NC-17 Imperator S-Pro headset review£70.00

Disappointing unit

BikeRadar score3.5/5

German component brand NC-17 have a broad range of gear on the go, but this headset needs some TLC to get the best from it.

It’s nicely put together, with CNC-machined 7075-T6 alloy cups giving a relatively low stack height and low weight. Replacement alloy crown races are available if you damage the original.

Black, silver, gold, blue and red anodised options all get laser etched detailing too, although the “it’s the law” slogan is a classic dollop of euro nonsense.

While the bearings are impressively smooth to start with, they don’t stay that way for long. This is mainly due to the lack of soft seals to protect them from gunk coming in through the gaps.

As a result we’ve had less than six months' use out of the S-Pro on our 29er long-termer before persistent loosening meant it was removed and replaced. Certainly not the kind of lifespan we expect from a £70 headset.

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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