Issue #037 Review

The Lab: Intend Stiffmaster Headset in review

In the “The Lab” we present the latest products and put them through their paces for you. Some undergo long-term tests, while we check others out only briefly. This time we reveal how the Intend Stiffmaster Headset fared.

Hold the phone! In a most unassuming fashion, one-man-brand Intend may have just revolutionised an often overlooked component of our bikes. In a world of minute incremental performance upgrades it’s rare these days to discover products that are actually far better than anything else on the market. The Intend Stiffmaster headset is a revolution. First up, some background. Grab your bike and clamp the front wheel between your legs, now flex the bar up and down, you will notice quite considerable flex at the junction between the headset and stem, felt at the grips. It’s the same with every bike with a single crown fork.

The difference is not huge, but can be felt when you are pulling or pushing hard on the bars
The Intend Stiffmaster is a ground-up redesign of the conventional headset, boosting stiffness at the stem to steerer interface
The first spacer above the the headset needs to be an Intend one, and you can buy them in different sizes

Intend’s founder, Cornelius Kapfinger found that under heavy loads the thin steerer tube of the fork (thinner than a handlebar) can bend, and with a conventional headset the points of contact are very small. Instead of a crown race insert, Intends revolutionary 77g (upper only) Stiffmaster headset has a much larger integral shell which reinforces the upper steerer tube, reducing flex by up to 40% according to Intend. The headset is very different to everything else we have seen, with a 14 mm stack height and only currently compatible with ZS44 headtube, the Stiffmaster uses an axial needle-bearing for super smooth performance. Trev is wary of marketing claims but on back-to-back tests, the increased stiffness can be felt, and seen if you flex the end of the bars or sprint. While some of the ride feeling may be placebo, when hanging off the bar you cannot argue that the increased stiffness is there, and who wants flex at the stem – nobody! Trev has been riding one in Scotland and has experienced no wear issues so far, even after intensive jetwash abuse, just reliable and extremely positive steering. For a very reasonable €79.00 the Intend Stiffmaster in an engineering masterstroke, and a better design than anything else on the market.

If you’re an aggressive rider or focus on performance, then flex around the headset to stem junction is best avoided; the Intend Stiffmaster headset improves the stiffness of this union. When it comes to value-for-money, the Stiffmaster headset makes a great performance upgrade when your current headset wears out.


  • A revolution
  • Great engineering


  • A little more expensive

Tester Trev
Duration 3 months
Price € 79.00
Weight Weight: 77 g
More info

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