Tech Tuesday - FSA Orbit Option Install

Mar 20, 2012
by Mike Levy  
Angle adjusting headsets are a great tool for fine tuning how your bike handles, especially when you consider that trails and terrain can vary so much all around the world. And while we're willing to bet that many frame designers have taken great pains to craft their bike's handling to what they feel is perfection (and the last thing they want are people tinkering with it), there is no denying that tuning the geometry can sometimes be key to getting the most from your machine. There are a few different headset options out there that allow you to do just that, including FSA's recently released Orbit Option that we show you how to install below. The Orbit Option, like all other angle tweaking headsets, employs eccentric bearing bores in both the upper and lower headset cups. This allows the steerer tube to sit at an angle within the head tube, creating either a slacker or steeper head angle depending on how you've assembled it, but it also requires perfect alignment when installing.

FSA Orbit Option headset
FSA's Orbit Option headset includes three different cup combinations that allow you to choose from 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 degree adjustments in either direction.

What's needed:
Headset press
• Straight edge or ruler

Some helpful pointers
• FSA offers the Orbit Option in three different models to fit different head tubes: 55mm full length OD head tube, 50mm/55mm tapered, and 50mm/62mm tapered. Measure the internal diameter of your bike's head tube before both ordering and installing the Orbit Option. Note that it is only compatible with straight 1 1/8th fork steerers.
• Don't even think about install the Orbit Option, or any other headset for that matter, without using copious amounts of grease where required to limit the chance of noise or contamination.
• Any binding or ''popping'' sounds that you hear after installation mean that some of the headset's components are not aligned correctly. Remove the headset and try again.
• A proper headset press is mandatory for this job due to the exacting tolerances required for proper alignment.

FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 1 - Proper preparation is key for a successful installation. Aluminum frames should have their head tube reamed and faced (many have this done from the factory), and carbon frames should be checked for any excess material that may be present in the head tube. The goal is to have the head tube's inside surface smooth while also ensuring that their opposing faces are perfectly square to each other. This is important for to prevent noise and binding once the headset is installed.
FSA Orbit Option install
Step 2 - Finding the correct alignment for both headset cups is the most important step of the installation process. Both the upper and lower headset cups employ eccentric bearing bores in order to achieve the angle adjustment, but this means that they also must be perfectly aligned with each other when pressed into the head tube. The easiest way to accomplish this is to find the exact center point of the head tube, and then line that up with the alignment markings on both cups.

Use a caliper to find the center line of your bike's top tube by closing down the jaws on each side of the tube, using a felt to mark the center point. Do this at two or three points along its length, including just aft of the head tube.
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 3 -Those center point marks can now be lined up with a ruler or straight edge, showing you the exact center point of your bike's head tube. Repeat this process on the underside of the down tube as well.
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 4 -Apply a coating of grease to the mating surfaces of each cup to ease installation.

Note that the angle markings on the upper and lower cups must oppose each other in order to attain the required offset - a slacker head tube angle would require the upper cup to have its negative setting forward, combined with the lower cup's negative setting facing the the rear of the bike. You would simply reverse the orientation if you desire a steeper head angle. The Orbit Option includes enough headset cups to choose from three different head angle settings, but each cup must be paired with its matching partner (0.5 upper with 0.5 lower, for example)
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 5 -Carefully postion the upper cup so that its centering marks are perfectly lined up with center line of the head tube.
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 6 -Slowly begin to press the upper headset cup in, stopping after it first enters the head tube to ensure that it is perfectly square and straight. It isn't uncommon for a headset cup to rotate slightly before it is deep enough in the head tube to prevent it from shifting - take your time and inspect the alignment with each full turn of the headset press' handle. If it shifts at all, even the slightest amount, you'll have to remove the cup and start over.
FSA Orbit Option install
Step 7 -It's now time to install the lower headset cup by using the same technique as the upper. Align the cup's center marks with the center of your head tube and slowly beging to press it it. Again, be careful to watch for it shifting as you begin to press it into the head tube. Inspect both the upper and lower cups to be sure that they are sitting flush with the face of the head tube, and that neither have rotated, before moving on to the next step.
FSA Orbit Option install
Step 8 -Grease is your friend during this assembly. Apply a generous amount to the mating surfaces of each bearing and both headset cups - never install them dry. A thin coating should also be spread onto the crown race and compression ring to keep water contamination and noise to a minimum down the road. Layout the headset parts in the order to be installed on a clean surface that is within arm's reach of your bike, and then stack the upper bearing and compression ring as they sit once installed.
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 9 - With the greased lower bearing pushed down onto the crown race, slide the fork's steerer up through the head tube. Hold it firmly in place, preventing the fork and bearing from lowering out of the head tube.
FSA Orbit Option headset
Step 10 -Slide the upper bearing and compression ring down the fork's steerer tube as a single unit, pushing both down into the upper cup in one smooth motion while still holding the fork up into the head tube.
FSA Orbit Option install
Step 11 -Use your thumb to push down on the compression ring and bearing, ensuring that both are fully seated into the upper cup before sliding the headset's cover down over top. A dab of grease on the cover's O-ring will allow you to slide it down the steerer easier, as well as lessen the chance of tearing the rubber O-ring.
FSA Orbit Option install
Step 12 -Install the stem, as well as any required spacers, and lightly tighten the headset - don't fully tighten at this point. Take a few minutes to inspect your installation: make sure that the cups are fully pressed into the head tube by looking for gaps under the outer lip of each, and check the upper cup and headset cover for equal gaps around their entire circumference. Finish tightening the headset only when you are positive that everything has been installed and aligned correctly, and then rotate handbar to check for any binding or ''popping'' noises that would signal a mis-alignment within the headset, requiring it to be removed and reinstalled.

Past Tech Tuesdays:
TT #1 - How to change a tube.
TT #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
TT #3 - How to remove and install pedals
T #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
TT #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
TT #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
TT #7 - Tubeless Conversion
TT #8 - Chain Wear
TT #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
TT #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
TT #11 - Chain Lube Explained
TT #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
TT #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
TT #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
TT #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
TT #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
TT #17 - Suspension Basics
TT #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
TT #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
TT #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
TT #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
TT #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
TT #23 - Shimano brake bleed
TT #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
TT #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
TT #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
TT #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
TT #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
TT #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
TT #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
TT #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
TT #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
TT #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
TT #34 - MRP XCG Install
TT #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
TT #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
TT #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
TT #38 - Coil spring swap
TT #39 - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable
TT #40 - Installing a Fox Float Air-Volume Spacer
TT #41 - Replace the Seals on Your 2011 RockShox Boxxer World Cup Fork
TT #42 - Clean and Lubricate Your Fox F32 Dust Wiper Seals
TT #43 - Thread Locker Basics
TT #44 - Install a SRAM X.0 Two-By-Ten Crankset
TT #45 - VPP Suspension Bearing Service
TT #46 - Rotor Straightening
TeT #47 - Finding and fixing that creak
TT #48 - Bleed and Service Magura Marta Disc Brakes
TT #49 - Cup and Cone Hub Basics
TT #50 - Install and Adjust Pedal Cleats
TT #51 - Cup and Cone Hub Rebuild
TT #52 - Converting Mavic Crossmax SX Axles
TT #53 - Cassette Removal and Installation
TT #54 - Cane Creek AngleSet Installation
TT #55 - American Classic Tubeless Conversion
TT #56 - Wider Rims Are Better and Why Tubeless Tires Burp Air
TT #57 - Pedal Pin Retrofit
TT #58 - Bleed RockShox Reverb Remote Lines
TT #59 - Cutting Carbon
TT #60 - Silence That Squeaky Disc Brake
TT #61 - Five Minute Wheel True
TT #62 - Removing Bike Rack Rattle
TT #63 - Inside Shimano's Shadow Plus Mech and How To Adjust It
TT #64 - Steerer tube length
TT #65 - Marzocchi 44 Rebuild
TT #66 - RockShox BoXXer TLC
TT #67 - Ghetto Tubeless Tire Inflator
TT # 68 - RockShox BoXXer Seal Replacement
TT # 69 - Ghetto Dropper Post

Visit to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes


  • + 10
 I have zero issues with my Cane Creek Angleset. No noises at all and smooth as butter. All you have to do is follow directions and have common sense and it will work flawlessly. People try and take shortcuts and think certain steps are necessary and they end up with a loud headset and blame the manufacturer.
  • + 8
 Maybe - i have it on good authority that some world cup teams got rid of the anglset for popping issues? ( i KNOW this to be true) Also i KNOW of a whole team who could not get their FSA version working and has replaced every single headset - these are pro mechanics, not people taking shortcuts and not idiots, people who fit parts to bikes for their living.
  • + 1
 i'm 240lbs...agressive rider, i installed it myself as i have been a bike tech for over 15 years...maybe not on a race team but all i can say is it's all about common sense, i never had any noise or issue with my cane creek...could be bad luck for them or not installed properly
  • + 10
 FSA have not solved the 'gimble knock' which ruins these headsets in use - I know of a whole team with giants who have removed every headset (8 bikes) from their frames because their mechanic cannot get them to work without popping / knocking!

Fixed bearing angle headset or nothing - This design just does not work unless your super light or want to retighten every dh run - And its PRO mechanics that cant get it working, not just home mechs.
  • + 20
 Angle adjusters should be part of the frame, like on Mondraker Summum or Scott Gambler.
  • + 6
 or commencal
  • - 3
 i love that green stem!
  • + 0
 Or the simple twist of an allen key like the Morewood Izimu.
  • + 2
 I know a guy whose angleset worked fine, mine. It popped once and never did after that.

Does popping actually do anything negative or is it just an annoying sound?
  • + 1
 Popping is the gimble moving inside the headcup - its an annoying sound and very offputting when riding, some have even been as bad as feeling it in rough sections.

You are lucky with your angleset - i expect longer headtubes get it worse / more extreme angles. Either way i wont run one!
  • + 2
 All I get is popping! I have taken it to a mechanic and they contacted FSA, FSA sent .5, 1, 1.5 and an extra set of cups and still no fix. Not to mention over a month in the shop!
  • + 3
 One answer - go to a fixed bearing angle headset - Works Components, K9 etc
  • + 3
 I would screw this up sooo fast...
  • + 2
 The headsets in Giants weren't installed right at the factory- if they are fitted properly, just like this demonstration then there will be no problem
  • + 1
 Never had any problem with the gimballs on my V10.4 I have the cane creek model. I guess you simply have to be lucky or something because it went thru a whole month of DH in whistler without problem!
  • + 2
 I was considering an FSA, not a wise move then?
  • + 3
 I have a Giant, the stock headset that came with the frame works perfect! The FSA does not!
  • + 6
 I would suggest that before you make the decision to install an angle adjusting headset that you first get an inclinometer and MEASURE it accurately.

If your spring rate front/rear is not even, you are wasting your money. For example, if your front end compresses more than your rear in corners, landings and g-outs, your head angle will steepen and no angleset will compensate for that terrible setup.

Running different bagged tires front and rear can affect head angle by the same amount as an angle adjusting headset.

Those of you with Giant Glories, do not go by the website/advertised/quoted head angle - that is the steepest it can go with Fox 40 slammed. Do you ride with your crowns slammed? Measure it. Properly. Inclinometer on the stanchions is the only way.

Also, understand the reasons why before slackening your head angle. Are you understeering around the corners? Will slackening your head angle help that, or make it worse?

Research first. Installation second... perhaps.
  • + 3
 Kudos to FSA for designing a gimbal/bearing combo. Less moving parts the better. Still, I've worked on one of these and they can be as tricky as the Cane Creek as far as noise issues...
  • + 1
 Just rode my RM Flatline with the +/- 1.5°.Some initial strange noises on the first run or two but after tweeking the headset top cap tension all went well. I presume it was just settling in like every other headset I have owned. Like Mike says "lots of grease!"
  • + 5
 I think the stem doesn't fit the frame color at all. Just my opinion Wink
  • + 1
 Please for the love of god do a segment about servicing a fox 40 rc2!!!! I don't wanna have to rely on suspension service companies that just take too long when i can do it in one afternoon
  • + 1
 There are vids on youtube that will help you.
  • + 1
 I only found one that deals with the older model, but I got through it with help from the manual. But still, I'd like to see them do one too just because they do such a good job at explaining
  • + 1
 I am 230 lb, only ride dh, am raked to 63.5º, am only running a single crown and have never had a problem with my angle set and have been running it for 2 years now. Just saying...
  • + 0
 I have HAS angle changing cups and they work perfectly. They custom make the cups to fit your exact head tube length and angle you are trying to achieve.
  • + 1
 Very interesting read. On a Remedy, no less, which is what I ride. Still I just can't bring myself to make the plunge and buy one of these types of headsets.
  • + 1
 same popping noise issue on the factory installed Cane Creek Angleset of my intense Tazer VP. I'd say it's a design flaw for the gimble type angled headset.
  • + 1
 mine is fine for a few hours of riding then the top cap and upper crown needs to be tighten again like if the starnut was being pulled out. would a hope head doctor help?
  • + 1
 Angle sets plain and simple just don't work great in most situations... I have had two separate bikes that it just wont work on.
  • + 1
 I think saying 'most situations' is a bit extreme - I used my angleset on two different bikes trying out different angles, resulting in 4 different's worked perfectly every time. My bikes are both 1.5" headtubes though - perhaps they don't work as well with tapered headtubes.
  • + 1
 They seem to be hit or miss for me I missed but I do like the idea.
  • + 3
 I find it weird that I can reconize that man by his hands.
  • + 22
 That's what your mom said !!
  • + 1
  • + 0
  • + 1
 has anybody tried with the commencal version of this? but great tutorial I read it anyway and it should prove helpful, thanks mike!
  • - 2
  • + 4
 uhh your welcome son?
  • + 2
 on my third one in three month, on my 2012 giant glory :/........
  • + 1
 sounds like a compatability issue with giants and this headset
  • + 1
 bushing r a good option?
  • - 1
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