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Old 10-01-12, 11:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: East Asia
Posts: 36

Bikes: 2012 Surly Ogre, 2008 Fisher Wahoo

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loose headset on aluminum MTB


I've got an old Specialized Hardrock aluminum frame with a loose headset. I've greased and adjusted these threadless headsets before, but for some reason this one is giving me trouble.

I adjust the top cap as tight as I think I can without the bearings binding, but as soon as I tighten up the stem bolts the whole thing seems to be really loose, rocking back and forth.

Any idea what I'm missing, or which part might be worn out or damaged? What would you check?

These are the things I usually double check (because I've messed these up in the past):
The bearings are in retainers and the bearings are facing the cone shaped race.
I have two spacers below the stem and one above, leaving a gap of a few millimeters for the top cap to tighten down well.
I'm tightening the top cap to adjust the bearings while the stem is loose, then tightening the stem bolts.

I don't know the history of this bike. I picked it up for next to nothing because it is old and the drivetrain was dirtier than any I'd ever seen. It was sort of rideable when I got it, but when I cleaned the dirt off of the chain and gears it stopped shifting properly. I honestly think the dirt was holding the thing together. I've now cleaned, greased and replaced many of the parts and the headset is my last trouble spot.

Thanks for any help!

ktk90w is offline