Cane Creek 110 IS Review

Components Pro Reviews

The split compression ring which is captured inside of the bearing cover, helps with variations in steerer tube diameters, sets preload, and locks the headset down solidly, ensuring no rocking nor creaking. The design acts as a tapered wedge for a secure hold and interface between the steerer and bearings, so nothing will come loose.


The split lip bearing incorporates a dual lip design, so the bearings get twice the protection. The design keeps grease in, and contaminants out, while still retaining low friction. The stainless steel angular contact bearings (5/32″ balls) are user replaceable, which is a very nice feature.

The 110 comes with 3 Interlok spacers, 2mm, 5mm and 10mm, although the 2mm is really a top cap that finishes off the stack. The Interlok spacers are interesting, since they snap into each other, with a sort of tongue (on the bottom) and groove (on the top) connection, and provide a solid and tight interface.


The bearing covers also have a set of o-rings, which prevent contaminant entry, and insure a tight and precise fit to the steer tube. The entire 110 weighs in at 95 grams with the tall top bearing cap, and 90 grams with the short, and this includes all 17mm of spacers with each stack.

Measured Specs
Bearings 35.9 grams
2 mm spacer 2.5 grams
5 mm spacer 4.2 grams
10 mm spacer 6.7 grams
Short Bearing Cover 10.0 grams
Tall Bearing Cover 15.3 grams
Crown race 10.6 grams
Top Cap 8.6 grams
Bolt 7.9 grams
Compression Ring 3.4 grams
Total Tall stack 95.1 grams (w/ all spacers)
Total Short Stack 89.8 grams (w/ all spacers)

The steps to install the IS (Integrated) vary slightly from the TR (traditional press-in). The crown race and star nut (or self expanding wedge) are both installed on the fork, which is the same for either version. Next, one of the identical bearing pairs, with its angled side facing up is dropped onto the race, and the fork is inserted into the bikes headtube until the bearing self-centers in the lower tapered bore. The other bearing, with the angled side facing down, is slid onto the steerer tube until it self-centers in the upper bore. The chosen bearing cover (tall or short) with the installed compression ring is slid onto the steer tube until it touches the upper bearing, and then entire stack is sandwiched tightly together. It takes a little force to get the cover to slide down the tube, since the o-rings make it a tight fit. Due to the tightness, you no longer need to hold onto the fork. The appropriate number of Interloc spacers is added (snapping them together), and the stem is installed, followed by the top cap and its bolt. I tightened down the preload to approximately 5 N-M, and then eased off 1/4 turn. Tightening is done, so there is no play in the bearings, but still allowing the fork to turn smoothly, without any binding or excessive friction. Finally straighten the steering, and tighten down the stem pinch bolts to its specifications.

If the top bearing cover drags on the upper bearing cup (tapered bore), then the included spacer shims will need to be installed. The compression ring will need to be pulled off the bearing cover, and the shim is installed between the cover and ring. Cane Creek recommends occasionally rotating the bearings (top to bottom, bottom to top), in order to lengthen bearing life since the bottom bearing gets about 90% of the wear and tear in a headset. The major difference between the TR and IS is that the bearings are simply dropped into place in the headtube, and use the tapered bore in lieu of pressed in bearing cups.

Photo courtesy of Cane Creek

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, 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 articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • DJ says:

    I am not sure why this product is impressive. There is another company who make similar priced headsets that have been doing so longer that is better sealed and which almost every headset manufacturer now imulates including DiaCompe – Chris King. The integrated headset is not an effort to improve the bicycle or it’s parts, but rather the end result of the bicycle industry trying to simplify and reduce the number of precision components that make a bicycle and thus to offer a product less expensive to make for the same or increased price while implying an ‘unpgrade.’ As a former bicycle mechanic with more than a decade of experience I experienced the aheadset, suspension, aluminum, titainium, carbon and disk brake revolutions. None of those products came about purely from an altruistc want of the industry to make the cyclist happier, they all came from a want to make money selling. I speak on this subject both in terms of pro and con. I can see the reasons to simplify the bicycle in ways that help both the user and the maker and can hardly fault anyone for wanting to earn a living, but I wish the manufacturers were more honest about their reasons. I never tired of explaining to reps what they were actually selling and why. I have had the great advantage of working with and knowing welders, metalurgists and various engineers who share my passion for the sport and its equipment to bounce ideas off of concerning any number of bicycle concepts. Tubless tires for example are something that sells more $50(+) tires instead of $5 innertubes. There is a nominal improvement in ride quality, but the low pressures that no longer cause pinch flats now cause rim damage. I can adjust a lock nut headset so that it doesn’t come loose, would rather not have an integrated headset, lust after lugged steel road bikes and will probably never build a wheelset for personal use with tubeless rims. Then again I will never buy a pre-built wheel set for that matter. I can’t stand the way they feel and neither would you if you saw it my way. Just free advice (and rambling) – and worth every penny.

  • Cletis says:

    DJ, from reading your comments above, I get the impression you don’t share the profit motives of the bicycle component makers. Can I assume when you were a bicycle mechanic you worked for a bike shop? Did the owner of the shop pay you for your services? If so, where do you think your salary came from? One word, profit.
    Don’t worry though about the new Cane Creek 110 headset. I am sure as soon as the patent runs out in Sept 2010, you will see cheaper Chinese knock-offs showing up at a fraction of the price. For me, I think competition is good. This new headset will bring Cane Creek to the podium with Chris King and who knows what innovation will result from the competition. I was around before Aheadsets. I’ll take the aheadset over the lock nut headsets anyday. Cane Creek is an employee owned company. The 110 headset is manufactured in NC by good mountain folks. I ride with a Chris King on one of my bikes and it is great. I’ll ride with a Cane Creek 110 on the other bike and support both our “american made” companies. Keep the competition rolling!

  • Brian says:

    I only know one person who works for Cane Creek and he does it because he loves working for a small company that makes components for the sport he loves. If this company only cared about profits, it would be making all its components in another country where wages are far lower than the U.S. I have a Cane Creek headset that has outlasted two destroyed mountain bike frames and still works flawlessly on a third bike. Come to think of it, my friend at Cane Creek was the one who helped me install the headset on all 3 bikes.

  • Ken says:

    Cane Creek is no longer including aluminum Interlock spacers with the 110. They now only come with the black plastic spacers. The CC rep said that people and bike shops weren’t using them (something I find hard to believe).

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Hmmm, I am testing a new 110 tapered system and it comes with alloy spacers? I just checked with my inside line with Cane Creek and “The 110’s come with only a 2.5mm finishing spacer now. No plastic spacers… In fact, we’re eliminating the plastic spacers all together.”

  • Ed says:

    It’s a shame if CC is not sending the aluminum spacers anymore. I had them all (2, 5 and 10mm) set on my Mojo. Actually, I had to fill in with a couple more Hope spacers, since I don’t like to cut the steerer too short to invalidate the fork for other bikes. Anyway, I also find hard to believe they are not speccing the spacers because noboby was using them. They are indeed useful. Guess it’s more related to offer them aftermarket, though. Well, can’t blame them if CK and Hope also don’t offer any spacer with their headsets as well.

  • RubberBoy says:

    I have two 110. As far as I recall, they came with two aluminum spacers; 10mm and 2.5mm. The latter is necessary to turned the grooved top of the top cap into a flat surface.

    Cane also sold a separate kit with 20mm, 10mm, 5mm and 2.5mm spacers. They realized every setup required different spacers and now offers them individually. To me it makes most sense; presently, I need 2 x 10mm and 2 x 5mm, which in the past entailed 2 spacer kits; now I can purchase 4 spacers and be done with it.

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