Bicycle Mechanics - Headset/stem cracking sound
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02-28-08, 03:44 PM
Nothing is cracked, but sometimes when I turn the stem or torque the bars I hear a cracking sound around the stem and headset.
Should I increase or decrease the pre-load? I've been pre-loading the headset then tightening the stem onto the steerer tube, is this the correct procedure?
Grease the threads of the bolts.
02-28-08, 08:26 PM
One of my favorite causes of unusual noises like that are the ends of the shift cable housing rubbing against the housing end caps. The plastic recedes and exposes the strands of metal that make up the shift housing. Trim the metal ends off, and recap (a good reason to not crimp the end caps when installing). That might be the cause with the turning of the stem.
Torque applied and still getting noise would cause me to remove all the bolts of the stem, clean and grease them, then clean all the stem/bar/steerer interfaces and put everything back together again.
If that doesn't help, consider how old those parts are. They do wear out and will have to be replaced eventually.
02-28-08, 08:46 PM
Anywhere there is a clamp interface, open it and wipe it clean with a clean rag. The crud that builds up in the surfaces from either corrosion, moisture, dirt etc works its way in and works as a weak lubricant. The cable ends are another big one.
03-13-08, 03:53 PM
Everything is brand new: Reynolds Ouzo fork, Ritchey Pro stem, Cane Creek IS headset.
I just took it apart and cleaned the clamping surfaces nicely. The stem bolts are greased and the noise still happens. I'm ruling out the cable ends since it happens not just when I turn the steerer tube but also when I torque on the bars. CRACK with every hard twist. Tried various pre-loads, bolt torques, still get it.
Any more ideas? Thanks everyone.
03-14-08, 11:25 AM
Bump for the Friday afternoon crowd.
03-14-08, 11:34 AM
If it's up on a bike stand can you feel any resistance that ends with this CRACK sound as you slowly turn the bars from lock to lock? Or is it more when you're torquing side to side on the bars as in when you're climbing a hill.
Also is the headset free enough to easily let the front swing to one side or the other when you let it go?
I like to preload until I feel resistance and then back it off until I just barely don't feel any resistance. If it still cracks after such a setup then there's something wrong with one of the bearings. If they are cartridge bearings pull them out and flex them. Sometimes they can be cracked and it's super hard to see the line until you try to flex them.
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