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Roadbike Rider
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After about 40,000 km's my Chris King headset is pretty rough. Can I replace the bearings or do I need to replace the headset? Can I do either of these jobs myself? I'm used to working on bikes but I've never installed or serviced a threadless headset. Are there instructions somewhere to follow?
 

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weird huh?
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ditto what he said

Replaceable, but if you want to go old skool:

CK bearings use a spring steel cover on their headset bearings. You can remove it-

Once removed this is what I've done for years:

Douche out the bearing body with liberal amounts of WD40 or some other solvent. Idea is to get as much of the old grease out of there as possible.

Take some Comet/Ajax or some other brand of powdered kitchen cleanser and pack the bearing cavity with it, pretend it's grease. With a bit more WD40 as a lube spin the bearings for as long as you can. Idea is to polish the bearings and races. I've heard of people using toothpaste after this step to further polish. Keep at it. More WD and more cleanser. When you've tired of that, completely rinse out using WD40 again. You can't rinse too much obviously. You'll notice that everything is super shiny in there. Once you've got everything out, switch to acetone to remove all of the WD40. Keep drying it with a rag.

When completely dry, pack with a quality bearing grease and put the spring steel cover back on.

A bit of work, but most likely wont cost you anything you don't already have around the house. I've done this for years on my bearings and it works well.

Cheers,

Mike
 

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Roadbike Rider
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
More questions on this

Thanks for your help but I'm still at a loss. Are the bearings loose balls or do I need to buy a cartridge? Does anyone have an exploded view? Is the lower race accessed through a snap ring as well? Does the fork just drop out for access. Chris King's website does not cover bearing replacement that I can see and I do not see an exploded view and I don't see any replacement bearings for sale. They advertise seviceable but I only find instructions for initial installation. BTW this is a 1 inch no thread headset
 

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Fast No More.
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The bearings do not come out of the cartridge, and the cartridge does not come out of the cup. The balls are loose in the sense that they are not held in a retainer within the cartridge, but they're not going anywhere once you remove the bearing cover, hence the flush/polish/repack procedure described above. The easiest way to perform the procedure is to pop the cups out of the head tube, else you risk dripping what I'm sure is a lovely-smelling melange of toothpaste, WD-40, and grease into your top and down tubes (hmm, maybe this is where they got the idea for Frame-Saver...). Anyway, the upper and lower cups are identical save for the orientation of the logos, so access is going to be via prying up that bearing cover for both of them (I like to use a dental pick). Threaded and threadless cups are also identical; CK just changes the stuff on top to match your bearing preload requirements. Made a lot of people happy back when the industry switched from threaded to threadless as the de facto headset standard.

HTH.
 

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Lizzie will ride free
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I sent mine back to King with a note that said, "I have no idea how old this headset is. It came in a used bike. Can you please replace the bearings and send me the bill."

It was returned a week or so later rebuilt just like new. No bill. I was lucky I suppose, but they have a customer for life. JP
 

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Increase your member
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Agreed. There are plenty of tech info on the King website for maintenance including video (link below.) And you might drop them a line to see if they can service it for you as well. But generally speaking, you don't replace King bearings, just service them. If it's too late and you need new bearings, you could probably get a new headset for less than the cost of a new set of King bearings.

http://chrisking.com/files/tech_movies/remove_seal.mov
 

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RobVSF
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I'm in sort of the same predicament: I have a Chris King GripNut headset on my ride that I'd like to flush out an repack the bearings.

I've heard of the WD40/Ajax/Toothpaste/Acetone method of cleaning out bearings from several sources, but I'm concerned about how messy it gets and it's impact on the environment. Someone at the local Bike Kitchen said flushing out the bearings with Simple Green does the job just fine, is better for the environment and doesn't make your ride smell like an old dinosaur. Has anyone had experience with Simple Green on bearings? Does it do a comparable job as the WD40/Ajax method?

After cleaning, can someone recommend a good waterproof lube/grease to repack it with? Is Chris King RingDrive Lube as good as they say it is or just a gimmick?

Thanks
 

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Fast No More.
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I suppose you could degrease the whole shebang in a solvent tank, then blow dry it with compressed air.

Simple Green works well if it's not diluted. It also works better, in my experience, when it's lukewarm compared to at shop-temperature.

IIRC, CK used to use Bullshot in their headsets, back when they only made headsets (and Bullshot still made lube). Not sure what's in them now.
 

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JP said:
I sent mine back to King with a note that said, "I have no idea how old this headset is. It came in a used bike. Can you please replace the bearings and send me the bill."

It was returned a week or so later rebuilt just like new. No bill. I was lucky I suppose, but they have a customer for life. JP
Good King service!
 

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Rider/Wrench
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RobVSF said:
After cleaning, can someone recommend a good waterproof lube/grease to repack it with? Is Chris King RingDrive Lube as good as they say it is or just a gimmick?

Thanks

Ringdrive grease is made for the Ringdrive in the rear hub, not for their headsets. Most good quality grease is great for the headset bearings. I personally use Pedro's, but Phil Wood, Finish Line, etc... are all great for it.
 

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Actually the whole bearing cartridge does just press out of the cups. The cartridge is located in the cup in the top and bottom of the headtube. The hub tool from King is the perfect tool for doing this, but any press can put the new cartridge in and you can tap out the old one fairly easily -- don't be harsh with it because you don't want to deform the alloy cup.

You should be able to pop out the seals, flush with lubricant, and regrease (and yes, something like Phil grease, i.e., something heavy and durable, is ideal for a headset -- not Ringlube). The problem I'd have with the Ajax/toothpaste route is that it'll cause the bearing clips to wear a lot faster than the bearings themselves, and you then can have other problems with your headset. Honestly, greasing should be all you need.

But to back up a bit, King headsets really only have problems in two ways -- either you have actually pitted the races so the headset wants to lock into each pit (and in this case you can't fix it with Ajax and need to get new bearing cartridges) or you simply have the headset adjustment too tight. King headsets are sensitive to being clamped down too tight. Oh, and be sure you put the seal back in right -- it can make the bearings feel bad if not tucked back in properly. So just relubricate, re-seal, and reassemble. No more pressure than necessary on the headset. You really shouldn't have a problem at that point.

And just while I'm at it, a quick plug for the Cane Creek 110 headset. It really does a fine job of improving on the King. I have several of both and have to say that the Cane Creek 110 (not their cheaper versions) is magnificent. Especially if you have an integrated headset, it's the headset that frames were built around and it's superb.
 

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King headset bearings need to be cleaned and greased like any other bearing. It's a simple matter of removing a spring clip and then lifting out the seal. Once the balls are exposed, you can flush them out with degreaser of some sort - mineral spirits works well or even WD-40. Most likely the OP's headset can be revived by simply cleaning out all the old hardened grease and repacking them with something like common marine grease. And please keep the cleanser grit away from the bearings; this is a BAD idea. No self respecting mechanic would allow that kid of getto fix anywhere near their bike.
 

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weird huh?
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Nessism said:
And please keep the cleanser grit away from the bearings; this is a BAD idea. No self respecting mechanic would allow that kid of getto fix anywhere near their bike.
But you'd be incorrect. If your bearings are rusted, and King bearings get rusted like any other bearing, polishing the bearings is your only option. If not rusted, then a simple solvent and repacking are all that's needed.
As for ghetto?, mine was the original suggestion in this thread to use cleanser or toothpaste. You could in fact use a commercial prepared bearing/race polish compound.

just choose your grit, so to speak

Cheers
 

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cmdrpiffle said:
But you'd be incorrect. If your bearings are rusted, and King bearings get rusted like any other bearing, polishing the bearings is your only option. If not rusted, then a simple solvent and repacking are all that's needed.
As for ghetto?, mine was the original suggestion in this thread to use cleanser or toothpaste. You could in fact use a commercial prepared bearing/race polish compound.

just choose your grit, so to speak

Cheers

Actually...Chris King uses stainless steel bearings, as do some other manufacturers such as Shimano with Dura Ace. No rust. And if the bearings are rusted as you say (in a different application), I'd ditch them since the damage will be more than simply cosmetic.
 

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Rider/Wrench
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Nessism said:
Actually...Chris King uses stainless steel bearings, as do some other manufacturers such as Shimano with Dura Ace. No rust. And if the bearings are rusted as you say (in a different application), I'd ditch them since the damage will be more than simply cosmetic.
Stainless steel does not always mean rustproof, it is simply less likely to happen.
 

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Roadbike Rider
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Nessism said:
King headset bearings need to be cleaned and greased like any other bearing. It's a simple matter of removing a spring clip and then lifting out the seal. .
After removing the stem and spacers I am having trouble removing the Bearing cap. There is no retainer clip that I can see but maybe I'm missing something. I can pry it up for a little ways but it's taking a lot of force and not moving far while causing some damage to the edges of the bearing cap. Am I doing something wrong? Suggestions?

Thanks for your help
 

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Chainstay said:
After removing the stem and spacers I am having trouble removing the Bearing cap. There is no retainer clip that I can see but maybe I'm missing something. I can pry it up for a little ways but it's taking a lot of force and not moving far while causing some damage to the edges of the bearing cap. Am I doing something wrong? Suggestions?

Thanks for your help
Did you remove the fork? The bearing cap is a pretty tight fit on the steerer due to the o-ring, but if the fork is removed, you should be able to lift it right off with no prying. If you've done this already and you still have to pry, then something's wrong. Maybe the cap has corroded to the inner bevel of the cartridge or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Metaluna said:
Did you remove the fork? The bearing cap is a pretty tight fit on the steerer due to the o-ring, but if the fork is removed, you should be able to lift it right off with no prying. If you've done this already and you still have to pry, then something's wrong. Maybe the cap has corroded to the inner bevel of the cartridge or something.
The fork does not just drop out. I tried pulling it and it does not move. I tapped the stearer tube with a mallet. Am I on the right track and just need more force?
 

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Chainstay said:
The fork does not just drop out. I tried pulling it and it does not move. I tapped the stearer tube with a mallet. Am I on the right track and just need more force?
You're on the right track. The fork shouldn't just drop out, but a good solid push on the steerer (or pull on the fork) should have been enough to get it to slide. With the stem off, there shouldn't be anything else holding the fork on but the friction of the o-ring inside the bearing cap. Perhaps the o-ring has dried up and fused to the steerer tube over time. You could try some penetrating oil (PB Blaster or WD-40) to see if that helps work it free.

Note that if you manage to damage the bearing cap, you can order a new one from the CK website for around $20. I don't know if it's possible to replace just the o-ring in case it gets damaged.
 
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