Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to Me

Since you are all commiserating with my immortal enemy--pie--today and not skulking around on the interweb, I will take this opportunity to postpone the tech article I was going to write and discuss my excessive and self-indulgent bike upgrades. With some luck, I can loose my dirty secrets over the holiday week without too many people reading before I post again to cover my tracks.

The ostensible justification for this little indulgence is the demise of my moderately long-lived Cane Creek S-5 headset. It has been feeling awful for a while (I think the compression cap is bent), but now that I can really feel it when I'm riding, it's time for an upgrade. Ostensibly, the S-5 was a 101g headset, and if I was to stick to the rule that upgrades/replacement parts aren't allowed to make the bike heavier unless they add significant new functionality, my choices were limited. Fortunately I have a really big man crush on this German guy named Uli Fahl who came to the rescue with a 79g number named BOBO:

It costs on the order if a CK, but there's roughly 30g less of it, and it doesn't come with the "Look at that guy with the King headset!" stigma. I buy nice stuff because I value high-quality parts, not because I care what other people think of my bike build. A headset cup is a functional component, not a 360 degree billboard, and saving weight by laser etching away all of the anodization with an oversized signature can't be cost-effective--it's certainly not attractive.

I have to admit, however, that I did get the BOBO partially because I have a thing for Tune. There are some aspects of it that would make me fairly uncomfortable if I didn't already trust Uli's Engineering skills. The main two are the aluminum crown race and the plastic compression ring. IMO each of these is under-designed by one material of magnitude (race should be steel and ring should be aluminum), but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt for now. Part of the magic of making really light stuff is getting light materials to perform well in situations where you'd never expect them to.

One thing I DO like about this headset is that it comes with a titanium compression bolt instead of the silly aluminum one that one often gets with light headsets and breaks in a week. For those of you crazy enough to ride bikes with composite headtubes, it also comes with a nifty little expansion fitting that replaces annoying starfangled nuts. The impressively thin carbon top cap is elegant as well. Will it last? Dunno. If it can be broken, I'm the guy to break it. Long term testing results to follow... The carnage spreadsheet has been updated as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays!

I am seriously jealous! And also share your crush on Uli. I only have the "nifty little expansion fitting" - Bobo was not on the market when I bought my bie - since I am one of the crazy ones who has a carbon headtube; I admit, though, that this was a lapse of judgement and my next fork (once the Rock Shox is toast )will likely be the full aluminium version of this species:

So far the expansion fitting works ok, I do find that it develops some moderate play over time and the screw has to be re-adjusted. Let me know how it goes.

Happy riding!