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When looking to replace a headset, there are many factors to look into. Luckily for Matthew, he found the Chris King Inset 2 headset to work great with his Pivot and replace the stock worn out headset. Below Matthew goes into detail about what it took to replace his headset as well as how the new Chris King headset works!
I purchased this piece after a few years of wet and gritty east coast riding on my 2017 Pivot Mach 6 carbon. The name on the piece assured me that I was getting a solidly designed, Chris King, crafted, and capable product. I'm still fully breaking in the bearings; but, it's clear this is another solid Chris King part on which you can count to be a super upgrade to your ride.
Some important information about this headset: The headset that comes with the Pivot Mach 6 is proprietary. I'm not sure why companies do that - but it's part of the industry, especially in the boutique game, where companies specifically design their bikes to try and give them unique edges. This, of course, limits the options. Pivot, though, has a pretty solid on-line service help and after a quick on-line chat with them, they recommended the Chris King piece and assured me it would fit solidly. Surprise, it does. My advice when it comes to headset buying, always check first with the frame company if they have any recommendations - then double-check with your mechanic or Worldwide Cyclery.
What to do when you order this piece. First, place the order from Worldwide Cyclery, second, schedule an install with your local bike shop. Pro tip - a good shop will know how long the service should take. Schedule a time, drop it off and allow the shop to install the part. Most importantly, do NOT be a squid and try and do this job yourself - unless you have a Pinkbike certified engineer's certificate. As Jeff Cayley told me, this is the one job a noob should not do.
The look of the headset is pretty sick, too. For informational purposes, I've paired the headset with a Fox Factory 36 fork and a Renthal stem; there were not any issues. Fortunately, the headset is silent, not like its cousin hub, who sounds like an attack of the killer bees.
This was the first time I've had to replace a headset, and here are the circumstances that led me to the decision: First, when I stood the bike on its rear wheel and moved the bar back and forth, I could hear a slight grinding kind of noise. Next, in addition to the noise, there was a slight, slight, slight friction-like feeling. There was never a time where it stuck or made loud clicking noises. All of these indications were slight. More compelling was what I found inside the head tube during my bi-yearly deep clean. When I removed the bottom bearing, inside the ball bearings were loose and when I played with them a bit more, a few came out, it was done. In retrospect, I wish I would have cleaned inside the head tube a little more frequently. The lube in there was dirt brown and clearly was not helping as it should.
So far the Chris King Inset 2 headset has been perfect for my bike and I have had zero issues. I love the way it looks, the feel is impressive as the quality of the bearings can be felt both while riding and when in the stand. As well as just having the peace of mind that I will not have any issues for a long time with my headset.
I'm quite happy with the purchase, happy with the WC install and competitive price, and happy to know that while expensive, Chris King stands behind their products with lengthy and honored warranties. In the pics you can see the headset paired with my Renthal stem and bars, but notice the master mechanic work by Lancaster shop's own, @onelegmatt.