Slam that Stem? Cane Creek Debuts the "Slamset" - Eurobike 2017

Aug 30, 2017
by Vernon Felton  
Eurobike 2017

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.
Stack
I'm poaching Transition's illustration here...it illustrates stack height nicely.

Enter Cane Creek's new Slamset headset.

Cane Creek 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.

Cane Creek Slamset headset
Cane Creek's Hellbender bearing adds an extra dose of sealing and durability.

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).


110 Comments

  • + 127
 Then add a shit load of spacers cos the pros do it for steep EWS courses...
  • + 24
 aaaaaay, good enough for Minnaar, good enough for me!

...of course being 6'4" is probably my main reason.
  • + 35
 ...and anyone over 6' cos most bikes come with tiny steerer tubes on even XL
  • + 5
 @IllestT: An additional benefit of Works Components angleset is that the upper cup adds some stack.
  • + 2
 @jollyXroger: thought it would bother be but I absolutely loved the added stack height on my Smuggler. Reformed #slamthatstem bro here....
  • + 10
 better more spacers now than canes and walkers later! Most stock bikes feel lower than my IQ...
  • + 2
 Reverse slam: 40 degree rise adjustable angle stem and 40mm riser bar? I still run the stem slammed though.
  • + 5
 @IllestT: Few things about mtb design upset me like short headtubes on L and XL frames. Is that just lazy design? A misguided effort at keeping the weight down? I never could figure out the reasoning for this on anything other than an xc race bike.

As a tall guy, why should I have to bother with spacers, a riser stem, and riser bars after I've already gone through the trouble of special ordering an XL frame??
  • + 8
 @kabanosipyvo: Yes it's laziness. Or the people at that company just don't understand tall people in which case maybe they're not qualified to design XL bikes. It's the same with seat tube angles. Yes short people need steep seat angles because they have short legs. Tall riders have taller seat heights and so need steeper seat angles to keep them from ending up way off the back at full extension. Seems obvious when you write it down.
  • + 5
 @kabanosipyvo: cheaper manufacturing, one size headtube for every one!
  • + 8
 @kabanosipyvo: My take is it is the looks. Fact is Frames just don't look that sexy with long head tubes. So they are sacrificing ergonomics for aesthetics, fashion over function.

Look at this old XL sized Stumpy: www.pinkbike.com/photo/10010696
  • + 4
 @jollyXroger:
My take is that XL frames with skimpy head tubes look.. skimpy. Frames don't have to look stupid to be sized properly for normal sized people. Look at this XL Evil Wink www.pinkbike.com/photo/15113358

I finally have a proper size bike with a proper head tube (139mm) and stack (659mm). And I'm only 185cm/ 6'1..
  • + 1
 That's why we keep our steerer tube uncut. damn those cults.
  • + 1
 @jollyXroger: could be to maintain similar stiffness over the sizes too, though I agree with your take. Same with different size chainstays, it's not simply an exercise in making them longer and call it a day. At the end of the day I think it comes down to cost and aesthetics.
  • + 2
 I imagine the road guys will love this, their trend is lower is better, some of the positions would pop my spine out of joint they are that low....
  • + 4
 6'3" here, negative rise stem, 10mm rise bar.

#LowerBackPainFoLife
  • + 1
 The problem with longer HT may be that the frame stiffness goes away, because when the HT is short the front triangle actually forms a triangle, but if the HT gets too long the front triangle becomes an odd shaped square, throwing away stiffness, and looking quite ugly too...
  • + 1
 @Caiokv: I agree. At what point do size differences constitute a different bike. I can imagine a reviewer testing a size medium and raving about how stiff and how balanced the bike feels but give a taller an xl and suddenly that 'same' model is flexy and the rear-centre is too short. No doubt this is something that manufacturers struggle with and to keep costs down they compromise by not deviating too much from the size medium 'sweet spot'. Which of course means some riders will lose out but personally I feel the price of bikes has got high enough already. So what if you have to use some spacers? As for the chainstay length thing...well just cut your legs off.
  • + 1
 @alexsin: Gotta look at "actual" STA when deciding on a frame, eh?
  • + 3
 @ThomDawson: If I was paranoid I would say that is the reason why we never see certain bikes in size XL being handed over to media for reviewing. Well, most bikes actually. Must be there aren't any tall reviewers out there.
  • + 1
 @IllestT: im am 6'4" and love low steer tubes because my arms a long too.

where you want your bars is personal preference.
With a tiny tube you can spacer the shit out of it to fit it to your preferences but with a tall tube you are stuck up there and can't adjust it down if a rider would want that... so i would say low is more versatile and therefore is the way to go!
  • + 2
 I've got a 140mm 29r fork but at 6ft still prefer a 10mm spacer and 38mm riser bar, even for all round riding. Tried a lower set-up but just wasn't comfortable - wrenched my lower back pulling manuals.
  • + 1
 @Caiokv: Compared to a quadrlilateral, triangles are stiff in-plane but we're mostly concerned with out of plane stiffness of a bike frame. Making the head tube reasonably longer hardly affects the out of plane stiffness. Make the down tube and/or headtube a tiny bit bigger in diameter and you get this stiffness back.
Having a stack of spacers is one of the worst things you can do to front end stiffness as a whole. A heavy dude hanging off of 800mm bars puts a bunch of extra stress on a steerer tube.
  • + 2
 @ThomDawson: This argument holds water when building metal bikes because it is common for tubes to be mitered to length for each size. It does not hold water for carbon bikes because the flexibility is there to have the complete bike done properly. Unfortunately this is still rare in the industry and most XL and XXL frames are severely lacking in lateral stiffness because the designer just took the medium frame and stretched it.

I recently bought a Specialized S-Works Tarmac frameset and the handling and ride quality has been a revelation for me. They've actually done some engineering to ensure that the handling and ride quality is consistent across their size range. The down tube and top tube are enormous!

Santa Cruz is another that is doing a great job designing in enough stiffness on their larger sizes.
  • + 41
 I'd slam that. That being said, there isn't much I wouldn't slam...
  • + 90
 instructions unclear- dong stuck in headset.
  • + 22
 @bdamschen: is that 1 1/8" then?
  • + 3
 @bishopsmike: The tapered ones can get you really stuck if you go in the wrong end, even though designed "for greater stiffness."
  • + 2
 @bdamschen: Put that magazine away and wait for it to relax again.
  • - 3
 I stuffed my weiner in a shampoo bottle while it was limp and then it got hard and now it is full on raging stuck.
  • + 4
 @therealtylerdurden, @bdamschen: Hold on, Unior hears you. They're working on it right now. Eurobike 2018, Unior will unveil their pro quality weiner extraction tool.
  • + 1
 @vinay: just slide some zip ties up in the bottle all around your schlong and then tug the bottle. record the sound you make
  • + 23
 You know that the marketing department is out of control when you can't tell if you're buying a headset bearing or a craft beer.
  • + 24
 And here I am adding spacers underneath the stem and going go 30mm bar height
  • + 0
 Nope. But there are some bikes coming out now with stack heights in the 650mm~ range.
  • + 3
 Oops it seems that I miss-read your comment.
  • + 2
 I hear you! 50 mm spacers and 40 mm riser in there already... On an XL frame!
  • + 12
 "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." ?????
  • + 1
 Fit i think they meant. I was confused too
  • + 1
 @JonJonM: Now I see...
  • + 6
 I am pumped about the new bearings. Extra seals is most excellent for headsets. I see too many year old 40 series headsets rusted out. Im hoping that the individual bearings are not too expensive. For some reason the bike industry has insane pricing for bearings...
  • + 10
 Cane Creek 40's on all my bikes have rusted in less than 6 months. Pretty bad when cheap FSA stuff lasts longer. I hope that the replacement bearings are cheap because so far I am not impressed with Cane Creek quality...
  • + 7
 @mountain-life: That's been pretty much my experience with the 40 series as well. I have to replace bearings twice a year. I'm starting to think that maybe it's better off just to bite the bullet and buy a King headset.
  • + 2
 cc 10 series with 110 series bearings for the win
  • + 1
 @kwl1: Bingo. You win.
  • + 1
 Gotta be honest, FSA headsets have not failed me for my entire time riding mtn bikes. This comments section has me worried about the 40 series that got installed on my new trail bike, though.
  • + 3
 @WaterBear: 40 series bearings suck and cane creek knows it, thats why they made that new hellbender a compatible fit, but im guessing the price will be at least double because they know theyll get it
  • + 0
 @mountain-life:

I've had many 40's, never seen one rust. I do live in a dy climate though...
  • + 2
 @WaterBear: Unfortunately, I do not share that same experience. I went through 3 FSA headsets in about 4 months with my last bike.
  • + 0
 @neologisticzand: That is a lot of wear! What we need is a bearing that lasts.
  • + 4
 The 40s bearing is steel so it will rust when exposed to water. Im always impressed by how little attention people pay to the headset when doing maintenance on the rest of their bike. Drop those bearings out and clean them a every few months. My 40s bearings are still going strong now at 2.5 years... I've had FSA bearings separate after only a couple months... I dont think any bearing is bombproof but these new Hellbenders sound good... plus its a cool name haha
  • + 1
 @Pisgah85: Same here on my trail bike.

That being said, I have an Angleset on my DH bike that pukes lower bearings on the regular. Same cartridge for both bikes but the seals on my tail bikes 40 protect a lot better.
  • + 2
 @bizutch: the anglesets eat the 40 bearings in my experience as well, on the regular 40 series headsets its not as bad but the bearings themselves are just junk, not to say many other companys are any better, chris king makes the only headset that i havent had to change the bearings in yet.
  • + 9
 Man that's gonna look SWEET with my 2" riser bars.
  • + 2
 ...and my 10 degree stem. Lol
  • + 7
 bet the stem slam dorks are stoked but the real win here is that bearing
  • + 3
 Ooh look at that- specially engraved bearings! Can I pay more for that, please? My experience is that CC headsets are abysmal- I put one on my xc race bike build in 2002, it lasted a few months before developing play and rusting issues. Replaced with a CK which is STILL going strong! My buddies 2016 bike came with a CC 40 series- he had the same issues with that POS CC headset.
  • + 3
 I'm so glad bike companies cut the steerer tube just long enough to just fit the stem, that way I have to buy a new upper if my riding style isn't the same as the DB that thought it was a good idea to cut steerer tube that short.
  • + 7
 $130? For a bearing? Go home, you drunk.
  • + 3
 Axxe I believe it's $130 for two bearings, a compression ring, a bearing cover (machined/ano'd/laser-etched in USA), and crown race.
  • + 0
 @Axxe that was for the whole headset. Go home, you're drunk.
  • + 0
 @LCW1: Rest of headset is worth $10. Get a clue before talking.
  • + 6
 Look forward to torture testing this unit after my existing headset never wears out.
  • + 2
 Why not have stronger more reliable bearings? Being on the road for weeks on end and having to repack headset bearings because they develop play is absolute nonsense.

Step up the bearing game bike world then you'll have some real heads turning.
  • + 3
 I'm honestly not sure how you're getting significant radial play on an axially preloaded angular contact bearing. The preload from the top cap should limit play even if wear occurs.
  • + 6
 @SoDiezl350: once the rust begins then the bearings start to pit and very soon you have a headset with the smallest amount of play on high compressions. You can crank down the headset screw only to fix the play for a short time.

Tear down the bearings and it looks like orange dust got into the dust seals. Repacking the bearings helps for a few days but the damage is already done
  • + 7
 Much-ado about nothing?
  • + 5
 Being someone who purchased a used fork with a slightly short steer tube, this excites me
  • + 1
 El Guapo stem.
  • + 1
 Stubbing was the lowest height stem i could find in the same situation
  • + 4
 tiny people with long travel forks everywhere need this, and those syntace negative rise bars
  • + 4
 Someone needs to make a "stem-dropper" steerer, Slam on the climbs, raise on the downhill. Very enduro.
  • + 2
 Now if we can get bike manufacturers to quit putting the seat angle on trail bikes so far back. Then I could reach the bars on slammed stem, and I wouldn't have to sacrifice fork travel for stem spacers.
  • + 2
 Is this for short shits who insist on riding large or XL frames to be cool? If you're tall, slamming your stem is usually the last thing on your agenda on a long travel bike...
  • + 5
 I bet the #slamderson came up with this one
  • + 4
 Glad to see this. My rider geometry plus 160-170mm forks requires a low stack height if I hope to climb anything technical.
  • + 8
 Bend ya elbows.
  • + 3
 People that buy used forks with a steer tube a bit short may be able to get this instead of new uppers.....
  • + 1
 Yo know it!
  • + 1
 All of these negative answers, as though Cane Creek made this specifically for trolls. I for one welcome a product conceived to help people ride more comfortably. Cane Creek FTW!
  • + 3
 Now when is CC gonna come out with a top assembly with built in 40mm of spacers?? That is the headset I need.
  • + 1
 From higher person point of view, I use shit ton of spacers , on l/xl frame - so 130$ headset that require additional spacer looks odd
  • + 0
 cane creek, how have you not come out with a reach adjust headset yet? the slamset is cool i guess, but a reach adjust headset would seem to be a pretty obviuse thing to bring to market
  • + 2
 You gotta be shitting me?
  • + 2
 I'm pretty sure I saw offset lower cups in their angleset range. Add a +/-1° lower to a +/-1° upper and it adds reach instead of angle.
  • + 1
 @gibbon-on-an-orange: Thats not a good way of doin things at all, you still use the gimble's then and thats the part that creaks like buggery on the intense I used them on, it would also give only 1-2mm of reach which is pretty useless.

@jo1212man - www.workscomponents.co.uk/reach-adjust-headsets-21-c.asp
  • + 3
 Just flip that stem and bars. Negative rise for negative props
  • + 1
 Or put bar ends on but angle them down. #reducerecyclereuse
  • + 1
 I'm not a fan of a slammed stem but I look at it this way: I can use the lower cup only, put a slightly longer fork on and retain my current geometry. That's a win for me.
  • + 2
 The industry doesn't understand short people! Killing 26, but then bringing this slammed headset!
  • + 1
 This really only applies if you are short, on an XL you need spacers as is
  • + 1
 Bikes of Stance, Slam that sh*t on the floor. Front Wheel camber to the left and Back Wheel Camber for the right.
  • + 1
 Nobody reacted to the Hellbender name?
You people need to youtube Hellbenders.
  • + 1
 oh my Big Grin Big Grin
  • + 1
 What in the f*ck did I just watch?

At least a badass moto compilation was in the suggested vids below the f*ckery that was playing: youtu.be/YPGCMKc7Nlw
  • + 1
 A great solution for too short of a steer tube!
  • + 0
 Ok guys help me out here what's the sol purpose for slamming? What are the
Pros
And
Cons
  • + 8
 Pros: if you need your handlebars lower this will help

Cons: if you need your handlebars higher this will not help.
  • + 3
 Pros: Feeding the internet trolls
Cons: Feeding the internet trolls
  • + 1
 What will this do with your body position @Patrick9-32:
  • + 2
 @pchappy: It will move your hands and therefore your shoulders downwards which will move your weight forward.
  • + 0
 Cool. This will go great with my inverted riser bars!
  • + 0
 Is this dropper stem hydraulic or mechanical?
  • + 1
 need MOAR height!!!
  • + 1
 @a-m-c: this will give you more steerer tube to work with.
  • - 2
 Aren't Chris King stems already slammable?
  • + 1
 Stfu cook

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