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  1. #1
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    Threaded headsets?

    I have a 1991 Schwinn High Plains that I'm doing a functional restore on. Currently it has a cheap threadless headset with associated fork and stem. I'm debating about reinstalling the original threaded fork with a new threaded headset and quill stem. I'm looking to turn this into a light touring bike and the original fork has an extra set of eyelets for rack and fenders plus it matches the frame color.

    I've read a couple threads over at BikeForums.net and the threaded vs. threadless debate sounds like a Chevy vs. Ford or Obama vs. Romney argument. There doesn't seem to be a real winner. I'm trying to sort out what is true and don't want the postings of a vocal few with bad experiences to skew my decision making.

    The argument seems to be that threaded headsets are fussy to adjust, loosen quickly, and are difficult to service/adjust in the field. If I'm out touring, I don't want to deal with a headset coming loose and bearings/races being damaged or have to carry a toolbox to work on it. But I'm trying to separate fact from fiction and thought I would ask those who work on threaded headsets a lot.

    Thanks for any comments!
    Ventana El Rey
    Felt F35
    Schwinn High Plains

    Project - Surly Ogre

  2. #2
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    Obama all the way.
    Somec is like the digital Zunow
    And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD5h3y0a9AU

  3. #3
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    And as far as trucks are concerned, Toyota.
    Somec is like the digital Zunow
    And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD5h3y0a9AU

  4. #4
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    Odyssey Toro headsets

    I've had great results over the years with Odyssey Toro headsets. If you can, get the Toro Pro headset. I just installed a new one on the '95 Barracuda that I built for my 7 year old. I've never had a single issue with one on any of my bike (mountain, road, and BMX), the needle bearings are ultra smooth and the locking top nut prevents any loosening. It's the best threaded headset I've ever used aside from my Chris King Gripnut.

    Good luck!

    -D-

    p.s. Here is a link for more info:

    BikePro.com / Buyer's Guide / Odyssey Headset - Bicycle Parts at discount prices / the Buyer's Guide / Bicycle Parts at their finest! / Professional Bicycle Source / Bike Pro
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  5. #5
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    To me, threadless headsets and forks are the greatest advancement in bicycles in the last 50 years. Every time I touch a fork and headset I think back to the time and effort that went into getting a threaded headset set just right. And the problems in getting a stem of the correct length and rise. I hope the guy that invented it made a bajillion dollars off it.
    Even if it meant a new fork, I'd stick with a threadless headset.

  6. #6
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    Threaded headsets and stems look better on vintage bikes. Functionally, threadless are superior.

  7. #7
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    I like threaded headsets and quill stems. i like how i adjust bar height w/ quill stems. I also like threaded headsets plus it's lighter than the older set up but i am not obsessed w/ frame or stem weight.

  8. #8
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    To me, the only downside of a threaded headset is that it requires a crescent wrench to adjust it - ideally you would use a flat headset wrench, but any large crescent wrench will work. However, under most circumstances the headset, once adjusted properly, will not need to be adjusted any more often than a threadless headset. For touring (on pavement) any full-service gas station or auto repair shop will have a tool that will work. For off-road touring, you can either carry a headset wrench or not worry about it (and you'll be fine 99% of the time).

    As far as function goes, there's no difference between the two types of headsets. Both work fine and need minimal adjustment. Some brands are more easily adjusted than others - I've see more variation in threadless with threaded headsets.

    Quill stems (threadless headsets) give you a slightly easier method adjusting bar height. Generally this is not that important, but a bike may feel better or worse with varied bar height when carrying different size loads.

    I'd not be worried which type of headset was on a touring bike (or any bike). The differences are unimportant. The biggest reason to have a threadless steerer is that it makes interchanging forks between bikes and frame sizes much easier. For manufacturers it's a huge positive because one fork can be made for all frame sizes; with a threaded steerer, each frame size (with a different head tube length) needs a fork made specifically for that frame size.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux View Post

    Quill stems (threadless headsets) give you a slightly easier method adjusting bar height. Generally this is not that important, but a bike may feel better or worse with varied bar height when carrying different size loads.

    .
    Depending no how stiff is my back on a particular day i will vary stem height.. i can feel minimal adjustments. ideally, a bike that fits you perfect should not need any change but i don't live in an ideal world.

  10. #10
    artistic...
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    Quote Originally Posted by yo-Nate-y View Post
    And as far as trucks are concerned, Toyota.
    NIssan is good.

  11. #11
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    My first truck was an '89 Nissan Hardbody. Bought it for $3,000 with 100,000 miles. Donated it 12 years later with nearly 300,000 on the ticker. Great little truck.

    Current '06 Tacoma is going strong.
    Somec is like the digital Zunow
    And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD5h3y0a9AU

  12. #12
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    In my experience, some are indeed fussy to adjust. I had a professional mechanic try and set my XT headset after it loosened a couple of times on rides. The pro didnt get it to set either. I developed a technique which has set that headset for 3 years now. The thing is, I've forgotten how I did it.

    Surprisingly, my first experience with a Mavic 315 headset was "set and forget". It has an allen clamp just like that purple headset posted on top.

  13. #13
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    The threaded headset was a world standard for generations - it'll be fine and virtually maintenance free if it's installed correctly. Look for a 40+ year old mechanic.

    That said, with a stable full of good bikes, why would you tour - the one place I'd absolutely use my most reliable, quality bike - on a crappy old Schwinn?

    Get a rain cape, jump on your Felt and use the money you didn't put into a 200GS bike to stay in B&Bs.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainlyfats View Post
    The threaded headset was a world standard for generations - it'll be fine and virtually maintenance free if it's installed correctly. Look for a 40+ year old mechanic.

    That said, with a stable full of good bikes, why would you tour - the one place I'd absolutely use my most reliable, quality bike - on a crappy old Schwinn?

    Get a rain cape, jump on your Felt and use the money you didn't put into a 200GS bike to stay in B&Bs.
    I'm not looking to cycle unsupported around the world, just some overnights and weekends here and there involving more remote locations. The Felt would end up as a taco. The Schwinn should handle it fine.

    All of the 200GS parts wore out and are gone which I feel is where 99% of the reputation came for these bikes being "crappy". Take that away and its a USA made, True Temper, lugged frame that fits me well. Quality parts are being added. The 126mm rear spacing is a challenge but a handbuilt set of wheels with NOS hubs handled that.
    Ventana El Rey
    Felt F35
    Schwinn High Plains

    Project - Surly Ogre

  15. #15
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    If I were in your position, I wouldn't have any issues with running a threaded headset. Most dedicated touring bikes on the road today still have threaded headsets. It's only the newer bikes that started coming with threadless (long after mountain bikes started using them). Once they're set and working, you shouldn't have any problems. In a worst case scenario, you can tighten a threadled headset enough by hand to get you home. If you want more security, just bring a couple of headset wrenches with you. You can get them pretty cheap and they don't weigh much. You can even drill a bunch of holes in them if you want to lighten them up. You could even make your own lightweight emergency set out of some plastic.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  16. #16
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    I am rebuilding an early 90's Hard Rock and used the threaded stem with no hesitation. My Dad has been riding threaded stem Raleighs as long as I can remember, starting with my memories sitting in the kid trailer when I was 6, and he has never had a stem-related problem with his bikes.

  17. #17
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    My other bike still uses the threaded headset and quill-type steerer. I like it for the same reason as the OP so I can variably adjust the height of the steerer as needed. My problem is I want to replace the fork which is a relic RST 180-something with just a basic Suntour XCT or Epicon.

    Here are my questions:
    1. If I bought the newer Suntour forks what will I have to change on the rest of my bike
    a. Fork. obviously
    b. headset?
    c. stem?
    d. frame? hope not



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundam168 View Post
    My other bike still uses the threaded headset and quill-type steerer. I like it for the same reason as the OP so I can variably adjust the height of the steerer as needed. My problem is I want to replace the fork which is a relic RST 180-something with just a basic Suntour XCT or Epicon.

    Here are my questions:
    1. If I bought the newer Suntour forks what will I have to change on the rest of my bike
    a. Fork. obviously
    b. headset?
    c. stem?
    d. frame?hope not
    Just buy a new bike, that one isn't worth investing any money into.
    -eric-

    http://www.rumpfy.com
    Wanted: NDS Suntour XC Pro Microdrive 175mm Crank Arm.

  19. #19
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    Buy a new bike.
    Somec is like the digital Zunow
    And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD5h3y0a9AU

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumpfy View Post
    Just buy a new bike, that one isn't worth investing any money into.
    Quote Originally Posted by yo-Nate-y View Post
    Buy a new bike.
    Thanks. Great advice in a Vintage, Retro, Classic bike topic.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundam168 View Post
    Thanks. Great advice in a Vintage, Retro, Classic bike topic.
    It's a piece of crap. Any money put into it would be much better served being put into just about anything else. Seriously...you can find something with more potential in a dumpster, recycling center, good-will, yard sale, Craigslist, etc...sorry for sounding so harsh...it is what it is...

  22. #22
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    I just visited my LBS and they said yes the new forks can fit with just a change of a threadless headset (1 1/8). Nothing's wrong with the bike it's running fine. except the fork doesn't look too straight anymore. and like I said, it's my other bike (my first MTB). It's for my friends or neighbors to borrow so I don't have to lend them my newer Giant hardtail.

    So thanks for the advice anyway.

  23. #23
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    I suppose I should update this thread. I ended up installing a 1" Chris King Threaded Headset. It is a pricey component for an old frame like this but I figure it will be the last headset that this bike will ever need. And if I realize that going threaded was a mistake, King sells and adapter kit to make it threadless.

    Gundam168 - I'm not hating on your bike but I've never heard of a "race" frame? Is it a made in China, Walmart special? I don't think putting money into a new fork is worth it. I would see what you can scare up for free or close to it. I suppose "don't put money into it" could have been said for my bike but the fact that it is a USA-made, steel frame holds value for me.
    Ventana El Rey
    Felt F35
    Schwinn High Plains

    Project - Surly Ogre

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundam168 View Post
    I just visited my LBS and they said yes the new forks can fit with just a change of a threadless headset (1 1/8). Nothing's wrong with the bike it's running fine. except the fork doesn't look too straight anymore. and like I said, it's my other bike (my first MTB). It's for my friends or neighbors to borrow so I don't have to lend them my newer Giant hardtail.
    .
    As you likely figured out, the red stem is a threadless stem clamped to a quill adapter. You might just make sure that the existing headset is really a 1-1/8", looks like it may possibly be a 1" as the quill adapter looks necked down. If the frame headtube is setup for a 1" headset a new 1-1/8" fork will not fit.

  25. #25
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    Zanq,

    Excellent choice, you will not regret it. With the Kings you adjust them once and they pretty much stay that way for life.

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