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Chris King finally adds integrated headset with new DropSet 1

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Chris King has been making headsets for over 40 years. But in that time, they have stuck to press-in type headsets. That meant if you had a frame with an integrated headset, you were forced to look elsewhere. Now though, that all has changed thanks to the new DropSet 1.

Chris King finally adds integrated headset with new DropSet 1
Photos of the DropSet c. Chris King

According to Chris King, the reason it’s taken so long was that they needed to overcome an integrated headset’s natural tendency to lose preload. When the bearings aren’t firmly pressed into a cup and sit loosely in the frame, they can move or shift which eventually causes the preload to lessen, and that leads to loose, potentially creaky headsets.

Chris King finally adds integrated headset with new DropSet 1

Way back in 2010, Chris King unveiled their new GripLock compression system. After years of using a cap with simply a tight fitting o-ring, the GripLock system was a big departure that preloads the headset independently of the steerer clamp. CK claims that this retains preload better than competing systems and because of that, they were able to use it to finally offer an integrated headset that they could stand behind.

Also a first for Chris King – they’ll be offering the DropSet in stainless steel or ceramic bearings. This again is in response to the fact that integrated headsets apparently see more abuse than their press-in counterparts. Claiming that the ceramic version will be more durable in wet and corrosive environments than their stainless bearings, the self-lubricating ceramic bearings should have a longer service life.

Chris King finally adds integrated headset with new DropSet 1 Chris King finally adds integrated headset with new DropSet 1

Offered only in the S.H.I.S. IS41/28.6 – IS52/40  bearing size with a 45/45° bearing seat, the headsets will fit bikes from makers like Santa Cruz, Yeti, Ibis, and Alchemy. CK says that this is one of the more common standards and sees it as the most likely to continue in a sea of changing standards.

Currently available only as a pre-order, headsets will start shipping on August 13th for $125 in stainless, or $245 in ceramic and in all colors.

Specs

  • Patented GripLock design
  • 10-year built-to-last warranty (the same as every Chris King headset)
  • Legendary made-in-house bearings. 41.0mm 45/45, 52.0mm 45/45
  • S.H.I.S. IS41/28.6 Upper Bearing, IS52/40 Lower Bearing
  • Available in all colors

chrisking.com

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32 Comments
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Dougie Fresh
Dougie Fresh
4 years ago

Only a 10 year warranty? I’ll take Cane Creek’s 110 year warranty thank you very much..

Also no 42mm or 47mm sizing?

And $245 for a headset?!? GTFO…

Their hubs are nice tho….

Jack
Jack
4 years ago
Reply to  Dougie Fresh

And that 110 warranty doesn’t cover bearings. Cane Creek bearings are a joke. Never had to replace a King bearing. Cane Creek, on the other hand, didn’t last two years.

Dougie Fresh
Dougie Fresh
4 years ago
Reply to  Jack

Almost 4 years on my stainless 110 bearing and its smooth as silk. And thats on my trail bike. Perhaps user error is to blame for your bearing issues? You gotta clean and grease those things every once and while…

Dominic
Dominic
4 years ago
Reply to  Dougie Fresh

I have a headset with a mix of Cane Creek bearings because i tried out their AER model which comes with a 110 series lower, and found the Norglide bush did not work for me. I replaced the top section with a TEN series, and the difference in quality between the two bearing cartridges is stark. You get what you pay for sometimes.

No one
No one
4 years ago
Reply to  Jack

King warranty applies to bearings AND the other bits…

Celest Greene
Celest Greene
4 years ago

2003 here we come!

Ira
Ira
4 years ago

Not a fan of griplock design, CK is good but the competition has gotten just as good lately.

-S
-S
4 years ago
Reply to  Ira

I think you mean better. The competition is better.

i
i
4 years ago

Chris King: Impeccable quality, questionable design, dentist prices.

It took King 10 years to get over himself and figure out how to use the design he was already licensing to keep headsets from losing preload. Prior that, we had to tighten our $130 headsets every 100 miles. My $15 FSA integrated headset stays adjusted longer than my King ever did.

Ken Gee
Ken Gee
4 years ago
Reply to  i

^ +1

TRUTHWINS
TRUTHWINS
4 years ago
Reply to  i

^+++++

Michael Clayton (@CreekerMike)
Reply to  i

I’m a big fan of FSA. They’re not sexy but they work. Headsets aren’t sexy anyways. Neither are bottom brackets.

Bmx
Bmx
4 years ago

Well i use a cane creek type integrated headset on my bmx and it works without fault . And I say that it gets more abuse than any road or mountain bike headset would encounter.

Tim
Tim
4 years ago
Reply to  Bmx

Almost certainly your BMX headset takes more vertical impacts than most mountain ones do. But MTB forks almost certainly encounter more horizontal (bending force)- they have much longer forks that exert more leverage on the headset. Also, when you hit the front brake, the forward movement of the bike rip the fork off the bike- BMX bikes don’t have that situation as they lack a front brake.

Gregory Thomas
Gregory Thomas
4 years ago

Too little too late. And small bearing movements do not make the headset lose any useful amount of preload

Flatbiller
Flatbiller
4 years ago

I need an Italian threaded version.

nads
nads
4 years ago

so many headsets that look better work just as good and considerably cheaper. Why would you ?

Casey F. Ryback
Casey F. Ryback
4 years ago

King still makes headsets?

AJ
AJ
4 years ago

Preload is so 2008.

CleanBikes
CleanBikes
4 years ago

They should sell them without the tacky lettering all over

Tim
Tim
4 years ago

At one time, King were the only ones out there who were making a sealed bearing headset, and for a long time they were the only ones whose sealed bearing headset designs had changed little or not at all over a long period of time, giving them a standing no one else could match. Now there are lots of options in this area, and “standards” have multiplied, forcing King to make new designs like everyone else. King headsets are still great, but their status as king of the hill has eroded significantly.

Android
Android
4 years ago

Hate the way their black anodising always fades to a purple hue…..

Bill
Bill
4 years ago

My cross bike has had the same King headset for more than 10 years. No problems. Good investment.

Cryogenii
Cryogenii
4 years ago

Have been using the superstar ceramic offering to replace the bottom race, they last about four years in wet UK use and are cheap. Top bearing, dunno it’s never worn out so just still the factory-fit.

Seems appropriate that this is shown on a Yeti as let’s face it, it’s for showing off how much money you’ve spent!

Smokestack
Smokestack
4 years ago

King & Thomson are the two companies that I feel epitomize Franklin’s “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. It is worth it to pay a bit more on the outset and not have to worry about it for the next 10+ years. Great to learn about as my headset on my cross bike has just started to crap the sheets.Now if King would work on a clutch hub design, I’d be an even happier camper.

Cheese
Cheese
4 years ago
Reply to  Smokestack

King has a prototype roller clutch hub in their “museum.” They say the rollers inevitably slip which dissuaded them from putting the design into production.

Tim
Tim
4 years ago
Reply to  Smokestack

Every King rear hub (around three) I’ve had has been affected by either looseness (play) or drag. In fact, every King rear hub I’ve seen on the trails (around a dozen) has had the same issue. I’ve seen these rear hubs used for extreme applications (trials) and not get damaged by the play, but it’s weird to see the collective hypnosis on how anything made by King is a priori a piece of flawless engineering. From my experience, King headsets and front hubs are really good, but it’s good in this thread to see this collective hypnosis has some cracks in it.

Cheese
Cheese
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Huh, interesting since neither of my King rear hubs has notable bearing play. But that may be because I adjust my bearing preload as recommended in their owner’s manual.

Tim
Tim
4 years ago
Reply to  Cheese

-Is your hub a thru-axle hub? If it is, that might make a difference because I once brought up the play issue in a forum and someone said they knew what I meant and that the best way to get rid of the play was to whale down on the QR, something most people don’t know to do or don’t want to do (if it’s really clamped down hard, then it’s an R but not a Q). Maybe the thru-axle versions of the hub suffer from this problem less.
-I won’t deny your rear hub works as it should, but my experience is not limited to my own bikes. Apparently a lot of people have the same problem as I did. This issue is also absent on each and every other brand of hub, high end or low, that I have ever seen.
-The instructions were the first thing I turned to. I followed them to the tee and it never helped. On both of my rear hubs, come to think of it on all three of them, there was the same problem. I was a shop mechanic for awhile, so I know how to work on stuff, and have fixed a fair amount of problems others couldn’t figure out or didn’t think were worth figuring out.
-There was a guy I once knew, one of those people who at times values being right over having friends, who whenever he saw a bike with a King rear hub, he would walk up to the bike and grab the rear wheel and aggressively wobble it to demonstrate to everyone that the 300-dollar or so rear hub had play in it. Everyone that he did that to continued to claim, somewhat implausibly, that King rear hubs were the best. I was one of those people, but am not anymore.

Francisco Antonio Alvarez
Francisco Antonio Alvarez
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

It’s definitely a thing!

Tom
Tom
4 years ago

So is headset loosening really a thing? I’ve got 4-5 bikes, none with King HDSTs. I readjust them once or twice after the first build, as I start riding the bike and bedding the bearings, then everything is fine. Also, I found the quickest way to torch a lower bearing was to wash the bike then hang it by the back wheel – all the residual moisture rolls down the down tube, and collects in the lower bearing. Since i stopped hanging the bike until it was absolutely dry, no problems.

Kyle Klimas
Kyle Klimas
4 years ago

If you set up your headset the correct way the first time… It will not loosen up. It’s a headset… what are you all doing to make them come loose? Go see a real mechanic and stop DIY’ing it before you all continue to keep breaking and damaging your expensive bike parts… #BRDIYComplainers

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