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How to choose a BMX headset: The headset is a simple set of cups and bearings inside your frame that allows your bars and fork to spin freely. There are several different designs and styles available. In this article, we’ll take a look at the different versions of headsets found in BMX frames.

Types of Headsets

Integrated Headsets – Integrated headsets use sealed cartridge bearings. These bearings are pressed directly into the headtube of the frame without the need for additional bearing cups or shims. This system is the most widely used style of headset in aftermarket BMX frames.

Internal Headsets – Internal headsets, also sometimes referred to as “semi-integrated headsets,” use a press-fit system that functions similar to an integrated headset design. The difference is that internal headset bearings do not rest directly inside the frame, but instead use an additional shim or bearing cup inside the headtube to position the bearings.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between integrated and internal headsets unless you know what to look for. If there’s any difficulty discerning between the two, look for a thin bearing cup or shim resting just above or below the headtube. If there is one, you likely have an internal headset.

Standard Headset – Standard headsets are found in older frames and complete bikes. This headset uses bearing cups that are pressed into the top and bottom of the frame, and the bearings rest outside of the headtube. Because the bearing cups are positioned externally, it is easy to identify this style of headset without removing the component.


Even though headsets function in a similar way, there are a few key features to look for when purchasing a new headset:

Sealed Bearings vs. Unsealed Bearings – Certain versions of headset offer the choice of sealed or unsealed bearings. While both function in a similar way, there are some advantages for both. Sealed bearings are generally higher quality, require less maintenance, and are more resistant to ovalizing. However, unsealed headsets have the price factor on their side, and often cost considerably less then their sealed counterparts.

Stack Height – The stack height of a headset is the total height the portions of the headset that are outside of your frame. Some companies offer headset top caps with varying heights. This can be useful if you want to raise your stem and bars higher without using a bunch of unsightly spacers.

How Much To Spend

It is always important to remember the saying, “you get what you pay for” when purchasing new bike parts. When you spend more, you are paying for higher quality materials and better construction. When purchasing a headset you should be looking to spend between $20 and $40. Headsets in the $20-$30 range will generally use unsealed bearings, and the higher $30-$40 range will use sealed cartridge bearings. The more expensive headsets use stronger metals in the cups and races, which means the component will last longer.

Things To Look For

The most important thing to consider when purchasing a headset is that you choose the style of headset that fits your frame. Frames are designed to use one type of headset, and one type only. The headset type will be listed in the frame’s specifications. If you need to replace your headset but are unsure of what version you have, consult your nearest bike shop before making the purchase.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you’ve purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you’ve found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn’t answered in this guide, our BMX forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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