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The headset - responsible for the optimal fit of the fork

The headset on the bike may be one or the other hardly a term, or know only a few, what exactly is hidden behind it. The topic is very complex and there are many different variants that are used depending on the bicycle frame.

The basic principle of the headset on a normal bike or MTB is relatively simple, because this component connects the fork or suspension fork with the bicycle frame. The headset is fixed in the so-called head tube. Inside the head tube there are bearings (ball bearings or roller bearings) on the top and bottom of the headset, which ensure that the rider can make clean and smooth steering movements. In addition, the headset also ensures that the fork or suspension fork is connected to the frame without any noticeable play. 

The headset in the bike ensures the perfect fit of the fork and thus maximum riding safety. Smooth steering movements guarantee maximum steering precision in all riding situations. The headset for the mountain bike must withstand particularly high loads and is accordingly more stable as a fully integrated headset or only as a partially integrated headset. Forged steel bearing shells are used for the headset in the bike as well as bearing shells made of CNC-machined aluminium. High-quality seals ensure a smooth and long-lasting function. 

In our shop you will find bicycle headset for a wide range of fork stems, from 1 inch to 1.5 inch, the so-called onepointfive. We carry the traditional threaded headset as well as the high-end headset with ceramic balls.

Cult headsets and classy tuning

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Cult and reference in MTB for many years are the Chris King headsets. You can take over a headset from Chris King from bike to bike - a real investment for the future. Apart from complete headsets, we also offer individual lower and upper parts. We offer a wide range of different types with various designs and installation heights. Many headsets are available in several colours, so you can give your bike a cool look at the same time.

What to look for when buying a headset? 

There are an incredible number of headset manufacturers, there are Rose, Cane Creek, FSA, Hope, Tange, Humpert, Nukeproof, Contec, Dartmoor, Acros and many more. But just as diverse as the manufacturers are, so are the individual variants of the headsets. Therefore, we would like to list the most important ones here. First, it is necessary to determine the two main categories and that would be the threaded headset and the Ahead headset.

Threaded headset

The threaded headset was the standard for a long time and is still used today on a city bike, for example. The headset or fork is fixed to the frame with various threaded cups. The stem is inserted into the fork tube or stem and fixed with an internal clamp. This system allows a height adjustment of the handlebar without problems. However, this system has not been used on an MTB for a long time.

Ahead headset

The Ahead headset is clearly the most common type of headset. The bearing shell is here no longer fixed by threaded shells, but is hammered into the head tube of the bicycle frame. The individual bearings then lie "loose" in the head tube, so to speak. Only in combination with fork and stem the system gets stability. A bolt is inserted through the so-called Ahead cap on the stem, which is screwed into the "claw" inside the fork steerer tube. This way, fork and stem tighten against each other and fix the system. It is important not to tighten the screw too much, otherwise the steering movement will be impeded. However, if the screw is not fixed enough, you will get a disturbing play between fork and frame, which in the long run will also damage the material or the bearings. The classic Ahead headset has a measurement of 1 1/8 inches above and below, but of course there are differences here.

From the Ahead system in turn, there are thus other variants:

Integrated

In the integrated headset, the bearings are placed loosely in the frame prepared for this purpose and disappear almost invisibly. There are different diameters for this system depending on the bike, so you'll need to pay close attention when choosing. The bearing shells, which otherwise have to be hammered into the Ahead system, are part of the frame and can therefore not be replaced. Here it is particularly important to adjust the headset without play, because improper handling can quickly cause fatal consequences.

Partially integrated

The partially integrated headset is popular with many MTB riders as it allows for a flat design of the headset. Similar to the fully integrated, the bearing cups disappear into the frame, but they are replaceable and need to be hammered in.

External

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The external headset is the most common system. Here, both bearing cups are driven into the head tube and protrude clearly above it. The bearings are located in the bearing shells and are therefore not integrated into the frame.

Tapered or tapered 

In the tapered or tapered headset, the bearing cups that are driven into the frame are of different sizes. On the top side a 1 1/8 inch shell is used, but on the bottom side a bearing shell with a larger diameter. Mostly 1 1/2 inch is used here. The benefit is that suspension forks with a wider or tapered shaft can be installed and thus the stability of the same is increased.

The most important questions in brief:

  • Which system is needed?
  • If an Ahead headset is installed, which type do I need?
  • Should the headset not only be a spare part, but a tuning accessory?

Headset accessories - With attention to detail

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Of course, we also carry a wide portfolio of accessories such as Ahead caps, headset claws and spacers. By using reduction sleeves, the steerer tube can be made smaller if required. This offers you the possibility to install your old fork in a new frame without much effort.