Crank Brothers Iodine SL Directset headset review£110.00

Super low stack headset

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Crank Brothers always come up with cunning ideas and this unique headset trades low stack and low weight for high price.

Extending the outer bearing shell to form the frame fit flange makes it a lot lighter than the competition. This tougher ‘all mountain’ Iodine version is only 1.5g heavier than the Cobalt cross-country set, despite using a 34-ball (rather than 28-ball) stainless steel lower race to handle impacts better.

At 10mm lower than most headsets, it might be just what you need if you find you’ve accidentally chopped your fork steerer slightly too short.

In terms of bearing performance we’ve had mixed results. A couple of sets we’ve been tracking have blown up very quickly, but we’ve had ours on the go in a Santa Cruz Blur LT for 20 months now.

Despite the fact that we lost the loose lower and upper seals after a couple of months, it’s still totally fine, and the five-year bearing warranty also helps sugar the high price pill.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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