Working with Sean Chaney at Vertigo Cycles, Cane Creek is set to launch their new XX 44mm Traditional headset system in June, which will allow some frames with standard 1-1/8″ headtubes to run the newer tapered steerer suspension forks.
How it works:
For older bikes designed with a 44mm bore 1-1/8″ ZeroStack headtube (like Giant, Gary Fisher, BMC, Scott and Pivot, among many others), a 1.5″ steerer will already fit through the bottom part of the headtube.Â The problem is (was) that the bearings and race won’t.Â The solution, thought up by Chaney and made a reality by Cane Creek, is the XX 44mm Traditional.Â It’s essentially a 1.5″ ZeroStack lower cup and bearing that moves the bottom part of the headset outside of the frame, giving it enough space to accommodate the larger tapered section of the steerer tube.
A higher end version based on Cane Creek’s 110 XX headset will also be available later in the year, which will be made in their North Carolina facility.
Greater Potential for Small Builders:
While retrofits are a great benefit, the idea was actually born out of a desire to offer Vertigo’s customers more options when ordering custom bikes. Small builders mostly purchase “off the shelf” tubes, including head tubes, from suppliers like Easton, Reynolds, etc., and don’t have the resources to custom machine tapered headtubes. The XX 44mm Traditional allows them to use standard ZeroStack tubes and build a frame capable of using the latest and greatest tapered forks.
“I knew that a tapered fork could dimensionally fit into a ZeroStack standard head tube,” said Chaney. “My customers have been asking me for months about tapered forks and tapered head tubes. My goals was for small builders to be able to use a commonly available straight head tube rather than having to resort to machining a tapered head tube, a costly, time consuming and wasteful process. This hybrid headset bottom solves a lot of problems… and it makes it possible for me to give my customers the flexibility in fork selection they’ve been wanting.”
With custom built bikes, the builder can design around the additional stack height and fine tune the geometry around it, eliminating the slight increase in head- and seat angles that will come with retrofitting this system on existing frames.
Technically, this should work on road bikes, too, but the geometry changes might make for too dramatic handling changes versus a mountain bike with suspension and sag. For the system to work on existing bikes, the headtube must have a straight, 44mm inside diameter (bore).Â It will not work with inset headsets that have the cups integrated into the frame.