Boring integrated headset rant

Herbsman
Herbsman Posts: 2,029
edited March 2013 in Road general
Excuse the lame rant but I need to vent my frustration somewhere...

Am I wrong in thinking that integrated headsets now come on most new road bikes? In which case, surely every shop should have them in stock and it shouldn't be difficult to obtain the correct type for your bike?

I could hear creaking on my CAAD9 when I pedaled so changed the BB... still heard creaking when I turned the bars from side to side while climbing so thought it might be headset bearings.

After much uncertainty over whether the CAAD9 takes a 36x45 Cane Creek standard or 45x45 Campagnolo standard headset (nothing was printed on the bearings already installed and I saw nothing in the owner's manual or on Cannondale's website) I found a thread on a forum saying it takes the latter.

So I ordered this from Ribble (~£18) and a 36 x 45 Cane Creek standard turns up. WRONG TYPE. :roll:

I sent it back and went to my LBS instead. They don't stock them, but can order them in, at £39.99. FORTY QUID FOR SOME BEARINGS.

I go to my other LBS and they have some in stock, £20. Still a bit pricey just for some bearings, but they're the right type.

Used the bike twice a week from June 'til September then left it alone until the end of February this year.

Went out for a ride and my handlebars start wobbling. I take the stem off to find that the top bearings have completely disintegrated!

The shop I bought them from can't get any until next week. I find some half price ones online, a well known Spanish BMX brand, just £14 from Evans Cycles (!). Clearly listed as 'Fly Bikes Headset Bearings'
fly-bikes-headset-bearings.jpg
It seems all BMX headsets take the Campag standard and a quick search confirms that these ones are 45x45 so I order them straight away.

But what turns up?

419370_489871601072749_1687999780_n.jpg

NOT BEARINGS. F*CKING WASHERS :evil:

Desperate for bearings now as it's Friday so I go to the local skatepark's website and pay £24 for a set of Odyssey bearings. Go to collect them after work only to find that their website's stock levels were wrong and they only have £30 ones in stock. Unwillingly, paid the extra money. Should have just asked for a refund and taken the bearings out of my BMX (that I haven't used since 2010) instead...

The irony is that there was nothing wrong with the old bearings, they weren't creaking, it was something else. But I'd already thrown them away! :roll:
CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!

Comments

  • 16mm
    16mm Posts: 545
    Headsets are a pita, but quality bearings cost money.
    You can pay between £5 and £20 for each BB bearing. Bearing shops are honest about the sourcing. The £5 are cheap far east, the £18 bearings are French SKF.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,230
    Integrated headsets are a pain... the problem is they rely on two parts which are not designed to match perfectly to squeeze a bearing cartridge. The result is the bearing wears quickly and water is allow to get in. It is a design fault that every modern frame/fork system has and I don't see a solution. You can buy better bearings with a tighter seal, but the design fault remains and nothing is fit and forget like standard threadless headsets are.
    I don't know how the industry was allowed to insist on this stupid design... which has virtually no advantage and plenty of drawbacks. Chris King for a period refused to make them, then they bowed, as virtually every new frame fits an integrated headset.
    The plethora of standards adds to general annoyance of the component. I have gone back to steel frames for this very reason... this and the press-fit BB bearings, which are the same concept applied to the bottom bracket
    left the forum March 2023
  • Herbsman
    Herbsman Posts: 2,029
    I read this http://www.gsportbmx.co.uk/support/ride ... adset.html about integrated headsets years ago in Ride UK magazine. Never liked the idea of them since then, although they are slightly more convenient to install than normal threadless headsets and require no maintenance, the drawback of having smaller bearings outweighs the benefit of this.

    Give me an FSA Pig headset any day of the week, those things have massive balls and last ages.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • Herbsman
    Herbsman Posts: 2,029
    easier to read version (black text on white background) http://www.odysseybmx.com/dailyword/200 ... n-headset/
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,230
    Herbsman wrote:
    I read this http://www.gsportbmx.co.uk/support/ride ... adset.html about integrated headsets years ago in Ride UK magazine. Never liked the idea of them since then, although they are slightly more convenient to install than normal threadless headsets and require no maintenance, the drawback of having smaller bearings outweighs the benefit of this.

    Give me an FSA Pig headset any day of the week, those things have massive balls and last ages.

    They require no maintenance because they fail before any maintenance can save them. Threadless require no maintenance too, but they do last many years, some never get to the end.
    Using a cartridge on a mechanism that is 100 per cent load and no rotation is a stupid idea to start with, then if you squeeze it between two surfaces which have the same machining accuracy of a slice of white bread it's a disaster.

    I don't really get why as cars customers we are extremely critical, but as bicycle customers we accept everything as inevitable... now that bikes cost the same as cars, we should be a bit more demanding...
    left the forum March 2023
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    Yet another thread about how cycle components have actually got worse in recent years. Integrated headsets and press-fit bottom brackets have benefits for the manufacturers because they are cheap to manufacture and assemble. But for consumers who want bikes that will last for years with proper maintenance, they are a step backwards.

    I think magazine journalists are partly to blame for swallowing without question the manufacturers' press releases claiming all sort of benefits such as stiffer bottom brackets and sharper steering. Inexperienced readers, such as new mamils, accept this guff as gospel. But the real world experiences of people using this forum would suggest cyclists are being conned by the manufacturers.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Like external bearing BBs, integrated headsets are a backward step in terms of reliability - but they're cheaper to manufacture and they supposedly give better aesthetics with today's fat-tubed frames.

    However, if you installed cheap bearings without grease and regularly doused them in water, then they will corrode.

    Headset bearings aren't standard industrial bearings
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..