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Binding in threaded headset.. Only when wheel is off

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Binding in threaded headset.. Only when wheel is off

Old 09-01-12, 09:28 AM
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boogman
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Binding in threaded headset.. Only when wheel is off

Applying frame saver to my windsor tourist bike today. It has a threaded headset, which was adjusted by the lbs when they helped me put it together.. The headset has always felt fine to me.. No looseness nor tightness. The bike is less than a year old and has not seen a winter...

However, once i removed the wheel, handlebar, stem - Now when i turn the fork, i immediately felt binding in the headset.. The headset felt much tighter when i turned the fork to the left and right extremes, and there was a very noticable indent in the middle position( when fork is turned facing forward). I have not yet adjusted any of the locknuts or cones. There are no cables attached to the fork.. Just a plastic fender.

So given that the headset felt fine when riding, is what i described normal once all the weight is taken off the fork? Thanks
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Old 09-01-12, 09:39 AM
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It's unusual to have "indexed" steering in that new a bicycle. It's not correct of course for a headset to have that problem. I would advise initially an overhaul, possibly replacement.
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Old 09-01-12, 09:51 AM
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Binding during rotation suggests that the head tube faces and/or fork crown race seat are not milled perfectly perpendicular to the axis of rotation. The "indent" you describe is likely a result of fretting damage to the crown race, either from inadequate lubrication or maladjustment or both. When the frame is not milled properly, it can be impossible to properly adjust the headset so it turns freely throughout its range without slop or binding, so the problems can be related. Open up the headset and inspect the races, particularly the crown race, for damage. If you decide to replace the headset, have the frame and fork properly milled before installing the new headset.
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Old 09-01-12, 09:53 AM
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Well a similar experience to what im describing was my initial experience with axle cones... When i removed the wheel and spun the axle by hand, it felt like they were binding.. But lbs confirmed that was normal, even though i expected the axle to spin butter smooth when turned by hand.. However, i did not notice improvement in actual riding or spinning of the wheel once i fine tuned the cones..

So im wondering whether its something similar with the headset? I have no reference headset to compare to so i have no idea whether this is working as designed..
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Old 09-01-12, 10:00 AM
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Another ques - Since the fork would not exceed 180degs of rotation in real-life use, should I only be concerned with how the headset turns for the forward facing 180degs?
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Old 09-01-12, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by boogman View Post
Another ques - Since the fork would not exceed 180degs of rotation in real-life use, should I only be concerned with how the headset turns for the forward facing 180degs?
If it's basically OK, and you don't notice a problem riding I'd leave it alone. The indexing happens because we spend 99% of the time riding in very close to a straight line, and the bearing surfaces are getting pounded and vibrated in the same position all the time. The combined action creates detents (recesses) that the balls find, and will get worse over time.

I suspect that the only reason the headset feels worse without the wheel is inertia. The higher rotational inertia of the fork with the wheel mounted masks all the small defects you feel without the wheel in. A similar thing happens with wheels, If you hold the axle and move the rim the bearings feel fine ' hold the rim and turn the axle and the same bearing feels like crap.

Now if the fork has a marked difference in binding when spun 360° that indicates misalignment. It could be that the cups aren't mounted perfectly square or that the steerer is slightly bent. A slightly bent steerer is OK (slightly being the key) but will increase headset wear because only a small part of the races are taking the full load. That may account for why your headset is aging faster than average.
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Old 09-01-12, 11:31 AM
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Wow thanks! Your explanation makes sense..

So assuming the headset was installed poorly or the heatube wasnt faced properly.. Is premature headset wear the only drawback with riding like this? It wouldnt damage the frame at all right? Id just get a headset properly put in once the current one wears out...
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Old 09-01-12, 02:35 PM
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http://draco.nac.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8f.13.html
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Old 09-01-12, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
THanks.. but i don't detect index steering when everything is assembled and riding on the road.. Only detected a bit of indent in the center position, when I'm spinning the fork with everything detached off of it... I'll have to take it apart the headset and see if anything is obviously wrong... gotta go buy a headset wrench...
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