The inch-and-an-eighth headset is pretty old now. Certainly 180mm singlecrown forks weren’t around when it was conceived, and the recent advent of the “tapered fork” has given it another death-knell.
Headset standards are steered by the needs of production bikes. And most production bikes are aluminium, or carbon. Very few are steel. We have used alternative headset sizes on a frame before – our 2009-2010 model Mmmbop frame used a 1.5in because the large downtube sat well with a large headtube.
Fathead tubing (see previous) was pushing downtubes out beyond the 38mm that our old head tube was on the longer travel bikes. And so we needed to simply add more metal to the head tube to get it to the diameter we wanted to weld it up right. Or go bigger.
Earlier in the year, Cane Creek announced a new headset that allowed people to fit tapered steerer forks to bikes that had 1.125in internal headsets. We liked that, and infact, we’d been paying attention since it was first discussed back in January on the mtbr frame forum. We have since played about with a true “integrated” steel headtube, with bearing races part of the frame, but productionwise it was a nightmare. And so, in conjunction with Nukeproof (well, we design for them too) we stepped proudly to a new kind of standard, with our own headset range to cater for everyone. Thankfully, with Cane Creek on board with this standard too, there is some choice, and even Chris King is joining the party apparently.
Options for headsets are:-
1.125in internal (flush fit, low ride height)
1.125in external lower (flush top, external lower cup to maintain correct geometry and give downtube clearance).
1.5-1.25in tapered (flush top, external lower cup). << tapered steerer!
1.5in (external top and lower cups) << yes – 1.5in steerer on a steel frame!
We’re really pleased with the way the new headtubes are working out – the frames look balanced, are strong (stronger than before!) and the fork fitment options have increased massively.