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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Cracking Chris King titanium headset?

    I bought a Chris King titanium 1 inch no thread headset. This week it was fitted by a professional mechanic with the proper tools and decades of experience. The headset fits perfectly in my titanium frame but there seems to be a problem with it. Its a problem we have never encountered before... and does not sound like faulty placement.
    It makes a harsch loud crack when the steer is turned or when force is put upon it. We suspect that one of the sealed bearings produces this loud crack when the steer is turned or when force is put upon it.

    The mechanic checked everything several times for correct placement and fitting and we also changed the steer to be sure none of the other parts was making this sound. Today as an experiment we have changed the titanium headset with another King aluminium standard 1 inch headset. This headset turns out to run smooth, correct and without any problems. After this we fitted the titanium headset again and the same problem as described occurs.

    The only conclusion can now be the defect must lay in this titanium headset. Our experiment has clearly shown the problem must lay here, but we can also say this must be a rare malfunction since its a King.
    I trust in Kings High quality products, thats why I bought it and they are not really cheap here in Europe I must admit. I believe this to be a warranty issue and contacted the King-tech department. Until now this has not lead to a customer satisfactory solution however,.. Interesting to see how high their warranty standards lie and the companies service-attitude stretches.

    Did anyone of you ever encounter a problem like this with a King (titanium) headset?

    I'll keep you informed,...
    Last edited by Vajra; 07-08-2008 at 12:21 PM.

  2. #2
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    My fear on the TI headset be it king or others is the inherent lack of stiffness that TI at that thickness has over aluminum. I would wager that it got man handled somewhere along its trip to europe and is out of round causing the bearings to bind somewhere in the rotation. While the cup might be out of round the insert may still be true and round.

    Not sure what lead you to the TI but you might consider the AL version as a replacement just to be safe after warranty is completed.
    Bean

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply, your remarks are certainly worthwhile taking into consideration. In any case its a phenomenon we have never encoutered before,.. and the mechanic has installed over 500 headsets, of which many CK's....
    I choose Ti of its looks, thought it would look superb on my Ti-frame en it would be free of any maintenance since I'm taking this bike with me on (weekend) trips through Europe

  4. #4
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    Don't be worried about it. I suspect that it is just a poor batch or something and being CK I suspect that the TI headset will be high quality just as the other ones are and the best thing is that you will avoid galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals that you could get if you were using an AL headset. Plus TI always goes with TI.
    Bean

  5. #5
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    Did you buy it from the shop that installed it??
    If not, did you contact the dealer that you bought it from?
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher
    My fear on the TI headset be it king or others is the inherent lack of stiffness that TI at that thickness has over aluminum. I would wager that it got man handled somewhere along its trip to europe and is out of round causing the bearings to bind somewhere in the rotation. While the cup might be out of round the insert may still be true and round.
    I don't buy this theory for a second. AFAIK CK headsets leave the factory with the bearings installed. I doubt it could have been crushed severely enough to cause the bearings to bind, while at the same time surreptitiously enough to leave no visual evidence and allow for proper installation.

    Check the bearings for defects.

    BTW I am not sure how Ti is going to be less maintenance than Al. If anything, you may have to devote more attention to keeping it from creaking.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterBreath
    I don't buy this theory for a second. AFAIK CK headsets leave the factory with the bearings installed. I doubt it could have been crushed severely enough to cause the bearings to bind, while at the same time surreptitiously enough to leave no visual evidence and allow for proper installation.

    Check the bearings for defects.

    BTW I am not sure how Ti is going to be less maintenance than Al. If anything, you may have to devote more attention to keeping it from creaking.

    i'm just sayin'!

    but seriously ti has no galvanic reaction with ti so you should be fine where as other metals have more galvanic action. The further from TI on the elemental chart the more the chance of galvanic corrosion. Steel is closer than Al so it would have less galvanic corrosion so a CK steelset would be a better solution as far as maintenance.



    edit: i am an idiot and can't do math.
    Bean

  8. #8
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    This all assumes that using an Al headset in a Ti frame requires an onerous amount of maintenance. IME, this is not true. Al is already plenty fine enough to make an upgrade to Ti questionable as far as fineness goes.

    I think that the creaks and ticks caused by galling between the two Ti surfaces is the greater potential hassle.

  9. #9
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    Just a couple of things I thought of

    1. Did the mechanic use the King specific installation tools, or just a regular headset press. I have seen mechanics mess up Kings by not using the King tool with their headset press.
    2. Was anti seize used between the cups and the frame before the cups were pressed in? It's usually a good idea to prevent galling.

    Here's a picture of the King tool.
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  10. #10
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    rather than post about kings warranty and customer service before they get back to you how about follow the proper procedures for making a claim, i'm a sceptic and to me it looks like your trying too hard to make a case against king. Hope this isn't the case and you just forgot the way to do these things.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vajra
    Until now this has not lead to a customer satisfactory solution however,.. Interesting to see how high their warranty standards lie and the companies service-attitude stretches.
    Huh? I e-mailed CK recently about something and they got back to me within an hour. I have had nothing but great experiences with King customer service for over 15 years. Please do let us know how it works out.

  12. #12
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    I just had the same thing happen with my Chris King TItanium headset. I had been using a black 1 1/8 King headset for years on my Vamoots. Last week, I got a Titanium Headset and after a week, it started to make a loud popping sound when I turn or press down on the bars. First, I thought I'd broken the fork. I've tried narrowing it down to anything I can think of, changed the fork, took of the front tire, changed stem, fork plug, no fork plug, ti bolts-steel bolts, re-pressed the cups, different top cap, different headset top cap, what else? This never happened with the regular King headset. I need help. It's driving me crazy!

  13. #13
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    Do you have the scuff washer in place between the stem "top cap" and spacer/stem? It is the thin white nylon spacer that comes with the headset.

    The threadless King holds the top of the steerer with a rubber o-ring only and this can allow for movement at the top cap and spacers. I am guessing that maybe the Ti headset might make more noise because of the material (total guess). Either way, even with aluminum, the scuff washer is there to make the setup quiet and to shield against metal to metal contact because of the movement allowed by the o-ring.

  14. #14
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    Tried it with and without. that is not the problem. The headset pops when the bars are turned. Or creaks and pops when I get on the bike and press down on the bars-not the shifters.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippi
    I just had the same thing happen with my Chris King TItanium headset. I had been using a black 1 1/8 King headset for years on my Vamoots. Last week, I got a Titanium Headset and after a week, it started to make a loud popping sound when I turn or press down on the bars. First, I thought I'd broken the fork. I've tried narrowing it down to anything I can think of, changed the fork, took of the front tire, changed stem, fork plug, no fork plug, ti bolts-steel bolts, re-pressed the cups, different top cap, different headset top cap, what else? This never happened with the regular King headset. I need help. It's driving me crazy!
    Could be the stem bolts holding the handlebars on were not torqued down evenly.

  16. #16
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    Are you running Campagnolo cables (more specifically the housing that comes with the cable set)? The reason why I ask is because mine "clicks" and it's the cables, which is weird, but I'm 100% sure that it's the cables' (ever so slight) movement when the bars are turned.

    Oh, and I've pressed in hundreds of headsets, too, as I worked at a bike shop for years. If it's not the cable housing, then it has to be the headset, but check out 'em housings. The way to do it- see if they move when you turn the bars, and hold them if they do. Problem, er dilemma solved.

  17. #17
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    not the stem bolts. have a moots stem w/ti bolts and changed the bolts back to steel. Tried a different stem. Not the cables either. If you put your hand on the top headset and turn the bars with no pressure, the headset makes a loud cracking or popping sound. Never did this with a regular CK headset.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippi
    not the stem bolts. have a moots stem w/ti bolts and changed the bolts back to steel. Tried a different stem. Not the cables either. If you put your hand on the top headset and turn the bars with no pressure, the headset makes a loud cracking or popping sound. Never did this with a regular CK headset.
    Does the problem persist if you reduce the pre-load?

    Have you had the head tube reamed and faced? CK specifically warns of this kind of problem when using their Ti headsets in Ti frames.

  19. #19
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    Are you using carbon spacers? Carbon spacer are cheaply made and often not flat on each end which could cause some of the noise you describe when you move the bars.
    Chances are, I posted this drunk.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwisimon
    rather than post about kings warranty and customer service before they get back to you how about follow the proper procedures for making a claim, i'm a sceptic and to me it looks like your trying too hard to make a case against king. Hope this isn't the case and you just forgot the way to do these things.
    Please read carefully: I stated: I trust in Kings High quality products, thats why I bought it and they are not really cheap here in Europe I must admit.
    So no pushing or pulling either way,... as a European I just expect american companies to have outstanding customer service...

    Also CK has outstanding warranty service so I guess there is nothing to worry about and in that respect I dont follow the remarks u made; and if I needed to make a claim on this issue we would all be in trouble I guess,...
    Last edited by Vajra; 07-10-2008 at 12:00 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippi
    I just had the same thing happen with my Chris King TItanium headset. I had been using a black 1 1/8 King headset for years on my Vamoots. Last week, I got a Titanium Headset and after a week, it started to make a loud popping sound when I turn or press down on the bars. First, I thought I'd broken the fork. I've tried narrowing it down to anything I can think of, changed the fork, took of the front tire, changed stem, fork plug, no fork plug, ti bolts-steel bolts, re-pressed the cups, different top cap, different headset top cap, what else? This never happened with the regular King headset. I need help. It's driving me crazy!
    This sounds like the exact same problem indeed,.. did u ream and face the frame??

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unoveloce
    1. Did the mechanic use the King specific installation tools, or just a regular headset press. I have seen mechanics mess up Kings by not using the King tool with their headset press.
    2. Was anti seize used between the cups and the frame before the cups were pressed in? It's usually a good idea to prevent galling.

    Here's a picture of the King tool.
    Thanks, but all steps/ anti-seize have/ has been made/ used correctly,...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by azoomm
    Are you running Campagnolo cables (more specifically the housing that comes with the cable set)? The reason why I ask is because mine "clicks" and it's the cables, which is weird, but I'm 100% sure that it's the cables' (ever so slight) movement when the bars are turned.

    Oh, and I've pressed in hundreds of headsets, too, as I worked at a bike shop for years. If it's not the cable housing, then it has to be the headset, but check out 'em housings. The way to do it- see if they move when you turn the bars, and hold them if they do. Problem, er dilemma solved.
    Thanks, it cant be those housings, the problem still occurs when we install another handlebar without any cables (just to rule out all possibilties),..

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubber Lizard
    Are you using carbon spacers? Carbon spacer are cheaply made and often not flat on each end which could cause some of the noise you describe when you move the bars.
    Thanks, no the frame is custommade, all fits perfectly so no spacers are needed,..

  25. #25
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    Took the bike back to the shop. The CK rep said they have heard of this only with Ti frames. I am not going to, nor does my shop want to ream a ti headtube. I don't want to ruin there tools. So we put the black headset back on. Problem solved. Should I try a different ti CK headset? Maybe I just got a bad one.

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