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Thread: Pitted?

  1. #1
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    Pitted?

    I have a 2000 Litespeed Classic with look fork and Profile Stem.The Headset is threaded and it seems to bind when the wheel is exactly straight ahead,rather its llike a notch,or indentation the headset falls into.The rest of the headset movement is completely smooth.When I received the bike the headset was very stiff and I loosened it so it is much smoother now however this little "notch"remains.In no way does it impair bike function when riding and I'm sure that even if it is an imperfection or defect I can ignore it I"d just like to know if it's normal or indeed a defect.Perhaps the previous owner overtightened so the headset is pitted?Thanks.

  2. #2
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    It is pitted, or brinelled, to use the correct term. Running it too tight caused it. It will probably get worse and become intolerable.

    No big deal, though, because you can replace the headset, and you'll be happy when you do.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  3. #3
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    It is not normal and indicates a damaged headset. Usually the crown race and lower cup are the pitted parts since they take the brunt of the shock loads.

    As an expedient, if the headset is a loose ball bearing type and lower race has the balls in a retainer, you can discard the retainer and add a couple of additional bearing balls. That changes the spacing so the balls no longer align with the pits and buys you maybe an extra riding season.

    The real cure is a new headest.

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    Any suggestions for a good new headset for the bike?I just saw a Richey for $19.95 on Nashbar.Good enough for a Litespeed?

  5. #5
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    One thing to watch for is stack height. The new headset must have a short enough stack height that the top race and lock nut have enough steerer threads to fit properly. If the new headset has less stack heigth, the difference can be made up with spacers. If the new headset has too much stack height and there are no current spacers to remove, it won't work.

    I had an early 90's Trek with the threaded fork factory cut to EXACTLY match the OEM Tange headset's 32 mm stack height. By the time I needed a replacement, most better headsets had stack heights of about 37 mm and wouldn't fit.

    Chris King (read $$$) does make a 1" threaded "Gripnut" headset with a stack height as short as 33 mm so there is one, if expensive, possibility. Since Litespeed frames should last forever (mine is 15 years and 70,000 miles old), a good headset is probably a wise investment.

    If your frame/ fork will take a 37 mm stack height, look for an NOS Shimano Ultegra (HP-6500) cartridge bearing headset. These are very smooth and durable and reasonably priced if you can find one.
    Last edited by HillRider; 10-04-10 at 12:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    If you can't find a new headset that'll fit, and if adding a couple of extra balls (as Hillrider suggests) doesn't get rid of the notch, you could try removing the crown race and the lower head race and reinstalling them each rotated 90 degrees in opposite directions away from their original positions. I wouldn't bother doing this if you are able to obtain a new headset of good quality but if you are stuck, it's worth a try. The argument is that because of the head angle, the load on those lower races is concentrated in the six o'clock position. This is also where water thrown up by the front tire tends to most effectively wash out the grease allowing metal-to-metal contact under load. Re-installing with fresh metal at six o'clock might give it a new lease on life. (I haven't tried this, therefore all the waffle words. Could just be wasted work that will only postpone the inevitable at best. If anyone has tried this, do chime in.)

    Once you get things working, consider trying to keep water out of the headset. If you don't use fenders, try tying a vinyl condom (made for latex-allergic folks) around the bottom end of the headset so it covers the interface between the crown race and the bottom head race. If you can find one without a reservoir end, it will make it just a little less obvious to casual observers exactly what it is (if you care.)
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

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    I'm going to keep my eyes open for a new replacement.Checked e-bay for suitable dura ace and saw nothing.There is presently an Ultegra HP-6500 up for auction and I'm keeping an eye on that.Meanwhile the bike rides great and the defect is almost unnoticeable on the road so I'm on no rush.Thank you all for your feedback!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member cracker7213's Avatar
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    I had this problem. I just re lubed the headset and adjusted it properly. It's fine now. You may not need to get a whole new headset. Just don't tighten it down so hard.

  9. #9
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    you say it does not affect your riding but I bet if you were to try riding no-hands, you'll feel it. Just don't crash.

  10. #10
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    As noted above, sometimes replacing retained bearings in the lower race with loose bearings will mitigate the problem. Another cheap fix is to pop off the crown race or lower cup and rotate it slightly before reinstalling it so the indentations don't line up top and bottom any more. Both these are at best temporary fixes, but you could go many years before the problem reappears.

    If you want to replace the headset you need to either find a new one of the same brand/model, or one with the same or lower stack height. If you have 38mm or more of stack height you should have at least a few choices.

  11. #11
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    I find the Tange Levin to be a great value. It also has a pretty low stack height. http://www.ebikestop.com/tange_levin...ome-HD1001.php

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    Wealth of info here and It gives me lots of options.Thanks so much for everyones input!

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