Cane Creek AER - the world's lightest headset
Composite bearing brings weight down to just 33g
Headset weighing you down? Fear not, because Cane Creek have just released what they claim to be the world's lightest headset - the integrated version weighing in at just 33g. And how is this weight saving made? By using plastic bearings, of course!
The heart of the new headset is something called a Norglide™ X2 bearing, which is manufactured by Saint Gobain Performance plastics. We'll let them tell you about it in PR speak:
"A revolution in bearing technology, the X2 material sandwiches an aluminum base between a layer of low-friction PTFE tape and an elastomeric rubber backing material yielding a composite bearing that weighs scant 1.5 g. The Norglide® X2 bearing is durable enough to provide over 450 hours of smooth steering."
So instead of using balls or cylinders, the bearing is essentially two hard surfaces separated by a bit of plumber's tape, so far as we can tell. The SGPP website doesn't give any more details on the X2, unfortunately. A couple of things stand out though. Firstly, it weighs just 1.5g. One point five grams! if it works – and presumably it does, or Cane Creek wouldn't be trying to sell you one – that's a remarkably light bearing. Add a bit of judicious milling of the headset surfaces and you're left with a unit that weighs between 33g (integrated) and 50g (zero stack): pretty light, but the lightest? Well, a quick perusal of the Weight Weenies listings didn't find anything to rival the integrated AER, although the Extralite ScaleHead gives the zero stack a run for its money.
Secondly, the claimed bearing life is 450 hours, which isn't bad at all for something that sounds pretty ephemeral. Cane Creek hail from North Carolina, so hopefully they've factored a few wet rides into that figure. Assuming you get out a couple of times a week the headset should see you through a year or two, and a replacement bearing is $20, according to the Cane Creek website. Expensive for a bearing, but not extortionate. The whole headset weighs in at $100 for the integrated version and $125 for zero stack and standard. We don't have UK prices yet but for super lightweight gear the AER doesn't look ridiculously expensive compared to other good quality kit. And if your bike absolutely has to be as light as it can be then this is your new best friend, headset wise.