Opinions of a bicycle shop: Threadless or Threaded Headsets?

So you're wondering what the difference is between threadless versus threaded stems headsets and forks are, if they each have the pros and cons, and if you should be using one over the other. Some bicycles such as our belt-drive internal hub Frigate uses a threadless system, while more old school bicycles such as the 1989 Atala Luna uses a threaded headset. All in all, the answer is simply yes. Here are the pros and cons of threadless vs. threaded cockpit setup so you can figure out which one is best for you. First let's talk about the benefits of threadless systems.

 Image Credit: Velo Orange

What’s the difference between a threaded and threadless bicycle headset?

You can think about the headset as the cockpit of your bicycle. It plays a big role in how your bicycle handles and how it feels when you’re out riding. A threaded headset is a system whereby the fork of your bicycle is screwed tight on to the headset in the head tube where as a threadless system using pressure and does not have a thread. In threadless systems, the steerer tube extends from the fork through the head tube and above the headset. It is secured by the stem clamped on top.

The Benefits of a threadless headset for your bicycle

Image credit: Wikipedia

the first pro is that one 1/8 inch threadless is the modern standard meaning you'll have the most options for frames and forks stems and handlebars the vast majority of frame sets these days use a one 1/8 threadless system. This means you'll have the most frame options for how exactly you want to build your bike. Thi sis with regards to material geometry clearances and mounts for fenders and racks or lack thereof. If you want to build a super clean look, that also means you'll have more choices for aftermarket forks if you want to change up your bikes or to change the front and steering characteristics by changing up your Forks material for better durability or better weight. Or again have better clearance for fatter tires or options for racks and fenders you also have a ton of options for stems so you can get the exact angle length brands and finish that you want. The threadless one ⅛ inch stem the industry standard so it will give you the most options for how you can build your bike.

Another big pro of the threadless which is the clamp for the stems. These  also come in 31.8 millimeter diameter clamps these larger clamp areas allow for handlebars to feel a lot stiffer which for a lot of people can feel much better to sprint on. For those of you that like the most amount of stiffness out of your bike 31.8 bars and stems are flat-out going to be stiffer than their skinnier brethren and some riders after riding 31.8 just like it so much better. The vast majority of Threadless stems also have removable face plates making swapping out your handle bars without swapping out the stem super easy this is especially important if you value customisability. It’s just for fun it's really quick and easy to do.

In case you didn't know Threadless versus threaded stems also require different Forks and different headsets. Threadless headsets our my eyes are generally better than threaded headsets performance wise. If you get a sealed bearing Threadless headset it will practically be maintenance-free. Maybe once every two to three years it's a good idea to regress the headsets compare that to threaded headsets on the other hand they tend to be a bit more finicky and they aren't always as maintenance free.

The last advantage of Threadless is the looks partially because there's so many options when it comes to stems. Threadless as a very versatile style it can be anything from classy and let row to modern or anything from rugged to elegant on top of that pun intended you can also play with the accenting of your bike with top caps and spacers. 

The Benefits of a threaded headsets for your bicycle

Image credit: Wikipedia

The biggest benefit of threaded headsets in our opinion for your bicycle is that you can pair them with classic quill stems, these just look cool and will help your bicycle achieve that vintage or clean cut vibe. If you’re getting older like us and have back problems, you may wish to raise your handlebars to achieve a more comfortable and upright cycling position. This is where threaded headsets when paired with a quill stem really shines. A Threadless headset really doesn't look that good when you pair it with a tonne of spacers as it looks like a game of uno stacko.

The argument that threaded headsets require more maintenance also doesn’t add up in this day and age as there are many manufacturers out there who offer sealed modern bearings with a threaded headset.

Opinion of a Singapore Bicycle Shop

What should you get? To us, you should get a bike with a headset system that inspired you to ride the most! Whatever calls out to you and feels the best is probably the best for you. We don’t like to be bogged down by technicalities as these are more good to know especially if we aren’t cycling competitively. If you need some spare parts and are based near us, do check out the Unspokin Web Shop.
May 07, 2022
Project Up-Cycle - Vintage Ladies’ Flying Pigeon Steam Punk Commuter Conversion

Project Up-Cycle - Vintage Ladies’ Flying Pigeon Steam Punk Commuter Conversion

If you grew up in Southeast Asia in the 80s, 90s, or 2000s this bicycle would have been a common sight for you. In the chinatowns of countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines dapper gentlemen and dignified ladies were seen going about their day on this classic step through frame. The design of the bicycle though, needed some upgrades as the technology used on them fell way behind. These bicycles were designed for rod brakes and came equipped with only one speed. If you’ve ever dealt with rod breaks before, you would know how finicky they are and how little braking power they offer. This is why when Victor came to us with his flying pigeon PB-13 Frame, we were overjoyed at the chance to give it a complete overhaul.

The only difference was that instead of having it be a chill city cruiser, Victor wanted it to be a fast machine that could help him get to work fast if he was running late.

The brief

This flying pigeon bicycle had belonged to Victor’s aunt and it had been hanging out in her storeroom for a good 2 decades. When their family was moving to a condo as they no longer needed the space, Victor took this opportunity to snag the bicycle and brought it to us to give it a new life. Victor specified that he wanted drop bars on the pigeon, a basket on the rear, coaster brakes and multiple speeds. The idea was to turn this old piece of “trash” into a modern low maintenance speedy commuter. The end result was to be a bicycle that could handle a trip to the supermarket as well as it could handle weaving through traffic during rush hour.

Challenges we faced

Bicycle drive train

The biggest challenge we faced on this build was removing the bottom bracket. Having what we suspect to be a considerable amount of time in the rain, the english threaded bottom bracket was frozen, and we had to spend a considerable amount of time fighting it to get it removed. After a lot of WD40 and elbow greased, we finally managed to achieve some movement, and it was smooth sailing thereafter.

Bicycle Drop Bars

The second challenge we faced was that there were no break mounts on the fork for the front brake. Even though the bicycle would have perfectly sufficient coaster brakes on the rear, the Singapore Law requires that all bicycles come equipped with a working hand brake. Our solution was to drill a larger hole in the fork (where the fenders would have went) to mount a long arm front calliper brake. This would increase the amount of stopping power and satisfy the authorities.

Bicycle Headset

The third challenge we faced was that nexus twist shifters do not fit drop bars. Upon consultation with Victor, we decided to mount the twist shifter on an accessories bar, allowing him to shift speeds smoothly and efficiently.

Bicycle Basket

Lastly, we had to find a way to affix a rear rack and a basket as the PB-13 frames does not come equipped with mounts, we opted to use a combination of plumbing mounts and cable ties to achieve a secure result.

The build

Shimano Nexus 8 Coaster Brake

Some may say it’s overkill, but we think that it’s cool as long as Victor enjoys his bicycle! We have a H Plus Son SL42 track rim laced to a Shimano Nexus 8 Coaster Brake hub, a Shimano RS100 front wheel, a modern brandies external english threaded bottom bracket with a 48 tooth chainring on the front. We are also running an origin 8 1 inch threaded headset for more precise starring in the cockpit. He also requested that we slap on a pair of continental GP 5000s because he loves the black chili voodoo that's put into it.

The Ride

Shimano Front Wheel

Those that swear by fixed gear bikes swear that there’s something special about not having a brake on and feeling connected to the bike. Riding a coaster brake or back pedal brake feels somewhere in between. Victor mentioned that he has found that the way he rides his bicycle has changed. he rarely uses his front brakes and feels more relaxed because of the coaster. The basket does the job well allowing him to make frequent trips to NTUC and Donki on his way back from home and he reports that he only wipes and lubes his chain once a week!

Unspokin Decal

All in all, as crazy as this build is, we love this machine and so does Victor. He says that he feels like he’s riding a machine out of a cyberpunk show where the power of his legs beats all the futuristic machines. Something like the fastest hunk of junk in the bicycle universe.

What do you think of Victor's crazy flying pigeon? Let us know in the comments down below. As usual if you have a project you would like advise on or for us to work on it together, do drop us shout!

May 01, 2022

How to give your Bicycle a Custom Paint Job

5 easy steps on how to give your bicycle a new paint job at home.
April 22, 2022

How to build your own custom bicycle Part 1

Ever dreamt of building your own custom bicycle from scratch? Whether it’s an old school MTB gravel conversion, a badass road bike, a flashy fixie or a cruiser that would bring you back to 1970s Chinatown, here are some broad principles that will help you in your journey to build your dream custom bicycle.

Step 1: Set a budget

You are the master of your custom bicycle build, so you can do anything you want with it. That said, cost can easily rack up so it's important to be disciplined about how much you are willing to spend on your dream bicycle. If it’s a high performance road bike, you should be prepared to budget a little more. On the other hand, if you want to build a chill cruiser, you can still spend on quality components but you would be spending significantly less.
In order to stick to your budget, it's good to make compromises and splurge on areas that you think are most important. For example, you may want to spend more on all the contact points between yourself and the bicycle such as the saddle, grips/handlebars and the pedals. You would also definitely want to splurge a little on the wheelset (if your budget allows), because we all know that a high quality wheelset can make a bicycle feel like a different monster altogether.

Step 2: Research, research and research

Once you start digging into the bottomless pit that is the bicycle parts world, you’ll start to notice that there is not one standard but thousands of “standards”. For bottom brackets, you have English Threaded standards, Italian standards, press fit standards and many more. The same goes for most other components such as wheelsets, cassettes, tyres, cranks, brakes, shifter and derailleurs, headsets etc.

It’s important to take measurements (if you have your frame or frameset with you) or take note of specifications (if you have a frame or frameset that you are eyeing). Before deciding on components.

The worst thing you would want to do is to order a component from the internet and wait 1 to 2 months for it to arrive only to find out that it doesn’t fit your build.

Other than youtube, the Park Tool Website and Sheldon Brown has been the best resource for some time to help anyone embarking on their very own bicycle project.

Step 3: Start building (or disassembling)!

Building a bike up from scratch can seem like a huge challenge, but it’s really not if you break it down into smaller segments. Set aside a few hours at a time to assemble each part (if it’s your first time doing so), and suddenly the gargantuan task of building a bicycle becomes easily manageable “mini-projects”.

For example, you can allocate a Saturday afternoon to installing the crankset and derailleur, another day to setting up the wheelset and cockpit, and another slot of time to tuning the derailleur after the shifters are installed.

Take things one step at a time and don’t be discouraged. It’s a slow but deeply satisfying process and before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful bicycle built by your own two hands to cycle. Few things in life are more satisfying.

Step 4: Take your bike out on a test ride

Congratulations! Now that you have successfully assembled your bike, hold your horses because it’s important to test your bike to make sure that it’s safe to ride. As usual, we recommend going to a quiet small road or to a relatively empty park or carpark. Try shifting gears, braking, accelerating and doing anything you would normally do on your bicycle.

You may run into issues such as a loose headset, or gears that aren’t shifting correctly. Be patient and take the time to slowly fine tune these elements. Once you find that your bicycle is safe enough to ride, you can start taking it out for longer distances, such as a trip to your friend’s house or the mall. This doesn’t mean that the testing process has stopped though. You would most probably find yourself making small tweaks such as shifting the seat position or angle or tuning the pull of the brakes. Overall, do note that testing and fine tuning your bicycle will be a long drawn process especially if it’s your first built. That said, you’ll really grow to learn every unique feature of your bike and that will make it all the more special to you and enjoyable to ride.

Step 5: Take plenty of photos and brag about your bike to everyone

Now that your bicycle is assembled and tested, don’t forget to take many photos to upload to social media so that you can show the world how awesome your bicycle is! It’s one of a kind and nobody has anything quite like it.

If you’re addicted to building your own bicycles or are interested to learn more about starting your first build, leave a comment below and share with us about what bicycles you have built.

April 12, 2022