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Are integrated headsets as bad as some make them out to be?(31 posts)

Are integrated headsets as bad as some make them out to be?tnbiker
Mar 14, 2003 8:41 AM
Does anyone have any horror stories of integrated headsets destroying a frame? Is it as bad as Chris King components make them out to be?
No [nm]Leroy
Mar 14, 2003 9:48 AM
Yet to be determined. nmOldEdScott
Mar 14, 2003 11:33 AM
I have seen onerussw19
Mar 14, 2003 11:58 AM
I have seen a Cannondale where I work that the head tube was wallowed out from the headset adjustment being way off. But by looking at the rest of the customer's bike, there were many other problems too. He just had no clue on basic maintainence. He tried to claim it came that way from our shop, which was a funny conversation, because we didn't sell the bike. The shop I work at was a Cannondale dealer thru 2000, but my shop is mostly a mountain shop and the Cannondales weren't selling in the MTB line, so we dropped them. A mistake in my mind, but I don't own the shop, and I am the only roadie there anyways. But the bike was a 2001 that we never ordered with another shops sticker still half visable on the down tube.....

Anyways after about 30 minutes of conversation with the guy it seems he bought some aero bars and put them on himself but in doing so he took apart the stem and threw the headset out of adjustment. Then he proceeded to ride with all his weight over the aerobars and misadjusted headset for the next 2000 miles even telling me that it would make a funny vibrating sound when he hit some bumps.

So it's a very isolated story, but yes, I have seen a frame trashed over an internal headset that was set up completely wrong by an incompetent rider.

To be fair, I have seen frames destroyed by regular cup headsets in the past by misadjustment too.

The thing about the whole issue that Chris King brings up is a very valid sounding opinion if you ask me. The one place where I think it will end up not being a problem is that people who ride high end bikes also tend to replace them about every 5 to 7 years as they become obsolete (bicycle retailer did a big study about this, that's where my numbers come from) and so the time it takes to trash the frame may not be as long as the owner has the bike. But that just means in 5 years or so, you are going to have to make sure you inspect that area if you are buying a used bike.

I have seen oneLeroy
Mar 14, 2003 3:56 PM
I have a Cannondale with an integrated headset and have had zero problems with it.
I have seen onerussw19
Mar 14, 2003 8:47 PM
The key part of my phrase was "one" as in I have seen one. I work in a shop... I have seen 500 or more Cannondales this year, I have seen probably 800 intergrated headset bikes this last year... I have seen one fail.

OK I really don't know about the 500 and 800 figures, but out of all the bikes I have seen, only one has been bad and it was due to owner stupidity. Special circumstances... but it did happen. I am not trying to bust on Cannondale owners, I have one, but I will never buy an intergrated headest design as long as I still have a choice. The hiddenset design is OK, as it still has some sort of a cup, but I actually buy into the whole arguement on the Chris King site and don't support the integrated design. But that's my choice.

But to be fair, like I said in my first post and this one... out of all the bikes I have seen, one has failed that I have been a personal witness to.

Litespeed problem...PsyDoc
Mar 14, 2003 12:44 PM
Owner of an LBS had to send back his 2002 Litespeed Sirius (may have been the Antares) because the headtube had ovalized or something to that effect.
Hard to believeKerry
Mar 16, 2003 7:05 PM
Ti tubing is pretty tough stuff - it's hard to believe the head tube was ovalized. Maybe the party line from your dealer, but I suspect other things going on.
Do you remember the Mazda wankel engine ?MR_GRUMPY
Mar 14, 2003 8:48 PM
Looked good on paper. Four or five years later, people were crying.
Do you remember the Mazda wankel engine ?russw19
Mar 14, 2003 9:02 PM
Yeah, but that was due to using high octane gas in the engine that specifically called for lower octane fuel. The seals between the 3 engine parts would warp because the fuel burned too hot....

Diesel engines use the same principal.

Mazda wankel engineLeroy
Mar 15, 2003 5:48 AM
A bit of a topic vector, but isn't Mazda bringing the rotary engine back in the RX-8?
yes, look at your most recent Automobile mag (nm)lonefrontranger
Mar 17, 2003 12:52 PM
Rotory Engine needs low octane fuel?Nessism
Mar 15, 2003 11:18 AM
My understanding is that the early rotory engines had problems with their apex seals - sort of like a piston ring on a regular engine. Once Mazda sorted this out, the engines were quite reliable - lots of high milage RX7's running around. The early engines may have run hot, but how can high octane fuel cause this to happen? I always thought that high octane fuel burned more slowly which allowed for more controled combustion - less detonation (which damages internal parts like apex seals). Please explain further so I can learn!

High Octane can't damage any engineteamsloppy
Mar 15, 2003 12:49 PM
Octane rating is resistance to pre-ignition (i.e. that knock knock sound on hard acceleration). Running a higher octane rated gasoline in your engine cannot damage it in anyway. Running a higher octane rating will result in the fuel-gas mixture igniting just as soon as required. The only draw back to higher octane is the cost.

grumpy \'grum-pee\ adj grump-i-ere; est: moodily cross: surly, often ill-informed.
more off topic Mazda R-13 Engine discussions......russw19
Mar 15, 2003 3:26 PM
It has to do with the Compression Heat. High octane fuel is designed to take higher combustion pressures before it ignites. That's why they add the additives to make the octane rating higher. High octane fuel is designed for vehicles with high compression engines. The fuel takes a higher pressure to ignite it so it doesn't explode pre-spark. If so, you are going to have a knocking engine. The knock is your piston coming up before your spark plug fires.

Now, how does this apply to the early Mazda 13B engines? Well it was designed as a low compression engine, hence the manufacturer's advisement of using low octane fuel. If you use high octane fuel in that engine the compression ratio is slightly higher in the engine, meaning you have higher combustion pressures, making for higher heat. It's not the fuel that burns hotter as I said in my first post, that was overly simple, but used to make a point... it's the pressure is higher, making the heat higher. Physics equation pv=Nrt. Pressure is directly proportional to temperature. Higher pressure, more heat. That extra heat over time in the 13B engine would cause the Apex seals to warp slightly and the engine would leak fuel after that. You can believe me, as I had one of those cars, or you can look it up for yourself, either way....

But that is the 30 minute lesson I got from the Independent Mazda mechanic who worked on my car, and being he was a friend before he was my mechanic, I believed what he told me. But the bottom line is that it wasn't a thermal efficient engine.

Its sad you are so easily befuddledteamsloppy
Mar 15, 2003 9:52 PM
What bull sh_t you've written. Why do think you can write stuff that is so untrue? Are you drunk or just stupid?

1. Additives don't affect Octane. They are detergents that clean water, inorganic and organic deposits from the tank, lines and engine components.

Octane rating is determemined by the ratio of hydrocarbon components of the fuel (hexane, octane, butane, MTBE, etc.) If you had taken a organic chemistry class, you would have noticed the "-ane" thing and that "octane" is an actual chemical component of gasoline: not an additive. Pure octane gas (8 carbon atoms) has over 100 octane rating. Pure hexane (6 carbon atoms)is less tahn 80 octane rating. Butane is over 110 octane rating (but only 4 carbon) gives same octane at almost half the cost.

Two 'knock' engines are used to determine the octane-rating at the gasoline blend unit, days or weeks before any additives are added.

2. The piston always comes up before the spark plug fires. Otherwise, you would have a perpetually knocking engine (and one that would never start).

The knock sound is the piston hitting the pre-mature explosion (shock wave) in the cylinder caused by the pre-ignition.

3. Octane rating of the fuel does not affect compression ratio. Compression ratio is determined by the physical stroke and shape of the engine. Effective compression ratio is also affected by valve timing.

4. You can't use the ideal gas law to explain combustion and the octane ratings of gasoline. PV=nRT explains the compression of an ideal gas (e.g. helium, nitrogen). The Octane rating does not affect the temperature or presure of the fuel mixture. You have things pretty confused here. The octane rating has no affect on temperature and pressure of the pre-igntion fuel mixture of a properly tuned engine. Octane affects only when the fuel explodes.

5. Hearsay is the weakest of all validation. It can't be used in a court of law. And if your friend has such a strong understanding of fluid dynamics and combustion, why is he working as a mechanic and not working as a chemical or mechanical engineer? Chemical engineers have the highest average salary. Automecahincs don't make the top 20.

6. Using high Octane gas in a rotary engine has almost nothing to do with the Thermal Efficiency of that engine. If anything, it would increase the thermal efficiency of the engine by reducing knock (the engine fighting itself) and using a fuel with a higher BTU (energy) content (higher octane fuels tend to have higher BTU content).

In case you don't know
What do you know about Mechnics saleries?Ambishawn
Mar 15, 2003 11:08 PM
My best friend and his brother are mechanical engineers with Batchlors and Masters degrees whom make what some might consider comfortable 60-70k a year saleries + benifits. On the other hand Me and other highly experenced automotive technicians are experienceing 6 figure incomes but with poor benefits and are requierd to furnish our own equiptment tools etc. 40 grand worth in My case. I'm not talking about muffler shop and gas station guys I mean specialized heavey line techs. And for the record this is a bike fourm not a place to show everyone what we learned in chemistry class tuesday. If you don't belive Me on the saleries call any service director of a Southern California Mercedes Benz dealer and ask him an aproximate yearly earnings of ther most experienced technicians.
I stand behind Ambishawn on this one!nmthe bull
Mar 16, 2003 7:34 AM
gasoline...? octane....?MrDan
Mar 16, 2003 5:20 PM
I think that OCTANE is a hydrocarbon molecule... it
shares the likes with ... butane, heptane, propane, etc.
so I believe the octane rating is what proportion of the "gas" is octane. gasoline has many different molecules in it... I think what is trying to be said is that octane increase the "flash point" (temperature at which it will spontaneously combust) of the fuel...
Had to get Me started didn't ya?Ambishawn
Mar 16, 2003 12:23 AM
You are partialy right, Higher octane fuel allows an engine to run higher compession under load before knocking. The knocking caused by low octane fuel or highcompression is called detonation. Detonation is when the compressed air fuel mixture experiences an uncontrolled explosive burn rather than a controled even state of combustion that pushes the pistion down in a smooth fashon. Preignition is often mistaken for detonation because it also causes knocking. Precombustion is usually caused by someting glowing in the combustion chamber like hot built up carbon, a sliver from a poor machine shop valve job. This can ignite the air fuel mixture before the spark plug does causing the two flame fronts to collide thus causing a knocking sensation simular to detonation. You are also right about cost being the only real drawback of high octane fuel. As far as the Wankel rotory engine is concerned High octane fuel will not damage it in any way. In fact it will allow you to run more boost on a turbocharged rotary or pistion eng before detonation. Advanced igition timing also requires higher octane fuel to resist detonation. As far as the fuel is concerned, additives in gasoline are there to clean fuel injectors and provide fewer emissions. They do nothing to raise the octane of the fuel. The reason higher octane fuel resists detonation is becase it combusts at a slower rate. The higher octane fuel is based on the refining process of the fuel.
Cool, now I know the real reason... and thanks Teamsloppy too!russw19
Mar 16, 2003 1:55 PM
Cool, now I know the real reason... and thanks Teamsloppy too!Ambishawn
Mar 16, 2003 2:31 PM
I'm certainly no expert on rotory engines but I have owned two RX 7s one 1980 and 1989. I owned these cars a little over ten years ago. The 1980 was stolen from be and I wrecked the 89GXL up in the Angeles Crest. These were fun cars to have on a 20 year old's budget. The Wankel engine was originaly a german design bought by the Mazda corperation. Those apex seals were certaily the weak link of these engines but I wouldent go as far to say they were unreliable. I would like to purchese one of those late model RX7 Turbos. I love the body style of those one's. I'm probably better off sticking to road cycling and mountain biking. I used to get in a lot of trouble with those two RX7's.
I've noticed thatAmbishawn
Mar 15, 2003 7:38 AM
There's some really good deals floating around for bikes with standard headset frames that were replaced with intergated headsets. Two examples are one Litespeed Arenburg at Helen's cycles. They want $1700 for the whole bike and would probably take that as an out the door price. The new Arenburgs with the same parts group go for $2250 to 2400+ tax but you get that intergrated headset. Another smoking deal is at Cycleworld in Reseda, an older Litespeed Vortex full duraace that's beem offered to me for $3200. I'm not bashing intergrated head sets but I like the idea of being able to get a headset on the spot and have never seen or heard of any significant advantages for them. The two things I like about them is looks and the fact that the tech weenies out there have to have them and are willing to pass on last years model to be on the cutting edge thus creating deals like the two I mentioned.
re: Are integrated headsets as bad as some make them out to be?JFST
Mar 15, 2003 2:32 PM
I have integrated headsets on my Litespeed Unicoi mountain bike and LOOK LX. Its been no problem on the LOOK but it has really been a pain on the MTB. Both of the bikes use the Cane Creek integrated IS-6. The bearings last about 3-6 months on the Litespeed. They start grinding soon and in the wet weather conditions I mostly ride in they get filled with watter mud and all sorts of crap. The design doesn't seem to seal dirt out very well. Every few months I have to take the fork out and clean the headtube and bearing cups thoroughly in order to keep the headset running smooth. On the other hand I had a 3 year old Litespeed Pisgah which used a standard Chris King headset theatnever gave any problems. That headset is still in use in my other MTB, a 2001 Intense Tracer which is the one I use by far the most. The headset has never been needed to be cleaned, serviced, or regreased and still runs just as smooth as it did when it was new. I never need to take the front apart to clean it since the King design seals the headtube really well and practically NOTHING gets into the headtube or bearings. In short, I wouldn't base my buying decision on the kind of headset a bike uses but I'll take a standard Chris King over an integrated headset anyday if I have the choice.
re: Are integrated headsets as bad as some make them out to be?russw19
Mar 15, 2003 4:21 PM
I think you are in a different situation with your Litespeed than the poster is actually asking about. Your Litespeed has an internal headset, right? You have a cup, it's just pressed into your frame. The problem bikes that Chris King singles out are bikes with the integrated headset, meaning just bearings fit into the frame, but no type of a cup to hold them properly in place and away from the actual frame. The companies that just put a bearing into a milled surface in the head tube are the ones asking for trouble, as the bearing moves under load, and it will, it is just grinding against the frame, not an internal cup. If there is no cup, and you can't replace it, it's just the bare frame material. If that is aluminium, it's gonna wear out and there will be nothing you can do to fix it when it does unless someone remills your headtube (scary thought) and puts a cup in there for you. I can't explain it as well as the Chris King site, but check out their explanation, it makes sense for them to be thinking what they do. On the other hand, they are in the business of making headsets, so that may also be a factor, but I think that company's rep speaks for their honesty too.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't your Litespeed an Internal headset, and not integrated? The difference being a cup inside the frame, or no cup at all.

Here's the url...

re: Are integrated headsets as bad as some make them out to be?JFST
Mar 16, 2003 6:13 AM
No, all litespeeds now use integrated, not internal headsets. The bearings fit right into the headtube.
Litespeed/Merlin Ti headtubeEric_H
Mar 17, 2003 9:10 AM
But there are "cups" pressed into the frame on the Ti Litespeeds (and Merlins). These cups can be replaced.
It is a well known fact that all mazda use integrated headsets!tnbiker
Mar 17, 2003 7:21 PM
It is a well known fact that all mazda use integrated headsets!Rob Sal
Mar 18, 2003 1:17 AM
LOL.... and the knocking you get in your Litespeed headset is a piston hitting the pre-mature explosion (shock wave) in the cylinder caused by the pre-ignition. You can avoid it by filling your waterbottle with higher octane fuel, or buying a Mazda Wanker engine.

Have I got the gist of the thread?
You need a hydro-spanner wrench for your hyper-drive motovator!tnbiker
Mar 18, 2003 2:12 PM
If you know where this quote is from, you are BIG dork!
like me
You need a hydro-spanner wrench for your hyper-drive motovator!Rob Sal
Mar 19, 2003 1:13 AM
That'll be Star Wars Episode 1 then!!!!