Bottom Bracket & Headset: weird?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Jasper Janssen, May 26, 2003.

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  1. My trusty old bike (according to a piece of paper found in either the seat tube or the Head Tube,
    built summer '91, but acquired by me much later) recently became not so trusty, and it was
    determined that there was no more point in repairing it, certainly not without repainting. So, I've
    stripped all the gear off the frame, then the two difficult bits come: Headset & bottom bracket.
    When I removed the adjustable cone from the fork, the fork crown cone & the top cup fell off their
    respective frame & fork fittings, en the bottom cup came out with very minor manual force. Is this
    normal? (I know it's *not* normal that several of the balls in both of the bearings were sliced in
    half, literally..)

    It looks like a fairly standard headset, much like the ones used on the other bikes I've used &
    serviced, english-style threespeeds (though, actually, made in the Netherlands). The cups and cones
    all appear to be made of copper, strangely enough, with the possible exception of the actual contact
    point with the balls. The frame is a lugless welded (or otherwise joined) steel one.

    Is there any point in doing the frame up again with new parts, with regards to the headset thing, or
    is this a sign of a severe miss in quality control resulting in play in the headset bearings
    resulting in them wearing themselves and the frame enough to be that loose?

    And another thing: the bottom bracket says it's made by FAG. This is presumably some kind of
    cartridge bearing BB? If I decide to repaint, I'll need to remove that and replace it, or at least
    the bearings (it's definitely got pitted bearing surfaces, by the feel of things). The outside of
    the BB appears to be formed by two identical plastic covers, which both claim it's standard BSA
    thread, and which appear to need a lockring wrench.

    Thanks,

    Jasper
     
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  2. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    "Jasper Janssen" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:p[email protected]...
    > My trusty old bike (according to a piece of paper found in either the seat tube or the Head Tube,
    > built summer '91, but acquired by me much later) recently became not so trusty, and it was
    > determined that there was no more point in repairing it, certainly not without repainting. So,
    > I've stripped all the gear off the frame, then the two difficult bits come: Headset & bottom
    > bracket. When I removed the adjustable cone from the fork, the fork crown cone & the top cup fell
    > off their respective frame & fork fittings, en the bottom cup came out with very minor manual
    > force. Is this normal? (I know it's *not* normal that several of the balls in both of the bearings
    > were sliced in half, literally..)
    >
    > It looks like a fairly standard headset, much like the ones used on the other bikes I've used &
    > serviced, english-style threespeeds (though, actually, made in the Netherlands). The cups and
    > cones all appear to be made of copper, strangely enough, with the possible exception of the actual
    > contact point with the balls. The frame is a lugless welded (or otherwise joined) steel one.
    >
    > Is there any point in doing the frame up again with new parts, with regards to the headset thing,
    > or is this a sign of a severe miss in quality control resulting in play in the headset bearings
    > resulting in them wearing themselves and the frame enough to be that loose?
    >
    >
    > And another thing: the bottom bracket says it's made by FAG. This is presumably some kind of
    > cartridge bearing BB? If I decide to repaint, I'll need to remove that and replace it, or at least
    > the bearings (it's definitely got pitted bearing surfaces, by the feel of things). The outside of
    > the BB appears to be formed by two identical plastic covers, which both claim it's standard BSA
    > thread, and which appear to need a lockring wrench.

    The FAG unit uses the same tool as the Campagnolo ACH. TAcx makes an excellent tool for it , #T4425.

    The frame and fork crown sound damaged if the crown race and upper cup fell out. As you found,
    however, a bicycle for daily city use can be very functional with a less-than-perfect headset. I'd
    just knurl the crown race, ding the upper end of the head tube and install the cheapest new headset
    you can find locally ($10~$20). It will ride fine, perhaps with a clunking noise when you brake.

    A crappy headset makes you no slower. An expensive headset makes you no faster. As long as the fork
    turns easily it is safe.
    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  3. On Mon, 26 May 2003 19:14:57 -0500, "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >The FAG unit uses the same tool as the Campagnolo ACH. TAcx makes an excellent tool for it
    >, #T4425.

    Excellent. Will see what's locally available, now that I know what to look for. Campy Veloce and
    especially Sachs BBs are probably fairly common here, so I should be able to find something.

    >The frame and fork crown sound damaged if the crown race and upper cup fell out.

    The weird thing is, they don't look it. The frame even has some paint left on both inner sides of
    the head tube (spraypaint, oversprayed a bit to the inside), so it's not like the cups have been
    rubbing on it much. The outside of the cups by the way is not at all smooth.. it's like the chroming
    only half took. I'm beginning to suspect that someone inexpertly built the frame up using the wrong
    headset. Or at least a very low quality one that somehow is smaller than it's supposed to be.
    Looking at the headset sizing table in Sheldon's glossary, it's definitely either a 30 or a 30.2 mm
    set. Possibly someone inserted a 30.0 mm Japanese set into a
    30.2 mm frame, or something, but the play seems to be more than that. (I really need to figure out
    where that caliper has gone to..). If a too-small headset in a larger frame, though, you'd expect
    the crown race to fit on even tighter than usual.

    Maybe it's just a crappy frame made to far too sloppy tolerances so they deliberately undersized it
    to avoid problems with those. It's a something-made-by-Mondia, made in '91 according to a piece of
    paper that fell out of either the head tube or the seat tube.

    >As you found, however, a bicycle for daily city use can be very functional with a less-than-perfect
    >headset. I'd just knurl the crown race, ding the upper end of the head tube and install the
    >cheapest new headset you can find locally ($10~$20). It will ride fine, perhaps with a clunking
    >noise when you brake.

    'Scuse my limited english, but 'knurl' and 'ding' in this context?

    >A crappy headset makes you no slower. An expensive headset makes you no faster. As long as the fork
    >turns easily it is safe.

    And if I need it to last longer, replacing the 10 or so small balls held in a corset with, I dunno,
    probably fit like 30 discrete balls in there, should help a lot.

    So why *do* some people spend 300 bucks on a headset, anyway? I mean, I'd be sincerely tempted to
    spend money on things like hub generators and Rohloff hubs and things like that, and I can see why
    you'd want good stuff for things like brakes and so on, but I've *never* seen any headset fail
    catastrophically, and I'd expect that with $50 at most you should get top performing gear..

    Jasper
     
  4. In article <[email protected]>, Jasper Janssen <[email protected]> wrote:
    >And if I need it to last longer, replacing the 10 or so small balls held in a corset with, I dunno,
    >probably fit like 30 discrete balls in there, should help a lot.

    It definitely should add some life to it if you can fit several extra balls in.

    >So why *do* some people spend 300 bucks on a headset,

    I don't think I have ever seen a $300 headset.

    > anyway? I mean, I'd be sincerely tempted to spend money on things like hub generators and Rohloff
    > hubs and things like that, and I can see why you'd want good stuff for things like brakes and so
    > on, but I've *never* seen any headset fail catastrophically, and I'd expect that with $50 at most
    > you should get top performing gear..

    $100-120 is top of the line for headsets, which is Chris King.

    You can get used ones for around $50-75 and those are a good deal as well.

    Even at $100, King is a fine deal since they last so much longer than the competition, price per
    mile is still excellent and it will easily outlast half a dozen $50 headsets.

    The one on my mountain bike is about 12 years old now and has never needed bearings or any other
    kind of service. Bearings do fail in them sometimes but on the whole I find they last longer than
    any alternative. If you trash a bearing the headset is like new after you replace the failed bearing
    - you can't say that about a cup & cone headset.

    Cheap headsets are fine and a good place to cut costs on a bike, but there is a difference between
    the cheap ones and the best.

    --Paul
     
  5. In article <[email protected]>, Jasper Janssen <[email protected]> wrote:

    > So why *do* some people spend 300 bucks on a headset, anyway? I mean, I'd be sincerely tempted to
    > spend money on things like hub generators and Rohloff hubs and things like that, and I can see why
    > you'd want good stuff for things like brakes and so on, but I've *never* seen any headset fail
    > catastrophically, and I'd expect that with $50 at most you should get top performing gear..

    The really good headsets have their name printed in high-contrast lettering on the outer dust caps.
    This makes it easier for Fabrizio to properly assess your seriousness at a glance, since buying a
    really nice headset is one of those things that separates the commuters from the Euro-Pros.

    'Course, it's all integrated now...
    --
    Ryan Cousineau, [email protected] http://www.sfu.ca/~rcousine President, Fabrizio Mazzoleni Fan Club
     
  6. Mark Hickey

    Mark Hickey Guest

    [email protected] (Paul Southworth) wrote:

    >Even at $100, King is a fine deal since they last so much longer than the competition, price per
    >mile is still excellent and it will easily outlast half a dozen $50 headsets.

    In my experience, I can't possibly hope to live long enough to wear out six "normal" headsets. For
    example, the one on my (main) road bike is 7-8 years old, and probably has 35-45,000 miles on it. I
    think I've had it apart to clean and lube it twice in that time (much of which was riding in the
    rain in Florida). In fact, the only headsets that I've EVER replaced on my own bikes was one on my
    tandem (I suspect it wasn't lubed properly when the bike was first built) and to swap MTB forks (I
    was forced to go to a threadless headset).

    >The one on my mountain bike is about 12 years old now and has never needed bearings or any other
    >kind of service. Bearings do fail in them sometimes but on the whole I find they last longer than
    >any alternative. If you trash a bearing the headset is like new after you replace the failed
    >bearing - you can't say that about a cup & cone headset.

    Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as much
    as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with the
    bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.

    >Cheap headsets are fine and a good place to cut costs on a bike, but there is a difference between
    >the cheap ones and the best.

    Large, garish lettering on the expensive one, mainly.

    Mark Hickey Habanero Cycles http://www.habcycles.com Home of the $695 ti frame
     
  7. On Wed, 28 May 2003 01:50:38 GMT, Mark Hickey <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as much
    >as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with the
    >bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.

    Hmm, Sheldon doesn't mention that on his site, he just talks about the needle bearings. But still,
    the thing is 50 bucks -- that's not quite down there as "lowly" in my book, when you can get Shimano
    cartridge bearing ones for $22.

    Jasper
     
  8. Mark Hickey

    Mark Hickey Guest

    Jasper Janssen <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On Wed, 28 May 2003 01:50:38 GMT, Mark Hickey <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >>Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as
    >>much as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with the
    >>bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.
    >
    >Hmm, Sheldon doesn't mention that on his site, he just talks about the needle bearings. But still,
    >the thing is 50 bucks -- that's not quite down there as "lowly" in my book, when you can get
    >Shimano cartridge bearing ones for $22.

    Good point. I tend to not like cartridge bearings in a headset - if only because it's harder to
    maintain them (not that I'd need to). Still, amortized over the life of the bike (or likely, me...)
    a $50 headset is a relative bargain (I remember paying $39 for it, but that was a long, long time
    ago before Habanero even).

    Mark Hickey Habanero Cycles http://www.habcycles.com Home of the $695 ti frame
     
  9. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "Mark Hickey" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > [email protected] (Paul Southworth) wrote:
    >
    > >Even at $100, King is a fine deal since they last so much longer than the competition, price per
    > >mile is still excellent and it will easily outlast half a dozen $50 headsets.
    >
    > In my experience, I can't possibly hope to live long enough to wear out six "normal" headsets. For
    > example, the one on my (main) road bike is 7-8 years old, and probably has 35-45,000 miles on it.
    > I think I've had it apart to clean and lube it twice in that time (much of which was riding in the
    > rain in Florida). In fact, the only headsets that I've EVER replaced on my own bikes was one on my
    > tandem (I suspect it wasn't lubed properly when the bike was first built) and to swap MTB forks (I
    > was forced to go to a threadless headset).
    >
    > >The one on my mountain bike is about 12 years old now and has never needed bearings or any other
    > >kind of service. Bearings do fail in them sometimes but on the whole I find they last longer than
    > >any alternative. If you trash a bearing the headset is like new after you replace the failed
    > >bearing - you can't say that about a cup & cone headset.
    >
    > Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as
    > much as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with the
    > bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.
    >
    > >Cheap headsets are fine and a good place to cut costs on a bike, but there is a difference
    > >between the cheap ones and the best.
    >

    I agree with you that cheap headsets are fine and can last a long time if properly installed,
    adjusted, lubed, and maintained. Problem is, most people won't take the time to service their bikes.
    Take Speedplay pedals, for example. I see plenty of problems due to folks not servicing them like
    S'play recommends. Fortunately for them, S'play is very generous with warranty repairs.

    If I couldn't get Pro deals on such things as King headsets, I'd probably not buy them either.

    > Large, garish lettering on the expensive one, mainly.
    >

    Well, you can get them without if you want. The plain ones look quite nice.

    --
    Robin Hubert <[email protected]
     
  10. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > "Mark Hickey" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > [email protected] (Paul Southworth) wrote:
    (sorry I can't tell who wrote what at this point)

    > > >Even at $100, King is a fine deal since they last so much longer than the competition, price
    > > >per mile is still excellent and it will easily outlast half a dozen $50 headsets.
    > >
    > > In my experience, I can't possibly hope to live long enough to wear out six "normal" headsets.
    > > For example, the one on my (main) road bike is 7-8 years old, and probably has 35-45,000 miles
    > > on it. I think I've had it apart to clean and lube it twice in that time (much of which was
    > > riding in the rain in Florida). In fact, the only headsets that I've EVER replaced on my own
    > > bikes was one on my tandem (I suspect it wasn't lubed properly when the bike was first built)
    > > and to swap MTB forks (I was forced to go to a threadless headset).
    > >
    > > >The one on my mountain bike is about 12 years old now and has never needed bearings or any
    > > >other kind of service. Bearings do fail in them sometimes but on the whole I find they last
    > > >longer than any alternative. If you trash a bearing the headset is like new after you replace
    > > >the failed bearing - you can't say that about a cup & cone headset.
    > >
    > > Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as
    > > much as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with
    > > the bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.
    > >
    > > >Cheap headsets are fine and a good place to cut costs on a bike, but there is a difference
    > > >between the cheap ones and the best.

    "Robin Hubert" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I agree with you that cheap headsets are fine and can last a long time if properly installed,
    > adjusted, lubed, and maintained. Problem is, most people won't take the time to service their
    > bikes. Take Speedplay pedals, for example. I see plenty of problems due to folks not
    > servicing them
    like
    > S'play recommends. Fortunately for them, S'play is very generous with warranty repairs.
    >
    > If I couldn't get Pro deals on such things as King headsets, I'd probably not buy them either.

    > > Large, garish lettering on the expensive one, mainly.

    > Well, you can get them without if you want. The plain ones look quite
    nice.

    Robin, that was our point, or at least mine anyway. [Speedplay is a unique case, requiring very
    frequent service else they just chew up]. A cheap headset, set up properly, runs many long years and
    many long miles with nary a thought. Few people will live or ride long enough to amortize a Chris
    King based on ten years minimum on a $10 headset ( and frequently twenty years). The variable is not
    service, it is initial frame machining and prep, given any moderately functional design.

    The proof is out there on any club ride- just ask around. If you like the looks of King's stuff,
    fine. It just isn't a requirement for a nice riding bicycle.
    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  11. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "A Muzi" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > "Mark Hickey" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > news:[email protected]...
    > > > [email protected] (Paul Southworth) wrote:
    > (sorry I can't tell who wrote what at this point)
    >
    > > > >Even at $100, King is a fine deal since they last so much longer than the competition, price
    > > > >per mile is still excellent and it will easily outlast half a dozen $50 headsets.
    > > >
    > > > In my experience, I can't possibly hope to live long enough to wear out six "normal" headsets.
    > > > For example, the one on my (main) road bike is 7-8 years old, and probably has 35-45,000 miles
    > > > on it. I think I've had it apart to clean and lube it twice in that time (much of which was
    > > > riding in the rain in Florida). In fact, the only headsets that I've EVER replaced on my own
    > > > bikes was one on my tandem (I suspect it wasn't lubed properly when the bike was first built)
    > > > and to swap MTB forks (I was forced to go to a threadless headset).
    > > >
    > > > >The one on my mountain bike is about 12 years old now and has never needed bearings or any
    > > > >other kind of service. Bearings do fail in them sometimes but on the whole I find they last
    > > > >longer than any alternative. If you trash a bearing the headset is like new after you replace
    > > > >the failed bearing - you can't say that about a cup & cone headset.
    > > >
    > > > Actually, yes I can. My road bike's headset is the lowly Stronglight Delta (costs about 1/3 as
    > > > much as a Chris King, and is a bit lighter to boot). All four races can be changed along with
    > > > the bearings for a fraction of the cost of a new headset.
    > > >
    > > > >Cheap headsets are fine and a good place to cut costs on a bike, but there is a difference
    > > > >between the cheap ones and the best.
    >
    > "Robin Hubert" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > I agree with you that cheap headsets are fine and can last a long time
    if
    > > properly installed, adjusted, lubed, and maintained. Problem is, most people won't take the time
    > > to service their bikes. Take Speedplay
    pedals,
    > > for example. I see plenty of problems due to folks not servicing them
    > like
    > > S'play recommends. Fortunately for them, S'play is very generous with warranty repairs.
    > >
    > > If I couldn't get Pro deals on such things as King headsets, I'd
    probably
    > > not buy them either.
    >
    > > > Large, garish lettering on the expensive one, mainly.
    >
    > > Well, you can get them without if you want. The plain ones look quite
    > nice.
    >
    >
    >
    > Robin, that was our point, or at least mine anyway. [Speedplay is a
    unique
    > case, requiring very frequent service else they just chew up]. A cheap headset, set up properly,
    > runs many long years and many long miles with
    nary
    > a thought. Few people will live or ride long enough to amortize a Chris King based on ten years
    > minimum on a $10 headset ( and frequently twenty years). The variable is not service, it is
    > initial frame machining and
    prep,
    > given any moderately functional design.
    >
    > The proof is out there on any club ride- just ask around. If you like the looks of King's stuff,
    > fine. It just isn't a requirement for a nice riding bicycle.

    Agreed.

    --
    Robin Hubert <[email protected]
     
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