Monday, 20 February 2017

Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets

1 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - Intro


The 1 1/8" headtube has been a constant in my life for the last several years, and I have enjoyed that constancy. Unfortunately, some clever people have decided we all now need a 44m headtube, which is bigger than the "old school" 1 1/8" headtube. The redeeming feature of the 44mm headtube is that it will accept 1 1/8" straight steerer forks, and 1 1/2" taper forks. Provided you choose the correct headset. So:

Good News - You forks will 95% likely fit.

Bad News - Choosing the Headset will be tricky.

Skip the Waffle? Scroll down to Sections 5 and 6

2 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - Sheldon Brown


First stop of information is Sheldon Brown's excellent website. But when you consider the variety of 44mm headsets for sale on the internet, the below list of just 2 options seems a little short.

Even Sheldon does not have all the answers. . . . 


3 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - The 44mm Family



The frame I was upgrading to, said is requires a "ZS44 Semi Integrated". A quick search for this term will bring up a selection of suitable headsets, however I was still curious as to what is a "ZS44". I came across a very handy PDF published by problem solvers:

44mm EC or ZS? - What is that?



The above paired letters EC or ZS may precede the "44" in any 44m headset, and this relates to whether the headset will have:


  • External Cups (EC) - Like most Older Headsets
  • Zero Stack (ZS) - Think trendy.
The important difference from here on in is that the lower headset can be designed for:

  • 1 1/8" - For the upper cups.
  • 11/8" OR 1 1/2" for the lower cups. To allows for 1.5" taper on modern forks.

4 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - EC or ZS



ZS or Zero Stock will normally be for the upper / top or the lower / bottom of the headset.

Whilst the EC or External cup is generally only used on the bottom.

5 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - For Straight 1 1/8" (1.125") Steerer



Choose the following:

ZS44/28.6 - For the top.

ZS44/30 or EC44/30 for the bottom. (30 relates to the 30mm crown race).

A note: The EC bottom cup set up will add about 10mm in height to the front of the bike. This may result in a "slacker" ride, and can be useful to make up height if swapping from high travel suspension forks to rigid forks. 


6 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - For Tapered 1 1/2" (1.5") Steerer



Choose the following:

ZS44/28.6 - For the top.

EC44/40 for the bottom. (40 relates to the 40mm crown race).


7 - Thorpy's Guide to 44mm Headsets - Conclusions 


The 44mm headset is here to stay, as it allows the use of both straight and tapered steerers. However, you will need to spend a bit more time thinking about what combination of headset parts you need.

Many shops now supply 44mm headset parts on a mix and match basis, so you will need to know more than just the one number. 

The flip side of this added complication is that if you buy a frame with a 44mm headset, you can run pretty much any fork in it. . .  .for the time being. . . . .




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