Like a child on Christmas morning, you jump for joy as the last few bike parts arrive at the house. Finally, everything that you need to begin your dream build! Only a few hours from now, you’ll be linking up with the homies to break in the new rig. Or so you thought…
Time to put the forks on and get this build finished! As you do the final torquing on the top cap and pinch bolts, you realize the front end feels tight…
Like really tight…
Like the fork is grinding up against the head tube tight…
That’s because it is!
You have everything BUT a 1-millimeter thick circular piece of metal, better known as a crown race. The absence of this seemingly insignificant front end component halts the whole build process and keeps the bike in the stand vs. out on the track!
I hope you enjoyed that little short story. It may or may not have been anecdotal. But to preserve my mechanical integrity, let’s presume it to be a work of fiction.
Okay okay, enough of this, let's get to the article now!
What's a Crown Race?
Well, at the most simplistic level, it’s this;
“A crown race is an angled surface, or race, that interfaces with the bottom bearing.”
-Retrieved from Canecreek.com
The race is a thin circular piece of metal that gets installed at the base of the fork’s steerer tube. This location is imperative to the race’s operation, separating the fork’s steerer tube base and the bottom headset bearing.
What Does it Do?
The crown race is the central buffer between the bearing, fork, and headtube. It separates each of these essential front end components so that every piece can rotate independently as you steer the bike through corners. This unbounded, separated system provides that buttery smooth turning of the front end; Which is crucial for all the phat X-Ups you’re about to throw down on the new steed!
Why Do you Need One?
Without a crown race, the bottom headset bearing will become bound to the steerer tube base after torquing. The internal portion of the bearing that could once spin freely now becomes constricted. The lack of free motion in the bearing binds up the front end and adds additional resistance to steering inputs.
The crown race is the only thing that separates the headtube and fork. Without it, the headtube (of the frame) and fork will sit flush against each other. With no gap between the two surfaces, they will grind against each other, causing damage to both the forks and headtube. (Not Ideal!) The grinding will also make steering less than favorable, and in some cases, impossible!
Another function of the crown race is to keep dirt and debris from infiltrating the headset internals. When dirt gets inside the headset, steering will feel notchy and abrasive. We want the head tube and headset internals free of debris for a smooth steering experience protected from premature wear!
Long story short, YOU NEED A CROWN RACE!
Don’t fret if you aren’t rocking one right now. Your homies at Supercross and Speedline got you covered with our very own crown race. These races come equipped with a notch creating an open circle design. This variation in structure removes the necessity of crown race installation tools, i.e., hammers and tubes.
Unlike conventional crown races, the Speedline crown race can be installed by hand (No tools needed!). Simply slide the race onto the base of the steerer tube. Apply pressure until the race snaps into place. Just like that, you are ready to roll with a buttery smooth front end!
The Speedline race comes in two different sizes: standard and tapered. For more on the differences between straight steerers and tapered, click here!
Crown Races come included in a purchase of any headset. Crown Races are not available for individual sale.
Looking For a More Visual Explanation?
Check out the featured video below from the official SupercrossBMX YouTube page! Factory Pro rider KJ Romero walks you through the same topics we touched on here, just in a video format.
-Written and edited by; Jonnie Vance
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