Aheadset and Quill stems

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Aheadset and Quill stems

Postby crog » Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:57 pm

Another question out of curiousity

What advantage do the new type Aheadset (threadless) stems have over the older generation quill stems.

nearly all new bikes nowdays wmply thge Aheadset it appears.

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by BNA » Tue Dec 25, 2007 10:44 pm

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Postby Mulger bill » Tue Dec 25, 2007 10:44 pm

That'd be one of those eternal questions Che, and almost guaranteed to start an argument :roll:

My take is ...

Advantages
Ahead - No special tools needed for bearing adjustment.
Quill -Easy stem height adjustment.

Disadvantages
Ahead - Height adjustment is difficult unless the LBS leaves plenty of spacers under the stem, it also throws out the bearing adjustment :roll:
Quill - Special tools needed for bearing adjustment.

I suspect quill would be slightly lighter too :?

Any more I've forgotten?

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Postby thomas_cho » Wed Dec 26, 2007 5:49 am

Thats not entirely true.

You will still need a hex wrench to adjust the ahead style headsets. With the older style threaded headsets, you need a headset wrench, to loosen the lockring, which allows you to get at the bearings.

Also having spacers under the stem does not throw out the bearing adjustment, that has no bearing (no pun intended) on the adjustment at all. You do have a limitation when using carbon steerer forks. Manufacturers normally recommend that the height left showing from the headset equals the width of the steerer tube. You still preset the bearing adjustments by tightening the headset cap in the same way.

Adjustibility of the handlebar heights with a quill stem also requires that your quill has enough left in the frame when you move it up.

The ahead style also allows quick swapping of the handlebars, or the stem itself. Most quill stems do not allow removal of the bars by removing the front plate. Although there are some designs which allow that.

With ahead design, you can also "reverse" the stem.
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Postby europa » Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:07 am

thomas_cho wrote:With ahead design, you can also "reverse" the stem.


That's hardly an advantage - it means you may be able to get two settings (I say 'may' because with a steep rising stem, flipping it becomes a bit stupid, this coming from a bloke with a 40 degree rise) and coarse settings at that, whereas the quill allows many fine adjustments, something I guess you won't miss if you've never had it but something you do miss if you have enjoyed it on a bike that needed fine adjustment.

With the Ahead system, unless you're lucky enough to have a bit of steering tube, which isn't the norm (though becoming more common), the only way you can adjust height is by flipping and hoping the new setting works, or by buying a new neck (then another, then another) whereas a quill needs only be replace IF it isn't long enough and once you've bought that new new, you've still got the full range of adjustments.

With the Ahead system, anytime you touch the steering set up, you have to readjust the headstem bearings - maybe not a huge problem but it does allow more possibility for poorly adjusted bearings and I know one rider who ruined the headset bearings on his bike by getting the adjustment wrong after changing his bar height (swapped some spacers around) while on tour. With the quill system, you adjust the bearings once, then they are settled and safe until the next time you rebuild the headset.

Someone will now chime in with the traditional - but threaded headsets are difficult to adjust, to which I reply 'bollocks', they are no harder to get 'right' than the Ahead system (and yes, I've messed with quite a few of both this year).

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Postby kukamunga » Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:50 am

I believe threadless headset systems are lighter, simpler, cheaper to produce. It is not vital to have the right length steerer tube, as in threaded systems, making it easier to swap forks between frames with different length head tubes, as long as there is enough steerer to clamp onto.

Cheaper threaded systems can sometimes be a bugger to keep adjusted and tight, and require bulky 'specialty' tools to adjust and tighten. Sometimes threads get damaged on headet, steerer tube or both, rendering them useless. Cheap threadless systems usually only need a hex key or two, or a pocket multi tool, to keep 'em adjusted and tight!

Having said all that, here is a nice [url=http://www.salsacycles.com/stems.html]chromoly quill stem
[/url] (I am sure I posted this link before)! :?
Last edited by kukamunga on Thu Dec 27, 2007 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mulger bill » Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:41 pm

I wouldn't call any hex key between 2mm-10mm a specialist tool.

Bearing preload on a threadless system is provided by the top cap compressing the stem and any spacers into the top race and bearings, Tightening the stem bolts locks it all into place. you need to remove the cap and stem to change stem height by flipping or spacer, ergo the bearings need adjusting. I've seen both types ruined by poor adjustment.

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Postby europa » Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:27 pm

The big difference is, you set up a threaded system and it's right until you touch the HEADSET. A threadless or Ahead system, you have to redo the adjustment everytime you even look at anything to do with the bars back to the frame.

If you're happy with your handle bar height, there's no difference between the two. As someone who has spent most of 2007 stuffing around with bar setups in both reach and height and on a variety of bikes, the threadless/Ahead system sucks big time and is an unnecessary incurrer of expense.

But hey, most of you ride the bike from the bike shop and never go near the bars again.

As an aside, and no, I don't include this in my 'threadless vs threaded thinking', I came across the website of the people who 'invented' the Ahead system recently. Their description of their product and why they introduced it reeked of 'we wanted to be different and we managed it and so it's wonderful so there' thinking. Man it was piss weak. Fortunately, it was so pathetic no rational person would use it in any modern decision about which system to use ... and let's face it, we're not likely to get any choice anyway.

I read an article by the 'resident mechanic' in Cycling Australia recently, where the idiot condemned threaded systems as extremely difficult to adjust. I've heard similar comments elsewhere. Quite frankly, if you believe there are significant differences between the systems as far as ease of adjustment goes, you are incompetent.

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Postby Bnej » Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:49 pm

They just allow your bars to turn!
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Postby sogood » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:38 am

europa wrote:Quite frankly, if you believe there are significant differences between the systems as far as ease of adjustment goes, you are incompetent.

Maybe freak chance, but every time I've seen someone adjusting a threaded stem on their bike, brute force always seemed to be required. It's as if those threaded stems have a habit of binding themselves in place over time... Wack, wack, wack!
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Postby LuckyPierre » Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:08 am

sogood wrote: ... Maybe freak chance, but every time I've seen someone adjusting a threaded stem on their bike, brute force always seemed to be required. It's as if those threaded stems have a habit of binding themselves in place over time... Wack, wack, wack!

I agree with both Richard and sogood.
There isn't a great deal of competence required in adjusting a threaded headset, but the 'whack, whack, whack' required to get stems that have been untouched for a while (usually years) definitely requires a lot of confidence. :)
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Postby alchemist » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:13 am

europa wrote:A threadless or Ahead system, you have to redo the adjustment everytime you even look at anything to do with the bars back to the frame.


Not if you have a canti-brake hanger installed :wink:
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Postby europa » Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:29 am

alchemist wrote:
europa wrote:A threadless or Ahead system, you have to redo the adjustment everytime you even look at anything to do with the bars back to the frame.


Not if you have a canti-brake hanger installed :wink:


How does that hold everything in place? Does the effort of braking 'lock' it onto the steerer?

Sheldon's done a conversion on at least one of his bikes where he fits a seat clamp around the steerer tube - only has to adjust that headset once :D Be a real boon for someone on tour who wants to change the bar height periodically.

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Postby alchemist » Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:03 pm

They clamp on, just as the stem does.

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Postby europa » Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:06 pm

Ah ha, thanks for that. Simple, effective and shoots the biggest problem with the system in the foot. :D

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Postby kukamunga » Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:43 pm

From most threadless headsets I have come across, you can take your stem off, flip it, add/remove spacers, change to a different length/rise stem, all without steerer bearings coming loose (they usually have a split taper sleeve which tends to lock it all together a bit). You can do all this while out on the road, on tour, commuting, with the kids, shopping, in the lounge room, bleedin heck... even on your trainer if need be :wink: , all with one or two allen/hex keys that you can carry in your back pocket (along with the spare stem)! How convenient is that for getting your 'set-up' right?

I have never had a problem with getting threadless headset bearings adjusted properly, on bottom end or top end bikes. It is simple and quick. The only problem I have experienced was when buying a new MTB back in '95 from a reputable inner Melb bike shop, and the dufus shop owner thought he was tightening up a quill stem! :shock: One brand new pitted headset! No wonder I do most of my own bike work.

Admittedly, most threaded headsets I've encountered have been on second hand or lower end bikes, and these have nearly always been problems to keep tightened, especially without the right tools. Threads get damaged when ridden loose, then you can seldom get them to stay adjusted/tightened properly again. Most bike riders I know carry the basic allen/hex key set on them.

So you are in a group ride. You notice two riding companions headsets are loose. One threaded, one threadless. Which one are you likely to be able to adjust on the spot?

Horses for courses I guess :wink:
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Postby Mulger bill » Thu Dec 27, 2007 10:15 pm

europa wrote:I came across the website of the people who 'invented' the Ahead system recently. Their description of their product and why they introduced it reeked of 'we wanted to be different and we managed it and so it's wonderful so there' thinking. Man it was piss weak. Fortunately, it was so pathetic no rational person would use it in any modern decision about which system to use ... and let's face it, we're not likely to get any choice anyway.

Richard


Link please.

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Postby europa » Thu Dec 27, 2007 10:54 pm

Mulger bill wrote:Link please.

Shaun


I didn't keep it mate. In fact, I was still laughing long after I'd closed it down. Maybe they didn't invent it and were just under the delusion that they did.

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Postby Mulger bill » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:04 pm

Bugger.
Does Firefox have a history?

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Postby europa » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:23 pm

Mulger bill wrote:Bugger.
Does Firefox have a history?

Shaun


Not if you turn it off like I do :wink:

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