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  1. #1
    I live in a bicycle. smovlov's Avatar
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    Cut To Length Headset Spacer?

    Why doesn't anyone just sell a long length of carbon or aluminum spacer stock. Then just cut it to desired length? Just being nit picky but I think it would be a better application for those high up there stems...
    I think further therefore I go farther.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smovlov View Post
    Why doesn't anyone just sell a long length of carbon or aluminum spacer stock. Then just cut it to desired length? Just being nit picky but I think it would be a better application for those high up there stems...
    Actually I did just that. I cut down a 1 1/4" carbon steerer for a friend and found that it was exactly the right size for spacing a 1" steerer. Now my Klein has a cut-to-size custom carbon spacer. I'm not betting on there being a weight difference.

    Why not is anybody's guess but I'm thinking that measuring and cutting a spacer takes a lot longer than just stacking a handfull of spacers. At roughly $1.00 per minute for shop time I doubt it would be commercially saleable.

  3. #3
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    The problems would be making the cuts perdendicular to the tube. A precision miter saw would get you in the ballpark, but a check with calipers would probably reveal the two ends not to be sufficiently parallel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    The problems would be making the cuts perdendicular to the tube. A precision miter saw would get you in the ballpark, but a check with calipers would probably reveal the two ends not to be sufficiently parallel.
    Not really such a big deal. I used a saw guide when I cut mine. If I didn't own a saw guide I probably would have used a hose clamp for a guide. A tubeing cutter would probably suffice for aluminum tubeing, I don't know how well that would work on carbon fiber.

  5. #5
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I can see where if the tubing is not cut nice and square the headset bearings will not have an even load all the way around.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    I can see where if the tubing is not cut nice and square the headset bearings will not have an even load all the way around.
    I suppose. All I can say is that I did it several years ago using a saw guide. I'm typing this so I must not have crashed and died.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I suppose. All I can say is that I did it several years ago using a saw guide. I'm typing this so I must not have crashed and died.
    Are you talking about stem spacer or a steering tube? Big difference. A steering tube could be cut quite crooked and make no difference. A spacer should have both surfaces parallel to .004 inch or preferably closer.

    NO, you can't use a tube cutter on CF.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-01-09 at 02:04 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    NO, you can't use a tube cutter on CF.
    Well, that depends. The steerer tube on my LOOK fork cut beautifully using a tubing cutter but on my Winwood fork, the tubing cutter wouldn't even begin to cut through. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two although one fork is a road fork and the other is a cyclocross fork.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Well, that depends. The steerer tube on my LOOK fork cut beautifully using a tubing cutter but on my Winwood fork, the tubing cutter wouldn't even begin to cut through. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two although one fork is a road fork and the other is a cyclocross fork.
    If you cut a LOOK carbon fork with an ordinary pipe cutter, you're lucky you didn't ruin it. I tried one once, on a piece of scrap cutoff steering and the result was horrible. It made all kinds of cracking sounds and obviously damaged the inside of the tube.

    A pipe/tube cutter is strictly for metal steering tubes. CF need to be sawed with a fine toothed or carbide grit blade or cut abrasively with a dremel tool.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    If you cut a LOOK carbon fork with an ordinary pipe cutter, you're lucky you didn't ruin it. I tried one once, on a piece of scrap cutoff steering and the result was horrible. It made all kinds of cracking sounds and obviously damaged the inside of the tube.

    A pipe/tube cutter is strictly for metal steering tubes. CF need to be sawed with a fine toothed or carbide grit blade or cut abrasively with a dremel tool.
    I tested it out on a section well above where my cut needed to be and it worked just fine. It was a no go on the Winwood fork (again testing well above where my cut needed to be) though which responded with the cracking sounds you mention. I used a fine tooth hacksaw blade on the Winwood but had my Dremel ready just in case.

    It seems that the tube construction and/or tube cutter make/model factors into whether or not the tube cutter will work on carbon fiber.

  11. #11
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    I made this one about 3 years ago. Cut it with a tubing cutter and it's worked very well.

    Source for alum. tubing :
    http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant...p=2&top_cat=60
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  12. #12
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    The faces of the spacer dont have to be parallel. For a long spacer like norwood's, it is only necessary that the face at the bottom is square to the axis of the spacer tube. Uneven pressure on the underside of the stem wont do any harm.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    Are you talking about stem spacer or a steering tube?
    Both really. I cut a section of 1 1/4" steerer tube to use as a stem spacer for a 1" fork.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    It seems that the tube construction and/or tube cutter make/model factors into whether or not the tube cutter will work on carbon fiber.
    What readers should know is that using a tubing cutter on CF is always a bad idea, regardless of the brand of fork.

    You can find some tubing cutters made just for PVC pipe that have a sharper and thinner cutting wheel. Those would be better, but it's just not the right tool for the job. A new LOOK fork costs about $500. Spend another 2-3 minutes and use a saw or abrasive cutoff.

  15. #15
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    Dave, I'm thinking of shortening my CF steerer with a ball peen hammer.
    It should just pop the end off.
    If I'm reading you right, you're advocating this technique.

    OK, here goes.

    I'm really going to do it.






    I'm picking up the hammer...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    What readers should know is that using a tubing cutter on CF is always a bad idea, regardless of the brand of fork.

    You can find some tubing cutters made just for PVC pipe that have a sharper and thinner cutting wheel. Those would be better, but it's just not the right tool for the job. A new LOOK fork costs about $500. Spend another 2-3 minutes and use a saw or abrasive cutoff.
    You said it couldn't be done. All I was chiming in with was a counterpoint saying that it can be done. Honestly though, after my experience with the Winwood fork, I won't bother trying it again anyway.

  17. #17
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    I think the real reason spacers are precut is convenience and, as RG noted above, the cost of shop time. Commercial spacers are available from 2 mm through 50 mm so you can get about any length you need with a small number of them.

    I expect a good steerer miter block would allow sufficiently accurate cuts but why bother unless you need a real odd ball length or diameter.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metzinger View Post
    Dave, I'm thinking of shortening my CF steerer with a ball peen hammer.
    It should just pop the end off.
    If I'm reading you right, you're advocating this technique.

    OK, here goes.

    I'm really going to do it.

    I'm picking up the hammer...
    I would use a 10 lb sledge hammer for the best effect. Why use a dinky ball peen?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I think the real reason spacers are precut is convenience and, as RG noted above, the cost of shop time. Commercial spacers are available from 2 mm through 50 mm so you can get about any length you need with a small number of them.

    I expect a good steerer miter block would allow sufficiently accurate cuts but why bother unless you need a real odd ball length or diameter.
    Check out norwood's photo again. Isn't that a LOT cooler than some number of mixed and matched width stack spacers would be? As long as you don't charge yourself labor you can afford to do stuff like that.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Check out norwood's photo again. Isn't that a LOT cooler than some number of mixed and matched width stack spacers would be? As long as you don't charge yourself labor you can afford to do stuff like that.
    OK, you got me there. I have NEVER seen a spacer that long before so there is an advantage to one long piece of tubing if you need that much height. He must have cut down a piece of industrial pipe!

    However, it seems to me someone has a frame WAY too small.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    However, it seems to me someone has a frame WAY too small.
    Tough to say without seeing the seatpost. If he's got a 400mm post with 30mm of setback and the saddle all the way back, then you are probably correct

    Without that pic, I'm thinking he just likes his bars way up there.

  22. #22
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post


    I made this one about 3 years ago. Cut it with a tubing cutter and it's worked very well.

    Source for alum. tubing :
    http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant...p=2&top_cat=60
    All that trouble and you could've just flipped the bars up.
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  23. #23
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    OK, you got me there. I have NEVER seen a spacer that long before so there is an advantage to one long piece of tubing if you need that much height. He must have cut down a piece of industrial pipe!

    However, it seems to me someone has a frame WAY too small.
    I wouldn't say WAY too small. I've always felt that I would've been happier on a 59cm frame instead of a 57cm. I'm 5' 10" BTW. But that was the size the RACER DUDES put me on and assured me it was made for me. And it was the only one they had in stock. It was also 13 years ago and my back isn't what it used to be. But it is a comfortable ride. Especially now that it doesn't have those garden variety steer tube spacers.


    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Tough to say without seeing the seatpost. If he's got a 400mm post with 30mm of setback and the saddle all the way back, then you are probably correct

    Without that pic, I'm thinking he just likes his bars way up there.
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  24. #24
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    ^^^ A better alternative, in my opinion, would be to eliminate a good chunk of the steerer tube length and use a high rise stem instead.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post
    Flame on.
    I'm young (30) and have always had my handlebars within an inch of my saddle height. I am, however, going to try dropping them a bit lower as soon as the weather improves and I can stop using my winter beater/commuter and start using my new commuter and road bike. Both bikes now have the bars a whopping 2 inches below the saddle

    Note that I'm plenty flexible enough to handle way more of a drop as I can almost put my palms flat on the ground when bending over but for some reason I've been hesistant/reluctant to try a low position for the past few years that I've been cycling.

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