While the whole "slam your stem
" movement has historicaly been more of a roadie obsession than a dirt thing, a growing number of mountain bikers are starting to fixate on stack height as well. You can chalk some of that up to the fact that nobody can obsess like a cyclist when it comes to the subject of bike geometry and it. I mean, why not
lose sleep over your handlebar height since you're already twitching uncontrollably over your bottom bracket height or reach?
There is good reason, however, to consider stack height, particularly given the axle to crown dimension on those 170-millimeter travel forks that spearhead a lot of enduro bikes these days or any of the 140-plus millimeter travel 29er forks on the market.
Few things bung up front-end handling like the sensation that your low-rise handlebars are inexplicably at nipple height. That T-Rex feeling blows.
Enter Cane Creek's new Slamset headset.
The name kind of says it all. While Cane Creek already sold short stack versions of their Zero Stack and Integrated Stack upper headset assemblies, those short stack versions still had a bout 8 millimeters of height to them. The Slamset damn near levels them completely. The Zero Stack version of the Slamset, for instance, sits just two millimeters above dead flush. Cane Creek will offer the Slamset in both integrated (IS) and Zero Stack (ZS) versions. The Slamset will be available in November. The cups are machined in-house, at Cane Creek's Fletcher, North Carolina headquarters.
The bearing is a new design as well. Cane Creek calls it the Hellbender bearing. The Hellbender bearing is a completely stainless-steel ball bearing. Instead of having the casing, or the webbing, for the balls to sit inside, it's completely contacting all the way around. There's an extra six ball bearings tucked up in there (over what you'd find in Cane Creek's typical 41-millimeter cartridge). The Hellbender's sealing is also more robust than what you'll find in Cane Creek's other headsets.
The reason for that extra sealing? The IS Slamset top assembly has lost its sealing elements because of the emphasis on creating a low stack height; as a result, the Hellbender bearing has to house all of the seal elements required to keep it from getting contaminated and freezing up. Side note: if you run a Cane Creek headset and you simply dig the idea of upgrading to an uber-sealed bearing, you can trade up to the Hellbender. The Hellbender bearing is retrofittable to Cane Creek's 40 series, 110, Air and Angleset headsets. Naturally, if you run the Zero Stack version of the Slamset, you also get an additional dose of sealing, since the Zero Stack upper assembly retains its seals.
The Slamset will retail for $130 (top and bottom IS assemblies) and $160 for the ZS (top and bottom assemblies).