Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press: Rider Review

If you invest in a nice bike it's probably a good idea to make sure the bottom bracket or the headset is installed correctly. Having the proper tools for the job really helps reduce frustration and damage to your bike. Our friend Thanh shares his thoughts on his new Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 headset press tool. Check it out!

 Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press


I am a bike tool geek...Period. Nothing beats a tool that is useful and well made. I was in the market for a new headset press. I do not see many around other than the generic low-quality ones and the “industry standard” Park Tool headset press (e.g. HHP-2). Let’s face it, times have changed and it is good for different tools to take the center stage and embark on the challenge. Wheels Manufacturing saw this need and delivered a solution.

Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review
I have been using other Wheels Manufacturing tools (bottom bracket press, bearing press, bearing extractors, etc) and find them very practical and straight to the point. So I wanted to try their headset press to add under my belt. I have used the Park Tools HHP-2 as my main headset press, but now with newer carbon frames and overall lighter materials, there is no need for a heavy, beefy headset press. Granted there are some situations where you need them (high dense metal frames, etc). Now the tolerances with carbon frames are well controlled that we really do not need a full-blown monster truck for every obstacle. This is not to say that Wheels Manufacturing tools are not solid and robust for non-carbon bike frames.

Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review

So here comes the Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 headset cup press with drifts. It’s lightweight, sturdy, and simple. What a tool should be and it’s made in the USA. As you can see, it just has enough parts to get the job done.

What sets this tool apart from the crowd beside the great price, are the two drifts. It comes with a stepped drift as well as the 1-1/8" or 1-1/2" bearings combo drift. Furthermore, it’s not complex where you need to worry about the latch drift end of the press or if the drifts are concentrically aligned as you rotate the handles. There are many headset press tools out there where the drifts do not have a tight alignment and have a bit of sideways play. Sometimes with the other ones I have used, the headset cups just are not perfectly flush once everything is said and done. The PRESS-8 drifts are all aligned even before the cups are pressed in. There is no worrying. Period.

The reason for the consistent and precise alignment of the headset cups is that the drifts are made to have a very close fit to the ½” diameter rod. The drifts provided are standard sizes which will fit even the bare headtube without any bearings or cups as part of the press action. There is no wiggling around as the drifts compress the headset cups in, which provides a very square and flush installation on every shot.

 Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review
As you can see in the pictures below, the drifts are flush not just axially but radially about the threaded rod. Since it’s very light, you have full control of the press action with each handle turn. With heavier presses, it’s difficult to control each turn fully without moving the whole assembly, even the frame (especially carbon ones). With the PRESS-8, since it’s all flushed and square, you can choose to have the headset cups installed downward or upward.

For the top headset, I used the 1-1/8" side drift and situated my bearing inside the headset cup as part of the full sandwich configuration. Please note that there is actually no load on the bearing since the top of the headset cup is flush with the PRESS-8 drift.Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review

For the bottom headset cup, I used the stepped drift. The last step on the drift was a good fit for my tapered headtube. For the bottom headset cup, I did not need to invert my frame to press the cup downwards. I just kept the frame as is and did an upwards pressing. Although you can not tell completely in the pictures, after the press is assembled, there is no radial, side to side movement. It was completely square as to how it should be so that the cups go in straight and square. I have used other presses where the cups go in angled and then would need to punch them out to re-install. The completed install with both headset cups pressed in. Perfect!

Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review

Here is a side-by-side comparison with the Park Tool HHP-2. This thing is very heavy compared with the PRESS-8. With the Park Tool HHP-2, I had to purchase separate drifts that would support my headset cup configuration. With the PRESS-8., the two drifts are just more up to date with today’s headtube configuration/geometries. In the picture below, the left red drifts are what comes with the PRESS 8; while the drifts on the right, I had to purchase these separately for the Park Tool HHP-2.

Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review
Final Thoughts

Overall, I will be using the Wheels Mfg. PRESS-8 as my go-to headset press. I like the control I get every step of the way, it’s lightweight and most of all, the simple two drift (yet versatile) setup.

Wheels Manufacturing PRESS-8 Headset Cup Press Rider Review

June 21, 2019

Headset › Rider Review › Tool › wheels manufacturing ›

Top Products For You...