Threadless headless set wobble is normal?

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Alright, I'm a bit befuddled. I'm pretty familiar with old-style ('80 to mid-'90s) MTBs, but newfangled developments like threadless headesets are new to me. My last MTB was a Gary Fisher Mt Tam that I bought in 1991. Alas the bike was stolen a few years back. My current bike has a threadless headset, which is what's currently used on bikes. Supposedly this system not only allows easy adjustment of the two headset bearings, but also eliminates wobble that is supposedly common (I never had aproblem) in the headset of bikes with quill stems. I have a few questions about that: 1. It appears that the threadless headset has a large amout of flex (euphemistic term for wobble? [Razz] ). Is it normal that the upper steering bearing cup, stem and stem spacers allow for a fair amount of play? 2. I remember that headset bearing ALWAYS are installed with the bearing retainer facing the bearing cup. On my bike it appears that the bearing retainer is facing the smaller, conical race. 3. Has anybody replaced that silly star nut in the stem with an Azonic Headlock, and if so, how do you like the latter? 4. What's up with replacement bearing being not readily available anymore? "We usually replace the whole headset." That's just nuts.
 

moribundman

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Regarding headset wobble: I added a 1mm stem spacer to the spacer stack and the play has been greatly reduced, although there is still some to be felt and seen. Regarding the bearings: The Park Tool website confirms that bearings with retainers are generally installed with the retainer facing the bearing cup. On my bike I achieve proper fit only if the bearing retainer faces the cone-shaped bottom race. Any idea what's up with that? normal bearing orientation
 

moribundman

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Okay, still talking to myself here: Looks like there are various theories on the proper orientation of the bearing retainers. It also seems it's best to just use plain ball bearings without retainers at all. That eliminates of course the retainer issue altogether. So, I'm the only one here who has to take everything apart to see how it works? I'm surprised at ya! [Razz]
 
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wisconsin
Sounds like the retainer is backwards,go to a good bicycle shop and have it checked,and properly installed,cost should be small ot set up a front fork.BL
 

moribundman

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Further research shows it depends on the setup which way the retainer goes. In my case the retainer is supposed to face the bottom race. However, since the headset is pretty much garbage, I'm going to replace it with a FSA Orbit XL II headset with replaceable sealed cartridge bearings.
 

moribundman

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I decided to go with a Tange Techno-Glide headset. It came with sealed, stainless steel cartridge bearings, milled 7075 T6 alu bearing cups and additional o-ring seals. MSRP was $79, but I got it for $70 at a local bike shop. It's super-smooth and wobble-free.
 

moribundman

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It's a Taiwanese Sussex MTB. Because it came with some el cheapo parts, I have been upgrading some of the components. I'll post a picture in few days. So far I've replaced the pedals with Diamondback Bigfoot magnesium pedals, added a Specialized BG saddle for my derriere's comfort and replaced the crappy headset with the aforementioned Tange Techno Glide sealed bearing headset. The computer is a wireless VDO. Right now I'm waiting for a Marzocchi fork to come in. Then I'll add a disc brake in the front. Although the V-brakes work fine I expect to bend a wheel on occasion and that's why I want a disc brake in the front. I'll likely go with a simple, but bulletproof, mechanical Avid BB7. So far I've put a bit over 1000 miles on the bike. The shaft drive is holding up great. I regrease the hub and crank gears every 200 miles, because I'm overly cautious. According to the manual, greasing is required only every 6 months to once a year, depending on use. I'm not sure about servicing the Nexus 8 geared hub. Supposedly bike shop mechanics hate working on it. From what I know the whole mechanism can be removed in one piece, cleaned and lubed. I don't think this will be an issue for a few more thousand miles... Oh yeah, I haven't been riding on a regular basis for a few years until recently. I've become a total wuss. Two foot drops look much higher now than they used to! [Eek!] [Roll Eyes]
 

moribundman

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Nothing's much work on a bicyle. It's like LEGOs. Ideally, I would have built the whole bike from parts, but I simply couldn't get a frame with a bottom bracket and a rear dropout designed for shaft drive. I had to start out with what was available. PS: I got a bike to stay at least marginally in shape. If I wanted to just haul my fat arse around, I would have gotten a motorized trike. [Wink]
 

moribundman

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By the way, I have no idea why I wrote "threadless headless set" in the topic header! It should of course say "threadless headset!" I must have been thinking of Ichabod Crane or something. [Razz]
 

moribundman

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Plastic chicks with a bad case of hep scare me -- even if they're staunch Canadians. [Wink] The Ichabod Crane/bike connection explained: Cane Creek is a headset maker. I was looking for a threadless headest and made a very dyslexic headless Crane connection. [Wink]
 
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Saskatchewan
I just noticed this bicycle section. Cool! 1. Threadless headset assemblies are much, much stiffer than the older quill style. This becomes VERY obvious when you're in the gate for a BMX race. No properly adjusted headset, in decent condition, will wobble. 3. I prefer the star-fangled nut to anything else, but I have seen other setups that work almost as well. They're usually heavier and more complicated though. 4. A decent headset is only about $30, and they rarely need replacement or new bearings. If the bearings are shot - almost always from overtightening or long-term use while extremely loose - the races will be finished too. In fact, the races are usually the first to go anyway. Cheap ones are especially prone to damaged races. At the bike shops I've worked at, we did have a few different replacement headset bearings, but there's probably too large a variety of headset bearings to carry all of them now. Tange has almost made good products, and Marzocchi is my personal favorite fork manufacturer, so I say good call on those. I have no experience with your gear setup though. I haven't seen a cable-actuated disc I've liked yet, but if anyone makes a decent one it would likely be Avid. [ June 10, 2006, 02:31 AM: Message edited by: rpn453 ]
 

moribundman

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Well, the headset that I got seems very good -- so far. Sealed cartridge bearings really are must in my opinion. I wasn't willing to shell out $130 for a Chris Kings set. The Tange I got looks to me of the same quality for a less than half the price. I've never had a problem with Tange. In fact, many many years ago, my Kuwahara BMX bike had a Tange frame, and that was one tough bike -- one of the few bikes I never managed to bust up completely. I just bought a Marzocchi fork and can't wait to try it out. It's an All Mountain/Cross Country fork with air suspension (low pressure). It doesn't have a lock-out feature, but I avoid the really steep hills anyway! [Wink]
 
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Lock-out isn't necessary anyway. Might save you a half-second in a race though! [Big Grin] Both my Marzocchis are air forks and they've been good to me. One of my BMX race bikes was a Kuwahara Laser-Lite!
 
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