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loose headset on aluminum MTB

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loose headset on aluminum MTB

Old 10-01-12, 11:18 PM
  #1  
ktk90w
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loose headset on aluminum MTB

Hello--

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!

ktk
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Old 10-01-12, 11:50 PM
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speedy25
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I think your trouble is the spacer above the stem. The stem should fit just a little higher than the end on the steering column.

There was a previous pointer to this write up that is very good- http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...eadset-service

-SP
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Old 10-02-12, 01:01 AM
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ktk90w
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Thanks SP--

The gap looks the same as it does in the picture on that parktool.com writeup except that it's a spacer on my bike and not the stem itself at the top. Is it not acceptable to put a spacer above a stem? Or am I misunderstanding?

I'll give SP's suggestion a try because I'm not too picky about the handlebar height on this bike.

Thanks,

ktk
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Old 10-02-12, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ktk90w View Post
Thanks SP--

The gap looks the same as it does in the picture on that parktool.com writeup except that it's a spacer on my bike and not the stem itself at the top. Is it not acceptable to put a spacer above a stem? Or am I misunderstanding?
I've set bikes up this way, it's always seemed to work for me.
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Old 10-02-12, 03:19 AM
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Nah, the spacer on top is not to blame - as long as the cap isn't bottoming out against the steerer tube.

I suspect you might be missing the "centering sleeve", have a look at the parktool link to see what I'm talking about. Trying to assemble a headset w/o one will give exactly that result.
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Old 10-02-12, 04:56 AM
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ktk90w
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Nah, the spacer on top is not to blame - as long as the cap isn't bottoming out against the steerer tube.

I suspect you might be missing the "centering sleeve", have a look at the parktool link to see what I'm talking about. Trying to assemble a headset w/o one will give exactly that result.
Yes, I wondered if the centering sleeve was the problem. I set it up with the one that was with the bike and also with a newer one from another bike. Same result with both.

I've been fighting with this thing all day and I'm wondering if maybe all the surfaces are worn enough to prevent me from tightening the bearings down correctly.

Thanks again for the help.

ktk
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Old 10-02-12, 08:37 AM
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Is the head tube faced? Is it by chance ovalized? Ie do the parts that fit into the headtube do so securely?
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