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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there really much difference between the highest priced headsets and units that cost less? I understand you get what you pay for, but what are you paying for? Yes, I did a search but it didn't help. Will I be able to tell the difference between a Chris King and a Cane Creek, today or after several years of riding?

The reason I ask is that I'm thinking of trying to move parts from my current Trek 1200 to a Soma frame and thought I might put on a new headset while I'm at it.

Tonight I will be ordering Zinn's book to help with those things I try to do myself.
 

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i apologize ahead of time for this post...

what headset you purchase has an inverse correlation to the length of your organ divided by the number of dollars in your wallet multiplied by the size of your ego. If you are concerned about two out of three of these variables, buy the one from Chris King.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Headset.........

Folks, I'm not trying to start a pissing match, just get a little information and help. The frame by itself is a big expense so each additional item is even harder to justify. Then there is the cost of a lbs doing the things that I can't do myself.

Any thoughts?
 

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there you go...

if the shoe fits...

this is, in my opinion, not about anything approaching "hate." It's more about getting hung up on the decision. One might ask what percentage of those with installed decent headsets have ever had anything remotely resembling a malfunction. Kings probably are the best, but when is hype actually overkill or ego stroke? Not a problem for me cause I own 5 road bikes, overkill, like them all, and none has a King headset since Shimano 105 or FSA Duron, or something else does the job fine for me.
 

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An interesting thing happened to me yesterday. I was doing a pretty involved tune on a tri-bike and wanted to inspect the carbon steerer tube, as the customer had already crumpled a seatpost by overtightening. The Cane Creek headset that I pulled out was completely shot - corrosion throughout. I immediately thought of these threads wherein people claim "My headset has gone 5 years and never needed adjusting". Well, this guy's headset didn't need adjusting either - yet, the headset was still completely thrashed. I took pictures so that I could post what the bearings look like and will post them tomorrow. Anyway, the long and short of it is that CK headsets are by far the best around - anyone that isn't foaming at the mouth can probably concede that. Are they necessary for an average rider? No. Of course, neither is that carbon seatpost, those expensive wheels, or just about any of the other parts on a bicycle. Personally, any bike I own will have a King headset - I still have my first one from 1999 that is on its 3rd frame (the first two were mountain bikes, too). My advice is to simply buy one and call it good. If you don't think its worth it after a season, sell it on eBay - unlike most other parts, they tend to retain their value pretty well.

Of course, there are hordes of King-haters that'll be all over me, so let the thrashing begin.
 

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buy the $50 headset

ride enough to wear it out...if you can. Then you will be in good physical condition and then after 20,000 miles or 5 years whichever comes first you can then evaluate your buying decision. If that headset is then worn out, you can buy another for another $50 and then reevaluate in another five years or a total of 40,000 miles. You would still be ahead of where you would have been had you spent $125 on a Chris King. Or simply buy the King now as the others have suggested and you'll look cool for the next 10 years. Overall, the amortization of the headset over its usefull life makes it relatively inexpensive no matter what. Looked at a different way, the difference between the alleged best and medium best is only a few six packs of microbrew.
 

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My soma has a FSA Pig Downhill headset that I paid $22 for. I have put about 14K on it and occasionally adjust it, but that may be a function of the MUT I use to commute than the design of the headset. I have a smoothie ES with the steel fork. My Pegoretti has a Record headset that lost its black rubber band thingy about two years ago. They both hold the fork nicely.
 

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my 06 Poprad ate a Cane Creek headset a few weeks ago.. on a bike i bought in January! it's a rain-only bike, and i live in Portland, so i'm not too freaked out. the bike will be my commuting and training bike for at least the next 5 years, so i'm putting in a Chris King.

fwiw, my Madone has a Chris King, it's way smoother than anything else, including Campy.
 

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I had a 2003 Trek 5200, which had a Cane Creek S2 threadless headset. I could never get it to adjust right, it would either bind, or it was loose, and there was no in-between. So I "upgraded" it to the Cane Creek S6 headset, figuring the bearings were better, and perhaps the headset I had was just bad in some way, or perhaps badly installed. Anyway, long story short, that didn't make it any better. So I got fed up and replaced it with a Chris King, and it was trouble free from then on. I don't know if the problems were due to the Cane Creek headsets, the fork steerer, or the headtube not being properly faced (or some combination of all of the above), but whatever it was, the CK fixed it all. Since then I won't buy another headset. To me it's worth the extra $50 to not have to worry about it.
 

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one might think

if you bought a new Trek and the headset was binding that Trek and the dealer would have been happy to replace it under warranty. And like you said, if you got it then burn it on whatever you want including a new CK.
 

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I think if anyone installed a CK headset on their rain bike and rode it for 5 years, it would also be shot.

But, a $20 headset properly maintained may have the same life as a CK headset...properly maintained.
 

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I resemble that remark

Spunout said:
I think if anyone installed a CK headset on their rain bike and rode it for 5 years, it would also be shot.

But, a $20 headset properly maintained may have the same life as a CK headset...properly maintained.

What is proper maintenance?
I put a CK on my commuter and forget about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the replies. When I mentioned Cris King and Cane Creek it was simply the first two names that came to mind. My point was....is there a big difference in the quality of headsets?

In my case, if I can afford it, I will be buying a $375 Soma frame.....so a headset that costs about 25% of the cost of the frame may be a bit much.

The bottom line is that I appreciate all the comments and just hope I can scrape up the money for the frame. Thanks again.
 

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Spunout said:
I think if anyone installed a CK headset on their rain bike and rode it for 5 years, it would also be shot.

But, a $20 headset properly maintained may have the same life as a CK headset...properly maintained.
April 2001 fitted a CK Black 1 1/8" headset to Pegoretti Marcelo. The bike is ridden all year round in the UK as well as Italy etc. I've ridden in sub zero snowy conditions where local authority workers put salt on the roads. My CK has been flawless. My only gripe is that they cost £125 here. Even at trade price it's more than US retail!
 

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I have two King headsets, a Cane Creek S2, and an IRD Techno-Glide. I will never buy a Cane Creek again, I could never get it adjusted right. The King headsets are really nice, but I think the IRD is of equal quality and in my opinion looks better in silver. In fact after installing the IRD it felt smoother than either of the Kings, but they have both been used, so not really a fair comparison. The IRD is expensive, but still much cheaper than the King. You can check them out at <http://www.interlocracing.com/headset.html>. I have also heard good things about FSA headsets, but have never used them.
 

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Chris King's are reputed to make the world's best headset, to me on a road bike this is the equivalent of making the worlds best tire valve stem cap. :)
I've never had an issue with any of my headsets. Maybe if I road in the rain more, or experienced any problems whatsoever with a headset my opinion would be different, but until then I'm sticking with whatever works.
Now on a mountain bike I could see spending a little more, I currently have a Synchros on my MTB that I got from Nashbar a few years ago for around $20 that's been flawless.
 

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