BMX Headsets Explained | District BMX Headset Buyers Guide

Not sure what type of headset will suit your BMX bike? Our BMX Headset Buyers Guide breaks down the basics and explain the types of BMX headsets and differences between each type.

 Types of BMX Headsets 

Over the past 40+ years BMX bikes have primarily used 3 different styles of headset.

 Threaded - Press Fit 

  • Threaded BMX headsets use a steel or aluminium cup that presses into your frames head tube and the fittings are threaded onto your forks steerer tube to compress the bearings and tighten the headset. This style of headset has been used for decades and is most common on old school BMX bikes from the 1970's to the mid 1990's with a 1" (25.4mm) fork steerer tube.. There are two sizes of threaded headset BMX cups, the first is the 30mm diameter cup which was used in road and mountain bikes along with dragster bikes and some mini BMX race bikes. The second and most common size found on BMX bikes is 32.5mm, the majority of old school BMX bikes use this size headset. The easiest way to determine which size headset your bike uses is to measure the internal diameter of your frames head tube. Some children's bikes and department store bikes still use this size 

 Threadless - Press Fit 

  • By the mid 1990's Mountain Bike technology was beginning to filter down into BMX including the use of threadless headsets. Threadless headsets still use a cup that presses into the frames head tube in conjunction with a head stem that clamps onto the outside of the forks steerer tube. Compression is achieved via a star nut installed in the forks steerer tube and a bolt and top cap that sit on top of the head stem that threads into the star nut. Once adequte headset tension is achieved the two bolts on the side of the headstem are tightened securing everything into place. The most common size of threadless press fit headset is 1 1/8" although some BMX race bikes still use a 1" threadless set up. Press fit threadless headset are available in both sealed bearing and non sealed versions. The 1 1/8" sizing refers to the outer diameter of the forks steerer tube (28.6mm). Press fit 1 1/8" threadless headsets are still used on entry level BMX bikes such as the Division Blitzer. If you are unsure what size press fit headset is required for you bike you can measure the inner diamteter of your frames head tube, frames using a 1 1/8" threadless headset will have an internal head tube diameter of approximately 34mm. Most press fit threadless headsets will also include several spacers so you can dial in your stem height, aftermarket spacers are also available in a range of sizes and colours if you require any additional items.

 Threadless - Integrated 

  • Integrated BMX headsets were first intorduced in the mid 2000's and work in a similar way to what a threadless press fit headset does. The integrated system uses 41.8mm x 45 degree Campagnolo spec sealed bearings that press directly into a frames head tube, this system is ultimately superior to the press fit style and far stronger. Integrated headsets will only work with frames that have a compatible integrated head tube and cannot be fitted to frames that use a press fit headset. Headset compression is achieved via a threaded bolt that threads into the top of your forks steerer tube. The majority of higher end BMX forks now use a built in crown race on the bottom of the steerer tube which eliminates the need for press on race included with many headsets. Integrated headsets can be found on most modern complete BMX bikes priced from $600 while the majority of aftermarket BMX freestyle frames will use an integrated head tube/headset set up. Most integrated headsets will also include several spacers so you can dial in your stem height perfectly, aftermarket spacers are also available in a range of sizes and colours if you require any additional items.

Whilst all integrated headsets use a sealed cartridge bearing, press fit headsets are available in both sealed and unsealed versions. Which is better? A headset with unsealed caged bearings will be cheaper than a sealed item but they do require more maintenance also. Unsealed bearings need to be regularily cleaned and regreased whilst sealed bearing headsets are smoother and require little maintenance.