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Old 08-11-02, 04:59 PM   #1
nikos
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Alright, why is my steering stiff now!

Had some creaking in my stem/bar area (threadless). Took off the stem and the raiser rings, put a small coating of grease on, also took off the bar clamp bolts and greased them too. Well it appears to have solved the creaking, however - I put the stem top cap back on first, before tightening the stem bolts. Well the steering is tight. So after tightening the stem bolts, I went back and adjusted the top cap bolt with no luck, I can turn the bars to one side to the other and the movement is tight. In the work stand, it will stay to one side or the other, no movement on its own. Whats up!
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Old 08-11-02, 05:10 PM   #2
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Since you refer to stem bolts I assume you have a threadless headset. Besides holding the stem on, tightening the stem bolts is what locks the adjustment in place. Once you have tightened them you can no longer adjust the headset. You will have to loosen the stem bolts, then loosen the headset. I don't know if it is common to all threadless headsets, but mine has a wedge-shaped plastic washer that gets kind of wedged in place. To remove the fork, or in your case, loosen the headset, if the headset won't loosen after loosening the stem bolts, you may have to give the top of the fork a little bop with a rubber mallet to knock it loose, then tighten it again. WARNING, have the fork close to something cushioned when you do this. Once released the fork may just fly on out.
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Old 08-11-02, 05:15 PM   #3
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Three ideas:
  • The headset might simply be too tight. Loosen the bolts that clamp the stem to the steer tube, remove the cap and bolt, raise the stem 1cm, and clamp it there lightly. Now use a soft hammer to rap the upper headset parts until they unwedge. Next, gently push the headset parts down, watching the seals to ensure they're not out of place on top or bottom bearings, and slide the stem down. Put the cap back on, gently snug the cap's bolt just a bit (50-60 inch-pounds max), then align the stem, check again for seals that got trapped where they shouldn't be, and tighten the stem to the steer tube firmly.
  • The plastic or rubber seal on the upper or lower headset areas might have gotten trapped between the cup and cone. Solution, loosen the bolts clamping the stem to the steer tube, raise it 1cm or so, clamp it lightly so it stays, and get the headset parts separated so you can check this possibility.
  • If you had the headset completely apart, perhaps one or both bearings are in upside down. Solution, ensure that the ring side of the retainers is in the cup sections of the headset, so the "fingers" on the retainers face the cones. Also watch the seals as you put it back together.

I guess I should explicitly state a key piece of threadless-stem knowledge: the stem must not be clamped down on the steer tube when adjusting the bearing preload (which is what the top bolt does). The top bolt is attempting to push the stem down against the headset parts to take out the bearing play, but it cannot do it if the stem is clamped down. And the opposite is true as well: taking tension off the top bolt has no effect unless the stem is unclamped from the steer tube (not to mention the issue RainmanP explained, where the parts wedge and stay wedged until broken loose).

Last edited by mechBgon; 08-11-02 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 08-11-02, 06:09 PM   #4
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READ THE BOOK YOU BOUGHT!
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Old 08-11-02, 09:08 PM   #5
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thanks guys for the input, I will check it out. Pokey - I thought you might say that - the book is bed time reading, Ill check it tonight.
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