Sunday, January 16, 2011

Which Headset?

One of the few things I haven't completely decided on for the Greg Curnoe bike is the headset. Here are the sources of this very important dilemma.

The Nuovo Record headset, photographed in the gold medal position, has many things going for it. For one thing, it (or the slightly lighter Super Record) is the one in the painting. For another, it's really good looking—look at all that engraving! It's definitely the best-looking from the rider's-eye perspective, for instance:

And it gets serious bonus points for the totally unnecessary stylish engravings in invisible places:

It's also in really nice condition, with only the tiniest indications of wear. The downside is that it's made of steel and weighs twice what the others do.

The Campagnolo Chorus headset provides a nice compromise of engraving and weight. It's aluminum with steel races, and weighs around 100 grams. It's also in good condition. But its lower stack height is 12mm rather than the 14mm my frame was designed for—which, according to Olivier, would change the head angle by a really-not-important 0.2 degrees. But still. Plus, let's face it, it's not as shiny or scripty as the Nuovo Record.

Then there is the Stronglight A9. It uses needle bearings, which make a lot of sense for headsets. It's the lightest of the bunch—and Curnoe was obsessed with weight savings, as evinced by the somewhat absurd second incarnation of the Mariposa TT, which had useless plastic Modolo brakes. And the Stronglight was around in the 70s, unlike the Chorus.

I'm leaning toward the Nuovo Record—but let me know what you think. It is, I think you'll agree, a life-or-death situation.


Anonymous said...

Need you ask? NR all the way, my friend. Weight means nothing in the headset unless you time trialing up hill--England yes, TO, no.

AH said...

That is precisely what I wanted to hear!

Alex said...

Stronglight! campy headsets, like their rear hubs, don't last very long (that was back when we all had one road bike), and the roller bearings on the Stronglight give it a reassuring solidity, if not to say stickiness, in the steering.

but if you don't use it, i'll buy it from you . . . the A9 that is.

Bruce McD said...

Great bike, Adam. Hope you went with the NR. Semper fidelis.

AH said...

Thanks, Bruce! The bike's still getting paint, but that NR headset will be the one, and I'm looking forward both to its faithfulness and its good looks... Just as I'm looking forward to spring weather and zoo rides!