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How to Replace a Specialized Mindset with Sealed Cartridges

buckmulliganbuckmulligan Posts: 1,031
edited May 2019 in Workshop
There are a number of threads on here inquiring how to replace the awful proprietary Specialized MindSet headset that’s installed in a whole range of their bikes, with nice sealed cartridge bearings. I’ve just done this on my 2011 Allez Sport, so I thought I’d share my experiences with you and make a nice concise guide as to what’s involved.

The headtubes of frames that are installed with one of these headsets are already machined to take cartridge bearings, so it’s just a case of removing the parts that are already there and slotting the new bearings into place. I’m using some from Superstar, but there are plenty of suppliers out there, just make sure you get the right fit for your frame.

pic0_zps19725983.jpg

To find out what bearings you need you can consult this guide, otherwise Google will hopefully provide you with some answers.

http://service.specialized.com/collater ... -Guide.pdf

A quick primer on the various measurements of cartridge bearings:

Bearing contact angle – the angle of the bevelled edges on the inner and outer edges of the cartridge bearing respectively (e.g. 36 degrees x 45 degrees).
Bearing outer diameter – the OD of the bearing, should be a snug fit to the internal diameter of your machined headtube (e.g. 41mm).
Bearing inner diameter (not stated in guide above) – dictated by the size of the steerer tube (e.g. 30.2 mm for a 1 1/8” steerer tube).
Bearing height – depth of the cartridge bearing (e.g. 6.5mm)

Having looked through the guide above, all frames installed with a MindSet seem to be the same standard (36x45 degrees, 41mm OD, 30.2mm ID and 6.5mm height) although other sizes could exist of course.


Step 1: Remove handlebars and stem.

I'll presume you already know how to do this. I'd strongly recommend disconnecting the brake and gear cables and fully removing the handlebars rather than letting them dangle there. You'll probably end up doing it at some point in the procedure, so just get it out of the way at the start.


Step 2: Drop out the forks and remove bearings.

Start by removing your stem spacers, headset top cover and weather seal (if applicable). Then remove the silver split ring (use a screwdriver or some such implement to lift it out if necessary) at which point the forks should drop out if they haven't already. Remove the bearing races and bearing retainers (full of 1/8" balls) from the top and bottom of the headtube. Once you've removed everything that you can by hand and cleaned everything up, this is what you should have:

pic1_zpsd9cc8635.jpg

From top left to bottom right: stem spacers, headset top cover, weather seal, split ring, top bearing race, top bearing retainer, bottom bearing retainer, bottom bearing race.

You'll need the stem spacers, headset top cover, weather seal, and silver split ring later so put these somewhere safe. The bearing retainers and races will be surplus to requirements.

You'll also have a 'crown race' on the steerer tube. I put inverted commas because it's not a race as such (in that it doesn’t actually make contact with the bearings), it's just a bevelled mount to support the bearing race that you've already removed. Leave this in place:

pic2_zpsca41fa52.jpg


Step 3: Knock out the headset cups.

This is where it gets tough, so get your LBS on standby! Pressed into the top and bottom of the headtube are two black metal bearing cups that need to be removed before you can fit sealed cartridges. There's a small lip on the cups (1-2mm wide) on the inside of the headtube that you can use to drive them out.

pic3_zpsab21f4eb.jpg

pic4_zpsd59be9a5.jpg

If you have a proper drifting tool, great! I didn't and tried to use the screwdriver and hammer method and just couldn't get them to move. Thankfully we have a new Specialized Concept Store in our city, so I relented and gave them the pleasure of doing it. Five minutes and five pounds later, your headtube should look like this:

pic5_zps779ad7e1.jpg

The cups that are removed look like this, these will also be surplus to requirements:

pic6_zps6e696c3d.jpg


Step 4: Reassemble headset.

From here on out it's a doddle. Start by cleaning up all the surfaces and parts to be reused. Grease up the outer and inner surfaces of the new cartridge bearings with a nice thick grease, I used Park Tools Polylube 1000. Slide one bearing onto the fork steerer tube and make sure it rotates freely when pushed down on the 'crown race'.

pic7_zpscec2ac0f.jpg

Reinsert the forks into the frame and slide the second bearing into place.

pic8_zps47298fe3.jpg

Next, slide on the silver split ring and push firmly into place on the inner race of the new sealed bearing. It's at this point you may need to insert a spacer, but more on that in a sec.

pic9_zps4ff541be.jpg

Replace the weather seal and headset top and compress the headset by hand and check the forks rotate nice and smoothly.

pic10_zpsab5354c3.jpg

If you feel that there is any binding between the weather seal/headset top cover and the top of the headtube, it is likely that the cartridge bearing is sitting too low into the frame and you will need to insert a spacer above the split ring to give the required clearance. A standard 1 1/8th stem spacer should do the trick and required thicknesses are reported to range from 0.5 to 3 mm. I didn't need one at all for my Allez Sport (2011, 52cm) but if you do, I'd recommend putting say a 5 mm spacer in there to start with and then measure the gap between the top of the headtube and the headset top cover to get an idea of the thickness required.


Step 5: Tighten up and ride!

Stick your stem spacers, stem and handlebars back on and adjust the headset appropriately. I'll presume you already know how to do this too, if not there are plenty of generic guides out there which I won't repeat.

Good luck! 8)

Posts

  • great post BuckMulligan - worth a sticky maybe mods?

    Two comments:

    I did this myself on my Sectuer 2011 and didn't need any spacer/washer - seems some do some don't.
    One questions though about that - Re step 4 - If there is binding and you need a spacer would most folk not think of a stem spacer as the rings that you slot onto the steerer to raise where the stem attaches? As such they would sit on the headset top cover as they have too big an outside diameter to drop down inside the headtube and sit on top of the split ring. Is the thing that's needed in these cases not called a Headset Shim Washer which would drop down into the headtube to effetivley raise the top surface of the split ring so the heaset top cap doesn't rub on the headtube?

    I've found it impossible (so far!) to find that pdf Frame Compatiblity Guide for newer Spesh models - also - lots of newer models (like my Sectuer 2013) come with cartdridge bearings with nowt written on them! Blo*&y annoying as while its relativeley straightforward to measure the OD, ID and height how do you measure the angles of crown race and split ring to know if 36 or 45 :?:

    Great post!
  • buckmulliganbuckmulligan Posts: 1,031
    If there is binding and you need a spacer would most folk not think of a stem spacer as the rings that you slot onto the steerer to raise where the stem attaches? As such they would sit on the headset top cover as they have too big an outside diameter to drop down inside the headtube and sit on top of the split ring. Is the thing that's needed in these cases not called a Headset Shim Washer which would drop down into the headtube to effectivley raise the top surface of the split ring so the headset top cap doesn't rub on the headtube?

    Yes, I meant just a normal stem spacer that you would use to raise up the stem, I don't think a special headset shim is necessary. If you place an extra stem spacer on top of the silver split ring and underneath the weather seal and headset top cover it will raise up the weather seal and top cover to stop them binding and still apply pressure to the split ring as required to adjust the headset properly. A normal stem spacer is only a fractionally wider diameter than the silver split ring shown, so should fit inside the headtube with no problems. This guy's machined spacer basically does the same job:

    viewtopic.php?f=40004&t=12869871&p=17797181&hilit=allez+headset#p17797181
    Blo*&y annoying as while its relatively straightforward to measure the OD, ID and height how do you measure the angles of crown race and split ring to know if 36 or 45 :?:

    If you still have the original bearings, I believe that it's standard for IS (36*45) bearings to have a blue seal and Campy (45*45) bearings to have a red seal. Someone with more experience in this area may be able to proffer more advice on this front though!
  • If there is binding and you need a spacer would most folk not think of a stem spacer as the rings that you slot onto the steerer to raise where the stem attaches? As such they would sit on the headset top cover as they have too big an outside diameter to drop down inside the headtube and sit on top of the split ring. Is the thing that's needed in these cases not called a Headset Shim Washer which would drop down into the headtube to effectivley raise the top surface of the split ring so the headset top cap doesn't rub on the headtube?

    Yes, I meant just a normal stem spacer that you would use to raise up the stem, I don't think a special headset shim is necessary. If you place an extra stem spacer on top of the silver split ring and underneath the weather seal and headset top cover it will raise up the weather seal and top cover to stop them binding and still apply pressure to the split ring as required to adjust the headset properly. A normal stem spacer is only a fractionally wider diameter than the silver split ring shown, so should fit inside the headtube with no problems. This guy's machined spacer basically does the same job:

    viewtopic.php?f=40004&t=12869871&p=17797181&hilit=allez+headset#p17797181
    Blo*&y annoying as while its relatively straightforward to measure the OD, ID and height how do you measure the angles of crown race and split ring to know if 36 or 45 :?:

    If you still have the original bearings, I believe that it's standard for IS (36*45) bearings to have a blue seal and Campy (45*45) bearings to have a red seal. Someone with more experience in this area may be able to proffer more advice on this front though!

    Cheers you are absolutely right it occurs to me now a normal spacer sits on top of the headset cap so if it goes on first it will work as you say. I will check my bearings again but I don't think there is any colour. AFAIK they are Spesh proprietary so maybe don't follow conventions. Knowing Spesh they may not even be a conventional size!
  • Hi, great post by BuckMulligan, im looking to replace my bearings by following this thread but i can't see the pictures???
    please help

    Thanks
  • Thanks for posting this. I took my Tarmac Comp to Majorca last year and the headset fell apart. Couldn't get a replacement anywhere. Even the useless Specialised shop didn't know what I was talking about and did not have one.
    As a last resort I took it to the BMC shop where they have a really good mechanic, he did not have one but managed to sort it somehow. Not quite sure what he fitted but it still works perfectly.
    Anyway I may need your excellent post at some point. Needs to be a sticky
  • buckmulliganbuckmulligan Posts: 1,031
    Hi, great post by BuckMulligan, im looking to replace my bearings by following this thread but i can't see the pictures???
    please help
    Thanks

    Hi, the photos are working for me; they're hosted on Photobucket, although admittedly I've had some issues with them myself before. Some work organisations and public networks block access to it for some reason, so if you're using one of those you could perhaps try your home network, or possibly even a different browser. I really should try to find an alternative for hosting them, because Photobucket seems to get more and more painful every time I use it.
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    Thanks for posting this. I took my Tarmac Comp to Majorca last year and the headset fell apart. Couldn't get a replacement anywhere. Even the useless Specialised shop didn't know what I was talking about and did not have one.
    As a last resort I took it to the BMC shop where they have a really good mechanic, he did not have one but managed to sort it somehow. Not quite sure what he fitted but it still works perfectly.
    Anyway I may need your excellent post at some point. Needs to be a sticky

    Haha, that's pretty poor if a Specialized Store can't even fix it!

    Assuming you had one of these Specialized Mindset headsets, as you can (hopefully) see from the photos the actual bearings are just 1/8" stainless steel ball bearings in a retaining ring; this is the part that will disintegrate with time and a shop could easily replace those with some generic ones assuming they have the right size. I doubt they'd go through all this hassle to get you back on the road unless they had to!

    Having said that, it seems as thought Specialized have ditched this setup now and just supply their bikes with dirt cheap sealed cartridges already in them, negating all of this faffing around, although obviously there are still thousands of bikes out there still running them. According to the spreadsheet linked above, Specialized started fitting Tarmacs with cartridge bearings in 2007, so depending on how old it is (is it on the PDF listed above?) there's a good chance it will have had cartridges right from the factory and the BMC shop may have just switched them out for some new ones. Although that wouldn't really explain why the Specialized shop were unable to fix it!

    If you are still lumbered with a Mindset headset, I hope this comes in useful!
  • SecteurSecteur Posts: 1,971
    This thread is about 4 years too late for me - I too had a 2010ish Secteur with these open bearings.

    I had a really hard time replacing them with sealed units - I eventually managed it after much research and calls from the LBS to the Specialised office - ultimately they sourced sealed bearings as advised by Specialised, but even then they are slightly taller than the head tube and so there is a slight gap both above and below.

    It steers smoothly, but no-one seemed able to get bearings that made the whole thing "flush".

    After a year of use, they got rough (due to water ingress in the gaps) - took it to a specialised concept store who replaced them and still the gap remained, so even the manufacturers couldn't manage it!
  • buckmulliganbuckmulligan Posts: 1,031
    Yeah, I recall reading some of your posts before I did this, but even my OP is 2 1/2 years old now!

    It's interesting that the bearings were too tall in your frame, do you know what height they were? As I said in the OP the ones I used were 6mm depth and I recall others reporting the opposite problem to you, in that these were too shallow and it required a spacer on top of the split ring to stop the weather seal and conical spacer from binding the head tube when tightening everything up.

    It's worked a treat on my frame though, two and a half years down the line, I haven't had to touch them and they still feel as good as new!
  • indypindyp Posts: 735
    This thread has been a great help while changing the old bearings to sealed cartridges on a friends Specialized Secteur Elite.

    Big thanks for putting it together :)
  • Thank you for posting a detail report on changing a Specialized (caged bearing) head set. (my bike is a Specialized Allez Sport 2009).
    Your report gave me the tools to take on the task.
    Removing the old bearing inserts was not a problem as I made up a bespoke tool some time ago for head set removal.
    It is an old 1.1/8 (longish) fork steerer (steel), cut off then split (hack saw) into 4 section at one end, splayed out etc.
    This is inserted through the bearing/housing you wish to remove, snaps into place and using a wood mallet can be struck, thus removing the bearing.
    Thanks again for the article - i have a re-born bike.
  • jw854795jw854795 Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a used 2005 Roubaix Pro. The headset needed to be replaced, and I wasn't sure what to do when I found the Mindset headset... until I found your post. My LBS knocked out the crappy Mindset cups for me (so I didn't have to purchase a one-use tool) and I followed your instructions after that. I was so amazed when everything fit together perfectly with the new cartridge bearings! No shims needed. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this!
  • marsparklymarsparkly Posts: 1
    Hello, I have a 2006 tarmac comp, I have taken out the mindset cups, but found that I couldn't get the compression ring back in (too tight) and the gap at the fork crown race was too large when I used new cartridge bearings;- nukeproof steel headset bearings 1.1/8 SB A silver 30mm (maybe wrong?). Does the fork crown race need to be removed? Do anyone know the exact bearing size / fitting? and where to buy them? or which complete headset will fit? the myriad of these is far too confusing! any additional tips gratefully received... NB I am determined this is a job myself and I am UK based. Yours frustrated.
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