Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

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keyhavenpotterer
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Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 12 Jan 2010, 11:16am

I am about to start the build of an early Roberts Roughstuff which has had a lovely new deep red paint job by Roberts. 1" threaded steerer. Frame will be fitted with both front and rear panniers for hopefully a French canal side trip later this year.

I am thinking Stronglight A9 headset. Still available on ebay for about £25 but there are also black steel A9's at £15. The steel version is described as "MTB" version. So my question is is the steel version better in some way for my intended use or just a cheaper version. The frame is no lightweight and with full racks and panniers, the weight difference cannot be of consequence.

Putting the most reliable 1" headset on the frame is my only objective. Advice very welcome and if anyone feels I should be choosing a different 1" headset please suggest alternatives.

Thanks, Brian.

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531colin
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby 531colin » 12 Jan 2010, 11:27am

Current A9 headsets, steel or alloy, now have ball-bearings not the roller bearings they used to have which never wore out. For durability I would look for rollers.

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Mick F
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby Mick F » 12 Jan 2010, 11:35am

The thing is, if you want a suitable 1" threaded headset, find one and buy two. They won't be around forever.

I have a Campag Chorus 1" threaded, and a year or so ago I got a bargain of a Record 1" threaded. It resides in its box, waiting use in the future.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Secret Sam
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby Secret Sam » 12 Jan 2010, 12:01pm

531colin wrote:Current A9 headsets, steel or alloy, now have ball-bearings not the roller bearings they used to have which never wore out. For durability I would look for rollers.


Really? I've got an A9 on my 531 (About to be renovated) and think it's worn out - may be the cups rather than the bearings, however.

Like the tip about fit one and keep a spare. Think Ribble and SJS sell new (old stock) old style headsets for us stuck in the 80s types?
My name...isn't really Sam

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cycleruk
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby cycleruk » 12 Jan 2010, 12:20pm

You'll never know if you don't try it.

keyhavenpotterer
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 12 Jan 2010, 12:50pm

SJS web page says "Black steel version of the classic A9 headset with ball bearings. For 1" threaded steerers"

On the alloy A9 "Lightweight (82g) smooth running headset featuring two sets of cartridge bearings for near maintenance free running. " Do they mean roller cartridge bearing.

The eBay description says "Angled cartridge bearings, which weigh less than cartridge units and distribute stress better than ball bearings" and describes the steel version as a steel version of the alloy A9?

Good point about buying two sets.

Brian

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531colin
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby 531colin » 12 Jan 2010, 1:33pm

A9 Alloy cartridges are ball- bearing. But you can (now! who knows for how long?) buy spare cartridges.

keyhavenpotterer
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 12 Jan 2010, 2:50pm

Very confused? Surely if an A9 is defined as a roller bearing headset, then if Stronglight changed the bearings to ball bearings then it would not be an A9, but something else? Are there any other roller bearing 1" headsets?

Brian

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meic
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby meic » 12 Jan 2010, 2:54pm

I have the aluminium A9 headset. They were sold as having needle bearings but the enclosed sheet said ball bearings.
The final locking ring is aluminium and I am too scared to fully tighten it, I just feel that it would shear. So the headset does come loose occasionally despite using fairly large spanners and thread locking compound.
So if using the aluminium one, I would consider using steel nuts.

The aluminium one is great on my lighteight Audax bike but considering your question, I would say go for the steel one.
Yma o Hyd

keyhavenpotterer
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 12 Jan 2010, 3:58pm

I rang Spa and they explained the A9 did change without notice from roller to ball bearings. They had one A9 left of the old roller design so I have ordered that, since a roller bearing headset was what I wanted and now seem to have found. No spare roller cages though.

Thanks for help, Brian.

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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby pq » 13 Jan 2010, 5:42pm

My Roberts Roughstuff had a roller bearing A9 when I first built it. I've had a lot of them over the years - they are a truly excellent headset and you've made a good choice. I've never managed to wear one out.

You've ordered one now - but my experience is that the alu ones are fine so no point bothering with the steel.

BTW I only replaced the A9 because I moved over to threadless, so the Roberts now has a Chris King. The old one is now on my commuter and is still going strong.
One link to your website is enough. G

keyhavenpotterer
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby keyhavenpotterer » 14 Jan 2010, 2:07pm

Thanks for confirmation of long service. When Spa said they had a needle roller version still in stock but no spare rollers I was a bit undecided for about 30 seconds and then ordered anyway because of the expected long life that you confirm. One of the mechanics at Spa also uses the same headset and has never changed the needle bearings. I still use Tony Oliver's book on Touring Bikes as a bible.

The headset arrived this morning - great service from Spa.

Next worry is that I do not really understand stack heights. The forks are already cut to length, it'a a refurbished frame, so do I just take the headset to my LBS for pressing in, or can I measure things up in some way first?

Any particular shop anyone would trust in the new Forest area?

Brian

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Mick F
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby Mick F » 14 Jan 2010, 2:24pm

I'd fit the headset myself.

Simple way is to get hold of a threaded bar and nuts and big washers. Cut some thickish MDF and drill a hole in a couple of bits. They are used as pad-pieces to protect the races.

Assemble all the things on the rod, and screw together. As you tighten, be very careful that the races remain true and flat against the head tube. Perhaps use a light mallet to persuade the start. Tighten slowly and carefully, and before you know it, the races will be fitting themselves.

I've used this method a few times. It works. This method has been described on here by others too.

When the races are fitted, assemble your headset and screw on the head race to take out all the slack. At this point, you'll tighten the locknut on top. So try it. You never know, it may fit!

Other than that, it may not fit. It may be that your steerer isn't long enough, but I doubt it as the A9 is a low stack height,

If the locknut 'bottoms out' before it bites on the top race, try and see how much steerer is poking out and stopping the nut from biting properly.

Pull out the forks, and mount the steerer in a vice and hacksaw a bit off. Make sure you take off LESS than you think you should. Tidy off the threads and re-assemble.

Trial and error will eventually get the headset fitted right. For goodness sake, don't take off more steerer tube than you need to.
Mick F. Cornwall

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cycleruk
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby cycleruk » 14 Jan 2010, 2:52pm

I used a threaded rod to fit my last headset, but I also used sockets inside the cup bores to keep the cups square and from tilting.
The A9 headset would have been to high for that fork so I ended up using the Tange that Spa sell.
(The original Tange lasted 9 years and that was with ordinary ball races.)
You'll never know if you don't try it.

tatanab
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Re: Stronglight A9 alloy or steel?

Postby tatanab » 14 Jan 2010, 3:15pm

keyhavenpotterer wrote:Any particular shop anyone would trust in the new Forest area?

Salisbury - Stonehenge Cycles http://www.stonehengecycles.com/

Spare bearing assemblies available from http://www.defietsenmaker.nl/index.php? ... 21&lang=EN They are shown as for Delta but are the same for 1" A9.