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I am wanting to understand how a tapered head tube works. Does it require a tapered steerer, or is it the case that the steerer is a consistent diameter top and bottom and just the bearings differ in size top and bottom.

I am planning on building a bike out of bamboo and am trying to assess the suitability of some newer bike tech like tapered head tubes, press fit bottom brackets etc.

Thanks in advance for the help.

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4 Answers 4

Tapered head tubes are designed to work with tapered steerers, with the steerer designed to be used with a 1.5" headset at the bottom and 1 1/8" at the top.

The primary advantages of a tapered headtube are to allow for the greater bearing surface and stiffness of a 1.5" steerer and lower bearing surface while reducing weight (slightly) and allowing the use of conventional 1 1/8" threadless stems.

Reducing headset adapters exist that can be used to replace the lower bearing with one that is designed for a 1 1/8" steerer (such as this model from Hope), and Cane Creek makes a tapered headset that lets you use a tapered steerer in a straight headtube.

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Hi Lantius, Thanks for the response. Please excuse my ignorance but based on this I am assuming that the distance between the top bearing and bottom bearing must be consistent when using a tapered head tube, otherwise fork manufacturers would have to create numerous different taper lengths. What is the standard length of the head tube? –  Dan Oct 27 '11 at 11:19
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There's a minimum head tube distance over which the tube is tapering, but beyond that distance it's a normal 1 1/8" steerer. I'm not sure if there is actually a standard for that yet; I'd expect you would want to measure the fork you're interested in using. –  lantius Oct 28 '11 at 16:58

Just to add to lantius' answer, many DH bikes use tapered head tubes knowning full well that no triple-clamp forks use tapered steerers. They do this because you can then run much larger bearings on the lower race, thereby massively increasing their crush load.

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The steer will taper from 1-1/8 to 1.5 inches. However, you do have the option of using a straight 1-1/8" steerer with a tapered headtube as there are some companies that make headsets that will adapt the lower half of the headset down. You will have a greater choice of forks since you can run straight or tapered, but your choice of headsets will be limited somewhat.

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i have a 09 giant yukon fx3 with rock shox dart 2 forks, im looking into upgrading forks and if i get some with a tapered steerer, is there a way to accomodate these, seeing as the headset at the moment is a 1-1/8th ? any help is appreciated, cheers

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