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August 28, 2023 2 min read

Chris King offers headsets for almost all of the common head tube sizes and steerer tube configurations, and figuring out which one you need is pretty easy when you know what you're looking for.  To help zero-in on the headset you’re looking for, we’ve put together this guide.  

There are four broad categories of Chris King headsets:

NoThreadset: This is the classic external cup (EC) type of headset with cups that press into the head tube and contain external bearings.  The NoThreadset is available for 1” and 1 1/8” straight steerer tubes as well as 1 1/8 to 1 1/4” and 1 1/8” to a 1 1/2” tapered configurations. 

Chris King NoThreadSet 1-1/8" Headset

InSet: The InSet is designed for use with tapered steerer tubes, and has at least one zero-stack (ZS) style cup that presses into the frame and holds the bearing down inside it for a lower stack height.  Most models use a combination of zero-stack (ZS) and external-cup (EC) style headset cups.

Chris King InSet 8 Headset

DropSet: The DropSet is an integrated (IS) style headset with bearings that drop directly into the frame. The headset you need is determined by the bearing dimensions that your frame uses.

Chris King DropSet 5 Integrated Headset For Specialized Only.

GripNut: The GripNut is Chris King’s threaded headset, but instead of the traditional adjustable cone and locknut configuration that most threaded headsets use, it uses a locking collet system that ensures stable adjustment. While this makes for a very low stack height and clean look, it’s important to note that it’s not compatible with spacers or cable hangers that are designed to go between the adjustable cone and locknut.  The GripNut is available in 1”, 1 1/8”, and occasionally in 1 1/4” as well.

So which headset is right for you?  If you’ve read this explanation, haven’t been able to find any information from the frame manufacturer, and are still scratching your head, here are some tips:

If the head tube is smooth on the inside, it’s going to take a press-in cup, and that means either you can eliminate the DropSet from the running.  Your next step is to measure the internal diameter of the head tube at the top and bottom.  After that, look at the fork’s steerer tube and measure the crown race diameter.  With these measurements, you should be able to whittle your choices down to one.

For instance: The top of the head tube measures 34mm, and the bottom measures the same.  You need a 1 1/8” NoThreadset.  If your fork has a tapered steerer, you need a new fork.  Simple.

Another example: Your head tube measures 44mm top and bottom, and your fork measures about 1 1/2”.  You need an InSet 7.

One final example: Your head tube is obviously tapered and measures 34mm at the top and 44mm at the bottom.  Your fork measures 1 1/2” where the crown race sits.  In this case you’ll need a NoThreadset EC34/EC44 1 1/2”.

And finally, if you've got questions about which headset is right for your bike, feel free to contact us!

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