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Handlebars slightly rocking

Old 03-19-13, 10:38 AM
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Handlebars slightly rocking

So I just got a bike built from a bunch of used parts. I find when I push the handlebars forward it will move and make a noise. It dosent take much force at all. I tried to tighten the bolt on the bars but that didnt help. I read it could be the headset needing to be tightened. I dont know much about bikes so im hoping someone could tell me how to fix this.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:00 AM
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First you need to determine whether it's actually the bars or the fork column in which the bars are inserted (more likely). You should be able to see if the bars are moving in relationship to the stem or if the stem is rocking at the point where it is inserted into the fork. It sounds like you eliminated that so probably is the headset. Just Google adjust headset - the Parktool and sheldonbrown results are probably the best place to start.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:40 AM
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The easiest way to check the headset is to hold the front brake on and rock the bike forward and back looking and feeling for movement at the lower bearing. If you see or feel any play, the headset needs adjusting. How to adjust a headset depends on whether it's threaded or threadless. There are many tutorials available, but if it's threadless headset the key is to remember that you cannot adjust it via the top cap without first loosenong the stem clamp bolts.

OTOH it could also be movement of the stem in/on the fork. This issue is more common with quill stems (threaded headsets).
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Old 03-19-13, 02:19 PM
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Alright thanks guys, with that info im sure its the headset. Is it alright to ride around with it being a little loose? I read it could really mess things up, including the frame.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:58 PM
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What you read is correct, it could "mess things up" - so why are you asking if it's alright? It's your choice - balance the risk of damage vs. the small cost to fix.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:06 PM
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im reading that its normal to be somewhat loose as long as it dosent get too loose. I dont know what too loose is since I know next to nothing about bikes.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:23 PM
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I don't know what you are reading but you need another source or to read more carefully. The headset of course needs to be loose enough to turn readily. That is different that being loose enough to rattle or clunk when you go over a bump or apply the brakes. As you said yourself - I read it could really mess things up, including the frame. As FB said - If you see or feel any play, the headset needs adjusting, so you should now know what too loose is.

Google adjust headset or take it to a shop - most likely very inexpensive.

I don't mean to be curt but you asked for advice and yet seem to resist following it.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 10pmStalker
im reading that its normal to be somewhat loose as long as it dosent get too loose. I dont know what too loose is since I know next to nothing about bikes.
Where did you read that it's normal to have wiggling up front? It's definitely not normal for a bike to have a loose headset (if that is indeed the problem).

Look at Sheldon Brown and figure out what type of headset you have, threaded or threadless:
https://sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html

Look at videos on the net, there are tons:
https://www.youtube.com/results?searc...adless+headset

Read Park's stuff too:
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...eadset-service
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...eadset-service

You can do it yourself, get a buddy who knows about bikes, or take your bike to a shop or a co-op. But please don't just ignore the problem.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:28 PM
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is this a threaded or threadless headset? either type is quite easy to adjust, but the adjustment procedure is significantly different.

threaded:


threadless:


see https://sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html#threaded for the adjustment procedures for either type. (if its threadless, its almost certainly the 'Aheadset' type he describes, the others are very rare).

or for another version
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...eadset-service
and
https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...eadset-service
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Old 03-19-13, 03:35 PM
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Its a threaded Headset. Im not trying to to resist following advice, just getting totaly different info. I got the info from the guy that put the bike together. He said his bike rattles too. I had no reason not to believe him until I signed up to this forum.

https://i1119.photobucket.com/albums/...ps6c2dbff6.jpg

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Old 03-19-13, 03:42 PM
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It won't kill anything or cause co sequential damage if you ride around a while longer with a slightly loose headset. After all it's probably been loose for a while by now, so what's another week or two. OTOH if it's very loose, and you see visible gaps of more than 1/16" ou want to attend to it immediately.

Loose headsets make handling worse, especially at high speed (downhills) and when braking, so while I said it isn't an emergency, it isn't something you want to ignore.

BTW- often when threaded headsets are loose, the top hardware is loose enough that you can turn it by hand. Try and see if you can, and if so tighten the lower nut hand tight to take up the slack, then tighten the upper nut to try to keep it there. It'll loosen up again until it's properly adjusted and locked into place with wrenches, but hand tight beats loose in the meantime.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
It won't kill anything or cause co sequential damage if you ride around a while longer with a slightly loose headset. After all it's probably been loose for a while by now, so what's another week or two. OTOH if it's very loose, and you see visible gaps of more than 1/16" ou want to attend to it immediately.

Loose headsets make handling worse, especially at high speed (downhills) and when braking, so while I said it isn't an emergency, it isn't something you want to ignore.

BTW- often when threaded headsets are loose, the top hardware is loose enough that you can turn it by hand. Try and see if you can, and if so tighten the lower nut hand tight to take up the slack, then tighten the upper nut to try to keep it there. It'll loosen up again until it's properly adjusted and locked into place with wrenches, but hand tight beats loose in the meantime.
I think you mean tighten the bolts that are holding the bars? Thats the first thing I did, it just keeps turning. I dont think its stripped because it is very tough to turn.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:50 PM
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to verify its the headset absolutely, straddle the bike, with one hand grab the front brake lever tight, and gently rock the bike foreward and backwards, with the other hand 'feel' around between the headset cups and frame... if you feel the wiggle is there, then its for sure the headset.

there should be ZERO visible or feelable play in a headset, but it needs to be set so the forks freely turn left/right without binding. if there's any notchiness in that left-right, then the headset is shot, which typically happens if its left loose too long.

the adjustment of a threaded headset is quite simple, you loosen the big lock nut on the top, then gently tighten the 'threaded top race' under it, then tighten the lock nut. repeat this process til its just right. again, no binding, but no wiggle. if after loosening the lock nut a turn or so, the threaded race isn't finger-easy to turn, I'd unscrew the lock nut all the way, lift the spacers, and dribble a bit of oil on the fork tube threads that this all runs on. you shouldn't need a wrench on the threaded top race unless things are seriously munged up

finding a wrench big enough for the lock nut can be a bit of a challenge in the typical home toolkit, as its over an inch. I measured a couple old bikes in my barn, two were about 1.2" (30mm) and one was 1.45" (36mm). a really large crescent wrench usually does the trick, but do be careful not to overtighten the lock nut.

frankly, your guy who rebuilds these bikes sounds incompetent.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by pierce
to verify its the headset absolutely, straddle the bike, with one hand grab the front brake lever tight, and gently rock the bike foreward and backwards, with the other hand 'feel' around between the headset cups and frame... if you feel the wiggle is there, then its for sure the headset.

there should be ZERO visible or feelable play in a headset, but it needs to be set so the forks freely turn left/right without binding. if there's any notchiness in that left-right, then the headset is shot, which typically happens if its left loose too long.

the adjustment of a threaded headset is quite simple, you loosen the big lock nut on the top, then gently tighten the 'threaded top race' under it, then tighten the lock nut. repeat this process til its just right. again, no binding, but no wiggle. if after loosening the lock nut a turn or so, the threaded race isn't finger-easy to turn, I'd unscrew the lock nut all the way, lift the spacers, and dribble a bit of oil on the fork tube threads that this all runs on. you shouldn't need a wrench on the threaded top race unless things are seriously munged up

finding a wrench big enough for the lock nut can be a bit of a challenge in the typical home toolkit, as its over an inch. I measured a couple old bikes in my barn, two were about 1.2" (30mm) and one was 1.45" (36mm). a really large crescent wrench usually does the trick, but do be careful not to overtighten the lock nut.

frankly, your guy who rebuilds these bikes sounds incompetent.
Yeah I just checked it again, its for sure the headset. I feel significant movement near the bolt while rocking the bike with the front break squeesed tight. Thanks for the detailed post. Not sure ill do it myself but I will take it in to a bike shop if theres no easy fix. Im sure it is an easy fix but knowing me, I would mess it up even worse.
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Old 03-19-13, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by 10pmStalker
I think you mean tighten the bolts that are holding the bars? Thats the first thing I did, it just keeps turning. I dont think its stripped because it is very tough to turn.

If it's a threaded headset, there's a threaded upper bearing unit (race) and a locknut on top. These don't hold the handlebar, they tighten the headset, and are locked against each other to stay put. If you can turn the lower part (top race, in the drawing) clockwise looking from the top, do so until you've taken up the play, then turn the locknut down against it to keep it there. These really need to be properly tightened against each other but that calls for a large thin wrench to hold the lower part while you tighten the upper.

If there's a local shop, let them do this for you if you don't have the tools. Or see if there's a co-op bike shop where they cal lend/rent you the tools, and provide guidance along the way.
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Old 03-19-13, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
If it's a threaded headset, there's a threaded upper bearing unit (race) and a locknut on top. These don't hold the handlebar, they tighten the headset, and are locked against each other to stay put. If you can turn the lower part (top race, in the drawing) clockwise looking from the top, do so until you've taken up the play, then turn the locknut down against it to keep it there. These really need to be properly tightened against each other but that calls for a large thin wrench to hold the lower part while you tighten the upper
If there's a local shop, let them do this for you if you don't have the tools. Or see if there's a co-op bike shop where they cal lend/rent you the tools, and provide guidance along the way.
I was just at a co-op bike shop yesterday. I didnt realize at the time that I had a problem with the bike. (way to much snow outside to ride right now.) Good idea to rent tools.
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Old 03-19-13, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 10pmStalker
Its a threaded Headset. Im not trying to to resist following advice, just getting totaly different info. I got the info from the guy that put the bike together. He said his bike rattles too. I had no reason not to believe him until I signed up to this forum.

https://i1119.photobucket.com/albums/...ps6c2dbff6.jpg
Hmm, doesn't say much about his abiliities. I would suggest you steer clear of that person in the future.
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Old 03-20-13, 04:01 PM
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Hi,

The front of a bike can rock on the arms of the brakes.
Mine does, on the pressed steel V-brakes. I've ordered
some solid alloy replacements - not that I really needed
to - but there are some other issues as well - a visually
very assymetric setup - I want to try and fix.

rgds, sreten.
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