Creak from headset/steam fix

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Brian Ray

Perhaps this will help somebody trying to hunt down one of those elusive creaks. The situation:
After doing an annual teardown and rebuild on my bike, up front things start creaking a few test
rides into the season. Threadless carbon steerer, aluminum stem and bars, Chris King headset.

Ok, check and see if the headset has some play by yanking the fork crown and the steerer in opposite
directions, a technique that's served in the past. No play, no creaking. Twist the bars back and
forth on the axis of the stem--creak, creak. Ok, I've had this problem before, the bar clamp needs a
bit more grease on it.

Roll home and regrease the bar clamp. Still creaks. Pop the stem and spacers, re-grease all the
interfaces between them, re-assemble. Still creaks. Hmmm.

Google search for posts on creaking stems, headsets, carbon fiber steerers. Never
grease a carbon fiber surface, make sure to grease all metal interfaces. Ok, ok ... epiphany.

I pop off the stem again plus the bearing cap, then lightly grease the surface that contacts the
sealed bearing unit. It seems the likely culprit given a bit of the (anodized?) finish is worn where
it contacts the bearing unit. Re-assemble the thing, yank on the bars again, and nothing but
refreshing silence.

So if you think you've greased everything in trying to kill a creak from the headset, check the
bearing cap.

Brian Ray
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