If you've got a bike frame with a tapered head tube designed for a ZeroStack headset, you'd be hard pressed to find a better deal than with this Cane Creek 40-Series ZeroStack Tapered Headset. It's modeled after their 110 headset, with the most recognizable difference being the finish of the cups. The 40-Series headsets aren't as polished and shiny as the 110-Series units. But on a ZeroStack headset like this, the cups are hidden inside the top and bottom of the head tube so the aesthetic value takes on less importance than the cost difference.Looks aside, the 40-Series Headset is crafted from 6061 T6 alloy where the 110 headset has cups machined from 7075 T6 aluminum. The functional difference is one of a few grams, with the higher tech alloy of the 110 headset allowing a lighter overall part. This 40-Series Headset spins on Cane Creek's black oxide bearings. The races and balls start out as 52100 steel and are then given an acid bath to make them more corrosion resistant, while still being porous enough to retain grease. They are angular contact bearings (ACB), which resist both axial and radial loads equally well. The cartridges are sealed with what Cane Creek likes to call a Split Lip Seal, which has two contact seals per side to better keep out contaminants and hold in grease. To augment the seals on the cartridge bearings, Cane Creek adds face seals to the crown race and top assembly. So what if the bearings aren't stainless like the 110 Headset -- grease kept in and muddy goop kept out keeps 'em running like new for a long time. In the event that you might wreck the bearings through normal use or abuse, you should know that all the internal parts in this 40-Series Headset are compatible with their top-of-the-line 110-Series Headset. So you could always upgrade to the 110 headset's stainless steel bearings. The Clip-Seal in the upper assembly holds all the parts together, including the compression ring. This makes assembly a cinch, since there are no loose parts to misplace or install backwards.The Cane Creek 40-Series ZeroStack Tapered Headset is anodized Black, and Cane Creek adds laser etched graphics including their Skink logo. This is a ZeroStack tapered headset that will mate a fork with a 1-1/8" - 1.5" tapered steerer tube to a tapered head tube having a 44mm ID top and 56mm ID bottom. Of course, you could adapt it to work with a straight 1-1/8" steerer tube by using a Cane Creek Conversion Crown Race (sold separately). The top bearing cover is compatible with Cane Creek Interlok spacers.
This headset was a big disappointment. I have used Cane Creek S-3s on my road bike and my other hard tail. I had such a great experience with those two; never had to adjust them or think about them, which are signs of an awesome product. When I built this bike I needed a headset, I would have bought another S-3, but it was short notice and this was recommended to me because it was a new product. Big mistake. It comes loose every ride. I have a pre-ride ritual where I tighten up the headset before every ride (unfortunate). I had the shop where I purchased it contact Cane Creek and they are replaceing the headset with a new Cane Creek 40. We will see. They popped in a caged bearing Aheadset in my bike until then, (great shop service), we will see. I might just ask them if I can keep the Aheadset and just let them have the CC40.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 13, 2011
Strengths: Looks nice, smooth movement. I'm using a 1.5" lower cup and 1 1/8" upper with my tapered steerer fork.
Weaknesses: Noisy and does not inspire confidence
My previous two bikes had CK headsets installed and they never got any of my attention...they never needed it. This "Can Creak" came with my frame and after just a couple months of XC riding, I'm ready to replace it with a CK. First the lower cup made an annoying creak and click sound, but that finally went away. But now the top cup is doing the same thing and no matter how much I preload the steerer, the creaking remains. Today I discovered the source of the problem...the top cup bearing seat allows enough of a gap between itself and the side of the bearing that I can shift it around pretty easily and duplicate the noise I hear on the trail. This was very disappointing to discover and I have no confidence in this headset, so I have a CK on the way to replace it. I'm betting the 110 series of Cane Creek's lineup is much better, but after this experience, I'm sticking with Chris King. I would not recommend the 40 series to anyone as it has been too much trouble for me.