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Dozer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have observed that nearly everyone riding or building an "elite" or "advanced" bike is using a Chris King headset. I recognize that a headset is a very important component, but can anyone help explain how a $120+ CK headset performs $90 better than something like a Cane Creek S2 or S3? The weight difference is only just a gram or 3, so I know you're not paying for that. How come everyone uses the CK? Are they that much better? In what way?

I am beginning to think it's just a prestige thing (well, I will admit that CK's headsets are available in some tempting colors).

Please opine.
 

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Wanderer
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I have 2 bikes with CK headsets and while they are good I have to say that for the $$ they are mostly bling. If money isn't a problem then I say go ahead and get em but if its tight then its safe to skip it.

I have a 10 year old cheap aheadset on a bike that still works perfectly also.
 

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i dont personally think they are worth the price difference for the headsets over others....

the hubs on the other hand yes.
 

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I have a CK Headset that is12 years old. in my case it was well worth the money. That said, there are a lot of nice headsets out, without going overboard on price.
 

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I Have Cookies
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Trailfreak said:
I have a CK Headset that is12 years old. in my case it was well worth the money. That said, there are a lot of nice headsets out, without going overboard on price.
I have a 13 year old headset on my commutter that still smooth as the day I got it. I also have one of their 1.5 Devo sets on my trail rig. I say its way worth it! I dont want to worry about a crappy HS falling apart again!
 

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It's about showing up.
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I followed my friends like a lemming

and put them on three bikes. I transferred them to the next frames when I moved on. I don't see the problem. Builders I know put them on as a donne, a given; set it and forget it.
 

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I have an original Chris King Headset (Ano light blue...no laser etched Chris king logo) I have no clue who had it before my brother, but while it was his, it was a on DH bike, then on a freeride bike, then on a Azonic Saber. When it was given to me, It went on a azonic steelhead...which i snapped the head tube off of. I then took that chris king headset off and put it back on the Saber frame which was handed down to me. After a good year or two, the Headset no resides on my new punkin orange Surly 1x1. 7+ bikes later, and many severe crashes... its still smoother than my s3 on my bamboo bike... Just sayin
 

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Takin'er easy
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In our experience, CK headsets work great for rigid forks or short-travel forks. What makes CK headsets--and hubsets--so great is the Chris King bearings. They are the best bearings in the industry. However, the lack of snap ring (Cane Creek Patent) puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the upper bearing cap of the headset. When combining this extra wear with the extra forces generated by 6-inch-travel-single-crown forks, 7-inch-travel-single-crown forks, or 8-inch-travel-dual-crown forks, the upper bearing cap on the CK headsets deteriorate very quickly. I ran a CK headset on Turner RFX with a Fox 36 Vanilla and I replaced the upper bearing cap every season. Also, I don't ride nearly as hard as the other guys here at the shop.

Basically, if you're running a short-travel fork, cough it up and go Chris King. However, that CC 110 headset is pretty damn trick.
 

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No Clue Crew
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They look great, but I don't care for CK headsets on longer-travel bikes.

The hubs, however, man. I LOVE CK hubs. To me, the hubs are worth the premium price.
 

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Seeing how I've yet to have a headset fail, including a couple of 15+ year old basic Dia Comp caged bearing headsets, I'd have to say that for me it would make absolutely no sense to put out that kind of coin for a headset. To me, a nice new set of tires are far more blingy than a pretty color-matched headset with someone else's name on it.
 

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Blatant said:
The hubs, however, man. I LOVE CK hubs. To me, the hubs are worth the premium price.
Can I ask you why that is? What sort of benefits will a CK hub give you over a value play like the Shimano XT besides weight reduction and sweet colors?
 

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Just Joshin' ya!
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I have a CK on my Titus El Guapo with a 160 mm fork. The headset creaked a bit at first but that was due to me not having it set up correctly. I forgot to put that little plastic ring on and I also did not have it torqued correctly. Once I did that, the creaks went away. Once in a great while, I might get a random squeak, but it is a totally rock solid and smooth headset. I put a pretty nasty pounding on it too as I do a lot of shuttle runs with this bike.

It has been on the bike since March, we'll see how it does in the long run.

So why buy? I do feel a slight difference in smoothness and having a solid feel than a cheap cane creek that I have on my xc bike. It is worth the extra 100 dollars? I'm not sure, but it sure does look cool.
 

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No Clue Crew
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GiddyHitch said:
Can I ask you why that is? What sort of benefits will a CK hub give you over a value play like the Shimano XT besides weight reduction and sweet colors?
The beautiful ratcheting music. More importantly, the near-instant engagement. This is important if you ride the gnar.
 

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trailville said:
To me, a nice new set of tires are far more blingy than a pretty color-matched headset with someone else's name on it.
Damn straight!

NMPhi767 said:
I have a CK on my Titus El Guapo with a 160 mm fork. The headset creaked a bit at first but that was due to me not having it set up correctly. I forgot to put that little plastic ring on and I also did not have it torqued correctly. Once I did that, the creaks went away. Once in a great while, I might get a random squeak, but it is a totally rock solid and smooth headset. I put a pretty nasty pounding on it too as I do a lot of shuttle runs with this bike.
I could never tell the difference in smoothness between CK and Cane Creek... and my Cane Creeks have never made a peep. :D
 

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You wanna go ridin?
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Top notch bearings, QC, fitment etc. I also like the company so I go out of my way financially to support them. All that being said you can save $ with Cane Creek etc but in the long run CK may catch up as most move them from frame to frame including myself. I've done that with a Cane Creek S2 also but its starting to stiffen up a little after 7 years. I've burned out a race face dueche after 1 season so I would definately go the CC route if you don't go the CK rout.
 

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Just Joshin' ya!
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GiddyHitch said:
Can I ask you why that is? What sort of benefits will a CK hub give you over a value play like the Shimano XT besides weight reduction and sweet colors?
I don't care for CK hubs to be honest. I am a fan of low maintainence and I have seen enough blow up on the trail to not think they are as reliable as some claim. I am a big fan of Hadley hubs. 72 points of engagement, titanium cassette body, and you don't have to run an expensive cassette.

As for my headset, it should probably go on my XC bike which does have the cheap Cane Creek on it now. I do think it is a great headset but it is not good for long travel forks. I would like to get a Cane Creek 110 on my El Guapo.
 

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Just Joshin' ya!
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A headset contains bearings that hold your fork to the frame and allow the handlebars to smoothly turn the fork (and therefore the wheel) from side to side. Additionally, the bearings provide support from impacts through the fork to the frame and it provides support to the fork for holding the riders weight to some extent.

Google it and you will get a much better idea
 

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Wanderer
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You have seen dead CK hubs out on the trails? Now hubs don't break very often but the few ones I have seen have never been a CK and there are quite a few people riding CKs where I live. I love mine. Super easy to take apart and maintain (not that they really need it). Had a very wet riding season here, took mine apart expecting the lube would need to be reapplied but it was super dry inside. Cleaned out and relubed it anyway. One of the best bike purchases I have ever made, will do again when I build up a 29er.
 
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