballstanman
May 7, 2002 6:32 AM
This is an old shop trick--
Take out the retainer and bearings from lower cup. Replace bearings with loose balls--you'll wind up with one additional ball. Reassemble headset. Make sure to adjust headset so that there is no rattle--a little tighter is better than looser, because the brinelling is caused by the bearings travelling back and forth microscopically inside the bearing race, creating the small pits. Because the loose balls should no longer line up with the pits, no more indexing.

Otherwise, chuck it, go for a Stronglight headset. Make sure the faces are machined and parallel.
what's your opinion on a replacement ?bianchi boy
May 5, 2002 4:39 PM
Is it worth shelling out the extra bucks for a Chris King? I didn't bother when I built up the bike because I've never worn out a headset before and I figured the Campy would last as well as anything else. I'm also wondering if this is another threadless vs. threaded headset/stem issue -- are threadless headsets more prone to fail?
what's your opinion on a replacement ?Jekyll
May 5, 2002 4:45 PM
I don't think that threadless are more prone to wear than threaded. Like some one said, most damage is either from over tightening or not tightening enough.
If you plan on keeping the bike, pony up and get a King and never worry about it there after.
Try StonglightKerry
May 6, 2002 5:10 PM
Kings are really nice units, but for 60% less money, a Stronglight needle bearing unit will work just as well and NEVER wear out.
May 7, 2002 6:22 AM
Stronglight makes a great headset, bombproof, cheap. No need to spend $100+ on CK, when you can get a SL for $35-40, IMO.
re: headset indexing questions...curlybike
May 5, 2002 6:32 PM
Take the retainers out of the headset and replace with loose bearings. This will put more balls in the races and all of the balls can't fall into the dents at the same time, thus stopping the index feature. My mind sez normal wear and tear.
Brinelled headset:Rusty McNasty
May 6, 2002 5:20 AM
Well, if the headset is brinelled, it's not from wear. Some dope over-tightened the d@mn thing, pure and simple. If that person is the wrench-monkey at your LBS, they owe you a headset. It the dope is you, then you are $h!t outta luck. Next time, be more careful!
Either that or.....grzy
May 6, 2002 7:47 AM
Someone HIT something. I found that after smacking a car that, among other things, the headset was full of little dimples. Time for a new Timex, make mine a King.
Either that or.....bianchi boy
May 6, 2002 5:16 PM
I've never hit anything, other than an occasional pothole when someone in a paceline neglects to point it out. The headset was originally installed by Excel, but my LBS cut the steerer tube to length and installed a new stem for me last summer. At some point, I raised the stem one spacer, but I was careful to readjust the tension as before. That is, I noted how many turns I loosened the headset cap when removing the stem, and retightened it the same amount. I did not, however, use a torque wrench.

I called Excel today and they told me to send them the headset and they would examine it before deciding if it was a legitimate warranty issue or refund. They have been good about this sort of thing in the past. The main problem is that I don't want to be without my bike for 2 weeks, so I will have to go ahead and have my bikeshop install a new headset and then mail the old one to Excel and hope for the best. When the bike was about 6 weeks old, the bottom bracket came unscrewed while I was out riding one day and scored the left crank arm. In that case, Excel ended up replacing the crankset and covering my labor costs.
May 7, 2002 10:01 AM
Seems like you need to find a better wrench for your bike. The problems you described are easily avoided.
Headset Replacement and WearCalvin
May 7, 2002 5:41 AM
Headsets will eventually wear out, like any other part on a bike. Wearing out quickly is almost always a sign of either a poor bearing adjustment or dirt/muck inside the bearings.

What ever brand you get next, be sure it is adjusted correctly. See for more on threadless headsets.