Bicycle threadless headsets are an increasingly popular topic of conversation among cyclists.
A threadless headset is a bicycle component that connects the bicycle fork to the frame and provides steering control by turning the handlebar stem, which in turn rotates the fork. A quill stem headset on a bike is a type of threaded headset where the steerer tube extends down from directly above or below the head tube. These two types of threadless headsets work differently and will have different benefits for you as a cyclist.
What is a Threadless Headset?
Threadless headsets are a form of bicycle component that connect the bicycle fork to the frame and provide steering control by turning the handlebar stem, which in turn rotates the fork.
The threadless headset is fastened to the bicycle frame by threading plastic or aluminum cups that are screwed onto the top and bottom of the head tube.
The threadless headset can be adjusted for height with a stacker spacer, which moves up and down inside of two hollowed out bolt heads on either side, as well as moved left or right.
You will find these headsets most commonly on mountain bikes, however you are increasingly seeing them more on road bikes, fat tire bikes and more.
- Modular design that allows for easily swapping out for other lengths or heights
- Inexpensive to purchase other options for your bike
- You can get one that works with the handlebars you like
- Only simple tools needed to adjust (allen wrench)
- To adjust the height you have to get a different stem
What is a Quill Stem?
A threadless headset on a bike is a type of threaded headset where the steerer tube extends down from directly above or below the head tube.
Threadless headsets work differently than quill stem headsets and will offer different benefits for you as a cyclist.
Quill stems have been around for a very long time, and you will find them on many different types of bikes such as road bikes, cruisers, hybrid bikes and more.
They are a simple design that many people prefer! Companies looking to build a budget minded bike also tend to utilize this style.
However keep in mind, this design has its flaws such as rust showing up over time.
That said, they are easily adjustable!
- Easily adjustable height with just an allen wrench
- People tend to like the way quill stems look as compared to threadless
- Tends to rust in place due to combining aluminum and steel
- Specialized tools needed for adjusting the stem
Why is the quill stem seen as a lower end option?
As mountain biking becomes more popular, threadless headsets become more popular as well! This means when someone goes shopping for one of the most popular bikes out there, and sees a quill stem on it, it is viewed as a lower end bike, which in the mountain bike world, is true.
However on road bikes, hybrid bikes and more, quill stems can actually be a better solution! They are less bulky, and more adjustable height wise for riding those types of bikes.
Does one cost more than the other?
For the most part, you can purchase a threadless headset for a considerably low price, making it the cheaper part! However both types of headsets can be purchased for a low price, or an extremely high price, it really is up to your needs, and what you are willing to pay.
You can find a decently priced quill stem right here! Or if you are looking for a threadless headset, this is one of my favorite options.
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Do you need a quill stem or a threadless?
In the end, it is up to your preference. However I personally would recommend purchasing and utilizing a threadless headset in most situations. Most people are going to be purchasing a Gravel Bike or a Mountain Bike, and a threadless headset gives you the most flexibility.
However if you are looking to do real road biking, then a quill is likely going to be the stem of choice for you.
Another big thing to keep an eye out for is aesthetics. Do you prefer the more bulky styling of a threadless? Then you should go that direction. Do you like the sleeker style of a quill, then there you go!
Frequently Asked Questions
While most frames will allow for it, it is isn’t as easy as just changing out the stem! You will need to also locate a new fork that will allow for a threadless headset. Thankfully, threadless forks are now considerably more popular than a quill stem enabled fork.
Threaded forks unfortunately cannot be modified or converted to become a threadless. These are two different types of forks, and are not something you can change. You will want to do some shopping to find the right threadless fork and headset for your needs.
If you have a threadless headset, you can easily tighten the headset with an allen wrench! There will generally be a single bolt on the top of the headset that allow you to tighten it down. Alternatively, you will need a special tool to tighten down a quill stem, and that will be on the top of the stem. Remember, righty tightly, lefty loosy.
Quill stems are quite safe! They are just a different style than a threadless and are not in any way unsafe in comparison to its main competitor. You don’t have to worry, and in fact due to the fact you can adjust a quill stem with an allen wrench, then you can easily carry that tool, and are less likely to become stranded without the right tools.
I hope this threadless headset vs quill stem article helps you decide which bicycle component is best for your needs! Whether it’s a threadless or quill stem, they both offer different benefits and will work well depending on what type of bike you own.
My last thoughts on threadless headsets vs quill stems is to remember that they both offer different benefits, and if you are looking for a fork stem with an adjustable height then threadless may be best! If not, or instead of adjusting the height, sometimes it’s better to go with quills.