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Replacement headset for Trek 5900  

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
In my experience, it's the bad Trek lower bearing giving the whole headset a bad reputation. The
lower cup is Trek-specific, and bonded
in. 66% of the ones I've assembled have been significantly out of alignment. (This is also true
of the other OCLV models, but those can usually be corrected with standard reaming and
facing tools).

And on the 33% where the cup is apparently aligned, the bearing is often bonded in crooked.

And on the few where the bearing is pretty straight, the seal on that bearing is simply a
high-drag seal.

In other words, as far as I know, you're stuck.

Trek knows about this problem, so one remote possibility might be to ask Trek to un-bond that cup
and bond in a normal one. You won't be able to use the existing fork, but at least the headset
won't bind.

A very extreme possibility is that a competent bike shop could saw off the "cup" part, then ream and
face the "bonded in" part. This might work to convert the frame for a normal lower head set. Measure
carefully first!

oldman@teamabsolut.net (oldman) wrote in message
news:<679e8973.0301162119.408cc0c1@posting.google.com>...
> Any recommendation for replacement headset for MY2000 Trek OCLV 5700? My bike comes with badly
> engineered Cane Creek headset. Having problem after 2 months with the bike. I am sick and tired of
> adjusting the knocking headset or a self-tightening headset every other month. BTW, I think the
> headset on the 5700 is non-standard if I remember correctly, 11/8 top and
> 11/4 bottom. Does Chris King make headset in this odd combination?
>
> My mountain bike headset (another Cane Creek)siezed 3 weeks after I bought it, after one very wet
> ride.Is it just me or is it really Cane Crap? I changed to a Chris King on my MTB and it's been a
> 2 years without a single problem, including many very wet rides.
>
> cheers! king young Lee
post #2 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

Diane: It's not all that difficult to take care of. My own 5900 had the same issue (which I lived
with for quite some time, until I finally got around to it last month). It's not that big a deal, in
most cases. All you need to do is remove the fork, remove the lower bearing from the fork, reinstall
the bearing and then reinstall the fork (with bearing attached). In 90% of the cases, that takes
care of it. It doesn't seem to be a misaligned cup, but rather an issue with how the lower bearing
seats in it.

Unfortunately, it's not something that can be done outside of a shop, as it's often *very* difficult
to remove the bearing from the fork, and reinstalling it requires both slide hammers and a bit of
improvisation (due to the cone-shaped bottom section of the fork).

It is *not* necessary to replace the lower cup, at least not for the ones I've dealt with (and we
sell a whole lot of 5900s, so we have quite a bit of experience with them). Depending upon how
carefully you can remove the lower bearing, it's a very good idea to have a replacement on hand.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com

"dianne_1234" <dianne_1234@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:ad63daab.0301170517.4a8f3c87@posting.google.com...
> In my experience, it's the bad Trek lower bearing giving the whole headset a bad reputation. The
> lower cup is Trek-specific, and bonded
> in. 66% of the ones I've assembled have been significantly out of alignment. (This is also true of
> the other OCLV models, but those can usually be corrected with standard reaming and facing
> tools).
>
> And on the 33% where the cup is apparently aligned, the bearing is often bonded in crooked.
>
> And on the few where the bearing is pretty straight, the seal on that bearing is simply a
> high-drag seal.
>
> In other words, as far as I know, you're stuck.
>
> Trek knows about this problem, so one remote possibility might be to ask Trek to un-bond that cup
> and bond in a normal one. You won't be able to use the existing fork, but at least the headset
> won't bind.
>
> A very extreme possibility is that a competent bike shop could saw off the "cup" part, then ream
> and face the "bonded in" part. This might work to convert the frame for a normal lower head set.
> Measure carefully first!
>
> oldman@teamabsolut.net (oldman) wrote in message
news:<679e8973.0301162119.408cc0c1@posting.google.com>...
> > Any recommendation for replacement headset for MY2000 Trek OCLV 5700? My bike comes with badly
> > engineered Cane Creek headset. Having problem after 2 months with the bike. I am sick and tired
> > of adjusting the
knocking
> > headset or a self-tightening headset every other month. BTW, I think the headset on the 5700 is
> > non-standard if I remember correctly, 11/8 top
and
> > 11/4 bottom. Does Chris King make headset in this odd combination?
> >
> > My mountain bike headset (another Cane Creek)siezed 3 weeks after I bought it, after one very
> > wet ride.Is it just me or is it really Cane Crap? I changed to a Chris King on my MTB and it's
> > been a 2 years without a single problem, including many very wet rides.
> >
> > cheers! king young Lee
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

Thanks for the encouragement, Mike. Mine was out and replaced already, and still isn't half as
smooth as a friend's 5500. Does once do the trick, or is there something the shop should look for in
addition to just R&R?

"Mike Jacoubowsky" <mikej1@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message
news:<pWWV9.83$p57.13915327@newssvr14.news.prodigy.com>...
> Diane: It's not all that difficult to take care of. My own 5900 had the same issue (which I lived
> with for quite some time, until I finally got around to it last month). It's not that big a deal,
> in most cases. All you need to do is remove the fork, remove the lower bearing from the fork,
> reinstall the bearing and then reinstall the fork (with bearing attached). In 90% of the cases,
> that takes care of it. It doesn't seem to be a misaligned cup, but rather an issue with how the
> lower bearing seats in it.
>
> Unfortunately, it's not something that can be done outside of a shop, as it's often *very*
> difficult to remove the bearing from the fork, and reinstalling it requires both slide hammers and
> a bit of improvisation (due to the cone-shaped bottom section of the fork).
>
> It is *not* necessary to replace the lower cup, at least not for the ones I've dealt with (and we
> sell a whole lot of 5900s, so we have quite a bit of experience with them). Depending upon how
> carefully you can remove the lower bearing, it's a very good idea to have a replacement on hand.
>
> --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
>
>
> "dianne_1234" <dianne_1234@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> news:ad63daab.0301170517.4a8f3c87@posting.google.com...
> > In my experience, it's the bad Trek lower bearing giving the whole headset a bad reputation. The
> > lower cup is Trek-specific, and bonded
> > in. 66% of the ones I've assembled have been significantly out of alignment. (This is also true
> > of the other OCLV models, but those can usually be corrected with standard reaming and
> > facing tools).
> >
> > And on the 33% where the cup is apparently aligned, the bearing is often bonded in crooked.
> >
> > And on the few where the bearing is pretty straight, the seal on that bearing is simply a
> > high-drag seal.
> >
> > In other words, as far as I know, you're stuck.
> >
> > Trek knows about this problem, so one remote possibility might be to ask Trek to un-bond that
> > cup and bond in a normal one. You won't be able to use the existing fork, but at least the
> > headset won't bind.
> >
> > A very extreme possibility is that a competent bike shop could saw off the "cup" part, then ream
> > and face the "bonded in" part. This might work to convert the frame for a normal lower head set.
> > Measure carefully first!
> >
> > oldman@teamabsolut.net (oldman) wrote in message
> news:<679e8973.0301162119.408cc0c1@posting.google.com>...
> > > Any recommendation for replacement headset for MY2000 Trek OCLV 5700? My bike comes with badly
> > > engineered Cane Creek headset. Having problem after 2 months with the bike. I am sick and
> > > tired of adjusting the
> knocking
> > > headset or a self-tightening headset every other month. BTW, I think the headset on the 5700
> > > is non-standard if I remember correctly, 11/8 top
> and
> > > 11/4 bottom. Does Chris King make headset in this odd combination?
> > >
> > > My mountain bike headset (another Cane Creek)siezed 3 weeks after I bought it, after one very
> > > wet ride.Is it just me or is it really Cane Crap? I changed to a Chris King on my MTB and it's
> > > been a 2 years without a single problem, including many very wet rides.
> > >
> > > cheers! king young Lee
post #4 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> Why don't you fix this problem John? It's been 100% in the four I've bought. That stinks!

Thank goodness you're around! Without you, some of those evil nasty frames would make it into my
shop. Instead, they seek you out like a magnet, and I (and my customers) get all the good stuff. No
messed up bottom brackets, including ones that we've installed Campy into. No problems with
improperly-faced bottom bracket shells, either. Sure, if we want to use an old-style bottom bracket
(axle & cup style), then a bit more prep is in order, but for a current-style Shimano or Campy, they
go right in.

But really, why in the world do you keep buying something you hate so much??? Is this like one of
those things where somebody's beating their head against the wall, and you ask them why they do
that, and the answer is that it feels so good when they stop?

Anyway, I'm thankful that you're out there to suck up all that nasty product, and create cute email
names instead of having a real identity. And if you ever want to give up on those four awful frames
you bought, send them my way and I'll find somebody who's masochistic enough to want to build a bike
out of them.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
post #5 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> Thanks for the encouragement, Mike. Mine was out and replaced already, and still isn't half as
> smooth as a friend's 5500. Does once do the trick, or is there something the shop should look for
> in addition to just R&R?

You're dealing with a double-sealed cartridge bearing, so it will always have a bit more friction
than a conventional headset (similar to how a Chris King headset doesn't turn as easily as an
inexpensive headset with lesser seals). But if it's not smooth (feels rough), you may need to
replace the bearing.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReaction.com
post #6 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> So simple that the manufacturer could do it!!!!
>
> Why don't they?

Working on it. It's that imperfect world thing, and it is, indeed, more difficult to properly set
up the headset on the 5900 than on the other bikes. Not an excuse, just a reason. Fortunately
it's not that common a problem, nor does it seem to affect how it handles (and in fact I lived
with it on my own bike for over a year). We see it in maybe one out of ten 5900s, and fix them
here in the shop (since I took mine home to build it, I didn't have access to the tools back then
to take care of it).

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReaction.com
post #7 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

In article <ToiW9.551$%G3.50423000@newssvr15.news.prodigy.com>, Mike Jacoubowsky
<MikeJ1@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> So simple that the manufacturer could do it!!!!
>>
>> Why don't they?
>
>Working on it. It's that imperfect world thing, and it is, indeed, more difficult to properly set
>up the headset on the 5900 than on the other bikes. Not an excuse, just a reason. Fortunately
>it's not that common a problem, nor does it seem to affect how it handles (and in fact I lived
>with it on my own bike for over a year). We see it in maybe one out of ten 5900s, and fix them
>here in the shop (since I took mine home to build it, I didn't have access to the tools back then
>to take care of it).

If it causes them such grief to get it right (on a flagship product no less - the one they should
get perfect above all others) why do they stick with that design instead of something normal like a
press-in headset? Does the strange proprietary design give them some amazing benefit they can't get
with a well-understood industry-standard solution? It must be something really big to warrant
tolerating the pain of annoyed dealers and customers.

--Paul
post #8 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> If it causes them such grief to get it right (on a flagship product no less - the one they should
> get perfect above all others) why do they stick with that design instead of something normal like
> a press-in headset? Does the strange proprietary design give them some amazing benefit they can't
> get with a well-understood industry-standard solution? It must be something really big to warrant
> tolerating the pain of annoyed dealers and customers.

As a matter-of-fact it does give them "some amazing benefit." It allows them to use an aluminum
steer column on a fork that weighs just 360 grams (in a size that fits a 60cm bike). Why is that
such a big deal? Work in a bike shop for a while and check all the carbon-fork-column forks that
customers have destroyed by either over-tightening or using the wrong type of star-nut-equivalent.
Happens all the time. With the aluminum steer tube, use of a torque wrench isn't required to tighten
the stem, and they're not going to wreck it from the inside-out either. This is a real-life benefit,
not something theoretical. To me, it's worth the minor inconvenience. Another benefit is having
better support for the fork crown (less flex, more control) with the wider base there.

So yes, the advantage is "something really big." Unfortunately, I wouldn't be too surprised if it
eventually gets ditched in favor of a more conventional, heavier fork column. TREK is probably too
conservative to consider a carbon fork column, for reasons I've already mentioned.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
post #9 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> I'll probably do it now that I know it's really not just me having this problem. Now, I wonder if
> the shop will charge me if the bearing needs replacement since this sounds like a
> design/production issue and not
regular
> wear and tear.

If the problem was there from the beginning, and the shop is the one you purchased the bike from,
it's quite possible they won't charge for the repair. However, you're in Singapore, not the US, so
it could be that getting the bearings isn't quite so simple for them as it is for me. In our case
no, there most certainly wouldn't be any charge on a bike we've sold (it's part of what I see as our
obligation to the customer to take care of things like that), but again, that's our shop, in the US.
Realities may be different elsewhere.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com

"oldman" <oldman@teamabsolut.net> wrote in message
news:679e8973.0301192322.584f77d1@posting.google.com...
> "Bob" <robert.finkelsen@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:<huSV9.24412$7O4.9141@nwrddc02.gnilink.net>...
> > If you bought it new? TAKE IT BACK TO THE DEALER!
>
> Yes, I bought it new but I hesitate taking it back to the dealer. I
thought
> the dealer will do exactly what I am doing, which is readjust the headset. This will fix the prblm
> for maybe a couple of months.
>
> Unless this is a known weakness/problem with this model and the shop is aware of it, I don't think
> the shop will do anything more than that.
>
> I'll probably do it now that I know it's really not just me having this problem. Now, I wonder if
> the shop will charge me if the bearing needs replacement since this sounds like a
> design/production issue and not
regular
> wear and tear.
>
> cheers! king young Lee
post #10 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

I had a 2001 Trek 5900. Had to replace the lower headset bearing at about 4000 miles. Not great,
but no big deal. The real problem was that this design (the 1 1/4 inch lower bearing) locked me not
just into the nonstandard headset but also the Trek 110 fork--which I think was the cause of much
bigger grief.

From day one I had handling problems. The bike was EXTREMELY squirrly at speed on anything but a
perfect surface. It also felt strange in a sprint--like it was winding up and springing back. My
bike was a 60CM and I'm about 190 lbs. After eliminating the obvious causes, I ultimately attributed
the problems to excessive steerer tube flex, which is quite visible when you look down while going
over bumps. This was the flip side of the impressively silky ride. This frame/fork combo might be
fine in a smaller size and/or a lighter rider. The problem was that I couldn't even try out another
fork due to the proprietary headset design.

I also found it interesting in a sad, ironic way that Lance Armstrong rarely rides this frame, even
in TdF, and then only on climbing stages. I've yet to see a picture of any other USPS rider on the
frame. I wonder why. Maybe this excerpt from
http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2002...kes/usps.shtml is revlevant:

(CN - Cycling News, JMV - US Postal mechanic Jean-Marc Vandenberghe)

CN: Can you tell us about Lance's new race bike for 2002?

JMV: Yes, this is his Trek 5900; it has the same frame as he used in the hills last year. For
Milano-San Remo which is a fast race on good roads, we chose the light bike for this race. It's
almost 1kg lighter than the regular bike.

CO/Tim Maloney CN: Which bike will Lance use in the Classics?

JMV: Lance will ride a Trek 5500. With the cobbles and the bad roads in the classics you need more
stability so he'll use that slightly heavier bike.

Makes me wonder why I paid $4K for a unstable bike!

Also, from http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2003/road/5900.jsp

FRAME Ultralight OCLV® 110 Carbon creates the lightest, fastest stock frame ever made. Quick
handling and amazing comfort on long rides. Lance Armstrong's Tour de France frame.

Then look at http://www.trekbikes.com/tour_de_fra...lery/index.jsp to see pictures of
Lance Armstrong on either a 5500 or else a 5900 which has been modified to accept a conventional
Look/Time/Reynolds sort of fork.

After 6500 miles I traded the Trek for a stiff aluminum bike and love it!

- Pete

John Dacey <jdacey@businesscycles.com> wrote in message
news:<6j5p2v0g0quqp5po5i7t9vn78pm443g52p@4ax.com>...
> On 20 Jan 2003 14:00:08 GMT, vecchio51@aol.com (Qui si parla Campagnolo) wrote:
>
> >Paul-<< If it causes them such grief to get it right (on a flagship product no less - the one
> >they should get perfect above all others) why do they stick with that design instead of something
> >normal like a press-in headset?
> >
> >Reality, what a concept. Please tell me why propriatary, intergrated hs are a good thing
>
> Well, the question is: good for whom? If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear the sales
> pitch to Trek dealers still echoing through the halls at Interbike - "... and of course, they'll
> have to come back to _you_ for service..."
>
> Last year, when faced with a customer with a badly deteriorated pressed-on fork crown bearing on
> the subject frame, I contacted Trek to acquire the requisite parts to mend it. The person at Trek
> I spoke with was particularly unhelpful and seemed to take real satisfaction in trotting out the
> line ending in "... voids the warranty if carried out by anyone other than an authorized Trek
> dealer". When I told my customer Trek wouldn't sell me the bearing nor "special tool" to effect
> the repair and he'd have to go back to the Trek dealer, this Lance-alike went justifiably Postal.
> -----
> http://www.businesscycles.com John Dacey Business Cycles Miami, Florida
> -----
> Now in our twentieth year. Our catalog of track equipment: seventh year online
post #11 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

In article <67GW9.104$VJ3.47070351@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>, Mike Jacoubowsky
<MikeJ1@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> If it causes them such grief to get it right (on a flagship product no less - the one they should
>> get perfect above all others) why do they stick with that design instead of something normal like
>> a press-in headset? Does the strange proprietary design give them some amazing benefit they can't
>> get with a well-understood industry-standard solution? It must be something really big to warrant
>> tolerating the pain of annoyed dealers and customers.
>
>
>As a matter-of-fact it does give them "some amazing benefit." It allows them to use an aluminum
>steer column on a fork that weighs just 360 grams (in a size that fits a 60cm bike). Why is that
>such a big deal? Work in a bike shop for a while and check all the carbon-fork-column forks that
>customers have destroyed by either over-tightening or using the wrong type of star-nut-equivalent.
>Happens all the time. With the aluminum steer tube, use of a torque wrench isn't required to
>tighten the stem, and they're not going to wreck it from the inside-out either. This is a real-life
>benefit, not something theoretical. To me, it's worth the minor inconvenience. Another benefit is
>having better support for the fork crown (less flex, more control) with the wider base there.
>
>So yes, the advantage is "something really big."

OK, but what all that sounds like is that the advantage is a few ounces of weight savings. I mean,
compared to other forks out there with aluminum steer tubes. I realize from a marketing perspective
that would be an impossibly foolish thing to do but IMO it would still be a better bike that way.

--Paul
post #12 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> I also found it interesting in a sad, ironic way that Lance Armstrong rarely rides this frame,
> even in TdF, and then only on climbing stages. I've yet to see a picture of any other USPS rider
> on the frame. I wonder why. Maybe this excerpt from
> http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2002...kes/usps.shtml is revlevant:

This was answered earlier, either in this or another thread. Lance is asked to ride *both* bikes,
for marketing purposes. Lance is paid ungodly sums of money and, in return, he offers product
exposure (by riding the bike). If you ask Lance directly (as many have), he'll tell you that the
5900 is his "secret weapon" that he brings out whenever he needs that extra edge in the hills. He
claims it makes a noticeable difference.

If Lance rode a 5500 frameset in classics etc because it was more "solid" or whatever, and TREK
wanted it to appear otherwise, the solution would be very simple- paint a 5500 to look exactly the
same as a 5900. Very, very simple. But the truth is that he rides the 5500 because they're both
great bikes and he's asked to give exposure to each.

As for handling differences between an '01 5900 and the 5500, I'm very qualified to speak on that
one, having ridden the 5500 frameset since 1992 and the 5900 (an '01 model at that) shortly after it
came out. I also happen to be 6' and weigh 187lbs (should be less, sigh). The 5900 is most
definitely a faster-handling bike than the 5500 was, since the '01 model had a fork that was
borrowed directly from the Klein side of the family (Aeros fork), complete with the stock Klein
offset. I noticed that on the very first ride, but within a day or two of riding I was completely at
ease with it (including sprinting).

Different people look for different things in a bike though, and I'm glad you've found something you
really like. The most important thing is to find the time to get out and ride!

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
post #13 of 13

Re: Replacement headset for Trek 5900

> OK, but what all that sounds like is that the advantage is a few ounces of weight savings. I mean,
> compared to other forks out there with aluminum steer tubes. I realize from a marketing
> perspective that would be an impossibly foolish thing to do but IMO it would still be a better
> bike that way.

Correct, it's all about sqeezing a few extra ounces out of the frameset, nothing more. I originally
thought it was a really dumb idea, since it meant creating a new world order in which the 5200
customer was no longer buying the exact same frameset as Lance (although, truth be told, they have
Lance riding the standard 5200/5500 frameset as often as possible, for marketing reasons). I thought
this was detract from its sales for that reason. I was wrong. What it did was make the 5200/5500 a
"safe" choice for the person who could now rationalize that he was being responsible and saving
money by getting the more establish, less-expensive model.

Are those few extra ounces important? To Lance they are. In a climbing stage, he wants the frame as
light as he can get it, and still have it reliable. He wants to push the weight limit hard, without
having to resort to stuff that doesn't hold up well. Those five or six ounces saved between the 5500
and 5900 frameset buy improved reliability elsewhere, while maintaining the same overall weight.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReaction.com

"Paul Southworth" <cnhyf-1043038800@usenet.etext.org> wrote in message
news:9Y7X9.30146$A%3.388979@ord-read.news.verio.net...
> In article <67GW9.104$VJ3.47070351@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>, Mike Jacoubowsky
> <MikeJ1@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> >> If it causes them such grief to get it right (on a flagship product no less - the one they
> >> should get perfect above all others) why do they stick with that design instead of something
> >> normal like a press-in headset? Does the strange proprietary design give them some amazing
> >> benefit they can't get with a well-understood industry-standard solution? It must be something
> >> really big to warrant tolerating the pain of annoyed dealers and customers.
> >
> >
> >As a matter-of-fact it does give them "some amazing benefit." It allows them to use an aluminum
> >steer column on a fork that weighs just 360 grams (in a size that fits a 60cm bike). Why is that
> >such a big deal? Work in
a
> >bike shop for a while and check all the carbon-fork-column forks that customers have destroyed by
> >either over-tightening or using the wrong
type
> >of star-nut-equivalent. Happens all the time. With the aluminum steer tube, use of a torque
> >wrench isn't required to tighten the stem, and
they're
> >not going to wreck it from the inside-out either. This is a real-life benefit, not something
> >theoretical. To me, it's worth the minor inconvenience. Another benefit is having better support
> >for the fork
crown
> >(less flex, more control) with the wider base there.
> >
> >So yes, the advantage is "something really big."
>
> OK, but what all that sounds like is that the advantage is a few ounces of weight savings. I mean,
> compared to other forks out there with aluminum steer tubes. I realize from a marketing
> perspective that would be an impossibly foolish thing to do but IMO it would still be a better
> bike that way.
>
> --Paul
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