Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: SW Ohio
Bikes: Puch Marco Polo, Saint Tropez, Masi Gran Criterium
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Originally Posted by the scout
Recently installed new headset with cartridge bearings but am finding that it creaks a lot .
I packed the cups with grease, hand tightened then backed off a quarter turn before securing with the locknut.
Never had this problem with my old clipped ball type headset.
I would be most grateful for any suggestions.
I never had a headset creak. You might not want to ride the bike until you find the cause. From what you said so far I would just want to make sure of: 1) did you pack enough grease in there or do you need some more? 2) When you say you hand tightened then backed off a quarter turn before securing the locknut, I suspect this may be where your creaking is originating from. Getting the headset snug but locked securely usually involves 2 wrenches. First use your 32mm headset wrench to snug up the upper cup to where it still turns freely but is as snug as you can get, next secure the locknut with another wrench. Often as you tighten the lock nut, the bearing adjustment will change so you need the thin headset wrench to back off (or further snug up) the bearings.
I suspect revisiting #2 above is where you will find the solution.
A third possible malfunction is possible but not likely and that is the possibility that some part of the install of the headset isn't seated in properly. The upper and lower fixed cups need to be parallel to each other - check them visually to see are they seated fully in the headtube. Next make sure that the fork race is fully seated on the crown.
Shimano cartridge bearing headsets still need maintenence just like the old ball bearing ones. After a ride in heavy rain the bearings will pick up water, rust and then lose their smoothness just like the old school type. A good soak in solvent, brushing out the old grease with a toothbrush and dry with compressed air and re-lube with high quality grease restores like-new function or at least it did for me. Overall the cartridge bearings are less fussy but they do need proper set up.