What does a bicycle headset consist of?


A classic now found on budget bikes. Very unpretentious, lightweight and inexpensive, it has been used for several decades. The disadvantages include less reliability and complexity of configuration.

In this design, a thread is cut on the upper cup of the column, and the head tube is fixed in it with a lock nut.

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A semi-integrated column (Zerostack) contains bearings (usually both industrial, in other versions there are combinations) and cups, completely pressed into the glass, only anthers can be seen from the outside. Despite the slightly greater complexity of the device and the cost, the combination is considered one of the best, since it does not protrude beyond the glass and allows you to set an arbitrary height of the steering wheel.

Types of bicycle steering columns

In this article, we will take a closer look at the types of steering columns and their difference.

The basis for determining the type of the steering column of a bicycle begins, of course, from the frame, or rather from its special front part under the well-established name “head tube”. Usually this part of the frame is a short tube of the standard diameter, where the fork stem is subsequently placed. There are many types of headtubes (as well as the bicycle frames themselves) and it is important to note that all the standards used are not compatible. Based on this, it is important to find out the type and diameter of the holes in the head tube of a particular frame in order to correctly select a compatible steering column for it.


The modern standard, also called Aheadset, thanks to the brand of the company that first introduced it. This design does not take on the load of fixing the fork, and there is no thread in it.

The column consists of upper and lower cups, each of which is pressed into the head tube, and a bearing is already installed in it, which is closed by a rolling ring. In this design, the setting rings and the stem are first installed, and then the steering tube is already fixed.

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Integrated column

Refers to the threadless type of systems. It differs from the rest by the absence of cups. In other words, the bearings fit directly into the head tube of the frame. There are no rolling grooves in the design. Integrated bicycle headset can contain exclusively industrial bearings.

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Systems of the presented type have the lowest weight and simplicity of design. However, they are quite difficult to recover from damage. In addition, there is a significant variation in sizes and models.

Dimensions (edit)

There are different sizes of bicycle headsets, and more specifically, individual head tube options. Currently, you can find the following types of glasses:

  • Standard. size 30 mm.
  • Integrated. Available in several sizes: 1/8 “(41.1mm), 1/8” Italian Standard (41.95mm), 1/8 “FSA Standard (41.6mm).
  • Semi-integrated. range of sizes from 41.35 mm to 55.9 mm.

Each size has its own tolerances down to the millimeter. However, you should try to select glasses as accurately as possible in order to avoid fork backlash. Such an assumption will negatively affect the driving experience.

Semi-integrated column

Semi-integrated columns usually contain combinations of standard and industrial bearings. The cups of such designs completely go into the inner cavity of the head tube. From the outside, only anthers remain visible.

A semi-integrated bicycle column has a rather complex structure and a high cost. Despite this, the systems of this plan are considered the most convenient, since they make it possible to set the required steering wheel height without any special difficulties.


A number of standards for integrated threadless columns are distinguished from others by the complete absence of cups. Those. bearings are directly pressed into the frame.

Accordingly, there are no rolling grooves, only industrial bearings can be used.

Along with simplicity and lightness, models of this type are difficult to repair (especially outside the workshop) and a huge range of sizes.

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Each of the listed columns has its own head tube, and none of the types are interchangeable. So, what types of glasses can be found:

  • integrated. glass surface concave inward, truncated chamfers. There are four sizes: 1 “(26.35 mm), 1 and 1/8” (41.1 mm), 1 and 1/8 “Italian (41.95 mm), 1 and 1.8” FSA Standard (41.6 mm);
  • semi-integrated. absolutely straight pipe without bulges and concavities, straight chamfer at 90 degrees with a depth of at least 15 mm. The range of sizes is slightly less, and there is no confusion with manufacturers by fractions of an inch: 1 “(41.35 mm), 1 and 1/8” (43.95 mm), 1.5 inches (55.9 mm);
  • standard. similar to semi-integrated dimensions and shape, but usually even narrower and smaller. The standards are the same, but the dimensions are different: 1 “(30.05 mm), 1 and 1/8” (33.9 mm), 1.5 inches (49.57 mm).

All sizes have tolerances from half a millimeter to a millimeter, but these should be avoided to avoid fork play, which has a very negative effect on ride quality. It is clear that we are talking about these standards if the column is threadless.

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Dismantling the front fork for parts

You don’t need to disassemble a part to replace it, but its repair will require you to “fit” into the mechanism and dig into it thoroughly. Let’s consider how to sort out a spring-elastomer type suspension fork:

  • Unscrew the bottom fasteners with a hex wrench.
  • Remove the spring compression adjustment bolt. Preload. It is the main damper travel adjuster.
  • Remove the elastomer restrictor or damper.
  • Take off the “pants”.
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the seals from the pants.

Admiring the disassembled suspension fork: on the left. legs, on the right. “pants”

The main reasons why the fork squeaks, makes knocks and does not smooth out vibrations while the bike is moving include wear of parts, water and dirt ingress, lack of internal lubrication. We put in order:

  • Remove all dirt from the inside of the pants.
  • Thoroughly wipe the fork legs, spring and seals.
  • Replace the defective part if necessary.
  • Install the elastomer damper (fill oil through the nipple for the hydraulic fork).
  • Lubricate the inner cavity. inject oil from a can.
  • Install Mounting Bolt and Preload.

It looks like a do-it-yourself bicycle fork bulkhead. Is it needed for a new part? There is an opinion that a plug that has been sorted out at once will be better tuned and will last longer. Much depends on the quality of the kit, but it will be found out in real riding conditions.

Scheduled repairs are done as needed, bulkhead once a season. And of course, you shouldn’t forget about prevention. After each ride, remove dirt from the surface of the oil seals, lubricate, check the fasteners and integrity.

Assembly and repair

Due to its simplicity and low overall load on the steering gear, it does not often require repairs or maintenance. Nevertheless, some operations can and should be done by hand:

Regular maintenance. at least once a season you should disassemble the steering unit and check the condition of the bearings, clean it if it appears by abrasive from the rolling grooves, lubrication may be useful. Change parts in a timely manner if required.

Height change. if spacer rings are needed for non-threaded options, then even handlebar extensions are used on threaded steering columns. about this in the article on how the steering wheel is adjusted and how to remove it.

There is nothing difficult in independent work with the steering column. The main thing is to clearly follow the assembly sequence, because the diagram is quite simple, and not to allow distortions during pressing. There is a special tool for this, but it is quite rare, and almost everyone uses simple hammers and mallets, although an unbalanced blow can not only damage the cup or bearing, but also crack the frame.

As a result, after each session of working with the steering mechanism, you should check the integrity of all parts and the absence of backlash on the wheel, because it is quite simple to disassemble and fix them.

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This element is a newer type that meets modern standards. For the first time, such a detail was presented by Aheadset, in whose Honor it was named. There is no thread here, and there is no fork fixing load on the column structure. This element includes two cups (upper, lower), which are pressed into the glass. Then comes the bearing and completes the entire rolling ring. With this design, the stem and the spacer rings are initially installed and only after that the steering tube is fixed.

Bicycle headset threadless

How is the installation of the steering column by pressing?

The vast majority of steering columns are installed or mated to the frame using the so-called press-in method. What he really is? Pressing-in is a way of combining / joining parts with each other “in an interference fit”, acting on them with a certain uniform external pressure. As a result of correct pressing, reliable operation of the entire mechanism or unit as a whole is ensured.

The steering column of a bicycle is most often installed in the frame in this way. Many cyclists mistakenly believe that to carry out such a difficult procedure, it is enough to use a hammer and literally hammer the head cups into the glass of the frame “through a piece of wood”. This approach is fundamentally wrong, since at the slightest mistake, the frame may be standing (the glass may crack), or damage the steering column itself, or lead to improper installation and further functioning of this component. To correctly install the steering column of a bicycle in its rightful place, there is a special tool called a steering column press, which is a rod with double-sided nozzles that rest against the steering column cups on both sides of the glass and evenly, evenly and coaxially recessed the steering cups inward. The tool is quite rare in everyday life and annoyingly expensive, but at the same time it is extremely necessary for everyone who wants to guarantee the correctness and durability of the steering mechanism.

Semi-integrated bicycle speakers

The steering column is of a closed type, the main elements of which are hidden. only the anthers remain in sight (the bearings are inside the glass). Structures of such a plan are considered the most reliable and are installed mainly on professional models, since they are quite expensive.

Semi-integrated speaker systems allow you to set the handlebar height required for a particular cyclist and type of riding. Self-installation is possible.


The column consists of upper and lower cups pressed into the head tube with bearings installed in them, closed by a boot. The standard layout is also called “non-integrated”.