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Headsets make the handlebars and forks spinning. The handlebars and forks are firmly connected / attached to each other, spinning simultaneously. The handlebars and forks can be spinned around by 360⁰.
When compared to bicycles or cruise scooters, headsets used on freestyle scooters have a much harder job to do. Over the same time period (e.g. over one year), the headsets used on freestyle scooters must perform many times more spins than the headsets used on either the cruise scooters or bicycles.
Also, spinning the bar by 360⁰ is one of the most popular tricks in freestyle scootering (barspin). The headsets used on freestyle scooters are the same as the headsets used on BMX bikes. The size of the headsets is 1 1/8 ".
Headsets can be divided along the following criteria:
a) Threaded headsets
These are the basic and cheapest headsets that are used in cheap & entry-level scooters in combination with threaded forks and standard headtube. Mostly made of steel. Their performance is not nearly as smooth and silent as is the case of threadless headsets. They can be had at any bikeshop for around 5 - 7 €.
b) Threadless standard headsets
The most basic ones are the same as threaded headsets, they only have a different cover cap that allows for the use of a threadless fork. These headsets are quite rare in the market.
The vast majority of threadless headsets use either fully sealed or semi sealed bearings. The caps are mostly made of aluminum. They have a very smooth and quiet performance.
Designed to be used in combination with threadless forks and standard deck headtube.
c) Threadless integrated headsets
The most widespread of all headsets.
Basically a subset of the standard threadless headsets. In other words, the integrated headsets can be assembled out of standard headsets but not the other way round.
They come with industrial bearings, mostly fully sealed. The caps are mostly made of aluminum. They have a very smooth and quiet performance.
Designed to be used in combination with threadless forks and integrated headtube.
How to extend the lifespan of the headset
1) Headsets always need to be firmly tightened (= no clearance)
2) Keep water from coming into the bearings (= no riding in the rain)
3) No dirt. Headset is a mechanical device and needs to get some cleaning occasionally = headsets need MAINTENANCE !
4) If you run the ICS compression system, the lower end of the handlebar downtube must be perfectly flat. Think of it when sizing down the handlebar by yourself as you risk ending up with a handlebar with uneven surface at the bottom of the tube. It pays to visit a professional workshop. The uneven surface of the compression system destroys the bearings.
5) Do not lend your scooter to your friends. They can easily weigh 30 kg more than you do and have a completely different style of riding.
How to select the right headset
1) Deck with integrated or standard headtube?
2) Threaded or threadless fork?