Top race uses a combination of 7075-T6 aluminum and thermoplastic. The aluminum seats on the inner bearing race to give smooth, accurate performance. The lightweight, low friction outer thermoplastic ring has full 360 degree contact with the o-ring on the outer race, creating a seal and effectively protecting the top bearing from any contaminants such as mud, water, dust, and grime.7075-T6 aluminum cups are forged and machined, and are guaranteed for life. · Upper radial double sealed cartridge bearing with stainless steel balls spins smooth and friction free. Corrosion proof angular contact cartridge bearing with stainless steel balls is designed to withstand heavy loads. The inner bearing race is angled to mate with the fork race, allowing for full float if the head tube has not been reamed or faced. Like the top bearing, the lower bearing uses custom double seals and waterproof grease to ensure its longevity. High pressure low friction lip seal (not shown in picture) acts as a barrier, keeping contaminants such as mud, water, dust, and grime away from the lower cup and bearing assembly. Its low friction properties allow the lower bearing to spin smoothly without any drag. Nickel-plated alloy steel crown race is durable and lightweight.
a Cross Country Rider
from Kingston, ON
Date Reviewed: October 11, 2004
Strengths: Looks good.
Weaknesses: Bearings perform poorly when exposed to moisture. Hard to find an acceptable compromise between being too loose or too tight.
Not an acceptable piece of engineering for $100. I have been very impressed with most of the Race Face products I have owned in the past (bars, stem, cranks and seatpost) but not this headset. In fact, along with a Raceface BB, this ranks as the most problematic component on my bike. I have only gotten 2 years out of this headset and a full year of this time has been with serious problems. It is hard to set the headset to an appropriate tightness and the bearings seem to self-destruct, despite supposedly being double-sealed. I'll be getting a King next time!
Similar Products Used: Cheap ones that come stock on mid-range bikes (ie://Rocky Mountain Thin Air)
Bike Setup: Currently a 1999 Rocky Mountain Thin Air with full XTR drive train, stock raceface components (stem, seatpost -bent-, and Turbine cranks), Raceface BB (also not too good), Z2 BAM fork, Mavic X517 rims with XTR hubs, DT Revolution spokes and Python Gold tires.
a Cross Country Rider
from Kamloops, BC, Canada
Date Reviewed: July 5, 2004
Strengths: Um, can't think of any.
Weaknesses: Expensive and unreliable, with poor support from Race Face.
After a little more than a years use the headset started acting strangely. It would feel too tight, so I would loosen it. Next ride it would feel too loose so I would tighten it. I now realize that the headset was rusting and seizing and I could only ride if I loosened it enough that the bottom race (the rusted one) wasn't being used. The bike shop had to chisel it out with a large screw driver and a mallet!!!
The bike had been ridden x country only - never hucked or dhed. I take pride in my ride and make sure everything is maintained the way it is supposed to be. When it was washed, water was only splashed on it. There was never a jet of water directed at the bike much less at the headset. It was only washed about dozen times after muddy rides.
When the company was contacted they offered to sell me another race and said that they couldn't warrantee it because they couldn't be sure how the water got in there. This is tooo lame for a part made in BC. We have WATER, and lots of it, bikes get ridden in water, mud, snow etc. Why did this part fail when my old Proflex 856 and it's generic headset lasted 6 times as long?
Considering that this is $5,000 bike and the Thermo SP was supposed to be the best from Race Face I can only say I am completely disgusted with Race Face and will NEVER own another of their products.
Please people don't make the same mistake I did. Save your money and avoid frustration do NOT buy Race Face. Their quality control and/or design is clearly not what it used to be. This part would fail a Huffy rider.
My next headset will be Chris King (should have insisted in the first place)!
from North Shore
Date Reviewed: February 27, 2004
Strengths: Set and forget.
Weaknesses: None so far
This headset has been great for all the North Shore FR I do. I'm guessing installation may have been the problem with a few of the complaints. If I ever do have problems, I know Race Face (through the Cove) will look after me. With a 5 year bearing warranty and lifetime on everything else, I'm not worried.
Bike Setup: Rocky Mountain Vertex, Judy XC, mainly XTR, Ritchey Seatpost, Race Face Bar and headset
a Cross Country Rider
from san jose, california, usa
Date Reviewed: March 27, 2003
Strengths: Works great until it locks up
Weaknesses: Doesn't work well near water. Best in a desert climate, like Saharan Africa.
This headset came with the bike and it seemed to work pretty well for about 18 months. Then I noticed that the steering was getting wierd. I tried to adjust it on my own, but nothing worked. Finally I took it into the shop, where they took the headset apart. It was totally locked up. The shop actually spent time getting the top half to move freely (which they billed me for--thanks!), but the bottom was totally frozen. The bearings had totally rusted to the races. So much for sealed bearings! I told them to replace it with a King, which I know will last a decade or more. Just for the record, I ride in the SF Bay Area, which isn't all that wet, and I don't powerwash the bike, so I have no idea how the headset rusted so bad. From the complaints I read below, apparently I'm not alone here.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: February 17, 2003
Weaknesses: You'd think makeing a headset was pretty easy, right? After all, $20 Dia Compes may be heavy, but they last well and stay tight. So ho come Race Face can make such a terrible product for 8 times that (in the UK)? I got this really just to try an alternative to the Chris King headset on my make's bike. Well, this is the price I pay for trying to be different. Firstly, the headset would loosen on every ride at least 5 times (yeah, the stem was tight enough). Nothing would keep it from going loose. Then after 6 months use the bearings went. Dire. I've since ditched the useless piece of junk and replaced it with a Chris King which has performed faultlessly for over a year through harsh British conditions, ie mud, mud, mud.
Why buy this abismal product for the same price as the best headset on the market - the King? DO NOT BUY A THERMO SP. If I could give it no chillis, I would.
Similar Products Used: Cane Creek - very good. Chris King - awesome.
Bike Setup: Pace RC200F8 - the best frame, bar none. Pace RC36Evo 111s - bit iffy Hope mini disks - superb Race Face stem (the dove tail clamp one) - as appaling as the headset, and now replaced with a Pace (superb) item. XTR drive chain - outstanding.
from Sant Cruz, CA
Date Reviewed: December 22, 2001
Strengths: Looks... Good looking product
Weaknesses: Simply put... The bearings locked up on me after about a year. I called RaceFace and left a message with them about this.. NO ONE HAS RETURNED MY CALL (at least 10 days have gone by). Also, I sent them a e-mail. Again, NO ONE RETURNED MY E-MAIL.. Thus, the gloves are off. I gave them a chance to fix the problem. And, what's with this Life time Warrenty BS? Sounds good and looks good in print but the product failed and they have NO customer service. DON'T BUY THIS PRODUCT!! Get a Chris King headset and don't look back!
I'm bummed I bought this...
Product failed. RaceFace didn't return my phone call OR e-mail. DON'T BUY THIS PRODUCT!!! It sucks and they don't support it. Also, look at the other reviews. Everyone had the same issue (Failed bearing)... I hate to be so brutal but they deserve this for the zero customer support they've shown!
Bike Setup: All XTR santa cruz superlite W/ SID SL
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: April 10, 2001
Strengths: I love the sealing on it, looks the bomb and is pretty lightweight too
Weaknesses: None (apart from the fact it isn't available in P/C white to match my other RF bits)
I love this headset. The sealing is excellent and in two years I haven't had to adjust anything. Can't understand why other people have had problems with the bearings - have they perhaps overtightened the top race? I think that would cause some of the problems mentioned.
Bike Setup: Mountain Cycle, Psylos, Hope discs, XTR, Race Face
a Weekend Warrior
from Baltimore, MD USA
Date Reviewed: March 5, 2001
Strengths: Nice looking.
Weaknesses: Top bearings. Sealed bearings weren't and locked up after 4 months. Race Face replaced the top bearings and with a lot of attention they lasted 8 months.
Bought the race face thermo to replace original specialized sealed bearing headset that lasted abount 6 months, because of race face name and color. Despite lots of seals, top bearing grease washes out with Maryland wet and muddy riding. Headset probably good for dry climate but not wet and muddy. Just ordered a Chris King and I am hoping for better luck.
Weaknesses: Top race isn't strong enough, top bearing doesn't seem too strong either.
I really hate to do this to Race Face - Sorry guys !, but I feel like I wasted the considerable amount of money I spent on this headset - I ride a Santa Cruz Bullit with 5" Z1's for freeriding/downhilling/just riding about and the Thermo SP lasted maybe 6 weeks in my bike before it came out to be replaced with a King. I had a Syncros before which stood up to a couple of years of pounding with no problems and is working great now for my buddy who bought it (along with the frame it was in) and I was (wrongly) advised by a guy working for a mail order outlet that the Race Face was a better headset, so I got one. 1 week and about 2 rides after installation I pulled the stem and the top race to discover a big witness mark where the top race was sitting in the bearing, and the bearing was pretty rough. About 4 weeks after that it started to work tight and then loose again and then it started to make a horrible groan when I braked hard, and then again when I compressed the fork, like something was moving back and forward. I had my LBS swap it out for a King last week, for fear it was a cup moving in the frame and doing really expensive damage - incidentally there was no sign of movment in the frame when the Race Face was removed, which is about the only good part about the whole episode. The King seems reeeeeaallly nice so far though.
To be fair I guess it'd be fine if you ride less heavy duty terrain than I do, i.e for XC, but I have to rate it for what I do, based upon which......
Look's? Who cares! Performance is all that's important. If you freeride/downhill stay away from the Thermo SP. One word "Plastic". The top race is made of plastic. The inner lip of the race will begin to get mushed on the front side of the steer tube, as you drop off of natures little feats. The force of shutes and drops is too much for the top race to handle. Bottom line, "Anything that is made from plastic should not be molded into the form of bike parts". Remember speed is your friend, and trust your steed.
from Arlington, VA
Date Reviewed: April 25, 1999
Strengths: Light weight Sealed bearings Cool thermoplastic cups Many seals to keep out gunk
Weaknesses: Sealed bearings wear out!
OK - I screwed up. I knew I should have gone for a new 1 1/8 King when I bought my new frame (1 1/4 on the old bike), but I thought hey, I'll try that cool-looking new raceface! Now the bearings are gritty and need replacement after 10 months. The King lasted 4 years without a single adjustment and were smoother (if possible) when I sold it. Now I'm going to buy the King. Oh well.5 chiles for craftsmanship, cool looks, and weight1 chile for crap bearings3 overall