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Azonic Head-Loc
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Head-Loc
Azonic
$29.95

Azonic Head-Loc Review
Maybe itís that I ride a single speed or maybe itís just because Iím lazy, whatever the case, I rarely find myself fixing and adjusting components on my bike. The only area I find myself continually adjusting is the front end. Every few days or few weeks, depending on how much I am riding, my headset loosens up leaving the fork wobbling around inside the head tube. Tightening everything up is a pretty minor adjustment, but itís a pain nonetheless.

Azonic thinks they might have found the solution to the loose headset problem, and the ever-troublesome star fangled nut, in a new product called the Head-Loc. The Head-Loc is simply a long compression bolt, top cap and nut which together hold the fork onto the head tube from both the top of the steering tube.

Installation
I replaced the star fangled nut with the Head-Loc on my daily rider the same weekend that I was installing a star fangled nut on a fork for a different bike. The star fangled nut installation was, as usual, a headache. I banged on the nut for probably 5 minutes before even getting it into the steering tube. Once inside the tube, it was another 5 or 10 minutes of adjusting to get it level enough where I could completely tighten the compression bolt.

The Head-loc was completely different story. The fork I was installing it onto already had a star fangled nut in it so I just popped that out, slid the long threaded bolt through the included top cap, down the steering tube connecting it to its mate and with a few quick turns of an allen wrench I was done. By far the most difficult part of the operation was removing the star fangled nut, which was ripped into 2 pieces courtesy of my screwdriver. Discounting the star nut removal, the Head-Loc installation took me about 30 seconds and was a complete no brainer.

Performance
As far as keeping the fork connected snugly to the frame, the Head-Loc is far more capable than the star fangled nut. The real problem with the star fangled nut, in terms of strength, is that the only thing holding the nut in place are itsí wings pressing against the steering tube. This design is hardly secure because if the nut is tightened too much it will either just rip apart or slip back up the towards the top cap. The real strength keeping the front end together, when using the star fangled nut, comes from the force applied by the bolts holding the stem on the steering tube. The Head-Loc, on the other hand, allows you to clamp the fork securely to the head tube from both the top and bottom of the steering tube by tightening the long compression bolt as tightly as possible. I have bombed plenty of stairs with the Head-Loc on and so far it has not loosened at all.

Drawbacks
By far the biggest drawback to the Head-loc is the price. The MSRP is $29.95, I got mine for $27.00 although I saw them online after I purchased mine for as little as $19.95. Considering that I paid $35 for my headset, almost doubling the price of my headset system to get something I could buy the parts for and make myself seems a bit outrageous.

Another drawback is the weight but only if you are a total weight weenie. Azonic does not list the weight of the Head-Loc but it definitely outweighs the fangled nutís mere 10 grams. I tend to worry about weight in the big places like the frame and fork rather than on the smaller things but if weight were an issue you probably wouldnít be looking to replace the star fangled nut anyway.

One more thing to consider is the width of your steering tube. I had originally planned on testing the Head-Loc on my newest bike that I have a Marzocchi Z1 Drop Off 1 on, but the Head Locís nut piece would not fit into the bottom of the forks steering tube. This is not something that everyone needs to worry about but some forks do not have uniform tube sizes, something I think Azonic should have researched before stating that the Head-Loc ìfits on any forkî.

Conclusion:  Although it has a hefty price tag for what it is, the Head-Loc definitely gets the job done and makes installing and keeping a fork running smoothly a much easier process than with the star fangled nut. While the star fangled nut currently has its place with price and weight conscious bikers, the Head-Loc is so solid and simple that once Azonic can develop a cheaper and lighter version, the star fangled nut will join the ranks of square tapered bottom brackets and center pull cantilever brakes.

Details: The Head-Loc retails for $29.95 and comes in 4 colors ñ Black, Blue, Red, Purple and Polished. There are 2 mountain bike sizes, the regular will fit most mountain bikes while the long will fit bikes with very long head tubes. You can check them out at Azonicusa.com.

David Way
June 2005