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  1. #1
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    Lower head tube spacer?

    I recently bought a used frame that I learned - only after receiving it - is "custom" in that the head tube is shorter than standard. It appears that a portion of the bottom of the head tube was cut off, so that the head tube sits lower on the fork crown. As a result, the entire frame is tilted forwards - the top tube slopes downward and, most importantly, the head- and seat-tube angles are steeper. As it is, the frame is unrideable by me. Setting aside returning the frame (an option I'm looking into), is there a way to problem-solve this? Specifically, is it possible to put a spacer of some sort at the bottom of the head tube? I imagine it would have to go somehow between the head tube and the lower headset cup, or between the crown race and the fork crown. I'm looking for a solution short of having a framebuilder actually weld an extension onto the headtube (it's titanium, and I don't want to spend that much money fixing a frame that was wrongly advertised. I'm just looking to see whether there is a simple and cheap way to solve the problem that would avoid the hassle of making a complaint with paypal.)

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. #2
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    Sorry there's no reasonable way to extend the bottom of the headtube. All the horizontal stresses on the fork are transferred to the bottom of the H/T so any makeshift extension simply provide the stability needed.

    One question, I suspect that you're going at this wrong. Almost every frame has the headtube end almost flush with the downtube, partly owing to the tradition of lugged frames, and also for the rigidity I described above.

    Is this by any chance a mtb frame
    . If so, I suspect that the frame is correct as is, but built for a suspension fork, and someone substituted a standard non-suspension fork, dropping the front end about 2-3 inches. If that's the case, the solution is at hand. A number of companies make "suspension ready" rigid forks, with added height to replace suspension forks without changing the geometry of frames built for suspension.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response. I should have specified - this is a road frame. The standard geometry for the frame, according to the maker's catalog, is to have a 14 cm headtube. This is what was advertised by the seller. Instead, it's 11.4 cm. When I got the frame I put it on some wheels to check fit, and immediately saw that the top tube was downward sloping, which made me curious. I lined it up with a fully-built bike whose head- and seat-tube angles I know, and saw that this frame's angles were significantly steeper. Then I measured the head tube and discovered the cause. The seller, in response to an email, admitted that the frame has a "custom" headtube that is in fact different from what was advertised. I don't know why such a modification would have been made, unless the original owner was using it as a TT bike.

    I didn't think there was a simple solution, but I thought I'd ask before getting into it with the seller.

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    If the head tube was cut off after the frame was built, the frame was ruined. Cutting off the lower part of the head tube would change the head tube angle substantially and foul-up the steering trail. Cutting off the top only affects the handlebar height.

    If the seller sent you something that is not as-advertised, he should take the frame back.

  5. #5
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    I'd like to see pics but I doubt 2.6cm has been cut from the bottom of the head tube...thats alot!!! It sounds like someone installed a fork with shorter legs. Maybe its supposed to have a different fork?
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

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    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    BTW...I've seen head tube/cup adapters....
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  7. #7
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    there is this, made so you can bar-spin on normal bikes. It might work for you. However, I think the frame is sufficiently mutilated that you should demand a refund.

  8. #8
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    If you are really stuck with this frame, you could look into having a press-in adapter made to offset the lower headset cup down the right amount. A press-in adapter with good engagement along with some Loctite 660 shouldn't go anywhere for a long time.

  9. #9
    velo-orange
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    Post pics.
    Do you have a brand/model/year of the frame?
    What wheels are speced for the frame? what wheels did you use to check?

    There have been Titanium TT and pursuit bikes made in the past. Maybe you have a rare beast.

    There really isn't a 'standard head tube length'. Head tube length is more or less a dependent of the seat tube length. The bottom face of the HT is placed wherever the axle to fork crown distance (plus headset crown race stack height) puts it. The upper face of the HT is in space somewheres, depending on the whims of the builder/designer, for where the handlebars need to be for rider comfort.

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    I'm curious as to how this frame got this way? Maybe someone thought they could create a steeper TT/Pursuit bike by cutting the headtube, or was somebody trying to rig a Cannondale headshock on a road frame?

  11. #11
    velo-orange
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    I think there's a simpler, less devious explanation. Lets not get all paranoid. Post a few photos of the bike (or frame) and a closeup of the headtube.

  12. #12
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Not many diamond frame bikes have two and a half centimeters of headtube below the downtube junction, so I doubt that much was hacked off.

    If ridden MTBs with short rigid forks and kinda liked the ride.

    You could run with 28mm tires on front and 21 on the back.

    Maybe put a 29er fork in there, they're usually longer than road forks.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 05-05-10 at 12:04 PM.
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    Thanks everyone for the responses. I realize I'm still not providing enough facts. The "standard" head tube length I was referring to is the stock head tube length for this make, model and year - 2001 Litespeed Palmares, according to a Litespeed catalog. The fork is a standard 700c fork, and has the same measurements as the fork that came standard on those models, according to the catalog. The headtube shows no signs of having been hacked apart aftermarket - whether custom or defective, it was done at the factory. The Palmares head tube has wider reinforcements at the top and bottom, and those are still in place, are the same size as each other, and appear to be the same size that I can see in photographs of other bikes of this make/model/year. The seller acknowledged, after I received the frame, that the headtube is custom. The frame has a team sticker on it, so it's possible that someone really wanted a Palmares with steeper angles (and didn't want to just buy one of the Litespeed TT models for some reason). It's just a weird thing to make custom.

    The headtube extender that fuzz2050 linked to is exactly what I was thinking of. But it won't be able to get the length precise (that one is 2 cm, and I'm short 2.6 cm). I'll have to do the math to figure out whether a 2 cm adjustment will bring the bike's angles close enough to normal for me.

    I think I have a pretty good case to return it, since before I bought I asked the seller about the headtube length specifically, and he answered and gave the stock catalog number, which was not true.

  14. #14
    I have senior moments... bikinfool's Avatar
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    You can get another 4, 5 or 7 mm of extension with some headsets via taller lower cups or modified crown races but I don't think they come in 1", just 1-1/8". Ventana makes (made?) 4 and 7mm taller crown races for King headsets. Cane Creek has the plus 5mm version of their S-3 headset. Realworldcycling.com has a modified lower cup/race setup but adds 15mm.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    So its not the original fork?
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thingsthatgo View Post
    Thanks everyone for the responses. I realize I'm still not providing enough facts. The "standard" head tube length I was referring to is the stock head tube length for this make, model and year - 2001 Litespeed Palmares, according to a Litespeed catalog.
    Two frames of the same make, model, and year can have different head tube lengths if they are different sizes. The 14cm HT length spec is maybe for a middle-of-the-road sized frame like 54cm or 56cm. A smaller frame will have a shorter head tube and a larger frame a longer one.

    Generally, the only tubes that have a constant length across sizes are the chain stays.

    Does the 14cm spec specifically refer to your sized frame?
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  17. #17
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    Can we see some pictures of the assembled bike too? Close ups of the head tube would be nice. Something is amiss here.

  18. #18
    velo-orange
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    I kinda think the litespeed reference material has gerometries for their sizes measured one way (say center to top) and the original seller measure center to center, an historical way to measure frames and use that as 'size'. The buyer asked for specs of head tube length and seller read it from website.

    Confusion is now ensuing.

    That still doesn't explain the jacked up 'frame in space' with a fork and wheels when built up. Unless a 650c fork/wheel was used.
    So, who knows? we are speculating without photos or other more precise evidence.

  19. #19
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    Here are photos of the headtube, fork, and headset.

    The 14 cm headtube measure is the catalog measurement for this particular size frame - size 57. I don't think that the problem results in a difference in methods of measurement. I measured 11.4 cm from end to end of the HT. If Litespeed or the seller measured any other way, they would have come up with a smaller number. If the headtube is 11.4 cm from end to end, then there is no way to measure it that results in a larger number. And, again, the seller has admitted that the headtube is nonstandard and that there is a downward slope to the top tube.

    The fork is 700c, and the wheel is also ordinary 700c. I have used both on other frames, and the fit was fine. (And before anybody points out that the wheel in these photos has no tire - neither the front nor rear wheel have tires on them right now, so that is not the source of the tilt either.)

    I apologize for the low image quality. I don't have a digital camera, so these are cellphone photos. I'll also try to get a picture of a spirit level alongside the top tube so the extent of the downward slope is evident.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    That HT angle doesn't look very steep to me. I doubt that would be "unrideable" were it built up.
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  21. #21
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    Here is the top tube alongside a spirit level, so you can see the extent of the slope.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  22. #22
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    If your floor is close to level, that's quite the reverse sloping top tube, alright.

    I think what you have is a 55. The pic on bikepedia is probably a 56 or 57 (bikepedia cites 1cm between sizes, catalog shows 2cm between sizes?)

    and Here's a 59:
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 05-05-10 at 08:35 PM.
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    Here http://img59.imageshack.us/i/palm3i.jpg/
    is the geometry page from the Litespeed catalog. The Palmares is close to the bottom. This frame is a size 57 (56.5 top tube). I've measured the other tubes, and they are the stock lengths.

  24. #24
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Ya, I checked the 2000 catalog. Pretty bizare. You wouldn't think Litespeed would put a production model name on a custom bike, but who knows?

    Had to have been made for a Tri or TT freak, lower head stack so they can get lower on the aero bars. Head tube and Seat tube angles look fairly ridable to me.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 05-05-10 at 08:41 PM.
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  25. #25
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    I have a 55cm '96 Catalyst, a 57cm '06 Tuscany and a 57cm '05 Firenza and all three have the lower end of the headtube in exactly the same relationship to the bottom of the downtube as your pictures show for your frame. I can't see how anyone could have cut 2.6 cm (over an inch) from the bottom of the headtube and still left it as it now appears.

    Edit and update: I just measured the headtube length on my frames. The 57's both have 147 mm headtubes while the 55 has a 114 mm (i,e, 11.4 cm) so it sounds like you have a stock 55 cm frame.
    Last edited by HillRider; 05-05-10 at 08:54 PM.

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