CANE CREEK VISCOSET - COMPONENT TEST
The idea of a headset that does more than just allow the front wheel to turn freely may seem a little odd to most. What else can you accomplish from a pair of bearings? We have taken a look at the Cane Creek Viscoset which has taken a new approach to the functionality of the headset.
Cane Creek have been producing headsets forever now, most high end production bikes will have one fitted. They also have suspension taken care of and the sexy EEwing cranks. What is so different about this headset that took our interest?
What is the Viscoset?
In essence the function for this headset on any mountain bike is to act as a steering damper. The guys down at Mojo Rising put me onto the product after riding with them for a day testing some new products. Coming from a Quad/MX background, every bike that was raced had a steering damper fitted. This was a must on a quad, so why not on the MTB?
Cane Creek have designed this setup to run a clutch very similar to what you would find on a motorbike, with separate plates causing friction to damp down the movement up front. This is very tunable, with the ability of having more or less plates engaged at the same time to customise the feel to what you need.
The first thing to mention is that this is a nice easy item to fit. It comes as a complete top cup assembly and simply presses in where the old cup was. After that it is just a simple case of fitting the clutch in and popping the bar in the correct place. One thing worth mentioning is to keep the steerer tube free of grease where the clutch basket contacts the tube. This will help keep a solid bite and reduce the chance of slippage.
Having ridden some back to back on the same bike, with and without this item fitted, it was clear to see the benefit. It felt really odd at first, almost like the headset was over tight or had some knackered bearings.
After you compare the feel on some technical rough sections, that little bit of an aid to stop the front wheel snapping away from you is mega. The bike felt more relaxing to ride and not as abrupt.
The difference is very small when you are off the bike and just having a play in the carpark but it is huge when out on the trail. This setup was fitted to the bikes that help me and Sam Robson win the pairs enduro in the Kromplatz last year.
With a new ultimate bike build on the horizon, this will be one of the items on the list to be fitted.
The headset can be a little hit or miss if not fitted correctly. It seems to have varying levels of resistance if you don't get the fit bang on. After some work to solve this, cleaning the head tube and making sure that the setup is tightened correctly seems to have totally cured the issue. Just take the time to fit the headset properly.
People running built-in headsets will not be able to use this as the whole cup assembly needs to be used.
The Cane Creek Viscoset is a product that most will feel is not a big upgrade. But if you have not tried this then it is definetly worth a go. That little aid in steering dampening makes such a large difference, not just in control or speed, but in the amount of fatigue you put your body through on longer descents. It takes a little getting used to, but it will not be coming off my bike. A top upgrade.
PRICE - £74.99
WORDS AND PHOTOS - IEUAN WILLIAMS