Advice on Buying Headsets
Buy Bike Headsets - Advice & Help Guide
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Head Sets - advice & information
A headset is the joining mechanism between your bicycle forks and frameset. It has to provide a smooth turning movement in the forks whilst at the same time be strong enough to take the forces that your particular bike is designed to handle. The headset must be particularly strong for heavy off-road mountain bike riding.
Get what you pay for?
The more you spend on a headset... the better the quality of the ball bearings and bearing cages. The whole point of a headset is to provide the strongest, smoothest, and hard wearing link between your forks and frame and as with most things in life, the more you pay, the better the quality of the headset.
Different Headsets have Different Quality Bearing Mechanisms!...
Fully sealed Bearing Cartridge: These are the state of the art in terms of waer, performance and maintenance. You will find fully sealed cartridges on the best headsets - namely Chris King headsets, Race Face headsets and FSA headsets. The casing is completely sealed and made of stainless steel all set up and ready to go - not dirt or rubbish can enter this closed system! This type of headset requires no maintenance and will very rarely need replacing. The only maintenance needed might be occassional bearing replacement as obvioulsy this is a mechanical part and will eventually wear and need changing.
Cartridge Ball Bearing - Shimano Type
Cartridge bearings are used on Shimano head sets and others. A cartridge head set has ball bearings sealed with plastic. This cartridge ball bearing system needs some maintenance but is still better than the systems below.
Roller or Needle Bearings: These use flat rolling pin shaped bearings rather than traditional ball bearings offering a larger surface contact area between bearings and surfaces they touch and thus are a more efficient bearing system. Needs a ceratin amount of looking after but not a great deal - therfore a good option. Open Cage Bearing System: This is an old fashioned cage type bearing set that has a set of steel balls. Being open it requires more maintenance than the more expensive and sophisticated designs above and will not last as long or offer as good performance due partly to the quality of the parts and partly due to exposure to dirt and grime.
Some other headset manufacturers & Brands
Ringle Headsets, Cane Creek headsets, Orbit Headsets, Campagnolo headsets, Shimano headsets, Extreme headsets are all good quality manufacturers of head set components and other high quality bike parts.
So What about the Headset themselves... which one do I need?...
Well - there are 4 main types of headsets to discuss - Aheadsets, Integrated Headsets and Threaded Headsets. Bike headsets vary in type and fitting so when buying new one you need to check this carefully. It has to be compatible with your frame and forks set. Note: Talk to your local bike shops, bicycle store or call us if you need help, information or advice on any of the headset information on this page - or just want to make sure you are buying compatible parts for your bicycle headset, frame or forks.
1) Integrated Headsets
2) Semi-Integrated Headsets
3) A-headset Headsets
4) Threaded Headsets
Integrated Headsets design
Integrated headsets can only be used on framesets specifically designed for them - there is no standard design unfortunately. Fully integrated headsets have bearings inserted directly into a specially designed head tube.
The 'A-Headset' (AH = Threadless or Ahead system)
The A headset is the type of system used by most quality mountain bikes. In this case the fork is not joined directly to the headset (the fork tube that goes up inside the frameset is smooth and has no thread). The stem fixes on the fork tube and keeps everything fixed securely.
Assesing the size of your A-Headset system
First take out the handle bar stem and measure the fork stearing column's outer diameter. It will be one inch, one and one eigth of an inch or one point five inches - the sizes that Aheadsets come in. Check with your bike store or shop or call us if you are unsure which size you need.
Semi-integrated Headset design
Here the bearings are inserted into a specially designed frame feature and again - always use a headset recommended by the manufacturer of the frameset as there might otherwise be a problem of fitting. Check with your bike shop or the place where you bought you bike gear from to be sure about compatibility.
Threaded Headsets - old style headset design
Threaded headsets are the old fashioned - traditional design. They work with a threaded fork column utilising a couple of locking nuts to hold everything in place. Threaded head sets come in one inch or one and 1/8 of an inch sizes and to find the size you need, just remove the stem and look for the size which will be written somewhere on the stem itself somewhere or you can measure it yorself.
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If you find we are not the cheapest place on the Internet to buy headsets or want to purchase a headset and are unsure what fits what... Contact Bonthrone for more information and advice.
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