On my bike I have an FSA headset Orbit X-CX which has cartridge bearrings. I re-grease the headset a few times each year and have recently replaced the lower bearing after ca 13,000 miles. The upper bearing still feels smooth.

On a loose ball style headset if badly adjusted or after excessive use the cups would wear. With a cartridge bearing the bearings run on the cartridge itself which is replaced. Does this therefore mean that the cups should last the life of the bike?

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The bearing races themselves get replaced, but what can happen is the races becoming loose in the frame. I can't imagine that happening just through wear, though, you'd have to pull and replace the bearing races hundreds of times. Normally that is the result of either a crash deforming the races, or the bearing not being quite square when someone hammers it into the frame. To avoid the latter use a proper bearing press or fake it with a length of threaded rod. In general, any time you find yourself wanting to use a hammer on a bike you're doing something wrong.

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