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Headsets and Bottom Brackets


Chadvdw67
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What is the difference between budget and premium headsets and Bottom brackets? I know that obviously the more expensive ones are generally better quality and last longer, but is there a difference in the "feeling" of them, and I am not talking about the cheap *** Chinese rubbish stuff, I mean like between say a Shimano XT bottom bracket and a Cane Creek, Hope or Chris King bottom bracket

 

And the likes of say the Giant branded head sets and the offerings by Hope and Cane Creek?

 

Then on top of that in brands like Cane Creek where they have different models like the 10, 40 and 110 series headsets, does it make that big of a difference?

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Chris King components make the entire headset themselves. Their products are considered the gold standard for reliability and longevity. That's across everything they make.

 

Cane Creek was the first component brand offering the A headset other than Aheadset. The higher the number the more premium the bearings

 

Either brand is very well established in the bike industry despite the desire to cheapen things to Chinese knock offs. It you want decent quality bb or headsets then Chris King or cane Creek are /were the go to companies

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BB's take a real beating, especially on a muddy mountainbike or if you're heavy/strong enough. The better ones come with smoother bearings and better seals and they last longer. If you're lightweight and you mostly ride in clean environments you'll have no issue with the cheaper options. If you find you're replacing often you might consider an upgrade.

 

Headsets are probably less important. mud and rain may cause some issues, but most headsets I've had hold up fine for years on end.

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I understand that they are better quality than cheaper stuff, and in most instances lighter because of the materials used, but what I want to know is can you actually really FEEL a difference, like while pedaling along am I going to say to myself "oh yeah, I can really feel how smooth this Hope BB is compared to that Shimano XT BB?" Or "yes, this Chris King headset makes the steering feel so smooth and direct compared to .... headset?"

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I understand that they are better quality than cheaper stuff, and in most instances lighter because of the materials used, but what I want to know is can you actually really FEEL a difference, like while pedaling along am I going to say to myself "oh yeah, I can really feel how smooth this Hope BB is compared to that Shimano XT BB?" Or "yes, this Chris King headset makes the steering feel so smooth and direct compared to .... headset?"

No, you won't.

 

You will however hear the cheap stuff creak, and that alone is worth the extra $ to buy the premium stuff.

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I understand that they are better quality than cheaper stuff, and in most instances lighter because of the materials used, but what I want to know is can you actually really FEEL a difference, like while pedaling along am I going to say to myself "oh yeah, I can really feel how smooth this Hope BB is compared to that Shimano XT BB?" Or "yes, this Chris King headset makes the steering feel so smooth and direct compared to .... headset?"

When new, you'll struggle to feel the difference between BBs. But after a season or a winter I can feel the difference when the cheap BB becomes rough. Shimano BBs usually gets replaced every two years, but I open them up, pry the seals away and regrease the bearings. After two years that becomes farting against thunder.

My Hope BB never asked for any attention. Better seals on a BB matters.

 

With headsets I service my generics and Cane Creek headsets equally often (read: clean and grease,) and they both still feel good. Much of a muchness.

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In the past I also tried to service my Shimano Bb's and they still only made it 2.5 years of I was lucky

 

 

Been on a hope BB for nearly 3 years and I've only taken the external spacers off to clean the grime off the bearings, bearings are still budder smooth

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Thanks, so a good rule of thumb would be that the headset is not critical but regular maintenance is advised, and get the best BB you can afford, especially on a MTB that sees a bit of abuse?

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I fitted ceramic bearings(BB, hubs and jockey wheels) to my road bike and TBH I can't feel a difference while riding. BUT there is a difference when you just spin the crank or wheels. They are also meant to stay smoother for longer.

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Thanks, so a good rule of thumb would be that the headset is not critical but regular maintenance is advised, and get the best BB you can afford, especially on a MTB that sees a bit of abuse?

Better headsets also include better deals.

Cheap ones often does not come with any rubber seal.

My Cane Creek came with a very nice rubber dust / water seal ring on the bottom of the headset that does a very good job at keeping water out.

 

On my other bike there was no seal only the ring that the bearing sit on.

 

Better design = more Expensive

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To be honest...i personally think this junk has just gone through the same commercialization as anything else. The “latest newest best smoothest” is not necessarily better than what used to be. I have a cane creek 100 headset on a bike, with a normal cheap shimano threaded BB, a blingy Hope headset on another, with an expensive praxis BB.

 

Then, i got a vintage bike last year with a ‘generic’ R200 ball bearing headset and a square taper BB from the 80s and i swear they run more free/smooth than any of the modern ones on the other bikes. Same with its ball bearing hubs - butter.

 

Yes i think the newer stuff is nice. Are they infinitely better? Probably not..they are made to throw away.

Edited by morneS555
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Also- Rubber seals = friction.

Thats why top racers run without bearing seals anywhere on a drivetrain...remove the grease and use low viscosity oil in there. The difference is astronomical.

Obviously that means more maintenance and parts cost over time too, and yes, wont really work offroad lol.

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my recent experience with BB's. I put an XT bb on one bike and a local brand(chinese import) that came with a new crank on the other.

 

The XT has done about 5x the distance and is perfect. The Chinese one had 1 muddy ride and kicked the bucket, felt like I was pedaling a gravel road.

 

While I think that going over the top is a bit over kill, it is definitely worth going for XT equivalent level type product.

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I understand that they are better quality than cheaper stuff, and in most instances lighter because of the materials used, but what I want to know is can you actually really FEEL a difference, like while pedaling along am I going to say to myself "oh yeah, I can really feel how smooth this Hope BB is compared to that Shimano XT BB?" Or "yes, this Chris King headset makes the steering feel so smooth and direct compared to .... headset?"

Better tolerance.

better bearings

More flat bearing cap spacers less distortion of the top cap (stiffer)

Less distortion of the crown race.

All adds up to a better product. I have a 18year old cane Creek solos with original bearings. It's been through several bikes.

I have lots of giant and FSA headset spares in a box.

 

The 10years old Chris King bb that lived in my look had a regrease once a year. That thing has done over 40,000km before the bike retired. The bb in my new bike has been replaced already...

 

No you won't feel the difference because durability isn't something you feel its something you experience. And experience takes time.

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Thanks, so a good rule of thumb would be that the headset is not critical but regular maintenance is advised, and get the best BB you can afford, especially on a MTB that sees a bit of abuse?

Get a headset that is well sealed. The cheap headsets have poor seals and multiple pathways for water ingress. Even a cheap cane Creek uses a seal between the steerer and top cap to prevent water flowing that way.

 

Youwwon't ffeel tthe differenceiin ssteering ttill the cheapjheadsets bearings start feeling notchy and tightening up while you turn the bars making the feeling feel vague and in accurate.

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Biggest mistake I made was selling a frame, including the CK bb and headset. They would still be going trouble free and my one bb has just started groaning. Bike hasn't been ridden that much either.

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