For a lot of riders, the headset is a fit and forget item. For some though, it is a never ending cycle of “jeez, it feels like only yesterday I replaced those bearings!”. If you are riding your mountain bike more than twice a week through winter, likely your headset bearings will have the tell tale roughness of rust and wear. Water and grit eventually make their way past the bearing seals and get up close and personal with the tiny ball bearings inside. Thus, they don’t last forever. But with the new Nukeproof Titanium-Coated Horizon headset and its 5-year warranty, they get a little closer…
Nukeproof Horizon Titanium Coated Headset
Five years is a really long time for a headset to last (at least in the UK) so Nukeproof must be super confident in the durability. It is the races themselves that are coated with Titanium, while the ball bearings inside them are steel. The Ti coating is 0.000118” thick and is applied using a chemical process called “Physical Vapour Deposition” in which the Titanium is vaporized and subsequently deposited onto the surface of the race. The bond formed between the Titanium and the race is a super strong molecular (covalent, for the chemistry buffs) bond. The process allows the structure, density and stoichiometry (ratio of chemical components in a reaction) of the coating to be controlled.
The bearing is ABEC 5 certified, having passed inside diameter and outside diameter tolerances, roundness of ball, trueness of faces & surfaces as well as noise testing at high RPM, which Nukeproof say make it the perfect bearing for use in a headset.
Nukeproof say the Titanium coating renders these bearings perfect for use in the harshest conditions, and less susceptible to corrosion. In an attempt to demonstrate this, Nukeproof conducted a salt water corrosion test on their Ti-coated bearings and standard steel bearings, in which the bearings were placed in a salt-water solution for 6 weeks. They were then transferred to damp air storage for a further 6 weeks, and photographed (above). While the steel bearing (bottom) was completely seized, the titanium bearing was still running smoothly (right), despite the significant rust shown on the outer casing.
Nukeproof Titanium Headset Pricing and Availability
The Nukeproof Horizon Titanium-coated headset is on sale now, and the bearings will be sold as separate bottom and top cups, each priced at £29.99 (~$37).
About that 5-year Warranty
Lots of brands offer a “lifetime” warranty on bearings, but you’ll find that the small print often says that the warranty is void if they need replaced due to general wear and tear. That seems a bit of a cop out. We got in touch with Nukeproof who specified exactly the terms of the warranty. No bearing survives pressure washing, so keep the jet wash away from your bike if you want its pivots and headset to keep running smoothly. All Nukeproof ask is that the bearings are fitted correctly and generally maintained with some excess grease on the seals to reduce the amount of water and grit that gets under them. If you’ve done that, you’re covered, and likely, your steering will remain silky smooth.