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Old 10-09-08, 11:03 AM   #1
deez
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Threaded Headset Re-Assembly

I'm re-assembling the headset and putting the fork back on my '72 Super Course tonight. The bearings that were in there are in a retaining ring. Should I be re-using the retaining ring (it's in fine condition) and just replace the bearings in it or am I better off to use loose bearings instead?

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Old 10-09-08, 11:10 AM   #2
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Either way. The retaining ring makes installing the bearings easier, loose bearings are more tedious. If the headset is starting to "index" (stops turning smoothly when wheel straight ahead) sometimes loose bearings can help improve (different spacing...)
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Old 10-09-08, 11:16 AM   #3
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It's probably harder to swap out the bearings without damaging the retainer than to install new caged bearings. Either way, you need to make sure that you get the right size bearings and to place the retainer in the cups the right way.
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Old 10-09-08, 11:16 AM   #4
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I'd go loose. Installation isn't too bad with grease to hold the bearings in place.
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Old 10-09-08, 11:41 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by mparker326 View Post
I'd go loose. Installation isn't too bad with grease to hold the bearings in place.
Installation can't be any more difficult than loose bearings in the Bottom Bracket I did last night. the steering isn't indexing. The races are actually very clean with no scoring. AFAIK more bearings = smoother operation right?
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Old 10-09-08, 12:00 PM   #6
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I don't think you'll feel a difference. You will need 1-2 more balls on each side, and it's a big longer to place the bearings one by one (mine had 50!) in the grease.

Btw I had some difficulties when I re-assembled my loose-ball HS. I kept the fork pushed against the lower cup then threaded the upper cup. It resulted in overlapped upper balls. By letting the fork hang by the upper cup and bringing it up by threading it worked. Just a note
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Old 10-09-08, 12:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by deez View Post
AFAIK more bearings = smoother operation right?
Not quite in the case of headsets. For reasons that have never been crystal clear to me, the recommendation is to leave headsets a couple balls short of maximum fill.

http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=127
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Old 10-09-08, 02:52 PM   #8
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This is an unabashed hijacking of this thread but, please, let me ask a related question with respect to reassembling and tightening a headset. The context of my question is relative to vintage, Campagnolo-type threaded headsets with 1" English threads.

How tight is tight enough?

How tight is too tight?

Is it better to be a little too tight or a little too loose?


Yes, I read the article above. I'm just very concerned about the subjective nature of the discussion. I'm concerned about what happens after you sit on the bike I add over 200 lb to the frame and the head tube is going to flex a bit (scream!, actually).

I suspect many headsets die prematurely from improper adjustment. I have come to think of headsets as a consumable, like grease, rather than a fixture on my bikes. It's just that Campagnolo headsets are becoming rare and costly (~$100), too costly to replace frequently.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 10-09-08 at 03:28 PM.
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