Vintage Campagnolo Super Record Headset Review

Vintage Campagnolo Super Record Headset

History

Campagnolo Super Record was released in 1974 as the successor to Campagnolo’s top tier group set, Nuovo Record. The Super Record group set included a special light weight alloy headset. The headset is threaded, so it requires a fork with threads on the top of the steerer tube as was standard for bikes of the 1970s -1980s era.

Additionally, there were a variety of thread standards, so you will need to ensure you source the correct version of the headset to match your frameset (specifically the threads on your fork steerer). In addition to different threading standards, the Super Record headset was available for road bikes (Strada) or track bikes (Pista). This article covers road bikes.

In pursuit of weight reduction, many parts of this headset were made from alloy, however these parts are also easily damaged by exerting too much force or using the wrong tool. The lock nut is the most commonly damaged part and difficult to source a replacement. Whilst much of the headset is alloy, steel was also used in the upper and lower bearing races to ensure longevity. The bottom cone is also steel (as it needs to be hammered onto the fork crown) which can be a bit of an effort.

Unlike many other components of the Super Record group set, there was no special anniversary versions of the headset.

Headset Thread Options

Super Record headsets were manufactured with the following thread options to suit various European framesets;

  • Italian (25.4 x 24F)
  • English (1″ x 24 tpi)
  • French (25 x 1)

To identify the thread of the headset you will need to examine the underside of both the lock nut and top race (which are the only threaded parts).

Campagnolo Super Record Headset Thread Identification
Left to right: Lock Nut (Italian), Top Race (Italian)

I have several Colnago frames, and being Italian made, they require a headset with Italian threads. Always be gentle when threading on the headset to the fork as the 2 threaded parts are made of soft alloy.

Headset Parts

The Super Record road headset comprises these 8 pieces;

  • Lock Nut (threaded)
  • Locking Washer
  • Top Race (threaded)
  • Cage Ball Bearings 3/16″ (20pcs)
  • Top Cone
  • Bottom Race
  • Cage Ball Bearings 3/16″ (20pcs)
  • Bottom Cone
Campagnolo Super Record Lock Nut and Washer.
Note the small notch inside the Locking Washer.
Campagnolo Super Record Upper Headset Parts.
Left to Right: Top Race, Cage Bearing, Top Cone
Campagnolo Super Record Lower Headset Parts.
Left to Right: Bottom Race, Cage Bearing, Bottom Cone

Headset Assembly

To assemble the headset you will need, a headset bearing cup press tool (with 2 x 1 inch bushings), a crown race setting tool and 2 x 32mm cone spanners to tighten the lock nut. Use good quality spanners of the exact size to avoid damaging the soft metal parts. Do NOT use adjustable wrenches.

Also before you begin, give the threads on the fork steerer a good clean and make sure they are in good condition. Also apply a light coat of good quality grease to the steerer threads.

  • Pressing the Top Cone and Bottom Race into the head tube on the frame using the headset bearing cup press tool.
  • Fit the Bottom Cone to the base of the fork steerer using the crown race setting tool.
  • Install the cage bearing (in the correct orientation) onto the Bottom Cone with some quality bearing grease.
  • Insert the fork steerer to the head tube of the frame.
  • Install the cage bearing (in the correct orientation) onto the Top Cone with some quality bearing grease.
  • Carefully thread the Top Race onto the fork steerer.
  • Tension the Top race tight enough to eliminate all play, but still allowing for smooth steering action. Not too tight, we don’t want to overload the bearings. The steering action should not feel rough.
  • Fit the locking washer (notice it has a small tab that is designed to slide down the notch in the fork steerer threads*.
  • Finally tighten the lock nut down to ensure the headset tension setting is fixed.

Note: *My Colnago Nuovo Mexico forks do not have a notch in the fork steerer threads, so the locking washer does not fit. I have discussed the purpose of the locking washer in detail below..

Park Tools have a good article regarding threaded headset assembly.

Purpose of the Locking Washer

After a fair bit of research on the internet, the general consensus is that the locking washer was designed to make it easy to tighten the lock nut using just a single spanner. The concept is that the tab in the locking washer engages into the slot in the fork steerer so it cannot rotate when the lock nut is tightened. The benefit of the washer not rotating is that it prevents the top race from rotating out of position whilst tightening the lock nut down onto it. Additionally, some believe this washer also prevents the headset from coming loose over time.

Campagnolo Super Record Locking Washer

The main problem with the locking washer is that not all forks have a slot in the fork steerer threads, so the locking washer will NOT fit onto the steerer. Therefore the locking washer can only be fitted if;
(a) you cut a slot in the fork threads yourself or
(b) file off the tab on the locking washer.

If you are faced with this issue (as I was), rest assured that the headset will work fine without the locking washer fitted. However you will need to use 2 cone spanners to tighten the lock nut in the same way you would tighten and adjust a cup & cone style wheel hub.

It is also a good idea to periodically check the headset is secure by holding the stem and attempting to turn the top race in either direction by hand. If it rotates, the lock nut needs tightening.

If your headset regularly comes loose, you could try applying a very light application of Loctite to the upper few threads of the lock nut. Remember the lock nut is soft alloy, so we don’t want to fix the lock nut too firmly as it may be damaged when loosening it later.

Cutting the Fork Steerer Tube

Like modern bikes, the fork steerer tube may need to be cut to the correct length. This will be determined by the length of the head tube and overall stack height of the headset.

How to Determine Correct Steerer Length.
Assemble the forks and headset on the bike (without the stem fitted). When the lock nut is tightened, there should only be a very small 1-2mm gap between the top of the fork steerer tube and the top underside area of the lock nut. We don’t want a large gap, nor do we want the lock nut touching the top of the fork steerer.

If you need to cut the fork steerer, best to use a steerer cutting tool and a vice to get a nice square cut. A bike shop can do this for a minimal fee and this process is only required to be done once.

If the fork steerer is a little short, then you can fit the headset without the locking washer (as shown on the bike below). Worst case, if your fork steerer is too short, you will need to buy another fork with a longer steerer tube.

Campagnolo Super Record Headset fitted to a 1984 Colnago Master

Campagnolo Parts Schematic

Campagnolo Super Record Headset Schematic (1984)

Super Record Component Weight

I have weighed a set of Super Record components and quite surprisingly, these vintage parts compares quite favourably against the weight of a modern Campagnolo Super Record group set.

UK Pricing in 1981

I found a 1981 catalogue for a British cycling shop with pricing as follows;
The Super Record (alloy) headset retails for GBP 26.70
The Record (steel) headset retails for GBP 17.00

Learn more about Campagnolo Super Record

This article is just a small part of my full review of Campagnolo Super Record groupset.

Disclaimer!

Please remember that this information is only to be used as a guide.
I consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. The information I have presented in this article is based on my many hours of online research.

Whilst I enjoy working on my own bikes, I am not a qualified bicycle mechanic. The content of this article is purely illustrative and does not constitute professional advice. For your own safety, any type of work should only be undertaken by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Incorrect assembly of parts could result in equipment damage, personal injury or death.

Comments.

I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.

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