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Old 05-04-10, 07:24 AM   #1
masi61
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How tight can I make the tension on my Cane Creek Aheadset?

I have a Flyte SRS-3 with a Cane Creek threadless Aheadset. I am using a Reynolds Ouzo Pro full carbon fork. The cartridge bearings are the standard issue that came with the Flyte frame which was very inexpensive at the time because the company was going out of business.
I'm using the fork plug that came with the Reynolds fork and inserted it according to the directions and believe I snugged up the headset pretty good.

Here's the issue though. I've been riding this bike on some pot holed and expansion joint happy roads here in the Dayton, Ohio area and I've been getting a squeamish feeling that there might be a slight banging going on with the lower fork race/bearing. I know the Reynolds fork is stiff and maybe what I'm hearing and feeling is the unforgiving nature of it. I just don't feel comfortable bombing down hills through the city where there is washboard pavement and gravel at the bottom of the hill like I do on my old school road bikes with threaded headsets and steel forks. I'd swear I'm hearing a faint banging plastic on aluminum type sound in there too.

Does this symptom sound familiar to anyone? Can I get more smoothness out of these bearings somehow? Would it be worth upgrading the standard cartridge bearings to higher quality? And does tightening the Reynolds fork plug (with the Thomson stem bolts loosened) produce any change? How tight can I go with this plug before it pulls itself out?

Thanks for any help on optimizing a threadless fork from a retrogrouch.
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Old 05-04-10, 08:48 AM   #2
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Most cartridge bearing headsets require a modest preload, unlike loose ball headsets. I've seen recommendarions that vary from 8 to 20 inch-pounds on the adjusting bolt.

Put your bike on the ground and squeeze the front brake. Then try to push the bike back and forth. If there is any play in the headset that should show it and indicate the headset must be adjusted.
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Old 05-04-10, 08:50 AM   #3
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Thanks, that's where I will start.
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Old 05-04-10, 09:52 AM   #4
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This seems to be becoming a common topic and I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone in experiencing cartridge bearing headsets with carbon forks loosening up. The solution that I've found, after much discussion here, is to use a considerable amount of preload on the headset. You'll be shocked (if used to loose ball headsets) how tight you can set the preload without causing any binding. And from what I've seen, if you don't set the preload like that, the headset will slowly work it's way loose over time. In my case, the front disc brake I use does not help and any looseness becomes quickly apparent when braking.
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Old 05-04-10, 11:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
This seems to be becoming a common topic and I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone in experiencing cartridge bearing headsets with carbon forks loosening up.
You are indeed not alone. I've got a Litespeed with an FSA OrbitX headset an Easton EC90SLX all-carbon fork and a Forte two bolt aluminum stem. Even with a substantial preload on the headset and the stem clamp bolts as tight as I dare make them, the headset develops a slight bit of play every couple of thousand miles. As soon as I can easily rotate the spacers below the stem by hand, which is just before the headset develops noticeable play, I reset the headset preload.

Oddly, I have the identical fork, stem and spacer stack in another Litespeed frame with a Chris King headset and it NEVER needs to be readjusted. Why the difference? I have no idea.
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