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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking into getting a crown race setting tool, and wanted to see if any of you shop guys have a recommendation as to which tool to get.

Specifically, I'll be installing a Chris King 1 1/8" threadless headset. It looks like the Park tool model is about $60 with an additional $20 or so to buy the adapter that Chris King recommends. At $80, it's probably not worth it to me.

I've also seen the slide hammer type made by Bringheli, which sells for $17 for the cheapo model and $35 for the upper model which has a brass ring (I'm not sure what this brass ring is supposed to do, or why it is better).

Has anybody used one of these cheaper models, and can they safely be used on a King headset?

I'm not sure how much I want to spend, but I do seem to replace or swap out several headsets a year amongst my stable of bikes. I'm slowly upgrading them to King headsets, so I'm hoping the frequency of replacement goes down.

Any suggestions (other than just taking it to the LBS)
 

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How many headsets do you plan to install over the next few years?

Any suggestions (other than just taking it to the LBS)[/QUOTE]

Do you plan to install 10 to 16 headsets in your lifetime? At the cost of the tool compared to the cost of paying someone to install it, that's about your break-even point. Most shops charge between 5 to 10 bucks to install a headset (and that usually includes the cups into the frame too) you would have to install around 10 or more headsets to pay for that tool yourself. You can make a tool cheaper, but why risk damaging a race off a King headset with a poorly home made tool? You can also very easily make a tool to install your cups into your frame, but before you spend the time and money, ask yourself how many headsets you plan to install in your life time. I think a better investment is a 12 pack of good beer to take in and bribe the mechanic at your LBS to do it for you for free, or at least to just let you borrow the tool for 5 minutes.

Sorry, I know that was specifically what you didn't ask to hear, but I feel it's the best advice unless you are installing a bunch of headsets.

Russ
 

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A piece of plastic pipe

It work like a charm. Support the fork with a 2X4 at the crown, NOT on the dropouts and just hammer it down until it seats firmly.

If you need a press for the cups, use a big long threaded bolt, some fender washers, nuts, and 2 samll blocks of wood with a hole drilled thru them. This crude press has installed over 20 headsets for me flawlessly, including several Chris Kings.

Look at all the headset tools you can and you will find they are all glorified versions of what I described above. Good luck ...
 

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For those of us...

who think that building the bike is half of cycling, you can make a slide hammer. Take your fork and race to the hardware and find a pipe fitting that’s the right size and attach a nice heavy piece of 12” pipe and you have a slide hammer. Your fitting should hit the race out where the bearings will be. I’ve only done 1”, so I can’t tell you what fitting will work. I used to just use a piece of hardwood and a hammer, but it’s hard to get a real stubborn one started. If you have a carbon steerer tube, I would be much more afraid of any home solution.

TF
 

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Tools

Personally, I've gone out and bought tools for headset work. If one lives in the States, many of these DIY solutions are easily achieved but in other geographies, it's not as easy.

Buying the tools is not the best value route but there are tools out there by say Cyclus which are less expensive than those offered by Park but just as effective. I've also bought the Chris King tools, both for setting their bearing race and for the cups using one's headset press. These tools pretty much last forever so you might actually recoup the cost over time. The other solution is if you belong to a club to share the cost.

The only Park tool which is unique is their crown race remover which effectively works from the top of the fork crown rather than underneath. With the newer carbon forks and varying shapes around the crown area, not all of the race removers will fit.

Note that JBF's recommendation to support the fork underneath the crown when mounting the crown race is spot on.
 

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5-10 bucks?

man, the cheapest i've ever had a shop charge me for headset install is $25...some around $30. that's why i do it myself...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
[/QUOTE] Sorry, I know that was specifically what you didn't ask to hear, but I feel it's the best advice unless you are installing a bunch of headsets.
[/QUOTE]

Actually, I do plan on swapping out plenty of headsets. The one I will be installing will be the second one so far this year, and I can see one more on the horizon. Between commuting and training year round in Oregon, I probably do 6 rain rides a week during the winter months, so I tend to go through lots of headsets amongst the 8 bikes in the stable (the wife also rides in the rain). That, and I do bike maintenence for a lot of friends. I probably average 3 to 4 headset installs per year. I've had good luck so far with the one King headset I've, so I'm planning on swapping all my bikes over to King headsets as the old headsets die.

I'm hoping that I'll still be riding for at least three or four more decades, so yeah, I'll probably do lots of headsets.

I've done the homemade tool route, but sometimes the homemade route is more hassle than it is worth. And as you mention it can be risky. I'm trying to find a happy medium between the homemade tool route, and having to drop about $400 to get all of the proper headset tools (headset press, crown race setter, cup remover, crown race remover, star nut setter). I've got a homemade headset press that works sufficient, and can improvise the star nuts. The two areas I need to improve my system is setting the crown race and removing the cups. Since those are the cheapest tools, and the highest likelihood of damaging something on the homemade route, I figured I would start there.

The reason I don't go to the LBS is that it is a big hassle for me. All of the shops are on the opposite side of town. I commute every day by bike, and am either working or riding during the hours that the shops are open. Making an extra trip home to get the car (and the bike that needs the headset) then driving to the shop to get the work done would take me several hours. Time is money. If I take time off work, I don't get paid. Doing that once would pay for the tool right there. Either that, or it means I miss a Saturday ride, which is a big deal to me since I can't ride on Sunday.

Oh, and I don't drink beer, and I don't buy it for anyone else (can't stand the stuff for many reasons), so the bribe option is out. Besides, I really like working on my own bikes so I take no pleasure in having someone else do the work for me. I've only had a bike in to a shop once since maybe 1992, and that was to install a headset. It's a pride thing.

My real questions is which is the best tool to buy. Why spend $60 on a tool from Park, if someone else makes one that works just as well for 1/3 that cost.

Simple as that.
 

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Cyclus tools

Made in Poland and marketed by Germans. Widely available and well made.
 
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