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Old 07-18-14, 02:49 PM   #1
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Rattling Noise in Headset


So I've had a rattling noise in my threadless headset whenever I run over uneven surfaces in the road. Even small minor things that I ride over, my headset will rattle. I've taken it apart many times, regreased everything and put it back in, but the problem still continues. First, I thought the problem was that it may have been loose, but I've tried tightening my headset. Then, I thought it may have been my wheel that was causing the problem, but when I switched front wheels this problem still continued. My only guess is that the compression ring I put in after the upper cartridge bearing is the thing that is making the noise. To me it's the only thing that could be possibly moving around. I don't really know what to do about that though. I don't know if this means anything but I also have a carbon fork.

So my question, are there any other possible explanations for this? What can I do to make it stop!?
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Old 07-18-14, 04:03 PM   #2
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Check the spacer rings to make sure they are not loose and rattling, possibly a loose something down in the headtube? possibly something loose in the handlebar?
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Old 07-18-14, 04:11 PM   #3
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IME, a compression ring can only make noise if the headset is loose.

there are many places for a rattle to express itself in the brake caliper/lever/housing too. i'd check that. maybe even remove all of it temporarily for a test ride to make sure. isolating a rattle can be a tedious process, so patience is necessary.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 07-18-14 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 07-18-14, 06:11 PM   #4
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I strongly suspect that your steerer is too long, or spacer stack too short. Possibly your star nut or expander plug is too high.

Whatever the reason, you cannot adjust the headset properly because the hardware is bottoming against the steerer before driving the stack down and loading the bearings.

Two easy tests.

1- apply brake and rock forward and back looking and feeling for movement at the lower bearing. Shouldn't be any. You can also do the bounce test, lift front wheel 6" and drop. should be silent, or the sound of a basketball bouncing. If you hear a clear "Clunk" your headset is loose.

2- leaving everything tight, remove the top cap and check that the top of the steerer is about 1-3mm below the top of the stack. (some top caps recess into the stack, and need added clearance).

Lastly, and don't be insulted because I have to ask, You do know that you cannot adjust a headset without first loosening the stem?

BTW- if it passes both tests and the headset is truly tight, you need to look beyond that. Possibly something loose in the fork blades, or the cables bouncing/chafing, and so on.
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Old 07-22-14, 06:49 PM   #5
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I regreased everything again and also added another spacer. It didn't seem to be fixed. I did check to see if the top of the steerer was clear and it was okay. I also tried the bouncing test and all and it seemed fine. Also, no worries about any insult, I'm aware I have to loosen the stem before tightening the top cap down. I was really racking my brain after that so I tried to regrease the inside of my cartridge bearing. I used this as a guide: Tech Tuesday - Service and Re-Grease a Cartridge-Bearing Headset - Pinkbike.
So then I took a test run around the neighborhood and the noise stopped! I'm not sure if packing the bearing with grease helped or if a cartridge bearing that hadn't been taken care of for a while would cause a rattling noise, but I'm glad I have my peace and quiet now. Thanks everyone for commenting and helping!
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