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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 12-17-07, 08:07 PM   #1
ragboy
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Should there be any "play" between fork/head tube?

On my newly purchased road bike, I've noticed a little "play" or looseness between the fork and the head tube.

When bracing the front wheel, I can rock the bike forward/backward and detect about an 1/8 to 1/4-inch of play. Is this normal or does something need tightening? The bolt at the top of the headtube is tight.
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Old 12-17-07, 08:19 PM   #2
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NO...you have a loose headset.

You can't just tighten the bolt on top, it's really just there to initially tighten the headset, but it's the bolts in back that keep it all in place.

Loosen the two (assuming two) bolts on the back of the stem just enough so you can turn the stem freely around the fork steerer tube while the wheel stays pointing forward.

Tighten down the bolt on the top of the stem that goes into the steerer tube, just tight enough so that the play while rocking the bike goes away, but not so tight* that the wheel can't rotate left and right freely. (*edit: typo fixed)

Align the stem to the wheel and tighten the two bolts in back.

Edit: I still remember the first time I learned how to do this. It made me realize just how easy most things on a bike are to maintain, adjust and repair. Check out these two sites:
http://sheldonbrown.com/
http://www.parktool.com/repair/

Last edited by JiveTurkey; 12-18-07 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 12-17-07, 08:35 PM   #3
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Dude, thank you -- it is fixed. I knew good 'ol Bike Forums would come through.

BTW, I have a sister living in Corvallis -- cool town.

Again, thanks much, bro.
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Old 12-18-07, 11:01 AM   #4
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The object is to get it tight enough to elliminate the play, but NO tighter.
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Old 12-18-07, 11:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjciiijs View Post
The object is to get it tight enough to elliminate the play, but NO tighter.
Thanks -- I'll double-check to make sure it's not overtightened.
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