FSA Orbit C-40 or C-40/48 Headset – Which One?

With the recent purchase of my new Viner frameset, I started researching, choosing and where necessary, buying the parts I wanted to adorn it with in order to build up my new bike.

Saddle, handlebar, seatpost…most of it is fairly straightforward but then came the decision on what headset to get:

1 1/8″- 1 1/2″ Integrated Headset

Taking a look at the specifications of my frame set on the Planet-X website, it indicated that I would require a 1 1/8″-1 1/2″ integrated headset. Whilst a little more complicated than the old days, where all you got was 1″ threaded headsets, it all still looked pretty easy if you understand the concept of tapered forks:

Like many modern bikes, my new frameset has a tapered head tube that accepts a tapered fork tube. This means that the steerer tube on the fork measures 1 1/8 inch at the top and tapers to a thicker 1 1/2 inch diameter at the bottom where it joins onto the fork blades. The head tube on my frame is also tapered and thus designed to accept this and the internal headset design.

So all I needed was an integrated 1 1/8″- 1 1/2″ headset…Easy….well, sort of:

Internet Search – C-40 or C-40/48
A quick search on the internet and after some research and deliberation, I settled on the FSA Orbit C-40-CF-ACB integrated headset (The CF in the name indicates it has a Carbon Fiber Top as opposed to the standard Aluminium one).

Whilst not the cheapest option (see where to buy below), I chose it largely because I have a non-tapered version on my older bike which has served me well over the last three years without any issues and so I was just about buy it when I noticed another website offering the FSA Orbit C-40/48-CF-ACB integrated headset for almost half the price!

FSA C40 and FSA-C40/48 Integrated Headsets

So what is the difference between the two? Looking at the specifications and excellent drawings on the FSA website, it really is not that obvious at all. But if you take time to read the small print, there it is:

The FSA Orbit-C40/48 has a 48mm diameter top, whilst the FSA Orbit C40 has a smaller diameter of 46mm.

I had never come across this with any of the other headsets that I was researching and thought that they were all the same, but apparently it all comes down to the Outside diameter of the head tube on your frame:

Outside Diameter of the Head Tube

If your bike has a head tube with an outside diameter of 48mm at the top, then the C-40/48 is the way to go. If it is 46mm, then the right one will be the Orbit C-40. Easy.

What if you have not received your frame yet? Planet-X and many other retailers fail to supply you with any information on the external or outside diameter (OD) of the head tube at the top. Not a major problem, as a quick email to customer support should sort this out.

Same Bike, Different Size FSA Headsets

Here I have to compliment Planet-X, their customer support replied to my question promptly and whilst they did not confirm what the diameter of the head tube was, they said that when they build up the Maxima RS frame they use the FSA Orbit C-40-ACB headset.

Great, sorted, so even though it is more expensive than the C-40/48, it is the one that I was going to get… that was until I looked closely at this photo of the Planet-X build of the Viner Maxima RS 4.0:

Now I don’t know about you, but to me it really looks like the headset is a little small for the headtube and so this got me thinking would the frame not only look better with the slightly larger FSA Orbit C-40/48-ACB headset, but if I went down that route, I would also save some money.

FSA ORBIT C-40/48-CF-ACB Integrated Headset on the Viner Maxima RS 4.0
Before making the final decision, I checked with a contact on Instagram (nikklsbikeblog) that I had come across before buying the Viner Maxima. He had already built up the frame and had kindly answered some of my questions previously.

I enquired again, asking which headset he used. As luck would have it, he had opted for the FSA ORBIT C-40/48-CF-ACB and kindly took the time to take and then send me this photo:

(Thanks to Niklas Michel for all his help and the photo above – check out his great site here: NIkkLs Bike Blog)

As you can see the fit of the headset matches the width of the outside of the headtube far more closely. So whilst I think either option will work, I was still not sure which look I preferred.

I must admit that the different finishes on the carbon on the frame and headset in his photo bothered me and I was surprised as to the large price difference between the two sizes which makes no sense so I actually eventually decided to go with the aluminium 48mm version (FSA ORBIT C-40/48-ACB INTEGRATED Headset), which according to FSA is actually lighter than the carbon version. Phew!!!

Big Price Difference

Depending on where you look, I found the carbon FSA ORBIT C-40/48-CF-ACB to be about the same price as the carbon FSA ORBIT C-40-CF-ACB – Around 49.90 – 59.90 Euros – they were more expensive in most of the UK bike sites.

What surprised me was the cheapest that I could find the aluminium version (FSA ORBIT C-40-ACB) at was also 49.90 Euros. Whilst harder to find the Aluminium FSA ORBIT C-40/48-ACB was much cheaper at a number of locations. Note I eventually sourced this version on ebay, costing me only £19.75, with £1.50 delivery cost to France, which I thought was excellent:

FSA Orbit C-40 Headsets on Ebay

For more options of places to buy please see the links below:

Once I receive my new frame and headset and then install it, I will write a follow-up to this post to let you all know how it all turns out.

Until then, I hope this article has helped and not confused you even more!