Grinding sound from front stem/forks

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by deadbattery, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. deadbattery

    deadbattery New Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Hello everybody!

    I'm quite new to the terminology of bikes as I've only been a happy rider so far, so I hope that I'm clear enough. Just let me know I'm being stupid if I'm not =] Also, I hope this is the right place to post this!

    My brother gave me his old mountain bike for my birthday last summer, which, aside from some issues with the gears was in fine condition. It's a GT Avalanche, though I don't know more than that other than it's probably about four or five years old now. A few months after getting it I fell off in the rain and fractured the radial head in my left arm (another story that, but I was terrified that such a little crack could have caused such problems!). So basically, the bike had been unused for a couple of months while I healed and while it was too icy to ride here. The problem I've got now is that when I turn the handlebars in either direction, a horrible grinding sound emits from the front of the bike. It feels like the movement is restricted and occasionally it locks up briefly, though with a little more pressure it moves again.

    As I've said, I don't know much about the inner workings of a bike (the closest I've come is trying and failing to replace brake and gear cables. I wasn't too far off though!), so I assumed it might have rusted up inside the front tubes. Does that sound reasonable? I've been looking into taking the front of the bike apart, though I'm not sure I'd even know what I'd be looking for. There's a bike shop in the next town over, but at the moment I don't have the time, the money or the transport to go there.

    Any suggestions on what the problem might be and how I might be able to remedy it? You all seem like a clever bunch so I'm hoping someone will be able to help =]

    Cheers, Karl

  2. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

    Jan 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Putting 2 and 2 together (rain last ride/sitting for months) it sounds like you probably have corrosion in your headset - most likely bearings. Alternatively, when you went down, grit/sand could have collected around the headset opening and the rain carried it inside the headset. Either way you'll need to service your headset - clean and lube or replace. Depending upon the headset design (not familiar with GT headset) it could be a relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Will also depend on how much corrosion.

    You probably have a zero stack threadless headset, which disasembles by removing the stem/bars and sliding the fork out. The headset bearings (inside top and bottom of headset opening in frame) are sometimes a bear to get out and reset ... again depends on design. If you're reasonably mechnically inclined you'll do fine. If not, a bike shop has the proper tools and shouldn't charge a lot for labor to disassemble/assemble. If you need to replace the headset, they vary widely in cost (bearing quality, design, etc.). Here's a generic link to get you started. Good luck!