from winnipeg, manitoba
Date Reviewed: July 11, 2003
I have ran RaceFace headsets for years and serviced many at the shop I work at. I have found them to be excellent except for the latest one I have acquired. Previously the top cap of the RealSeal headset contained a plastic conical "washer" with a split in it that mated to a conical opening in the top cap. When compressed during the adjusting process this cone system would center the steerer tube and eliminate any play. This latest h/s does not have the cone system (patent infringement?) but instead has a rubber o-ring that resides in a groove in the inner diameter of the h/s top cap. I am experiencing alot of play and harshness with this setup an conclude that it is an inferior system. Does anyone know why there are these two different systems and has anyone contacted RaceFace about this? My older headsets get 5 blazing turds but this newish one (older stock) gets zero, so...
This headset worked wel the first year. 2nd year it kept loosening up, I finally took it out and re-installed it. That fix lasted for a couple of months and it started coming loose again. Took it to the LBS and they couldn't find anything wrong with it, but suggested I go with Chris King. Well, the Race Face is still on my bike, because I can't afford the King right now. Re-built it over the past winter and the darn thing is coming loose again. In addition to that, the bearings have developed tight spots. I realize this can happen over time due to limitd range of motion, but just a couple of months after a complete tear-down? The shop has checked my head tube and assures me it is not ovalized. I finally have fixed the loosening up thing by tightening the headset tighter than normal (seems to have fixed it anyway). I'll probably run the season out with this one and then switch to King for next year. I really hate to write a review like this about a Race Face product, because their cranks & BB's are top of the line.
Bike Setup: Giant Al hardtail-Manitou-SRAM-Avid-Race Face-Sun RPM lite
a Cross Country Rider
from Fairfax, VA, USA
Date Reviewed: April 17, 2002
Strengths: Good looks.
Weaknesses: After one year of usage, the headset failed. Now, even after an overhaul, I can't keep the thing from coming loose after even a short ride.
I would buy Race Face Cranks in a second, but their headset has been a dissapointment. At first I thought I just got a lemon until another friend of mine with a Race Face (and a Santa Cruz) also had his fail after about the same amount of usage as well as complaints from other friends who have tried this product. If it gets wet where you ride like it does here in the Mid Atlantic I would avoid this one.
Weaknesses: Dual crowns will pop this headset. Play between the race and bearings.
I'm not dogging raceface, but I was really dissapointed with this headset. I love their cranks, rings BB and the riser bar is the only bar I'll use. I even sport a raceface aquanot jacket. I'm just dogging their headsets. Actually I'm informing others who don't need the problems I've had.
I chose the real seal headset for my bullit. It was a toss between RF and King. Opted for the Raceface. After a while of riding I always found that either my fork felt nice n smooth or it got hard to turn. I felt for looseness, then one day decided to look closely. There was a gap btween the bottom cup and frame. Had it re pressed and it did it again. I found that the bottom bearing got crushed between the race and cup. Sent frame in to SC. Wasn't the frame. Cus aren't ovalized either. So I switched to the racefaceDH headset. Raceface guaranteed me it would cure my problems. It did on a regular dh run. After only a 3ft to flat landing the DH popped too. Not as bad, but it puts pressure on the bearing and there is a gap between the cup and frame again. After fiddling quite a bit and after several gray hairs I think I found the problem. It's a piece of $h!T.
The race/bearing/plastic seal interface will always have play in it no matter how much you tighten the headset. It also seems that the plastic seal is the only thing keeping massive amounts of play out of the headset. Is it really a seal, or a gimmick that doubles as a device that keeps play to a minimum?
Now if you have this headset, try grabbing your front brake, place your fingers under the race and rock your bike back and forth. You'll see what I'm talking about. This is the play in ALL raceface headsets that I believe is popping out my cups. I've heard about similar problems. Maybe I'm the first to really figure it out. Hope not!
Once again I have to give kudos to raceface for their efforts and how far they've come. Just fix your headsets!!! Better yet. How about you buy rights from ChrisKing and try to make a more reliable headset. There just haven't been any problems with King. I just can't recommend a raceface headset. Oh. If you don't ride hard, go ahead and get it. My wife is using my old and it's been fine. Agressives don't buy this. And don't get fooled into thinking the bigger cup will help. It's the play that will ruin your ride.
Similar Products Used: KING, tange...never had aproblem on both of themmm
Bike Setup: HKEK gary fisher
a Weekend Warrior
from Czech Republic
Date Reviewed: August 13, 2001
Strengths: Bomb proof, looks cool.
The perfect headset, no need to search for others. No dirt gets in the ball bearings even after a muddy season. When changing forks, I screwed the crown race. Send Race Face an e-mail. They responded immediately and are sending me the spare part free of charge. Race Face has the best customer service I have ever experienced!
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 11, 2001
Strengths: Made in Canada, eh...
Weaknesses: The bottom "seal" does not work.
Well, I've had numerous issues with this headset since getting with my DeKerf back in '97. The bottom "seal" (little hard plastic ring) has never really worked and even with constant cleaning to remove built-up goo around the bottom bearing it has finally seized completely.
The headset has always been somewhat rough (compared to, say, a Chris King or FSA full cartridge bearing) and has required frequent cleanging between the bottom race (on the shock) and the bottom bearing. Finally the whole bottom bearing seized up and, after popping the seal off the bearing, I can see all of the bearings are rusted blobs of metal...Not pretty.
Considering they want more for this than the FSA, I'd say this product is not recommended. Go for the FSA (I've had one since '96 and it is still going strong) or the Chris King. I guess I'll see what the warranty process is like now.
Bike Setup: DeKerf Team WCS, full XTR, Raceface, Phil Wood, Chris King
a Cross Country Rider
from Calagry, alberta canada
Date Reviewed: June 16, 2001
Strengths: looks cool, maintenace free, good reviews
Weaknesses: It doesent work well. pricy
I have not had cood luck with raceface. Their cranks are great, but Their Taperlock BB had a bad spindle and broke on me after a month, Their SyStem won't hold my Handlebar and This headset feet like it was grinding, even when properly installed. It either had play or it was sitcky, grindy and tight. I could not get it right. it was expensive too. I strongly recommend you get a different headset, because after riding this for three months a bit loose, so I could turn the bar smoothly, it ovalized my headtube. and that's on a steel bike, too. Lucky for me the bike was stolen in sept, now I have a new bike with a much better, non cartridge headset.
Similar Products Used: Ritchey Logic, Cane creek, King, Dia compe
Bike Setup: 1996 rocky hammer with lot's of raceface components
Date Reviewed: May 7, 2001
Strengths: Durability. Looks.
I have had this headset for 3 years now and the bearings are STILL running smooth! I switched this headset over to my new frame from my old bike and it still feels like a new headset. I tried out the chrisking no thread, but opted to buy raceface realseal because of the major price difference. Guess I was wise in doing so. Anyways, if you want performance at an affordable price, and longterm durability - GO FOR THE FACE! You won't be disappointed.
Bike Setup: '01 brodie holeshot, psylo sl, raceface all around, DMR V12 pedals, 24seven 3-piece cranks.
a Cross Country Rider
from Huntington, IN
Date Reviewed: December 28, 2000
Strengths: Good mfg quality Durable Light
Weaknesses: Expensive (but worth the $$ so far)
My LBS had to pry the $90 out of my clenched fist when I bought this sucker! But, it's been a solid performer for the first year. I had them install it (didn't want to risk damaging this baby) and they did a super job. After the first 6 weeks I had to snug up the bolt, and it's worked great ever since. Race Face has an excellent product here. I give it 5 flamers.
Similar Products Used: Shimano LX (this was my first threadless setup)
Bike Setup: Alum hardtail - RST fork - LX/XT group
a Weekend Warrior
from Stoke-on-trent, UK
Date Reviewed: December 18, 2000
Strengths: looks nice.
Weaknesses: crap seals and bearings are very poor(at least on mine
after having raceface everything on my steed I thought that being as their kit is superb I thought I'd finish everything off with a real seal! big mistake I was warned to buy a King but I thought I'd save a few quid with the 'face. big mistake! all was fine for a few weeks until the bearing made a nasty grinding sound, took it apart and found the surfaces covered in rust and all kinds of muck, real seal? real pants! oh and try gettin the cartridge bearing out with out knackering them totally! Chris King no thread thank you...
Strengths: huge!!! cartrige bearing instead of caged!!! looks sick too.
Weaknesses: none yet
i'll be 'real' surprised if these bearings blow up. at least i know the cups won't, there to big & dispearse the load of the forks better. not that expensive when you start pricing what's out there, but hey you get what ya pay for. check it out, you can't go wrong!!!
Similar Products Used: fuzzy logic (came stock and the bearing cages 'blew up' after 2 months)
Bike Setup: '00 rm6 w/ white brs dh2's, azonic cockpit, xt drivetrain, irc kujo's
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 1, 2000
Strengths: put it on and hey, fu'get about't.
Three years ago I saw it under the glass at a local shop. I had the money burning a whole in my pocket so I walked out with a new real seal headset and went home to install it and eat a big bowl of rice. All I can say about the performance is that I forget its even there.