Monday, April 07, 2008

Where have all the headsets gone? And other musings.

Wish-book spec'ing my Traveler's Check, I discovered that my favorite headset, the FSA Orbit UF, has disappeared from the Quality catalog. Far East doesn't carry it, either, which didn't surprise me.

Full Speed Ahead still shows it in their lineup on the company website. I haven't launched a wider search for a distributor because we're not open with any of them. For one or two headsets I would scout around for a discount source, probably online. But I haven't given up on finding a good source not only for me but for customers for whom I frequently prescribed the headsets.

Needle bearing headsets seem to have gone completely out of fashion in favor of various kinds of balls. Is that because they never wear out, so companies realized they needed to kill off the product before it killed them?

Neither the Quality nor the Far East catalog show any needle bearing headsets. And a reader has reported to me that he managed to find a Stronglight one for his bike, but was told they're running out and no more will be available.

I haven't picked a second choice yet. I'm not on the Chris King band wagon. I have always liked finding the "just right" component for a mid-range price rather than just plunking down the biggest bucks and assuming I'm getting the best. It's like finding that undiscovered cheap wine that confounds the experts. The price may be in the upper mid range, but it's still not in the queue with the high-end lemmings jumping off a particular brand name cliff. That's why the FSA Orbit UF was so attractive. Great product, great price and no one looked twice at it. It just sat there doing its job. Oh well.

I guess some kind of cartridge bearing is next. That way I can pop out the whole bearing unit when it dies the ball-bearing's inevitable death in headset applications. We used to run caged bearings until the first set of pits in the lower race, then loose balls to add bearings and load more and different areas of the race until the final death knell. With cartridge bearings you get to toss the whole thing, balls, races and all. The cups are just seats. So you dispose of more metal with each major service, but you start completely fresh. If you're confident you can get the old metal into a reliable recycling stream it isn't quite so spendthrift with the Earth's resources.

The other musings will have to wait. I need to go to the dentist, then drop by work on my day off, then do my taxes. I don't think I'll even have a chance to ride today, unless it's on the rollers. Oh, and I have a meeting tonight, so there goes evening training time. Fun day, huh?

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