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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 09-06-04, 12:02 PM   #1
re-cycler
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fork and stem out of true?

Pardon the improper terminology in advance...

I went for my first 'real road ride' yesterday, on my inherited road bike (as opposed to the mountain biking and townie biking I've done on and off for years). Had a blast, except for the multiple falling down from a standstill because of not getting out of the Look pedals properly. (3 times...ouch...hurt my ego more than my body.)

So, having admitted that, I noticed that the stem (and therefore the handlebar) is out of true with the front wheel and fork. Front wheel and fork are fine with respect to each other. Is this something I can and should realign myself? What do I loosen and tighten to realign this? Or is this a 'torquing' kind of thing, and should i just bring it in to my newly visited LBS. They just did a major tuneup of this bike last week to get it going again after years of storage. I need to go back anyway for a mild tweak of the derailleurs which they invited me to do.

Thanks for any feedback,
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Old 09-06-04, 01:00 PM   #2
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You will need a whole new bike ;-)

If this is an older bike you may have a quill stem (a one piece unit). If so there will be a 6mm hex bolt either exposed or under a cap. Simply loosen it a bit, straighten your bars and retighten. You don't need a torque wrench. Just tighten to the point that you can't move the bars from side to side while bracing the front wheel between your legs. Don't overtighten beyond that - you may crack the bolt or the stem.

If you have a more modern threadless stem (clamped to the upright steerer tube with two hex bolts, you can slightly loosen the bolts realign the bars too. It gets a bit more complicated because the stem is also what determines the adjustment of your headset. You may have to tweak the bolt on the top cap to readjust the headset preload before retightening. If you have never done this before you may want to watch the LBS do it. Not a big deal either way.
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Old 09-06-04, 01:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Indolent58
You will need a whole new bike ;-)

If this is an older bike you may have a quill stem (a one piece unit). If so there will be a 6mm hex bolt either exposed or under a cap. Simply loosen it a bit, straighten your bars and retighten. You don't need a torque wrench. Just tighten to the point that you can't move the bars from side to side while bracing the front wheel between your legs. Don't overtighten beyond that - you may crack the bolt or the stem.

If you have a more modern threadless stem (clamped to the upright steerer tube with two hex bolts, you can slightly loosen the bolts realign the bars too. It gets a bit more complicated because the stem is also what determines the adjustment of your headset. You may have to tweak the bolt on the top cap to readjust the headset preload before retightening. If you have never done this before you may want to watch the LBS do it. Not a big deal either way.

Thanks a bunch! Mine is the older style I believe. It is a nice looking piece, actually -- one piece angled that goes into headseet. I see the hex bolt on top.

So I don't have to mess with the larger nuts where the stem goes into the headset? That was what I was worrying about.

Thanks again for the advice. I've been antsy all day to get back on the bike, and with LBS closed on Labor Day, well...
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Old 09-07-04, 12:59 PM   #4
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No, those big nuts are the adjusting nut and lock nut for your older type threaded headset. Now if your headset is loose those may need adjusting, but I would let a shop do that until you get a little more bike mechanical experience. Some shops will do that gratis. Now if the bike is old the headset may need repacking with grease which I would also let at shop do. It doesn't cost but a few bucks.
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Old 09-07-04, 04:50 PM   #5
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No, those big nuts are the adjusting nut and lock nut for your older type threaded headset. Now if your headset is loose those may need adjusting, but I would let a shop do that until you get a little more bike mechanical experience. Some shops will do that gratis. Now if the bike is old the headset may need repacking with grease which I would also let at shop do. It doesn't cost but a few bucks.
Thanks. I realigned the stem yesterday with the hex bolt.

I think the headset was probably adjusted and lubed recently, since I got a major once over on most things. so I don't have to worry about that right now.

I'll just need to find the comfort level with dropping into the LBS and what the basic etiquette is for that. I find sometimes that it has a strange combination of an auto mechanic shop with a guitar shop (or hip record store). I guess that's just part of life being a newbie.
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Old 09-08-04, 04:56 AM   #6
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....dropping into the LBS and what the basic etiquette is for that. I find sometimes that it has a strange combination of an auto mechanic shop with a guitar shop (or hip record store). I guess that's just part of life being a newbie.
ROFLOL That's about how I find it as well. Nice 1.
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