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Need New Headset

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Need New Headset

Old 07-28-19, 11:14 AM
  #1  
Bad Lag
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Need New Headset

I have been using a JHS headset for quite some time. I recently noticed it has become "notchy" and I suspect the ball bearings have dimpled the races (Brinelling).

This headset has served me well for approximately 20 years. It was relatively inexpensive. It also has o-ring seals, so maintenance intervals have been very long (years). The exterior chrome has held up well despite the marine environment in which I live (other chrome-plated parts have completely lost their chrome - i.e., QR Skewers).

So, tell me,...

Who makes a good replacement headset?
What specs do I need to know to order the proper headset on my first try?

Last edited by Bad Lag; 07-28-19 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 07-28-19, 11:25 AM
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False brinelling: Classic death mode for road headsets.

Take apart the headset to the point where you can get to the ball bearing retainers. Say for the sake of explanation that these hold 20 balls each. Removing these will allow you to fit say 23 loose balls (of the same size as before).

Balls will no longer line up with the pits. Super smooth once again; I've done this fix many times.
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Old 07-28-19, 12:11 PM
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^^^^if this works its a great tip.
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Old 07-28-19, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Who makes a good replacement headset?
Tange Seiki.

Look for their Levin model.
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Old 07-28-19, 12:49 PM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Tange Seiki.

Look for their Levin model.
Yes, the Tange levin is a great suggestion.
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Old 07-28-19, 12:51 PM
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1+ for Tange

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TANGE-HD013...516e6094b6fc9c

This is the entry level , they also come in all chrome . Things you need to know are crown dia. most likely 27mm or 26.4mm . And you need to know the stack . You can learn all about these things on Sheldon Brown's site .
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Old 07-28-19, 02:17 PM
  #7  
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Good one, guys. I said JHS but it might actually be that Tange Levin. I will check it out.

I have a NOS Campagnolo Nuovo Record headset but cannot bring myself to install it since the last few also got worn out. <--weird, eh?

Also, thanks for the link but I don't ebay at all, anymore, not since they required direct access to my bank account. <-- Uh, thank you, but NO!.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 07-28-19 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 07-28-19, 02:55 PM
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The real issue is finding one with the same or shorter stack height.
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Old 07-28-19, 03:09 PM
  #9  
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The headset is stamped, :"SPECIALIZED" in two places on the top of the lock nut. So, maybe neither JHS nor Tange, unless they were re-branded for Specialized Bicycles.

Measuring externally, the top stack height measures 1.117" and the bottom is 0.549" for a total of 1.666". The steering tube takes a stem diameter of 0.872".
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Old 07-28-19, 05:14 PM
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Let me ask a question or two on headset tightness. I have been so puzzled by this for so long, there was a point where I started (but never finished) a bearing stress analysis.

If you go too loose, all the load goes into the bottom bearing - static and dynamic. At least the bearing starts with no preload. The top bearing just serves to keep things aligned. The issue becomes fatigue life of the lower race which is carrying the full load.

If you go tight, the two bearings both share the loads from riding (static and dynamic). The issue here is both bearings start with an applied load (preload). When you get on and ride, the top bearing loses some of its preload (add static loading and additional upward dynamics while riding). The issue becomes fatigue life given the preloading.

I'm not sure what constitutes "perfect adjustment" but this would be the adjustment that maximizes bearing life, most likely by sharing the riding loads more-or-less equally.

What constitutes proper headset adjustment? How many miles is normal fatigue life for a headset?
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Old 07-28-19, 05:32 PM
  #11  
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Anyone have any experience with this Velo Orange unit?

VO Grand Cru Headset


Last edited by Bad Lag; 07-28-19 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 07-28-19, 05:56 PM
  #12  
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Anything with roller bearings, especially Stronglight.
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Old 07-28-19, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
What constitutes proper headset adjustment? How many miles is normal fatigue life for a headset?
Traditionally, proper adjustment was as loose as possible, while still having zero play. Often this was tested by bouncing the front wheel on the ground and listening and feeling for a very subtle rattle. That told you it was too loose. This is just what everyone was taught. I have no idea about the theoretical implications. I do know that the old hands on mechanics' rules of thumb usually existed for good reason.

Like all ball bearings in the old days, the ideal was a knife's edge between tight and loose.

Headset life? I dunno, maybe 30-40 thousand miles for a higher end HS? Maybe more if well maintained. Depends.
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Old 07-28-19, 07:57 PM
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The Stronglight A9 can be had for 50 bucks or so and the old "roller bearing" type are really good units. I have them on most of my vintage bikes.

besides replacing the caged bearings with loose balls, here is another trick to resurrect a worn headset: pop the lower cup and fork off after marking them with a sharpie. Rotate the lower cup 90 degrees in one direction, and the fork crown 90 degrees in the other direction. Re-install. Now the worn areas are offset and not interacting with each other.

this trick will give a worn headset another 10 years of life.

no extra charge

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Old 07-28-19, 10:28 PM
  #15  
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I think I will use the two tricks mentioned above. Rotating the cups and replacing caged bearings with loose balls should both work. I may do them one at a time to maximize life.

I think I will also buy a replacement so I have it on hand. The Stronglight A9 is a good one, eh? I'll look around.

Anyone familiar with the VO unit, above?

Last edited by Bad Lag; 07-28-19 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 07-28-19, 11:38 PM
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There's a trick to reducing the stack of the Levin headsets. Buy lesser model Tanges and mix and match. (They are all interchangeable.) Roughly (I haven't researched this) stack goes down as the price goes down. Their $8 OEM replacement headsets are really short. My custom was built around a King Grip Nut HS that drove me nuts. But it's stack was considerably less than a Levin. So I used the races of the $14, washer and locknut from the $8. Works really well, feels super and yes, every 8000 miles the detentes are back. I did one repack using one size large balls to get another 1000 miles, then forked over the $14 and did it again. Rough life. In return I get a headset that needs (maybe) one tweak 100 miles after install, then roughly a tweak a year. I pack them with lots of marine grease and repack at mid-life if I am bored.

The headset that is considerably better is the Stronglight with the roller bearings. I put on one the Mooney in 1995. 30,000 miles later is feels like new. But for the Tanges I can go to a local shop, pay my $8-35 and take it home. For English, French or JIS. A weirdie? Might had to wait 5 days for the shop to get one through QBP.

I use loose ball from day on in the lower race and the retainer for the upper. Do the install with the bike upside down so I am just dropping the loose balls into the grease. Easy. Fill the race, put the fork in and spin it and pull it out. Remove one ball. (Put the fork in to align the balls and make it obvious if I have too many.)

Ben
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Old 07-28-19, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Traditionally, proper adjustment was as loose as possible, while still having zero play. Often this was tested by bouncing the front wheel on the ground and listening and feeling for a very subtle rattle. That told you it was too loose. This is just what everyone was taught. I have no idea about the theoretical implications. I do know that the old hands on mechanics' rules of thumb usually existed for good reason.

Like all ball bearings in the old days, the ideal was a knife's edge between tight and loose.

Headset life? I dunno, maybe 30-40 thousand miles for a higher end HS? Maybe more if well maintained. Depends.
Different bikes and roads make big differences in headset life. My Fuji Professional (a very steep steel criterium frame) killed the Tange Levin it came with in 5000 miles. The Campy Record that replaced is was ridable but well past half its life in 4000 miles. (All on New England roads.) My Mooney was built to replace the Fuji. Its Record HS went 20,000 miles. Granted, too far, but it was excellent for most of those miles. (West coast roads.) My current bike that gets 8k on Tanges below the Levine is basically a race bike midway between the Fuji and Mooney. The roads of Oregon are roughly midway between New England's and the California roads my Mooney started on.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:29 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Measuring externally, the top stack height measures 1.117" and the bottom is 0.549" for a total of 1.666".
So that's 42mm in a size that makes more sense for comparing headset sizes.

That gives you quite a bit of stack to work with. In your case you could even look at roller bearing headsets like the classic Stronglight A9 or the more modern IRD (single) roller drive headset (roller bearings in the bottom and ball bearings up top) or even the IRD double roller drive headset.
I have the latter on my own very tall bike and so far I really like them.

EDIT: Seems like I was too late in answering. Lots of good tips up here.

Last edited by JaccoW; 07-29-19 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:40 AM
  #19  
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Tange Headsets

Tange makes 3 lower priced headsets plus some premium models that are fancier and more expensive.

The Passage is their lowest priced headset. It's made of chrome plated case hardened steel. It's HIGH TENSILE STEEL not High Tension Steel!!! The plating covers the bearing races and flakes off in use which wear out the bearings faster. They have plastic dust shields to protect the bearings. The Stack Height is 30mm. They are far better than most of the OEM headsets that came on vintage bikes.



The Tange Levin CDS is made of through hardened chrome moly steel with ground and polished bearing races. They also have plastic dust shields. The stack height is 33mm. These are the headsets that were badged for Specialized. I have them on a number of bikes and they've worked trouble free for years.



The standard Tange Levin is their Campagnolo NR equivalent but much better quality!!! They're also made of through hardened chrome moly steel with polished precision ground bearing races. They have a 38mm Stack Height. Campy NRs are listed with a Stack Height of 41mm or 42mm.



The Tange headsets are made with 26.4mm crown races but they are also available with hard to find 27mm crown races. There were also some metric headsets made in these models but they are probably impossible to find these days.

Here's a Flickr album that I put together that shows an easy way to measure Stack Height. Read my notes below the pictures for details:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/282672...57625424641013


38mm Stack Height for a Stronglight A9 headset.



@Bad Lag The VeloORANGE Grand Cru headsets are probably very good BUT... in a Campy-Centric world, whoever specified the dimensions never worked on many classic bikes, especially French or other metric threaded bikes.

The problem is that they have a 41mm stack height. Stronglight P3 headsets with a 33mm Stack Height where the most common headsets used on mid range French bikes through 70's. They are the ones that people need replacements for!!!

You couldn't support a local coffee shop for the number of French bikes that came with Campy headsets!

Also, French bikes used 27mm crown races. The VO headsets come with 26.4mm races.

Time to gore some more oxen!

Brinelling, False Brinelling , Fretting, Indexing, those terms are all guesses as to what happens to headset bearings. Even many bearing manufacturer misuse those terms. Back in the 60's I took a course on Bearing Engineering which included failure analysis.

Testing labs like this are the only way to determine the actual cause of bearing failure not guessing and trowing names out to sound like experts:

https://atslab.com/failure-analysis/...lure-analysis/

Here's my simple term and description for headset bearing failure: INDENTATIONS

That's what happens to the races, they get indentations in them which can affect the steering.

There are lots of causes: headsets that are too loose allow the balls to hammer into the races. Headsets that are too tight cause chipping and pitting in both the balls and races.

This is the kind of damage that happens to the balls in headset:






Misaligned headsets are another cause. I reface the head tube and fork crown every time I work on a headset. I've run across poorly faced frames on some of the top name models. I recently had to remove about .5mm on the BB faces on an early 80's De Rosa frame!

Something else, cheap case hardened headsets wear out quickly. The hardened surfaces may be as thin as .005" deep (.13mm). As soon as that surface is breached the balls are in contact with the soft steel underneath and indention increases quickly.

The dark area on these test samples shows the depth of the case hardening from ~.005" to .050" (.13mm - 1.3mm).



Bicycle headsets are thrust bearings. They distribute the impact forces throughout the bearing races. There is very little rotational movement. I used to think that most of the forces were transferred upward from the fork into the head tube.

Jobst Brant pointed out that there was another action taking place that actually caused wear rather than impact. Simply put, the fork rocks back and forth in the plain of travel as the bike is ridden. That results in oval shaped INDENTATIONS.

Here's an odd example showing the oval INDENTATIONS in the upper bearing race on a Shimano alloy headset. They were the result of the fork flexing back and forth.



@thinktubes YES! Stronglight A9 alloy headsets with needle bearings - bullet proof. The new A9 headsets have sealed ball bearings in precision cages rather than needle bearings.

WOW! I feel better... I've been waiting to get this stuff out.

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Old 07-29-19, 05:48 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
Anything with roller bearings, especially Stronglight.
+ 1 on this. IRD has them with roller bearings. Roller bearings are the best design, in my experience, for headsets.

I grew up in New Orleans and worked in a bike shop. The city is a natural testing ground for headsets. It is built on mud and silt. Consequently the roads are not smooth but full of bumps as there is movement in the pavement over time. Those roads were terrible to ride on but great at killing headsets,

The campy record headsets are just not very good. I've seen them die pretty quickly on those roads.

The stronglight roller bearings, on the other hand, were a much better design. Properly adjusted they are virtually impossible to kill. I'd track down a stronglight or get one of those IRDs.
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Old 07-29-19, 06:01 AM
  #21  
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Also finding a replacement depends on a number of factors: stack height, crown race, the threading on the fork, and whether you need ISO or JIS cups.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-headsets.html

This looks complicated but the most bikes take an ISO/26.4 headset.

If you have an older bike or a French bike, things may be a bit different.

One of the things I love about the cheap Velo Orange headsets is that they have those in French threading, JIS, and ISO which is way cool.

Sometimes you have bad luck and you get a headset that mixes standards. I have Mike Melton custom bike that takes JIS cups and has a 27 zip crown race. I could have had it milled down to 26.4. Good luck finding a bike shop that has the (a) tools to do this and (b) the expertise. VO allowed me to switch out the crown race which was very cool. So a big shout out to Velo Orange for stocking headsets (and other parts as well) for old bikes.
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Old 07-29-19, 09:03 AM
  #22  
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IRD headset shot:

Added bonus is the reduced shimmy on the bike.

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Old 08-21-19, 09:59 PM
  #23  
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I have been looking around for a Stronglight A9 with roller bearings but have yet to find one. I don't use ebay*, so that is just not an option for me.

I've found A9's at about $50 but they say "cartridge bearings" which is ambiguous as to the bearing type - ball bearings or roller bearings?

The IRD double roller bearing headset costs about $100.

That $100 price is not insurmountable but it is enough to give me pause and keep looking. For example, I could buy two or three JHS or cartridge bearing A9's for that price.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Anyone have a source of supply for a roller bearing A9?


* I quit ebay when they demanded direct access to my bank account, without which they were suspending my account.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 08-21-19 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 08-22-19, 12:29 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Anyone have any experience with this Velo Orange unit?

VO Grand Cru Headset

Using in on my Cresta GT and liking it - cartridge bearings nice finish


Last edited by ryansu; 08-22-19 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 08-22-19, 01:20 PM
  #25  
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campy record headsets are just not very good.




You can send 'em to me.
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