Bicycle Headset Guide
The two main types of headsets include the older threaded type, and the newer threadless version. The older variety has a thread at the top of the steering tube onto which a threaded bearing race is screwed along with a locknut. When the headset is adjusted, a thin headset wrench is used. An adjustable wrench is used to loosen the locknut.
The threadless headset bearing is simply pushed onto the steering tube. The handlebar stem is then slid onto the steering tube and a cap is placed on top of the stem. A screw in the center of the cap is used to tension the bearings. With the bearings at the correct tension, the pinch bolts on the stem are tightened. This type of system is advantageous because it is very strong and light. The disadvantage is that it is more difficult to adjust the handlebar height.
A threaded headset makes it easy to change the height of the handlebars because the stem slides into the steering tube and has a range of adjustment. However, adjusting the bearings in a threaded headset requires special headset wrenches, while threadless bearings can be easily adjusted with Allen keys. Bearings in both types of headsets should be changed periodically to ensure optimum smoothness and longevity.
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