|A head set race to clearance the fork crown for early 29"ers from Chris King.|
Now, don't get me wrong, 1 1/8th headsets are not gone. Many bikes still use them. However; any serious mountain bike has eschewed the former standard for something that has a tapered steer tube and some form of mixed bearing size set up. The straight steer tube thing in mountain bikes was the standard for years. Ever since Gary Fisher pushed the "Evolution" sized steer tube and the industry followed up with a move from 1" steer tubes to 1 1/8th, and not the 1 1/4" Gary wanted back then. But still, things were all pretty much a standard cup pressed into a tube with bearings usually spinning on angular contact surfaces. Well......okay. Maybe "spinning" is taking things a bit too far. You know how much a head set bearing rotates.
So we had all these cool anodized cups we could press into frames and add a bit of color to our rigs. One of the companies that was all in to that was Chris King. Ten years ago they announced that you could mix and match colors on their headset components. I actually got a blue/orange/silver mixed Chris King 1 1/8th head set that I had in my Pofahl, if I recall correctly. But that got moved when I was trying to track down a creak in my bike and the King multi-colored headset ended up in my Mukluk dubbed the Snow Dog where it has been ever since.
I know tapered steer tube, integrated head set frames are stronger and it is a better deal for longer travel suspension bikes, fat bikes, and maybe your road racer rig, but those old cup and cone/sealed bearing 1 1/8th head sets are so simple and added a nice touch to the overall look of a bike.