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Tapered headsets are becoming the norm on performance bikes though there still aren't masses of replacement options out there. Here's Aerozine to the rescue with the XH808B, with added bling factor.
The XH808B headset is a semi-integrated job to suit steerers that are 1 1/8in at the top race increasing to 1 1/2in at the bottom with the bearing cups sitting directly inside the frame. The cups are easy to fit just being pushed into place and they fitted snugly in the test frame helped by the precision of CNC maching.
The crown race is pre-split which makes it easier to fit over forks that aren't finished perfectly true. In fact the whole setup is very easy to install taking a matter of minutes.
In use the Aerozine felt smooth in action and hasn't required any adjustment apart from a quick tighten after a fifty mile bedding in ride. The angular contact bearings are designed to cope with both axial and radial loading so that smoothness shouldn't diminish.
The angled alloy spacer fits tightly against the upper bearing when tightened down and does a good job of keeping the water out though it's not quite as good at the bottom. Make sure you pack plenty of grease in there to keep out road spray from the front wheel.
The spacer is available in 12mm or 20mm options giving a total stack height of 13.6mm or 21.6mm respectively. The eight anodised colour options are matched by Aerozine's machined headset spacers so you can mix and match to get the desired ride height.
The price of £27.99 is very attractive. Looking at a few others on the market with the same quality of finish and materials the XH808B sits at the low end of the price range. The likes of Hope, BBB and Ritchey all come in at nearly twice the price.
The Aerozine is competitive in terms of weight too, 128g for the full kit.
Overall the XH856 is an ideal replacement or upgrade headset when your old one wears out. The quality is impressive as is the finish and it all comes at a great price. The 20mm cap is ideal for those who use minimal spacers.
Colour coded headset fits tightly and runs smoothly; good value as well
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Make and model: Aerozine XH808B Tapered Semi Integrated Headset 1 1/8
Size tested: 1.5
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for frames with tapered steerers and integrated bearing cup guides for which it fits closely and runs smoothly.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: CNC machined alloy Cups , w/ Alloy Top Cap
Bearing: Angular Contact Bearing
Headtube: Upper ID 42mm / Lower ID 47mm / Tapered 47/52mm OD headtube
Stack height: 12.8+0.8= 13.6mm (12mm)
Colours: Black, Silver, Blue, Pink, Red, Gold, Green, Orange
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Smooth bearings and a simple assembly means the Aerozine does exactly what it should.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The supply of a star fangled nut for the fork steerer when the majority of tapered forks are full carbon, an expander bung would be a nice option.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
We only notice headsets when they've gone wrong so by the feeling of quality and fit you shouldn't notice the Aerozine very much at all. The finish is impressive too for the price.
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!