Cane Creek AngleSet Review

Components Pro Reviews

The Cane Creek AngleSet is an interesting, innovative and strange beast, as it’s a threadless headset that gives you the ability to change the effective head angle of the frame, allowing one to slacken or steepen the geometry as desired, with up to six different offset angles. In a nutshell, the system uses upper and lower bearings that are housed in gimbals, which then self-adjust themselves within the headset cups (sort of like a ball joint), one of which has an offset for the actual angle setting.

Cane Creek AngleSet
The AngleSet headset system can transform the head angle of a bike in six offset angle adjustments, +/- 0.5°, +/- 1.0°, +/- 1.5° over its stock geometry, for steeper or slacker settings. It’s head-tube length independent and fits the most popular head-tube and forks, in both tapered and standard sizes. The self-aligning feature between the system’s main components, the bearings, gimbals and cups, and the steerer tube ensures a proper fit, and easy fork installation. When the system first came out, only forks with straight steerer’s could be used, because they were equipped with their ZeroStack cups (ZS) which had insufficient space for a tapered setup, but they recently released External Cup (EC) versions, which have a larger diameter, and more room for the offsets. A straight 1-1/8″ fork can be installed on the EC version, by using their optional conversion crown race. Depending on the particular model of the AngleSet, the eccentric or offset cup may be on the top or bottom. In addition, each model comes in two different kits, one includes only a 1.0° offset cup, while the other has all three sizes, 0.5°, 1.0°, and 1.5° (Note: for EC44 has no 1.5° ). The cup sizes are designated by the size of their top and bottom head tube inside diameter, such as 44mm, 49mm and 56mm, and either EC (External Cup) or ZS (ZeroStack). For example, my test unit was the EC44-EC49/40, which meant it was for a head tube with 44mm top and 49mm bottom (tapered 1 1/8″ – 1.5″), and a 40mm crown race for a tapered fork (1 1/8″ – 1.5″).

Available Models (Top ID -Bottom ID/Crown Race):

  • EC44-ZS44/30 – straight steerer
  • ZS49-ZS49/30 – straight steerer
  • ZS49-EC49/40 – straight or tapered steerer
  • ZS44-ZS49/30 – straight steerer
  • ZS44-ZS56/30 – straight steerer
  • EC44-EC49/40 – straight or tapered steerer
  • ZS44-EC56/40 – straight or tapered steerer

They just came out with a trick measuring tool called the Gary Gauge, which allows you to measure every conceivable headset and fork steerer parameter, so that you choose the properly sized components. Once you get the hang of using its very useful, and it makes all the confusing headset and headtube standards and sizes measurable. You can watch Gary use the simple, cheap and cool tool at http://www.canecreek.com/tech-headsets?view=gary-gauge.

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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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