Some think a bicycle headset is just a cycle part which is containing some bearings that  screw together. What horrible thinking they got in their mind! How easily they undervalue one of the essential parts of the bicycle. As mountain bikes usually rush on rough, tricky, and hilly trails, it is a common matter that its headset can get easily muddy  and grit. And believe me, you will know by yourself when your MTB headset needs to be replaced. Because this is the part of your cycle that ensures your cycling input into a smooth change of direction all the time.

Today I am here to help you know more about the best MTB bike headsets, types of headsets, benefits & drawbacks with the necessary information.

What Is A Mountain Bike Headset?

A mountain bike headset is a set of bearings that connect the fork steerer tube of the bicycle frame to the handlebars and stem. It is the component that authorizes the handlebars and stems to turn in relation to the frame.

The MTB headset consists of several components: the upper and lower bearing cups, bearing races, stem, top cap, and spacers. The bearings are plugged with cartridge postures which are formulated to ignore water and dirt from entering and damaging the bearings.

Again, the MTB headset enables a smooth rotation of the handlebars when turning the bicycle.

  • The headset also contains a star nut or expanding plug that is inserted into the steerer tube.
  • It is adapted to secure the headset to the frame. Most mountain bike headsets are adjustable.

Types Of Mountain Bike Headsets

Looking at types of Mountain Bike Headsets, you will find several different types. So let’s know the details of those things.

1. Threadless Headset:

A threadless headset is the most common type of headset for modern MTB. It is a sealed bearing system that compels no adjustment, lightweight, and less maintenance.

  • It is composed of two cups that press into the frame and a stem with a handlebar clamp.
  • The headset is carried in place by a top cap and a star nut that can be tightened into the steerer tube.
  • A mountain bike threadless headset is also constantly referred to as a “Zero-Stack” headset.

2. Threaded Headset:

A threaded headset is the traditional type of headset that is employed on mountain bikes.

  • It features threaded cups that are strung into the frame and a threaded top cap to secure it.
  • These mountain bike headsets are heavier, require more maintenance, and frequent adjustment, and establish on older models.

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3. Tapered Headset:

A tapered headset is almost similar to a threadless headset. But features a tapered bearing and steerer tube.

  • This category of headset is lighter and requires less maintenance.
  • Generally found on most high-end mountain bikes.

4. Integrated Headset:

An integrated headset is becoming more popular with mountain bike manufacturers.

  • It appears with a single piece of metal which remains both the bearings and the stem clamp. It is secured to the frame with two bolts.
  • This kind of headset usually requires an adaptor to adjust the headset tension.

5. Upper Cup and Bearing Headset:

This category of the headset is related to a threaded headset. But instead of the lower cup being threaded, it is replaced with a bearing.

  • This headset expects periodic adjustment and care.

6. Sealed Cartridge Headset:

This mountain bike’s headset has one or two sealed bearings in a cartridge that can fit into the frame’s headtube.

  • It is low maintenance and expects no adjustment.
  • It is becoming more popular on regular mountain bikes.

7. Semi-Integrated:

The Semi-Integrated headset has two separate pieces for the bearings and stem clamp. It is protected by two clips.

8. Internal Headset:

Most mountain bikes with internal frames require an internal headset. It shows two cups that press into the frame and a stem with a handlebar clamp.

  • The headset is clasped in place by a top cap and a star nut. Which is broadened into the steerer tube.

Main Differences: Between Mountain Bike Headsets and Other Bike Headsets


One main difference between mountain bike headsets and other bike headsets is the size and type of bearings.

  • Mountain bike headsets are designed to handle the extreme conditions of off-road riding. So that it has larger and stronger bearings that can withstand the impacts and vibrations associated with mountain biking. You can find sealed bearings on MTB headsets which are more resistant to dust and water.
  • Other bike headsets use a smaller, lighter, and more delicate bearing. They are better suited for paved roads. It also has loose ball bearings. But they are prone to dirt and water.


  • Most mountain bike headsets are constructed of tougher and more durable materials, such as aluminum or steel.
  • But the other bike headsets are commonly made of lighter and more flexible materials, such as plastic or carbon fiber.


Mountain bike headsets are usually heavier than other bike headsets. The reason is they can contribute to improved durability and strength.

Stack Height

  • You can find mountain bike headsets with a higher stack height. It can deliver more clearance for the handlebars and fork.
  • Whereas other bike headsets have a lower stack height which is more suitable for flat-bar bikes.


Mountain bike headsets have a much wider range of adjustability. They are naturally compatible with a wider variety of handlebar diameters. This allows for a greater degree of adjustment. Also, it boosts you to secure the correct fit for you and the headset. But you can’t find these types of extra adjustability on other bike headsets.

Steerer Tube

  • Mountain bike headsets utilize a tapered fork steerer tube.
  • Other bike headsets borrow a straight steerer tube.

Cup Design

MTB headset has a modifiable cup but other headsets have a fixed cup.

Durability and Strength

Again the significant variation between mountain bike headsets and other bike headsets is in durability and strength. The mountain bike headset has a greater depth which permits more stability and strength compared to other bike headsets.

You May Like: Are All Bike Headsets Universal?

Mountain Bike Headsets VS Other Bike Headsets: Comparison Through A Chart

FactorsMTB HeadsetsOther Bike Headsets
Manufactured forOff-road biking and more technical trailsRegular road cycling and other casual rides
Stack HeightTaller stack heightShorter stack height
ConstructionStronger and sturdier constructionLighter construction
Suspension ForkSuspension fork compatibleUnsuitable for suspension forks
Weight & SizeLarger, heavier, and more robust componentsSmaller, lighter components
Headset IngredientsMore space for headset elementsLess space for headset particles
Shock AbsorptionBetterNot so good
ComfortMore comfortableLess comfortable
Steerer Tube Size1-1/8 inch steerer tube 1-inch steerer tube
CostMore expensiveLess expensive

An Ultimate Guide To Choose The Best Headset For Mountain Bike

1. GANOPPER 1-1/8 Inch Headset Spacer With Stem Top Cap

What Do You Get With It?

  • Material: Lightweight and durable aluminum alloy
  • Size: 5mm / 10mm Stem Spacers, 32mm Stem Top Cover, 26mm Stem Star Nut, M6 x 35mm Headset Bolt
  • Color: Black, Red, Blue, Gold
  • Quantity: 8 Pieces – Aluminum MTB Stem Spacer *5pcs(10mm*4,5mm*1), headset star nuts*1, Stem Top Cap Cover*1, Headset Bolt*1.

Details & Perfection:

The Ganoppper 1-1/8 Inch Headset Spacer with Stem is a great addition to your mountain bike.

  • It is perfect for riders who are looking to customize their bike and create a unique look.
  • The headset spacer has been designed to fit 1-1/8-inch steerer tubes. And it adds four millimeters of extra stack height to the stem.
  • This is also perfectly suitable for the 28.6mm front stem fork of MTB, BMX, road bike, etc.
  • The spacer is made from high-quality aluminum alloy, which is lightweight and durable.
  • It has an anodized finish, which looks great and protects the spacer from wear and tear.


  1. It allows for optimal stem height and handlebar positioning.
  2. It can reduce stress on your headset bearings by delivering a larger surface area for the stem to rest on.
  3. It is made from lightweight aluminum for adding extra durability and strength.
  4. The stem top cap is comprised of extra protection.
  5. The colors of this headset are gorgeous & glorious which definitely adds your MTB a stylish look.
  6. It is not a low quality by any judgment.
  7. Ganopper headsets are always a good fit for the exact & perfect size bike.


  1. Sometimes it seems difficult to install if you don’t have the right tools.
  2. It adds additional weight to your bike.
  3. It may require extra spacers to adjust the headset.
  4. It may cause interference with other components if not inaugurated appropriately.

It Is Good For What Size Rider?

This headset spacer with stem top cap is manufactured to fit 1-1/8-inch bicycle headsets.

  • You may find that it is ideal for smaller sizes and female riders who are looking to make minor adjustments to their handlebar height.
  • Additionally, it is also good for larger riders. Because you can change the height of the bars with the spacers with your high riser for better comfort.
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2. SUNLITE Threaded Headset

What Do You Get With It?

  • Material: Steel
  • Size: MTB 1-1/8″ x 25.4 x 34 x 30mm
  • Color: Black, Chrome Plated
  • Quantity: 1

Details & Perfection:

The SUNLITE Threaded Headset is a durable and reliable headset with a threaded design.

  • It features low-friction sealed ball bearings that are lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
  • The headset is formulated to provide smooth, precise steering and steady operation.
  • It is compatible with 1″ threaded steerers and has a 30mm stack height and a 45 x 45-degree bearing angle.
  • The SUNLITE Threaded Headset is a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable, durable, and compact headset.


  1. Easy to install and requires minimal tools.
  2. The bearings are sealed, which makes them more durable and resistant to dirt.
  3. Adjustable tension can be utilized to customize the ride experience.
  4. The threaded headset is compatible with most modern bikes.
  5. Robust construction, which means it has the ability to withstand events like fire, explosions, impact, or the consequences of human error.
  6. It gives you perfect fitness for the exact size of MTB.
  7. Moreover, it comes with a crown race.


  1. It is heavier than other headset types.
  2. Sometimes it is difficult to adjust and maintain.
  3. It is not compatible with some older bikes.

It Is Good For What Size Rider?

The SUNLITE Threaded Headset is designed to fit frames with 1-1/8″ threaded headsets.

  • This headset is acceptable for riders of all sizes.
  • It is formulated to provide a secure fit and smooth ride with adjustable ball bearings and steel cups.
  • It is compatible with most standard and oversize forks.
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3. Cane Creek 40-Series Zero Stack Tapered Headset

What Do You Get With It?

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Size: Crown Race – 40, Upper Stack Height – 8 Lower Stack Height- 4
  • Color: Black
  • Quantity: 1

Details & Perfection:

The Cane Creek 40-Series Zero Stack Tapered Headset is a great choice for those looking for a top-notch headset. It gives superior performance and extends extraordinary stability.

  • This headset exhibits a low-stack tapered design for improved weight savings.
  • Its sealed cartridge bearings provide smooth and reliable performance.
  • The Cane Creek 40-Series Zero Stack Tapered Headset comes with a ZS44/28.6 external cup and a ZS56/40 internal cup.
  • It also has a tapered crown race and a 6-degree angular contact bearing.
  • With its sleek design and superior performance, this headset is sure to be the perfect addition to your bike.


  1. It gets a low stack height for a custom look.
  2. Its tapered design offers more clearance for larger head tubes.
  3. This product is lightweight and durable construction.
  4. Its sealed bearings offer a steady system and low maintenance.
  5. It is compatible with integrated head tubes.
  6. No doubt, Cane Creek tapered headsets are great for money with top-notch quality.
  7. It is easy to install and has a great look.


  1. It is quite expensive compared to other headsets.
  2. It may require a different top cap depending on the frame.

It Is Good For What Size Rider?

  • This headset is best suited for riders with a taper steerer tube which is generally found on modern mountain bikes and road bikes.
  • It is favorable for riders in the 5’7″ to 6’3″ height range.
  • Although the headset can be adjusted to fit a wider range of body sizes.
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4. Dilwe Bike Fork Headset

What Do You Get With It?

  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Size: 5 * 4.5cm / 1.8 * 1.8in
  • Color: Black, Red (Optional)
  • Quantity: 1

Details & Perfection:

This Dilwe Bike Fork Headset is made of CNC high precision machining aluminum alloy, that is very strong and offers outstanding performance.

  • It comes with sealed bearings for optimal performance and a dust cover for added protection.
  • This MTB headset is adequate for a 34mm bicycle frame head tube and compatible with a 28.6mm straight steering fork.
  • The headset is designed with a low profile for a sleek look and outstanding performance.
  • With its high-precision machining and superior construction, this can be an excellent choice for a reliable and efficient solution.


  1. CNC machined from high-quality aluminum alloy for strength and power.
  2. It offers a 34mm diameter for improved fork and headset performance.
  3. The high-precision machining for precise and smooth operation.
  4. It is easy to install with included hardware.
  5. It gets a lightweight design for reduced bike weight.
  6. It is worth your purchase, especially for the price.


  1. High price for some users.
  2. It may need extra maintenance.

It Is Good For What Size Rider?

The CNC High Precision Machining Bike Headset is built to provide superior durability, strength, and comfort for riders of different sizes.

  • The headset is adjustable to fit any head tube diameter from 34mm to 44mm. As such, this headset is accurate for riders of all lengths, from beginners to professionals.
  • This mountain bike headset is compatible with a 28.6mm straight steering fork.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Are All MTB Headsets The Same?

MTB headsets come in a combination of shapes, sizes, and designs. Some are formulated for specific categories of bike frames. While some others are designed to fit a range of frame types. Furthermore, there is also variation in the number of bearings, material, the height of the stack, weight, quality, brands, and the type of adjustment. So, we can say that all MTB headsets are not the same.

How Do I Know What Size Headset I Need?

Headset size is determined by the bike frame’s head tube dimensions. It’s important to get the correct size headset for your bike.

  • To determine the correct size, you will need to measure the inside diameter of your head tube. You can usually do this with a simple ruler or caliper.
  • Also, measure the outer diameter of the upper and lower ends of your bike fork.
  • But the easy way to know which bicycle headset will fit your MTB is by checking the bike manual book.
  • Once you have the measurement, you can manipulate a compatibility chart to find the correct size headset for your bike.
  • And the common sizes are 1 inch, 1-1/8 inch, 1-1/4 inch, and 1-1/2 inch.

How Do I Know Which Type Of Headset I Have?

The easiest way to know which type of headset you have is to look at the headset itself. The two main types of headsets are threaded and threadless.

  • Threaded headsets have a large nut on the top of the headset. That screws into the fork and is carried in place by a locknut.
  • Threadless headsets have two sets of clamps. They are held together by a stem or compression ring.

Also, I informed you about the different types of headsets at the beginning of the article. By understanding it properly, you can discover the type of bike headset.

How Do I Know What Mountain Bike Headset to Buy?

The type of mountain bike headset you need will depend on your bike’s frame and the type of fork you have.

  • At the very early point, you need to check the head tube of your frame to see what size of headset you need.
  • Most modern mountain bikes require a “zero stack” or “semi-integrated” headset which has cups that sit inside the head tube.

Just Before The Good Bye

Oh! You are here? Then you have already enhanced or revised your old knowledge about the best MTB headsets with me. There is one more crucial matter when you are going to select a new headset for any bicycle you have. And that is- don’t forget to check and ensure about your bike type such as tapered or non-tapered, integrated or semi-integrated, threaded or non-threaded as I have discussed in my writing. Yes, it is also mandatory to be sure about the inner and outer diameter measurement of your bicycle headtube.

That’s all for now. The big relief is- I have mentioned and discussed some buck-worthy, high-quality mountain bike headsets for your convenience. Happy  Cycling!

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