HeadSets

Apr 3, 2009
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My LBS informed me during the comprehensive tune-up that my Madone underwent last month, that my headset needed replacing. The Chris King headset I'm using is the original that came with the bike and is 5 yeasr old. The LBS was able to refurbish and clean up the headset so it didn't need to be replaced - yet. I had been experiencing high speed shimmy, over 44 mph, which ceased as a result of the refurbishing. However, now I have a high speed wobble at around the same speed. I'm guessing that while the mechanic was able to make the CK headset useable to save me some dough, it no longer is 100%.

And to further clarify the wobble isn't due to crosswinds, because the ride I noticed it on the other day had a tailwind. The wobble occured regardless of wind direction.

Anyway, I'm pricing out headsets online and wondering just how I make sure I get the right size for my fork. Is this something I should just let the LBS deal with? Or can I figure this out myself with little to no hassle. To give you some perspective on my mechanic skills - I can swap chains/ cassettes & brakes as well as remove and clean pedal spindles, so basic stuff. I'll have the LBS install it, but I figure I can save some $$ by buying it independently of them.
 
cawright1375 said:
My LBS informed me during the comprehensive tune-up that my Madone underwent last month, that my headset needed replacing. The Chris King headset I'm using is the original that came with the bike and is 5 yeasr old. The LBS was able to refurbish and clean up the headset so it didn't need to be replaced - yet. I had been experiencing high speed shimmy, over 44 mph, which ceased as a result of the refurbishing. However, now I have a high speed wobble at around the same speed. I'm guessing that while the mechanic was able to make the CK headset useable to save me some dough, it no longer is 100%.

And to further clarify the wobble isn't due to crosswinds, because the ride I noticed it on the other day had a tailwind. The wobble occured regardless of wind direction.

Anyway, I'm pricing out headsets online and wondering just how I make sure I get the right size for my fork. Is this something I should just let the LBS deal with? Or can I figure this out myself with little to no hassle. To give you some perspective on my mechanic skills - I can swap chains/ cassettes & brakes as well as remove and clean pedal spindles, so basic stuff. I'll have the LBS install it, but I figure I can save some $$ by buying it independently of them.
If you have the money, let the shop do it. They shouldn't be getting rich on parts, so cry foul if the price is too high compared to an average online price.

I'd be very interested to hear if the new headset actually resolves the issue. How many kilometers/miles on the bike?
 
Sep 21, 2009
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DirtyWorks said:
If you have the money, let the shop do it. They shouldn't be getting rich on parts, so cry foul if the price is too high compared to an average online price.
Really? You are not qualified to do the job so you are going to a shop that can complete the job but are going to complain about the price? I would tell the customer to get the part online and do it yourself...oh wait, you can't:confused:

As per the original post, headsets are fairly easy to install, but you do need a headset press which are pricey.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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Off hand I'd say there are close to 20,000+ miles on the bike. The frame/ fork are sound as of the last tune up. And I'm really only assuming it's the headset based on the diagnosis/ repair by the shop.

As a consumer I do think one has the right to cry foul if they discover that they've been overcharged. However, I wouldn't go back to the shop because that probably would not get you anywhere. Rather, I'd stop going and if/ when the subject came up, I'd tell people of my experience with that particular retailer and then let those people make up there mind.

A bad review goes much further if expressed in a thoughtful way, probably more so than an excellent review.
 
Is there any looseness with the current headset?
If you lock the front brake & push the bike forward & back, does the HS click, or can you feel any movement of the steerer tube?

The HS and its bearing are mainly for alignment and support, they don't need to do much friction reduction - so they can be installed quite tightly.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 
Mar 15, 2009
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If the headset is worn out, have the bike shop replace it under warrenty. Chris King have a 10 year warrenty.
 
Apr 26, 2011
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Worn out Chris King headset? Did your LBS elaborate? What -exactly- do they mean? I've been in this industry for a few years and have never heard of a worn out Chris King headset. That indicates failure as a result of normal wear and tear. I find it hard to believe that a King headset on a road bike can actually "wear out".
Incorrect installation or adjustment can lead to premature failure but it's got to be pretty bad--something you would have noticed while riding (sticky steering, bike doesn't track properly, etc.). What's the difference between a high speed "shimmy" and "wobble" that you mention--both at the same speed?
Regarding your LBS. Either you trust them or you don't.
If you don't trust them, you have two options, IMHO.
1. Walk away from them completely, find a new shop, have the new shop address the issue and pay them what they ask to repair the bike. MSRP of the headset is easy to find and you can ask them their labor charge. If you are satisfied with the work, continue to patronize the new shop, recommend the shop, join the shop team/club, establish a Relationship with the shop. In the long run it will pay off. They will start to give you "good customer" discounts. One day when you need something done fast, they will help you, because of the Relationship you developed.
2. Do it yourself, all of it. Buy the tools, buy the headset, learn how to do the work. If you are successful, continue to do ALL your work. And don't ever walk into a shop expecting a "deal" or help when you need it done quickly.
If you DO trust your current shop, don't be a <expletive deleted> and buy a new headset off eBay and then expect them to gladly and willingly install it for you.
Have the shop address the issue and pay them what they ask to repair the bike. MSRP of the headset is easy to find and you can ask them their labor charge. If you are satisfied with the work, continue to patronize the shop, recommend the shop, join the shop team/club, establish a Relationship with the shop. In the long run it will pay off. You will get "good customer" discounts. One day when you need something done fast, they will help you, because of the Relationship you developed.
If you _have_ been asking for a "deal" every time you go in there and _have_ been bringing in parts sourced elsewhere, they already think you're a <expletive deleted>, they talk about you behind your back, they hate you and you are COSTING them money. Pretty soon you'll go there and they'll be closed because of "customers" like you.
Yes, this issue gets under my skin. I am tired of the "poor bike racer excuse". If someone can afford a Madone with a CK headset (and probably Dura Ace), they can afford to pay to have it repaired. If not, buy a good frameset with decent parts and train harder. Anyone who "needs" Dura Ace has it given to them. If you want to play, you've got to pay.
I still don't think it's the Chris King headset.

Full disclosure: I have been working in the bike industry for over 25 years. I have worked in shops but do not currently. I do have almost daily contact with bike shops, their owners, and riders of all types.
 
cawright1375 said:
Off hand I'd say there are close to 20,000+ miles on the bike. The frame/ fork are sound as of the last tune up. And I'm really only assuming it's the headset based on the diagnosis/ repair by the shop.
I had similar problems with high-mileage steel frames and tried the same thing with no luck. I don't know if carbon can exhibit the same fatigue characteristics. No idea. I'd say 20,000 is a big enough number to justify retiring the frameset.

With some low-price headsets on low mileage equipment, this does resolve this problem. As others have posted, we're talking about a Chris King headset though...

cawright1375 said:
As a consumer I do think one has the right to cry foul if they discover that they've been overcharged. However, I wouldn't go back to the shop because that probably would not get you anywhere. Rather, I'd stop going and if/ when the subject came up, I'd tell people of my experience with that particular retailer and then let those people make up there mind.

A bad review goes much further if expressed in a thoughtful way, probably more so than an excellent review.
I would argue your method gives the shop no feedback as to where they need to improve.

Every shop I've worked at had customers haggling over the total bill. Regular customers got better deals. As most know, a shop can't match most Internet prices because they do not have the same cost structures. As long as the customer knows that, and many do, haggling is a win-win. Maybe it's different in your area. There are no right answers here.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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Maybe the OP has a bike shop like my local. Their pricing strategy is to take a part and mark it up by 100%. Makes shopping there a waste of time.

Headset is the only maintenance I don`t do myself - buying the press is not worth it for a component that needs changing very infrequently.
 
Mar 15, 2009
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DirtyWorks said:
I'd say 20,000 is a big enough number to justify retiring the frameset.
A Madone is quite an expensive bike, and 20,000 miles don't seem to me such a big mileage. Would you care to elaborate on your opinion? I'm not trying to be picky, just really curious. Is it so little what we should expect from our carbon frames?
 
Apr 26, 2011
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Carbon Frame life

That _is_ the question, isn't it.
I think many in the industry believe that carbon frames have a defined lifespan. However, I don't think we'll ever get a real-world answer to the question. Labs can conduct fatigue tests, of course. IMHO, there are a number of factors that will prevent long term on-the-road tests.
--Pro racers ride on several different frames per year and get new frames every year. Thus, while a rider will log many miles/kilometers, 1 individual frameset will not.
--Carbon frames are primarily designed for recreational riding and racing. We won't see any round-the-world loaded tours on a carbon frame. Not that the sample is particularly big.
--Carbon usually fails catastrophically. I don't know if there's a method to analyze this kind of failure for fatigue.
--Somewhat related to that, metal frames, especially steel, IMHO, can feel different over time as a result of fatigue. Or maybe we just get older and our expectations change.
--In my experience, manufacturers/distributors will recall/take back a frame at the slightest hint of potential failure. I am talking things like an apparent visual fatigue mark in a high stress area (around the head tube or bb)
So, I made no real point here other than, I think, we'll never know when a carbon frame wears out.
 
bikerider1001 said:
Worn out Chris King headset? Did your LBS elaborate? What -exactly- do they mean? I've been in this industry for a few years and have never heard of a worn out Chris King headset.

Plus'"If you DO trust your current shop, don't be a <expletive deleted> and buy a new headset off eBay and then expect them to gladly and willingly install it for you."

I've seen more than a few trashed CK headsets. Lower bearing, feels like it's full of sand.

In this interweb saturated industry, a bike shop guy needlessly ****es a potential customer off by getting all surley if they want a HS or anything they got elsewhere, installed. Labor is the very best margin and it's silly to tell somebody with a HS in their hand to go away.

I don't do it. I'm going to install a SR group on a new Moots(from us) that the guy got from one of those infamous southern UK MO places..oh well, I'll take his $, spends just fine.
 
oronet commander said:
A Madone is quite an expensive bike, and 20,000 miles don't seem to me such a big mileage. Would you care to elaborate on your opinion? I'm not trying to be picky, just really curious. Is it so little what we should expect from our carbon frames?
I really don't know. A look around the Interwebs gets this discussion about carbon forks. http://velonews.competitor.com/2002/12/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-qa-with-lennard-zinn-carbon-forks-2_3270

Summary: carbon has an infinitely longer fatigue cycle than alloys and reaches failure at much higher test criteria. Even though the article is about forks, I think its reasonable to generalize.


As for the original question about the shimmy, did the rider's position change recently? New stem, more shims under the stem, seat position change? That kind of thing.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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No my position hasn't changed recently. I did have to get new speedplay cleats, but the problem originated before the metal ring in one of them broke. Plus, I only had to replace the cleat not the shim, which was positioned properly during bike fit I had a few years ago.

Really the only thing that has changed was the new aero wheels I got last year, which as I ponder this problem and ask more questions both here and amongst cycling friends, leads me to believe they are the issue. More to the point that the wheels need to be dished. I opened another thread on this topic/ question so feel free to check that out. But given the sensation I get at high speeds, I'm now leaning towards the rims not being aligned properly.

And to answer an earlier question, the bearings in the headset had signs of corrosion and I believe had tightened. The LBS mechanic was able to clean 'em up and get it working again so that I did not need to replace it. Anyway thanks to all for the hints/ tips/ advice.
 

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