Steering bearings are an incredibly important area of bicycle control and handling and this is why we stock and recommend the original threadless headset from Cane Creek. Here’s what’s so good about the brand and their products…
Cane Creek from North Carolina, USA make some of the finest headsets available, but it’s a bit more than that, Cane Creek are the people who innovated the very genre of ‘threadless headsets’, which they launched to cyclists in 1992, under the same product name it has today – Aheadset. Such was the technical superiority of the new design it spelt the end of the threaded headset, in one fell swoop.
Losing the thread
Why did this happen so quickly? Two reasons; firstly threaded headsets need accurately cut threaded fork steerers, threads need cutting and caring for, they also need threaded top cups and lock nuts, special spanners to adjust them and a degree of skill to make those adjustments – and have them stay adjusted. By contrast, Cane Creek’s threadless system needed none of the above. A 5mm Allen key and basic understanding of the parts allowed anyone to correctly adjust an Aheadset, with precision, in seconds.
The second reason threadless took off in a hurry, was cost. Or, rather the lack of it. Manufacturers saw the benefit of a simpler, faster assembly. They build thousands of bikes a day, every little counts. Steerers didn’t need expensive threading; production lines didn’t need expensive spanners – or the expensive human skills to use them effectively. The consumers loved it, the bike brands loved it. A done deal. Few riders shed a tear for the demise of the threaded headset.
The original, and best…
Over time the patent expired and many other brands began making threadless headsets. Cane Creek continued to make their own Aheadsets, while also innovating many other clever ideas to make the steering bearings of bicycles, simpler, strong and longer lasting and with more adjustment.
The range of types and styles made is huge, with literally every bicycle capable of being fitted with Cane Creek bearing in the head tube. Evans Cycles carries the most popular models from the Cane Creek Aheadset range catering for the majority of current road and mountain bikes.
The 40 Series EC34 is the stalwart of the Cane Creek headset line and ‘go-to’ choice for for traditional straight, non-tapered 1.1/8th in steerer tubes in frames with head tubes designed for external cups. It’s the genesis of the Aheadset concept and about as honed to perfection as twenty years of constant engineering attention can make it.
Taper and integration
Mountain bikes were the first to make use of the tapered steerer concept that is now widely used on most new road bikes as well. Naturally Cane Creek helped develop the first Aheadsets for this with larger 1.5in diameter lower cup and standard 1.1/8th in top cup.
The plot gets bit thicker as the industry supports both integrated and semi-integrated headsets. Basically integrated headsets seat the bearing directly against angled bearing surfaces built into the inside of the head tube of the frame. Semi-integrated headsets have bearing which still seat inside the body of the headset cup, but the cup and bearing, sit fully inside the head tube.
Some bikes use all integrated, others all semi-integrated. Then to add another layer some bikes have head tubes which require an integrated top bearing and a semi-integrated lower bearing…
Angle of the dangle
On top of this Cane Creek also makes a special Aheadset called the Angleset. This cleverly designed model uses special cups and conical bearing seats to allow riders to tune the fork angle to be steeper or slacker by up to 1.5 degrees in 0.5 degree increments. It 0.5 degrees might not sound like a lot, but it can radically change the handling of a bike for a given terrain or style of riding.
Still with me? Good. All these headset styles, sizes and types sound complicated; and it would be, but for a few things. The first is the Cane Creek Standardized Headset Identification System (SHIS). This gives proper names to all the components so you know what you’ve got and what to ask for.
Then there’s the Cane Creek Headset fit finder. This handy drop down page guides you through the myriad of options to the exact parts you will need to specify the perfect Cane Creek Aheadset for your bike and riding needs. For the Angleset there is a separate product finder which walks you through some basic measurements before pointing you towards the most suitable option.
>> Browse the Evans Cycles range of Cane Creek headsets and pick the one that’s right for you and your ride. <<
And as usual, if you’ve got any questions, just ask one of the Evans team here, who will be pleased to help.