So Charlie Watts died today. Probably not the day you are reading this, but today, when I am writing this. I’m writing this listening to Beggars Banquet, Goat’s Head Soup and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Bedrock drumming, that’s what Charlie did, sounding at times like his drums were being filtered through the hiss of a ‘78, air thick with cigarette smoke. If you listen close, it’s just a blunch (typo but I like it!) of splatty rattling guitar squalling over Charlie and Bill’s foundation. The songs would make no sense if the singing and rhythm section were cut out, leaving the guitars to just sort of skitter around the tracks.
What’s the deal with this Campagnolo Athena headset? It’s the Exile on Main Street of headsets. Peak classic Campy. Some could date it I’m sure. I don’t really care it’s age or exact vintage. Here’s what I know. It’s a gorgeous, simple 1” threaded headset. No one makes headsets this good looking any more. The finish is shiny but not blinged out. The etchings are understated. No paint. Big wrench flats. It’s simple, unadorned. Like a Charlie Watts drumline.
Not sealed, so if you live in a gnarly weather kinda place, rebuild it once a year while sipping a fine Sforzato di Valtellina while listening to Amelita Galli Curci belt out something trilling. If you don’t ride your bike in acres of mud or on miles of salt crusted roads, you’ll be fine for 5 years between rebuilds. Rebuilding headsets can be fun, if it’s not your full time gig, and it’s pretty easy, relatively speaking. Easier by far than cup and cone hubs, or loose ball bottom brackets.
For those not in the know, to adjust a threaded headset you need a 32mm headset wrench and a big ass crescent wrench, like this Unior one. You put the headset wrench on the headset cup, adjust it so the headset is just barely binding. Then, holding the headset wrench still, you snug down the top lock nut. Then when it’s snug, hold the big adjustable wrench still, and loosen the headset cup wrench, turning it counter clockwise till it kinda locks into place. If you do it right, there’s no play in the bearings, and it will never come loose.
Oh yeah, bees wax the steerer tube threads before installing.
1” steerer, 26.4mm crown race, IE every good quality 1” threaded fork. Cheapo JIS forks are 27mm. Just use a basic Tange headset on those.