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This is a fairly general question by a fairly knowledgable person.

What in Gods name, is the advantage of a threaded headset? There has to be an advantage to it, because otherwise it seems pretty pointless to spec' this old design on new, performance-oriented bikes. The only two reasons that I can see justifying a threaded headset being used on any current bike is either 1) wanting the bike to "look" more traditional and retro in spite of all dis-advantages, and 2) ease of stem adjustability on comfort/hybrid bikes.

It just doesn't seem like a threaded headset has any advantages other than that. The adjustability thing seems to lose ground as the performance-factor goes up, simply because the handlebar height is not something that is changed once your correct position is determined. A threaded system requires more tools to be used when adjusting/overhauling (1 or 2 allens keys vs. 2 huge headset wrenches and then an allen key). You can forget about being able to make adjustments while on a ride, unless you have some headset wrenches. (Yes yes yes, make sure your bike works properly before you start riding, but you never know - sh!t happens.)

The quill stem typically feels more flexy, and are an immense pain in the arse when they use a single-bolt handlebar clamp instead of a removable faceplate.

I'm just trying to understand is all... Thoughts?
 

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I'm curious. What is the point of asking a question that you already know the answer to? You're basically asking why nobody uses an obsolete component. There are no real performance advantages in a headset. People use threaded headsets on older bikes where they want to use the original fork and maintain a vintage look.
 

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SlowIsMe said:
The quill stem typically feels more flexy, and are an immense pain in the arse when they use a single-bolt handlebar clamp instead of a removable faceplate.
The single-bolt thing seems to lose ground as the performance-factor goes up, simply because the handlebar is not something that is changed once your correct selection is determined.
 

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SlowIsMe said:
What in Gods name, is the advantage of a threaded headset?
That question asks for an explanation of something which has not been established or is untrue.

The rest of your post reminds me of the question "why do these people ride a bicycle when a car is so much faster, safer and more comfortable?" The answer "that's what they do" probably explains it best, just as it would the question of why people love old stuff.
 

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Threaded headsets are also less expensive to manufacture and assemble into a bike. Most folks that ride bikes are not looking for ultimate performance and cost is a factor.
 

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You can order a Waterford with a 1" headtube and the Waterford steel fork.
 

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A couple of other false assumptions:

It's no particular disadvantage that you can't easily adjust the threaded headset on the road, because unlike a threadless design, it's practically impossible for one to come out of adjustment while on a ride (without also destroying it.) In comparison, the friction fit of a threadless design is positively silly.

Handlebar height is changed regularly by most of the accomplished riders I know. Someone tooling along on summer days on the MUT probably doesn't have reason to change it, but the varying levels of fitness, injury, course condition, and clothing worn that come along with year-round riding make frequent tweaks to bar height quite handy. Even if one doesn't often change it, it's useful to be able to find the exact spot, not the nearest cm or so. And it's good to be able to do it without having to readjust the headset. One of the more common shop repairs is to replace the headset for the 'knowledgeable' rider that wanted to flip his stem, then torqued the tension screw as if it were the fixing screw on a quill.

Cost and servicability are important factors. A threaded headset can be overhauled by any decent mechanic (of any sort, not bike-specific) using tools and spares available worldwide at reasonable cost from generic parts sources such as industrial supply houses, auto shops, and so on. Threadless headsets can generally be repaired only with OEM parts ordered from the nearest bike shop, if that particular model still happens to be in the parts pipeline.

While it's a gross generalization, weight and stiffness factors generally do favor threadless. But they're soulless beasts. Sure, threaded headsets are technologically obsolete, but then so is every car that's not running on hydrogen fuel cells. Threaded headsets will continue to be used wherever bikes are tools rather than toys for a long, long time.
 

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I assume that by performance-oriented bikes you mean track bikes.
It's strange but many modern track bikes have threaded headsets.
And they look gourgeous.
Fuji 2008:
 

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Threadless headsets can generally be repaired only with OEM parts ordered from the nearest bike shop, if that particular model still happens to be in the parts pipeline.
I would say this is the most important reason I could identify. There are many things that are sold to bicyclists that are determined more on marketing potential than what is better for that cyclist's needs in the long term.

Think about those steel / carbon bikes that were among the last Lemond's made. What were they thinking? Just pick one and go for it.
 

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I would say this is the most important reason I could identify. There are many things that are sold to bicyclists that are determined more on marketing potential than what is better for that cyclist's needs in the long term.

Think about those steel / carbon bikes that were among the last Lemond's made. What were they thinking? Just pick one and go for it.
did you really just go all the way back to february of '08 and dig up this thread? really? :shocked:
 

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The OP starts with a false premise. That threaded headsets are inherently inferior to threadless. Yes, threadless headsets offer the convenience of easier adjustment, and that's a plus for many.

But on the flip side, a decent properly adjusted and tightened threaded headset will keep it's adjustment for nearly forever. I've never needed to re-adjust except after field-stripping for annual service.

The traditional design does offer an advantage over it's newer counterpart. That's easier stem height adjustment. So it's at best a draw, and depends on how you rank easier stem height adjustment vs. easier headset adjustment.

For team competition, easy stem height adjustment is fairly important because spare bikes carried on the support vehicle have to be quickly adjusted to fit any rider as well as possible.

On my personal bikes, I've never re-adjusted a headset but I've occasionally moved the stem if I've gotten a stiff neck, or otherwise wanted to change my position slightly. it's rare but it happens, and it's easier with a classic quill stem.

I'm threadless on the mtb, and threaded on the road, and will stay on the fence that way as long as the hardware exists.
 

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Rivendell still uses "threaded" headsets. I ride bikes with threaded and threadless. I can feel absolutely no difference in how they perform.

Pros of threaded:
- much easier to adjust the stem height mid-ride

Pros of threadless:
- adjusting loose headset mid-ride is much easier.
- much cheaper for shops who can carry one fork that fits every bike size (a fork with a threadless steerer fits a limit number of frame sizes, so shops and manufacturers used to make many different forks for their frames).

Otherwise they both work fine, and the fact that both exist shouldn't really upset anyone.
 

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Pros of threaded:
- much easier to adjust the stem height mid-ride
It depends on the threaded stem. I think the cheaper, lesser quality threaded stems that use a wedge inside the fork steerer can be adjusted mid ride. I think their wedge comes loose when you loosen the bolt. Not sure since I don't think I have any of those stems in service. But higher quality threaded stems that use the conical wedge that goes up into the stem get stuck once you tighten them. Unloosening the top bolt does not loosen the wedge. You have to find a hammer or big stick to hit the top of the bolt to loosen the wedge. Not sure how easy that would be mid ride. I guess if you are riding in a forest you could find a big branch maybe. Piece of firewood would work.
 

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did you really just go all the way back to february of '08 and dig up this thread? really? :shocked:
Actually, it looks like FB did.

Besides, we're always telling folks to use the search function, right? :D
 

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Actually, it looks like FB did.

Besides, we're always telling folks to use the search function, right? :D
Yo! not me man!!!.

Actually it might have been Onboard, but who knows or cares. I just saw it as a current thread, didn't check the OP date and thought I'd add my two cents worth, which after inflation is probably only worth half that.
 

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Rivendell still uses "threaded" headsets. I ride bikes with threaded and threadless. I can feel absolutely no difference in how they perform.

Pros of threaded:
- much easier to adjust the stem height mid-ride

Pros of threadless:
- adjusting loose headset mid-ride is much easier.
- much cheaper for shops who can carry one fork that fits every bike size (a fork with a threadless steerer fits a limit number of frame sizes, so shops and manufacturers used to make many different forks for their frames).

Otherwise they both work fine, and the fact that both exist shouldn't really upset anyone.
How are you supposed to adjust a quill stem on a ride? Bring and allen wrench and a hammer? Or just use you shoe to bang the wedge loose?


Much is made of the adjustability thing, but have any of the anti-threadless crowd actually tried moving a stem on a threadless steerer with a decent assortment of spacers? It's cake. 2 minutes. And 40mm of spacers is about the same range as most sporty quill stems.



Also, anyone who says that threaded headsets are unlikely to come loose has never worked in a bike shop.


I'm not anti-threaded, but there are fewer easy ways of dropping whole pounds off total bike weight than going from a steel steerer and quill stem to any threadless fork and stem. Use the appropriate spacers and you can have the same adjustability as a quill, all while eliminating the threading die, two large wrenches and a hammer. I'm for it.
 
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