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  1. #1
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    headset caged bearings

    I'm replacing 5/32" caged bearings from both top and bottom races on my headset. The cage has 16 bearings.

    If I'm going to use non-caged bearings, what would be a good amount? Is it just as simple as 'put as many as you can in, minus 1'? Have 21 in both top and bottom currently.

  2. #2
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    That's fine - do it. Just be sure to use all new bearings.

  3. #3
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    I'm replacing 5/32" caged bearings from both top and bottom races on my headset. The cage has 16 bearings.

    If I'm going to use non-caged bearings, what would be a good amount? Is it just as simple as 'put as many as you can in, minus 1'? Have 21 in both top and bottom currently.
    I'd put as many of the existing size in that will fit, with there still being a minimal amount of space left over. Put them in first without grease and count.
    Quote Originally Posted by slopvehicle View Post
    Not wearing a helmet makes me more aware of my surroundings. I find myself anticipating the hardness of concrete 50 or 100 feet in front of me, it's almost a zen-like connection between my face and the pavement.

  4. #4
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    Is it just as simple as 'put as many as you can in, minus 1'?
    Yes, it's that simple. With headsets, put as many balls in that will sit in the cup without jumbling, and then remove one ball. With loose-ball hubs, bottom brackets, etc you should put in as many balls as will fit without jumbling, and that's it; don't remove one. Loose ball headsets will bind and not work smoothly if you use the same method as with other bearing assemblies on the bike.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Yep, I redid the headset, instead of 21, I fit 25 total. I should have known better, but this was my first loose ball headset. Thanks for the help everyone.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Put them in until the "Jumble" and then remove two. That usually means 25.

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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
    Put them in until the "Jumble" and then remove two. That usually means 25.
    Yes, for headsets n minus two with "n" being the number of balls that has the cup full with one additional ball not able to sit down in the cup correctly (the "jumble"). Or just fill the cup to capacity (all balls sitting in the cup correctly with room for no more) and remove one........ Same thing, different words.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    You're right. I just wanted to say "jumble". That's what it says in the book.

  9. #9
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    I don't quite understand why the headset should have one fewer bearing than hubs and bottom brackets, but I'll take your word for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by slopvehicle View Post
    Not wearing a helmet makes me more aware of my surroundings. I find myself anticipating the hardness of concrete 50 or 100 feet in front of me, it's almost a zen-like connection between my face and the pavement.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JiveTurkey View Post
    I don't quite understand why the headset should have one fewer bearing than hubs and bottom brackets, but I'll take your word for it.
    I think as a general rule, loose bearings need to be put into a race minus 1. You don't want bearings to completely fill up a race otherwise there would be too much friction causing problems.

  11. #11
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobotech View Post
    I think as a general rule, loose bearings need to be put into a race minus 1. You don't want bearings to completely fill up a race otherwise there would be too much friction causing problems.
    No, loose-ball hubs for example should have as many balls as will fit in the cup without jumbling. Bottom brackets, too. Headsets are different in that they tend to bind and not be smooth unless you remove an extra ball.

  12. #12
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
    I just wanted to say "jumble".
    I don't blame you.....it's a cool word.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobotech View Post
    I think as a general rule, loose bearings need to be put into a race minus 1. You don't want bearings to completely fill up a race otherwise there would be too much friction causing problems.
    Shimano certainly doesn't agree with you for their hubs.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    Shimano certainly doesn't agree with you for their hubs.
    Well i am just learning. So I have learned something new. I just am thinking in general whenever I have dealt with loose bearings in the past. Like bearings on my moped or old ATC three wheelers. I always put as many bearings as I could in the race and then when they filled it up to the point where they started to push each other, I would remove one of them..
    Last edited by bobotech; 02-15-12 at 02:11 PM.

  15. #15
    Low car diet JiveTurkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    No, loose-ball hubs for example should have as many balls as will fit in the cup without jumbling. Bottom brackets, too. Headsets are different in that they tend to bind and not be smooth unless you remove an extra ball.
    Hmm... maybe it has to do with the fact that the headset doesn't rotate completely like hubs and BBs and the bearings sort of settle into an optimal place for short movements?
    Quote Originally Posted by slopvehicle View Post
    Not wearing a helmet makes me more aware of my surroundings. I find myself anticipating the hardness of concrete 50 or 100 feet in front of me, it's almost a zen-like connection between my face and the pavement.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    After all this discussion, I now would like a real logical scientific mechanical reason for removing one or two balls.

    If the reason is that since the headset doesnt turn clear around, and the balls will stay in the same place and wear, what about caged bearings. The cage will stay in the same place, so that reason doesnt seem valid.
    Last edited by rydabent; 02-16-12 at 09:18 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member mikeinroch's Avatar
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    Maybe the reason is because the headset is the only bearing that is regularly reversing direction? And it is important that this reversal happens smoothly.

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