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Old 10-06-15, 08:11 AM   #1
Dr1Gonzo
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tightening bike headset

From what I can find the only place to tighten a headset is on the top of the quill stem (allen key top bolt).
I remember on older bikes having to also turn the 2 large nuts further down the stem where it enters the frame - is that not necessary any more?

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Old 10-06-15, 08:31 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Dr1Gonzo View Post
From what I can find the only place to tighten a headset is on the top of the quill stem (allen key top bolt).
I remember on older bikes having to also turn the 2 large nuts further down the stem where it enters the frame - is that not necessary any more?
You've got it backwards. Quill stems are the old style that you tighten simply with the allen bolt on top. Newer "threadless" stems require you to tighten the allen on top, then two allens further down.
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Old 10-06-15, 08:34 AM   #3
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There are 2 major headset designs in play now. Each is serviced differently than the other. Here's a good resource to help determine which you have and how to maintain/adjust it.

Threaded Headset Service - Park Tool

Threadless Headset Service - Park Tool
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Old 10-06-15, 08:43 AM   #4
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You've got it backwards. Quill stems are the old style that you tighten simply with the allen bolt on top. Newer "threadless" stems require you to tighten the allen on top, then two allens further down.
By nuts I meant the locknut, any spacers, race that go into the head tube?
Do those nuts need to be tightened?

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Old 10-06-15, 08:52 AM   #5
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By nuts I meant the locknut, any spacers that go into the head tube?
Do those nuts need to be tightened?
If you have a quill stem (a.k.a. threaded headset,) then the headset is independent of the stem and is tightened via the locking nuts that you're remembering. Once that's done, the quill goes into the steerer tube and the bolt on the top of the stem tightens the wedge to lock the stem in place.

If you have a threadless system, the headset is tightened via the bolt on top of the stem, and locked in place by the clamp screws on the side of the stem.
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Old 10-06-15, 08:55 AM   #6
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If you have a quill stem (a.k.a. threaded headset,) then the headset is independent of the stem and is tightened via the locking nuts that you're remembering. Once that's done, the quill goes into the steerer tube and the bolt on the top of the stem tightens the wedge to lock the stem in place.

If you have a threadless system, the headset is tightened via the bolt on top of the stem, and locked in place by the clamp screws on the side of the stem.
It's a threaded headset, quill stem.
So, I only have to tighten the lock nut?
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Old 10-06-15, 08:58 AM   #7
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By nuts I meant the locknut, any spacers, race that go into the head tube?
Do those nuts need to be tightened?
Yes, they need to be tightened to get the correct pressure. The headset on a threaded headset is tightened independently from the quill stem. Threadless headsets have to have the stem in place to adjust the headset. Read the link posted above from Park Tools.
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Old 10-06-15, 04:13 PM   #8
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This guy has a headset wrench on the lower adjusting nut. You can tighten or loosen the lower nut 'til it feels right, then tighten the upper one.
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Old 10-07-15, 07:22 AM   #9
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This guy has a headset wrench on the lower adjusting nut. You can tighten or loosen the lower nut 'til it feels right, then tighten the upper one.
If the lower nuts are already the correct pressure and tight then I only need to tighten the top bolt on the quill to hold that in place?
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Old 10-07-15, 07:53 AM   #10
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If the lower nuts are already the correct pressure and tight then I only need to tighten the top bolt on the quill to hold that in place?
Yes, if your arrangement is like the picture the headset and stem are independent from each other. Just adjust your stem using the bolt in the top. Don't mess with the headset lock nuts if the headset is adjusted correctly.
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