Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Headset bearing maintenance

Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Headset bearing maintenance

Old 10-26-15, 09:52 PM
  #1  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Headset bearing maintenance

Is there any maintenance to be done on the headset bearings. I know on my old huffy I removed the bearings and repacked them. Is there anything to be done on my new bike. Are they all sealed now? I have a 2006-07 not sure exactly giant cypress dx and a 8 year old specialized crossroads. Thanks in advance!
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:02 PM
  #2  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 36,049

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 121 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4342 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Some used cartridge (sealed) bearings, and are basically non-serviceable except for adjustment. Many are still classic cup/cone types like you had before, and should be cleaned and repacked once in a while depending on mileage and riding conditions.

IMO= just about all can benefi from an improvised boot to keep dirt and rain out of the lower bearing. The upper seems to hold up well without extra help.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:06 PM
  #3  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Some used cartridge (sealed) bearings, and are basically non-serviceable except for adjustment. Many are still classic cup/cone types like you had before, and should be cleaned and repacked once in a while depending on mileage and riding conditions.

IMO= just about all can benefi from an improvised boot to keep dirt and rain out of the lower bearing. The upper seems to hold up well without extra help.
Is there anyway to tell if it is a cup type without taking it apart? There are no problems currently but I am doing some long needed maintenance on both bikes.
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:08 PM
  #4  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 36,049

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 121 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4342 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Wrenchspinnerjr View Post
Is there anyway to tell if it is a cup type without taking it apart? There are no problems currently but I am doing some long needed maintenance on both bikes.
Sometimes you can tell visually, but the only reliable way to know is by looking up the specs for the particular model. Otherwise, you don't know until you look inside.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:14 PM
  #5  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Where would you find the specs? Bikepedia doesn't say
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:22 PM
  #6  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 36,049

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 121 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4342 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Somethings you have to do for yourself. You can search for the specs by bike and model year, or maybe the headset has markings.

Of you can stand the bike up on the floor so the fork doesn't drop, remove the top cap and stem, and gently and carefully lift the upper bearing cover and peek inside. Don't lift it far enough for the balls to drop out, and you won' be committed to replacing loose balls if you don't want to.

OR

You can leave well enough alone if the steering is tight and turns smoothlyr
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 10-26-15, 10:24 PM
  #7  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, I never leave well enough alone. Ask my wife. I guess it's time to start digging.
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 07:39 AM
  #8  
habilis
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Morris County, NJ
Posts: 1,106

Bikes: 90's Bianchi Premio, Raleigh-framed fixed gear, Trek 3500, Centurion hybrid, Dunelt 3-spd, Trek 800

Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2167 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Wrenchspinnerjr View Post
Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, I never leave well enough alone. Ask my wife. I guess it's time to start digging.
If your headset does NOT have a large lock nut at the top with flats for a big wrench, I don't see how it could be cup-and-cone (loose ball bearings). The nut is needed for locking the cones in place after adjustment.

With the front wheel off the ground, turn the steering to either side and check for slow or notchy movement.

If you have the big nut right where the handle bar stem begins, place a large box lid under the bike to catch any loose balls that may fall out. If they don't hit the floor or become contaminated with dirt, balls in good condition may be reused if you are just doing a check.

Loosen the nut and push it up the stem and out of the way (maybe hold it up with tape). Lift the upper cup and inspect the balls. This will at least tell you the condition of the upper bearing. If there's enough grease and the bearing has been turning smoothly, maybe leave well enough alone for now. In any case, you've worked on this type of bearing and will know what to do.

Last edited by habilis; 10-27-15 at 07:56 AM.
habilis is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 07:45 AM
  #9  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 11,660

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Raleigh Pro, Trek Cycle Cross, Mongoose tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1734 Post(s)
Liked 45 Times in 32 Posts
We see many forks/headsets dry of any lube but what came in the actual bearing from it's original manufacturer. We usually open them up because of complaints of clicks and creaks. Often the bearings are still in good condition (although some are so rusted...) and only a need of cleaning the mating surfaces and applying a film of grease during reassembly. But without taking the time and effort to take things apart no real understanding, WRT condition, can be made. Additionally there are bearing "cartridges" which are just preassembled cup and cone designs with none of the nicer features of what many will think of "sealed bearing". These bearings can be easily separated into their inner, outer and rolling elements with only a knife to pry off the seals. So even a manufacturer's claim of sealed bearings isn't a complete understanding without further info or investigation. Andy.
Andrew R Stewart is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 07:48 AM
  #10  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 11,660

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Raleigh Pro, Trek Cycle Cross, Mongoose tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1734 Post(s)
Liked 45 Times in 32 Posts
Originally Posted by habilis View Post
If your headset does NOT have a large lock nut at the top with flats for a big wrench, I don't see how it could be cup-and-cone (loose ball bearings). The nut is needed for locking the cones in place after adjustment.

If you have the big nut right where the handle bar stem begins, place a large box lid under the bike to catch any loose balls that may fall out. Loosen the nut and push it up the stem and out of the way (maybe hold it up with tape). Lift the upper cup and inspect the balls. This will at least tell you the condition of the upper bearing. If there's enough grease and the bearing has been turning smoothly, maybe leave well enough alone for now. In any case, you've worked on this type of bearing and will know what to do.
A stem with a pinch bolted binder slot does a very good job at maintaining any bearing pre load that the compression cap has provided. This is what a threadless headset is. Independent of the bearing design or it's contact angle, seal presence and or how the bearings are seated. Andy.
Andrew R Stewart is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 08:40 AM
  #11  
curtiseddie
Deadrise & Derailleurs
 
curtiseddie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: O'fallon, MO
Posts: 61

Bikes: Schwinn Moab, Focus Mares AX, Kona Kahuna DL

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
But without taking the time and effort to take things apart no real understanding, WRT condition, can be made.
I just serviced my headset (on my '99 Schwinn Moab) last night for the first time ever. Never done it before. It has cartridge bearings in the headset. I carefully pried the seals off to get to the balls. The bearings were in good shape, but lacking, IMO, sufficient grease. I disassembled everthing, cleaned/degreased all parts. Repacked the bearings. Reassembled everything. Only had one mishap: I "opened" up one of the bearings too much and all the balls fell out. It was quite difficult to get them back in, but I did it.

I was nervous initially, not having experience doing this, but glad I risked it. One more thing I can take care of myself.
curtiseddie is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 08:54 AM
  #12  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the great info.
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 09:00 AM
  #13  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6836 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 215 Times in 179 Posts
If Loose ball , Toss the balls Buy new ones they Dont cost Much, New .. just get the same size..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 09:48 AM
  #14  
melloveloyellow
Senior Member
 
melloveloyellow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Northern California
Posts: 145

Bikes: RitcheyAscent, FisherMontare

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Headsets develop "indexed" steering, which occurs when there is insufficient bb lubrication (a complex subject). There's grease in the headset, but not where it is needed - between the bb and the race. Servicing the headset periodically can alleviate this issue, but how often is enough? It likely would need to be more often that practical. Having lost sleep over this, I rotate the fork 360° every 200 miles (admittedly arbitrary, but I do it when I lube the chain)*. This changes the bb's position on the race, and, hopefully, lubricates the interface between bb & race. Additionally, I service the headset (disassemble and regrease) q 5k miles.

*on my bikes, this requires loosening the stem (threaded headsets), disconnecting the front brake, detaching the computer mount from the handlebars, and then rotating the fork 360° while the handlebars remain unturned. (always rotate the fork in the same direction for best results) It's easy!

You've likely assumed by now (if you're still reading this) that I'm a semi-retired nerd who likes to maintain my bikes. You are correct! I'm not a pro bike mechanic.
melloveloyellow is offline  
Old 10-27-15, 10:29 AM
  #15  
Wrenchspinnerjr
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Wrenchspinnerjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wow, I don't go to that extent but I do enjoy maintenance. I love to tinker
Wrenchspinnerjr is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Brodie68
For Sale
0
09-20-18 12:47 AM
DakotaInTheSky
Classic & Vintage
25
07-19-15 02:33 AM
red/blue
Classic & Vintage
0
04-03-10 11:09 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.