Cane Creek AngleSet Review

Components Pro Reviews

Impressions
Even after getting things settled in, and tightened down properly, on occasion it still got the dreaded ‘gimbal knock’. It especially happened when doing ledge drops or hitting square rocks head-on, when the force is torqued down hard on the head tube. I even went back and re-greased everything, and tightened it heavier than normal, and although it helped greatly, it didn’t totally alleviate the issue, and just made it rarer happenstance. I spoke with people who had the same issue as I did, and others who could rid themselves of the noise, so caveat emptor. It is a pain to change the head angle again, since it requires removing the offset cup, and pressing in a different one, and it takes more patience and attention to detail to get the unit installed and tuned properly. It is not something you can decide to change on a whim, and it certainly wouldn’t be field changeable unless you brought some prodigious tools with you. Unless your LBS performs the install, which I recommend, it does require the usual assortment of big expensive headset tools, a crown race puller and setter, head cup remover and headset press, the latter being the most expensive. I used a combination of tools for the installation, for the crown race, a homemade setter (PVC pipe) and a retrofit puller (bearing race puller) and IceToolz for the cup press and remover. Fortunately, the offset cup will most likely not be swapped out often?

What I do like about the unit is that it helped tame the slackness of the 180mm fork I was testing, and it was nice to have the angle steepened and the steering to return to a better degree of usability and control. The bearings worked just fine, and I never felt any binding from the system, and it steered smoothly on everything, without any interference to handling. The rotation was kink and bind free, and it worked like a normal high-quality headset. It does allow one to play with the geometry of a bike, allowing minor tweaks to the bottom bracket height, wheelbase, head tube angle, and the forks rake and trail. You can test with different forks, that have varying axle to crown lengths, allowing one to alter the steering and control characteristics. All of which can be accomplished by swapping the different offset cups, making the AngleSet a pretty unique, functional and useful component, for testing, designing and play. For my activity, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to alter the bike’s design, but just it to return to its default setting. Altering the angle makes the bike feel and performs differently under certain trail conditions and terrain environments, and customizes the steering attributes.

Although the AngleSet is not headtube specific, the height of the headtube can change the final outcome, as a short headtube makes a bigger offset change than a longer headtube. For example, adding the TALAS 180mm fork to my medium Ibis Mojo HD makes the stock angle 66°, and using the AngleSet 1° offset cup along with my 103mm headtube height give me an an actual 1.2 °, which works out to be an uncompensated 67.2 °, whereas a x-large frame with a 134mm comes out to 66.9 °.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • The haunted says:

    Great idea, but poorly executed. Could not get rid of the knock after countless attempts and months of riding. The gimbals have poor tolerances, even if it feel good sliding in the cup, only 1/3 of the gimbal actually leave a mark in the grease. After all that knocking, the bearings ground away the gimbals anodizing and were galling the alu. Threw it in the trash and never been so happy to have a regular ZS Headset/reducer and adjusting the HA via lower crown (Dorado) like we always did…

  • G says:

    Ummm…. “Weakness: Installation requires more patience and attention to detail”.

    Really?

    That’s not a weakness on part of the product but more so on part of the installer. Good thing thing wrench’s on moto’s and cars have a slightly better appreciation for “patience and attention to detail”

  • Brian Mullin says:

    G: have you installed one? in direct relation to a normal headset it does take more “patience and attention to detail”, and I have installed numerous headsets, I just wanted to emphasize my point

    The haunted: I never had any marks or galling issues left in the gimbals? But it was nice to go return to my normal ZS-3 and XXII.

  • Bob says:

    This is a great idea that will surely evolve into something usable in the future.
    Consider this first generation a prototype.

    The issue with the clicking and popping is the loose tolerances between the bearing and gimbal, not the gimbal and the cup. The bearings really should have been press fit into the gimbals. I suspect this would have made the bearing assemblies too costly however.

    I also wonder why the cup/gimbal interfaces aren’t bevel matched, instead of the spherical arrangement. It’s not like you need (or want) 3 axes (plural of axis, not the chopping kind) of motion. Again, this would mean specific cup/gimbal interfaces would to be used. Perhaps the spherical approach was taken to lessen confusion on the customer’s part.

    I look forward to the Gen 2 designs. Cane Creek is really stepping up their game.

    • Adam says:

      I f I read this right I this would require specific products for each length of head tube…So kinda difficult. But I’m with ya!

      • Brian Mullin says:

        I am not sure I follow you? As the article states “Although the AngleSet is not headtube specific, the height of the headtube can change the final outcome, as a short headtube makes a bigger offset change than a longer headtube.”

        The length of the headtube alters the offset, but not by much.

  • Brandon says:

    Agree that the design is not fully refined – now on my second Angleset. I swear that the gimbals on this [same model / size] are different material than the first, i.e. aluminum instead of brass or something heavier. First one clicked all the time just as described above, second is OK but the lower bearing was gritty after a few rides and had horrible stiction. Put in some penetrating lube and swapped it for the top bearing; we’ll see how it goes. First one was loose AND too tight at the same time, the second is just easy to overtighten. But, like the first generation of suspension forks / dropper seatposts / etc., I’m willing to put up with a little finnickyness for what it does for me.

  • Throttlemire says:

    This is such an excellent and innovative product. I hear so much about geometry and how people are looking for the exact angles they want. Well, this makes it possible! If they can work out the bugs with higher quality production, then it will be popular among serious riders. I don’t see this taking off for mid level or lower bikes anytime soon. Seems like a bike builders dream! Also, the Gary Gauge is awesome. Way too many sizes out there on headsets, bottom brackets, seat posts, etc.

  • Chuck says:

    Hmmm.

    I have had my Angleset for about 6 months now and love it.

    Installation was extremely easy and very straight forward.

    Not sure how adjusting the angle of the steer tube could be any easier than knocking out one headset cup and installing another, but apperently this is difficult for Brian.

    I have had the “gimbal knock” happen twice. Since then my bike has made other unwanted noises (squeeks, creaks, groans, etc) on exactly 578,316 occassions.

  • RF says:

    Installed one (tapered steer tube)…ticking everytime I climb. Called CaneCreek for best solution, they told me, patience is the key and almost zero tolerance alignment…and read Pinkbike’s article about it. Did what’s been told, and tick didn’t go away. Reinstalled and used a thick grease (automotive)…tickin gone with extra preload on the bearings.

    I think the gimbals used on the tapered anglesets are the second generation materials, since those were the last designs they did after they released the first anglesets for the 1 1/8″ steer tubes.

  • Dr. Bikenstein says:

    Why not just get a frame with the head-tube angle you are looking for in the first place?

  • Ray (derby) says:

    Great review Brian.

    I wonder if CC could find some surface material that would easily keep the gimbals quiet. Maybe PTFE (Teflon), which keeps shock bushings and journal bearing pivots quiet. Maybe with slot and key faced gimbals to maintain and ensure alignment, if PTFE is too slippery.

    That and easier angle change at the trail head or event trail side, just by removing the steer tube for access to replace the gimbals.

  • Brian (different Brian--not the author) says:

    Thanks for the review, Brian It sounds like a great idea that just needs more refinement. Can’t understand the personal attacks on your mechanical abilities after you took the time to make this review. Getting the alignment of the cups is obviously going to be much more critical here than with standard headsets, where–parallel installation concerns assumed for either–usually you are just trying to get the printed logo on the cups to be centered (and if you are off a degree, so what in that case). I’m guessing the spherical gimbals were intended to minimize this concern and negate the need for a special alignment tool.

    Dr. Bikenstein, since most frame models from brand X don’t come in an assortment of head angles, this seems like it is really addressing a need, while simplifying production runs for framebuilders (just need to worry about frame sizes, not sizes and head angle combinations). Every frame is different, so it isn’t realistic to just say your optimum angle is X for all frames. This gives you the option to play around with it on the same frame for a personalized fit.

    Chuck, I can’t imagine coming to accept 1/2 million unwanted noises from my bike. The clicking sound this headset is gaining a reputation for in multiple reviews would drive me nuts, but everyone has their own tastes (thinking about King and Hope hubs, of which I have the former and am really tired of). To me, these kinds of noises indicate problems with installation, frame/component compatibility and/or design.

    My next frame, set to arrive in a month, is designed for this headset, but I’ll wait for version 2.0 of their design, which I’m confident will be forthcoming given the qualified reviews of this product (e.g. allows you to adjust your head angle…but).

    Thanks again for the review.

  • Sean says:

    Great idea but badly executed. Always noise on hard hits even after lubing and reassembling multiple times. Dont buy. Just a headache and waste of $.

  • Chris says:

    The ONE sure fire method to Permanently eliminate the dreaded “knock” noise is to lubricate the gimbals with Carbon Friction Paste. The paste I use at my Bike Shop is Park SAC-2. The reason it works is the grit compound acts like little “teeth” that bite and hold the gimbal to the cup and prevent slipping which causes the noise. Works every time.

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