Cane Creek to Provide Headset Solution for Small Frame Builders


Fletcher, North Carolina – March 4, 2010 – Citing the need for a headset solution that would facilitate the use of a tapered steerer fork (1.5” to 1-1/8”) in a standard ZeroStack™ head-tube, Sean Chaney, owner of Vertigo Cycles, a custom frame builder from Portland, approached Cane Creek with a brilliant, simple headset idea.


“After hearing from David Turner and then speaking with Sean, I was so excited by the problem-solving nature of his headset solution and it’s far reaching implications for both new and old bicycles using the ZeroStack™ standard that I produced a technical drawing the same day,” says Josh Coaplen, Cane Creek Director of Research & Development. “The headset bottom is simply a 1.5” traditional with a 44mm diameter insertion sleeve that fits a frame using the ZeroStack™ standard.”

Armed with a simple solution Chaney reached out to David Turner, owner of Turner Bicycles, in mid January of this year for some direction and advice on who might partner with him to make his idea a reality. Turner, helping facilitate communication, pointed Chaney in the direction of Cane Creek, a company known for coveting and fostering innovation.

“I knew that a tapered fork could dimensionally fit into a ZeroStack™ standard head-tube,” says Chaney. “My customers have been asking me for months about tapered forks and tapered head-tubes. “My goal was for small builders to be able to use a commonly available straight head-tube rather than having to resort to machining a tapered head tube; a costly, time consuming and wasteful process. This hybrid headset bottom solves a lot of problems, allows a person with a ZeroStack™ head-tube to retro fit a tapered fork and it makes it possible for me to give my customers the flexibility in fork selection they’ve been wanting.”

The bottom headset assembly, tentatively called the XX 44mm Traditional, allows any tapered steerer tube fork (1.5” to 1-1/8”) to be used in a 1-1/8” ZeroStack™ style frame. While the headset was specifically designed with the small builder in mind, it has a much wider appeal for modern mountain bikes that feature a ZeroStack™ head-tube from a number of companies, including BMC, Fisher and Pivot. Riders can now retrofit their 1-1/8” ZeroStack™ frames with tapered steerer forks to reap the performance benefits from increased stiffness.


Two models, addressing different price levels, of the Sean Chaney inspired XX 44mm Traditional bottom headset assembly will be available mid-summer 2010 from Cane Creek. A high-end version will be produced at Cane Creek’s Fletcher, NC facility and will have features similar to the brand’s 110 XX headset.

About Cane Creek Cycling Components
Cane Creek is among the world’s largest producers of bicycle headsets serving both original equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket. Cane Creek introduced the bicycle industry to threadless headsets over twenty years ago and continues to be at the forefront of product development.

To learn more about Cane Creek contact (800) 234-2725 or visit

About Vertigo Cycles
Vertigo Cycles produces handcrafted titanium bicycles in Portland, Oregon. Owned by Sean Chaney, Vertigo Cycles goal is to deliver outstanding bicycles that will make owners want to get out and ride.

To learn more about Vertigo Cycles contact (503) 347-8473 or visit


About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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  • plasticman says:

    isn’t the zero-stack standard headtube just a 1.5\ straight headtube? if so then this headset is just a zero-stack top packaged with a 1.5\ bottom, correct?

  • Pantz says:


    To answer your question, no. The 44mm internal diameter of a ZS head-tube was designed around 1-1/8″ straight forks. The 1.5″ Traditional standard has a much larger inside diameter and typically has external bearing cups to accomodate a 1.5″ steerer-tube. It’s impossible to run a 1.5″ “Straight” steerer through most 44mm ZS head-tubes. Most manufacturers have an hour-glass shape to their ZS head-tubes. Some manufacturers may have straight 44mm head-tubes, but there is no top headset assembly made by anyone to accomodate a 1.5″ steerer in a 44mm ZS standard head-tube. Make sense?

    So, what this headset “bottom” does is allow you to run a 1.5″ to 1-1/8″ tapered steerer fork through a 44mm ZS standard head-tube. Because of the taper of the fork it clears the hour-glass shape on the inside of the ZS head-tube.

    I have a 2007 BMC Trail Fox that has a 44mm standard ZS head-tube. Until now I could only run a 1-1/8″ straight fork, no other option… Now, with this headset bottom, I can install a new 1.5″ to 1-1/8″ tapered Rock Shox. Cool..!

    This simply is a conversion, problem-solving headset bottom.

    For the record, there is a 1.5″ ZS bottom standard, think Trek E2 head-tubes, but this is for frames that have a tapered head-tube designed around the 1.5″ ZS specification.

  • ska todd says:

    Note that your lower stack will increase a bit with something like this as the lower bearing is now external. So, if your current fork w/ a Zerostack internal headset is say 150mm travel you very well will have to step down to 130mm travel fork to maintain the same effective fork length and maintain your frame’s geometry. If not, you will be slackening your headtube angle, raising your BB, and raising your bar height.

  • Dan says:

    To ska todd: no way the external bearing adds 20mm. I would be surprised if that is more then 5mm over conventional.

  • ska todd says:

    Dan – Based on other external 1.5″ headsets (FSA Gravity, Chris King), the lower stack adds up to approx 12-15mm. It’ll technically then split the difference between a 10 & 20mm travel difference ;) You can adjust via tire OD too for some of this I guess but it’s not a true plug-n-play solution to add a tapered fork to a bike. The most noticeable feel though will be folks sticking a tapered 100mm XC fork onto a zerostack 1.125″ HT frame designed for a 100mm fork and finding out their geom is all funky…or worse onto a road bike where even tiny changes like that will be easily noticed.

  • Pantz says:

    The Cane Creek unit will add about 8-11mm to the bottom stack height. What’s cool is that frame manufacturers can, on future models, compensate for the stack height in their designs. Retro-fitting old bikes will change some angles, but as posted you can compensate for that with other changes. Or, if you’re like me, learn to ride the bike as is. It should be a negligible change.

  • Uncle Cliffy says:

    Cane Creek told me this will add 7mm of stack. Pretty minor IMO.

  • andrew says:

    will the zs head set work on the cannondale f7 frame? im not sure what the bore is on my head tube and recently bought a fox fit rlc that has the 1.5 taper and was not aware till i opened the box.

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