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Can't tighten headset  

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play. What
else can I try?

Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork
with carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube
not yet cut).

Michael
post #2 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

How many spacers, what kind, how much exposed steerer above the headset.

If there's play in your headset I wouldn't ride the bike, you may start ovalizing the headtube, then
you're fu*ked.

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"Michael" <michaelpress@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:24786a0f.0310300650.31760dff@posting.google.com...
> When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
> play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
> threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play.
> What else can I try?
>
> Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork with
> carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube not
> yet cut).
>
> Michael

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post #3 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Quote:
Originally posted by Michael
When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play. What
else can I try?

Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork
with carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube
not yet cut).

Michael
hi michael

just stating the obvious - you are loosening the stem bolts before trying to tighten the headset top cap bolt? also, check that the star fangled nut inside the steerer tube hasn't come loose and ridden all the way up to the top of the tube.
post #4 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

michaelpress@yahoo.com (Michael) wrote in message
news:<24786a0f.0310300650.31760dff@posting.google.com>...
> When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
> play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
> threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play.
> What else can I try?
>
> Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork with
> carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube not
> yet cut).
>
> Michael

Is the headset new? Is the fork crown race seated tightly on the fork? Enough space between top of
fork and top of stem to properly preload the headset?

BTW: I assume you mean "Litespeed". :-)

Jeff

Jeff
post #5 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Michael wrote:

> When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
> play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
> threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play.
> What else can I try?
>
> Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork with
> carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube not
> yet cut).

If all the other suggestions fail, and this is a new frame, get a good bike shop to check out the
head tube facing and re-cut the faces if necessary. If the cups are slightly out of parallel you'll
never get it right.
post #6 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Dan Daniel writes:

>> When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
>> play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
>> threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play.
>> What else can I try?

>> Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork with
>> carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube not
>> yet cut).

> One of the 'obvious' ones, but I'll throw it out- recently reinstalled a fork and headset and
> could not get it adjusted. Loose no matter what I did. Turns out that I had reinstalled the front
> wheel with too little pressure on the quick release. So I was feeling the slack I leave in the hub
> that is taken up by the pressure of the quick release, not the headset adjustment being slack.

You can't feel bearing clearance by the method used to assess head bearing clearance. However, the
more effective method will respond to wheel bearing clearance and that is to bounce the front end on
a well inflated tire. This will give a clear chatter sound if there is head bearing as well as wheel
bearing clearance.

> This was a threaded headset, if it matters.

It matters.

Jobst Brandt jobst.brandt@stanfordalumni.org
post #7 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

"Michael" <michaelpress@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:24786a0f.0310300650.31760dff@posting.google.com...
> When I do the "headset tightness check" (hold front brake and rock bike forward and back) I feel
> play in the headset. I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the
> threads) while pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play.
> What else can I try?
>
> Specs: Cane Creek S2 headset, Lightspeed Tuscany road frame, Lightspeed carbon (disc) fork with
> carbon steerer, ITM threadless stem, bunch o' spacers below and above stem (steerer tube not
> yet cut).
>
> Michael
Is the bung far enough down the steerertube? You could have reached the un-threaded part of the bolt
(which is what I did when I first installed an ahead set).

Rod
post #8 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

As with any bearing adjustment, a well adjusted bearing will have zero perceptible play, but will
still turn freely. I would err on the side of a scunch too tight with no play.

With a test as inacurate as rocking the bike with the front brake applied, I would expect zero play
perceptible. The "drop test" where you raise the front wheel and drop it about 6 inches or so, there
should be no rattling sound from the headset bearings (If you havent heard that, it's usually quite
distinctive).

On Thu, 30 Oct 2003 21:18:52 -0500, "Zilla" <zilla62XSPAM@bellsouth.net> wrote:

>Shouldn't there be "some" play, not a lot, but some? Just asking
post #9 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Zilla wrote:
> Shouldn't there be "some" play, not a lot, but some? Just asking

No, there should be a slight preload on the bearings, although sometimes you have to leave some play
in to avoid binding when persisting with a faulty headset or bike with non parallel head tube faces.

~PB
post #10 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Robin Hubert wrote:

>> Although if I am reading you correctly, seems that the 'drop' method has two potential sources
>> for a rattle and the rock method has only one.
>
> Not exactly true. Your front brake also flexes a bit and can give you a false reading if you're
> not on it.

A *loose* front brake can feel like a loose headset but flex does not. Just make sure the brake
mounting bolt is tight first. I find the brake test is a finer method that the drop test - I can
detect smaller amounts of play with it. It's only unsuitable for bikes with suspension forks.

~PB
post #11 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Michael-<< I've tightened the top cap down as much as I can (without stripping the threads) while
pushing all the bits down on the steerer tube, but I can't get rid of the play. What else can I try?
>><BR><BR>

Is the top cap hitting the steerer in any way? Add some more spacers and see if you can adjust it.
Cups tight in the headtube? Fork crown race installed properly?

Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
(303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
post #12 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

zilla-<< Shouldn't there be "some" play, not a lot, but some? Just asking >><BR><BR>

No-should be smooth w/o any 'play'...

Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
(303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
post #13 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Dan Daniel writes:

>> You can't feel [wheel] bearing clearance by the method used to assess head bearing clearance.

> I am not understanding what you mean here. Maybe because you dropped the word 'wheel' before the
> first bearing? Do you mean that when applying the front brake and rocking the bike, any bearing
> clearance in the front hub will not be perceptible?

That's correct, but the brake and rocking the bike method is not as sensitive as the front wheel
bounce method anyway.

>> However, the more effective method will respond to wheel bearing clearance and that is to bounce
>> the front end on a well inflated tire. This will give a clear chatter sound if there is head
>> bearing as well as wheel bearing clearance.

> OK, I'll make my next headset adjustment with this method only and make it work.

> Although if I am reading you correctly, seems that the 'drop' method has two potential sources for
> a rattle and the rock method has only one. Oh well, I was dumb enough to have a misadjusted hub in
> the first place and not catching it before moving on to the headset...

The loose wheel bearing responds well to manually wiggling the tire from side to side at the fork
crown. Note that closing the QR changes this adjustment depending on how tight it is set. Be careful
to not start with no clearance and then close the QR tightly. You can see the result of that by
letting the wheel come to a stop with the heaviest part of the wheel at the bottom as it is
suspended off the ground. It doesn't need to coast down for this test, just let it come to a stop
from practically no speed. It should not come to a trembling halt but smoothly pass the bottom
position until it stops.

>>> This was a threaded headset, if it matters.

>> It matters.

> Beyond reasons others have mentioned in this thread- need a spacer, loose star nut, etc.? Can you
> direct me to an explanation of the differences between a threaded and non-threaded headset when it
> comes to adjustment? Thanks.

You were looking for a cause and that brings out the problem of the two designs. The lock nut of a
threaded steer tube has a lock nut with a semi closed end that will bottom before it makes firm
contact with the upper race. Therefore it will not act as a locking device, or better said, the load
carrying thread against which the upper race is jammed.

The threadless steer tube uses the screw in the end cap to adjust bearing clearance which is
subsequently held constant by clamping the bar stem. The only and main advantage of this design is
to get rid of the wobbly creaking quill stem that pumps water down the steer tube and, if aluminum,
will oxidize through electrolysis and freeze to be unremovable.

Jobst Brandt jobst.brandt@stanfordalumni.org
post #14 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

Dan Daniel wrote:

> Something makes me think that such an analysis of the only benefit of threadless stems is not
> welcome by many people

The ability to strip and service them with only an allen key is the biggest advantage IMHO.

I don't like them on road bikes for the simple reason that they don't look very sleek. If I was
buying a new MTB I'd have threadless (not that there is any choice!)
post #15 of 17

Re: Can't tighten headset

uce-<< s2 headset has cartridge bearings. i had an lbs install one of these headsets a while back
and they told me that "play was normal" >><BR><BR>

LBS is FOS.

Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
(303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
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