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a simple curiosity question from a new-ish road rider

I own a 2005 Madone 5.9 and I see a lot of Madone owners "boast" about their Chris King headest. So, please educate me? How long will my standard Madone 5.9 headset last me and when it does go, should I pay a lot more for Chris King headset? Does this topic apply to any other carbon frames such as Look, Time, Colnago, etc ?

thanks
 

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acid_rider said:
a simple curiosity question from a new-ish road rider

I own a 2005 Madone 5.9 and I see a lot of Madone owners "boast" about their Chris King headest. So, please educate me? How long will my standard Madone 5.9 headset last me and when it does go, should I pay a lot more for Chris King headset? Does this topic apply to any other carbon frames such as Look, Time, Colnago, etc ?

thanks
Nowt to do with frame make.

All about bearings, sealing & QC.

I'm running a 6 year old King in my Pegoretti. It's been ridden in all conditions and is as smooth as the day I bought it. I have a friend who has one in his bike, but can't remember exactly when he got it. It's at least 10 years old and mint.
 

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Kant phuckin sphell
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Yep, I have had many king headsets.Never had a problem. I still have one of the earlier ones, before they carved the name on it. It been on 3 or 4 different mtb's.I have had it for ten years. I just repacked it with grease and it feels like new still.
 

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conventional headset...

At present brands using conventional headsets on their frames are in the minority. King makes an internal headset, but it doesn't match any current standard and sees little use.

Big brands using conventional headsets include Trek, Litespeed (switched back for 2006) and Colnago.

I'm sure the King is a great product, but it's just a housing for two cartridge bearings, undoubtedly made by others. If you measure the OD, ID and thickness of the bearing you'd probably find a standard bearing that is identical.
 

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I had a Chris King HS on my bike for a number of years. I up-graded to a CF fork & integrated stem, so needed to get a new HS. I bought a far less expensive HS, and I'll be darned if I can tell any difference.

Well...OK. The new one doesn't say Chris King on it.
 

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What's so special about a Chris King headset? Why, Lance used one of course... :rolleyes:

The short answer is that it's a quality component, made by decent American company. If it's worth the cost to you, buy one, you'll certainly get your money's worth out of it. For the record, I have a few and they do work well and spin smoothly, but admittedly I've never had a non-king headset go south in all my years of riding; I've had to regrease some, but that's usual maintenance.

A while back, I stopped at an intersection on a local bike path and encountered a guy out walking his dog. It was a nice morning, and I made some comment about the dog being an adorable puppy (brown lab if I remember correctly, maybe 5 mos. old). It turned out the guy was a cyclist, and all the while he was talking to me, he was staring at my bike. He commented on my King headset and went into a bit of an impromptu rant about how it was an extravagant item and that he couldn't ever see the need for such a flashy and overpriced component. Uh huh; I told him I was glad his frugality was satisfying for him, and I wished him a nice day before I rode off.

So, I guess the moral of this tangent is if some passive-aggressive dog walker gets all worked up over a 1 inch piece of anodized aluminum on your bike, while keenly staring at it like a junkie needing a fix and telling you how useless and unjustified it is...well, hey it's got to be a great component, right? :D
 

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eminence grease
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Why? - they're really pretty, that's why. Especially the pink version.

It's a well designed, well constructed product and the company is very environmentally friendly. Compared to others, well, they may not last longer and they might use OEM cartridge bearings, but heck, they're really pretty.

I've also owned installed and maintained HS by Ritchey, Cane Creek, Shimano and Campy. The King is the only one that has not had any little installation quirks. Probably means nothing within the context you're asking, but it means something to me as someone who builds bikes.

And despite the rumor, it's not all that much more expensive than any of the other products at the top end.
 

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There's gotta be one - might as well be me!

I got a King hs on the new frame - but thank goodness for the polished alloy version! WHy the guy goes to the extent of making a superb piece of engineering and then tacks it up with his logo in huge etched block capitals all over it - who knows?

Or maybe tacky is the new 'good taste'?

Whatever, it's a headset. Have to admit the far cheaper Cane Creek one on my other bike is doing just fine...

While the piece of PacRim garbage on my Bianchi Pista has never set up decently since day one. If I rode it lots, it'd be gone.

Suspect I know which of the three will last longest, but it is odd that the most expensive is the tackiest looking - especially in darker colours.

D
 

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They may be the absolute best, but...

in many applications it may not be necessary. I have a three decade old Campy headset on my beater/commuter bike, and it has thousands of hard, neglectful miles on it, and I have never had a problem, even when I have gone far too many miles between lube jobs. Having a more expensive, better headset would have been overkill. Besides, I think the King logo headsets are ugly.

I also think the same think goes for their hubs, excepting the additional factor being that the noise the rear makes is an absolute deal breaker for me. Yuck!!
 

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Shirtcocker
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acid_rider said:
a simple curiosity question from a new-ish road rider

I own a 2005 Madone 5.9 and I see a lot of Madone owners "boast" about their Chris King headest. So, please educate me? How long will my standard Madone 5.9 headset last me and when it does go, should I pay a lot more for Chris King headset? Does this topic apply to any other carbon frames such as Look, Time, Colnago, etc ?

thanks
If you push the C and K on it at the same time it stops time for everyone but you. Pressing the HRI combination will start it up again. Didn't you know that?
 

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Resident Dutchbag
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The price, the color and the price again. People will say they'll last you ten years but the same goes for the Shimano 105 headset on the commuter. It's like Calvin Klein (or whatever) underwear, you pay for the name first, quality second or third. Not worth the extra cash. Before I forget: it's American! :rolleyes:
 

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It's a top-quality product made domestically to high environmental standards by a company that treats its workers well. The real question is why do top-end Asian-made headsets cost almost as much?
 

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I've always use 'em on my mtbs cause they're bulletproof. I run cheaper ones on my road bikes, which are all old school quil setups. I like the Ultegra headsets cause they're only $40. I got 50k miles out of my last DA headset, which seemed fine by me. Too bad Shimano doesn't make aheadsets. But a CK headset will outlast most frames--especially today's disposable stuff.
 

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If someone was to compute the bearing load on the raceways and the
resulting bearing life in a road bike, I would assume low loading, and very long
bearing life. There is most likely a HUGE factor of safety designed into these
products where total cost is more related to the individual's cost of business than
the cost of materials. I think Chris King (CK) is more show than function. This will not
stop me from making a CK purchase.

For MTB installation/application, I would not care to guess, but MT bikes have
suspension and shock systems.
 

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My experience

I had a Chris King installed on my rain bike about 3 years ago. Around the same time I had a Cane Creek S6 put on my Trek. The rain bike has mostly seen wet weather with very little maintenance in between. The Trek on the other hand has seen mostly nice summer days but maybe a dozen or so wet rides during centuries, etc. I've always noticed how smooth the steering was on my rain bike and started to get some binding on the Trek after a couple of years. I finally took the Trek in to the dealer last month and it turns out the bottom bearings were shot. I suspect that it may have been an installation error but I am still shocked at how well the CK headset still works despite all that wet riding. About $30 later for new bearings on the Cane Creek, the steering is smooth again but if you were to add that cost to the initial cost plus my time, it isn't that much different than the Chris King. Luckily the LBS waived installation fees if not the Cane Creek would have ultimately cost me more than a Chris King.
Again, if the headset was initially improperly installed then the situation might have been different.
 

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Bocephus Jones II said:
If you push the C and K on it at the same time it stops time for everyone but you. Pressing the HRI combination will start it up again. Didn't you know that?
Can you repeat that? While you were saying that, I pressed the C and K on my pink CK headset, then flew to California(?), placed a brown paper bag over your head and put one of my sweaty Sock Guy Twinkie socks in your mouth....so I couldn't hear what you said after I did the HRI combo.

Thanks.
 

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It never hurts to have a little bling bling when you can afford it.

But really they're good bearings, perfectly machined and well though-out. Install correctly and they'll go for centuries! The seret is that the bearings are FIXED in the cups so that the only thing that rubs against the bearing housing is the bearing cap (top) and the baseplate (bottom) - easily replaced.

BTW: Just say NO non-standard headsets, i.e. Integrated or Internal.
Two Reasons: 1. Hard to find replacements = built-in obsolescence.
2. WE WANT CHOICES!!!
 

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PdxMark said:
It's a top-quality product made domestically to high environmental standards by a company that treats its workers well. The real question is why do top-end Asian-made headsets cost almost as much?
I don't know but a CK would set me back € 129, Ritchey WCS € 35, FSA Orbit X € 38, the most expensive Asian headset would cost me € 90. Non-Asian Campa Record would even cost me a lousy € 69. CK?, no thanks.
 

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C-40 said:
At present brands using conventional headsets on their frames are in the minority. King makes an internal headset, but it doesn't match any current standard and sees little use.

Big brands using conventional headsets include Trek, Litespeed (switched back for 2006) and Colnago.

I'm sure the King is a great product, but it's just a housing for two cartridge bearings, undoubtedly made by others. If you measure the OD, ID and thickness of the bearing you'd probably find a standard bearing that is identical.
Actually, Chris King is one of the few manufacturers that make their own bearings. Additionally, Chris King's internal headset specification is one that any manufacturer can use, the same of which cannot be said of most others. Check your facts.
 
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