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What causes a loose headset?

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What causes a loose headset?

Old 09-28-14, 11:31 AM
  #1  
calyco
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What causes a loose headset?

Initially, like a newbie I screwed down the top cap to 5nm since I was also doing the steerer/bar clamps. I realized my mistake and backed it off a bit.

So I recently developed some fore and aft play on headset (4 month old bike). Did it the proper way this time, unscrewed steerer clamp bolts first and then tightened top cap little bit at a time. Nothing worked. So I took off the bars, spacers, top cap and bung(?) etc. Without removing the brakes, I slid the fork out a bit and bearings popped out. Basically short of disassembling everything. Reseated everything together and like magic!, the play was gone. Finally after 2 hours of fiddling. What did I do? Is a readjustment necessary occasionally? I do a have a rough patch of road I go through on my route, was that the cause of it or was it because of me screwing it on too tight that messed up something? Any info would be appreciated, TIA
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Old 09-28-14, 11:57 AM
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The constant pounding of use is the basic cause of eventual play. Also, if any parts weren't fully seated all along, you'll develop play as they settle.

There are many variables, and some headsets never suffer headset play, even after 10s of thousands of miles, while others seem to always want some adjusting.

I can't reconstruct what made the difference for you, or why it couldn't simply be adjusted. However it's possible that the stem was stuck a bit on the fork, so it didn't move in response to top cap adjustment, even though th clamp was loose. Whenever I readjust a threadless headset, I loosen the stem clamp and knock the bar to either side to make sure it's slipping freely on the steerer. Not saying that would have made the difference for you, but it might have.
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Old 09-28-14, 12:21 PM
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I slid the fork out a bit and bearings popped out. Basically short of disassembling everything. Reseated everything together and like magic!, the play was gone... What did I do?
i'd have to see the whole process .. FB's edjumacated Guess is as good as any.



Threadless, the bearing preload, I do by feel . not loose , not binding is the Happy Medium

the stem side bolts are what then holds the Adjustment the torque specs there are to not strip the aluminum in the stem.

Yes, loosen those bolts .. then do the top cap preload.. then retighten the stem side bolts.


With a stack of 2 stems and a QBP 'locking spacer' on my Trekking bike , there are 5 bolts grabbing around the fork steerer.


Perhaps the bearings, the cup insert, in the frame itself are a loose undersized fit .

they shouldn't fall out if right sized they would press in, then stay there , when you take the fork out.
that can be shimmed to be tight again , need to accurately know the gap size to do that right.



the integrated bearing headset fell out with the fork when I'd take the stem off or loose
when not having the wheel on the ground (the locking spacer cured that)

but the frame is machined so it all tightens up as the preload is set.

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-28-14 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 09-28-14, 05:10 PM
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calyco
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Thanks for the tip FBinNY, I think I sorta did that which might have helped. I pushed the stem left and right.

Basically I took off everything - top cap, bung, stem with bars, spacers, cup.. then pulled the fork down and wiggled it a bit. This is with the stem still in the head tube. The bearings did not "pop out", what I meant was it got dislodged.

Just went for a ride and had to tighten it again, although it is much better than before. How much play is acceptable or is there supposed completely none at all? I am barely getting it now, prob 1mm or so. Hard to detect by eye when holding front brake and moving it but I feel it when I am riding and going over bumps, like the frame is not stiff but slightly loose. I was reading up on it and just afraid of ovalized head tube.
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Old 09-28-14, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by calyco View Post
Just went for a ride and had to tighten it again, although it is much better than before. How much play is acceptable or is there supposed completely none at all? I am barely getting it now, prob 1mm or so. Hard to detect by eye when holding front brake and moving it but I feel it when I am riding and going over bumps, like the frame is not stiff but slightly loose. I was reading up on it and just afraid of ovalized head tube.
You should be able to adjust the headset so there's no play at all, but so the fork still turns freely. If you can't, something's wrong, either the headset is damaged, worn or incorrectly assembled.
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Old 10-20-14, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
You should be able to adjust the headset so there's no play at all, but so the fork still turns freely. If you can't, something's wrong, either the headset is damaged, worn or incorrectly assembled.
It would still come loose after couple of rides and I found out I was not installing the compression plug correctly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQe9TJJq1PE

Everything is perfect now, thanks for the help guys!
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Old 10-21-14, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by calyco View Post
It would still come loose after couple of rides and I found out I was not installing the compression plug correctly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQe9TJJq1PE

Everything is perfect now, thanks for the help guys!
Improper installation of the compression plug should not affect whether or not the head set develops play. For the purposes of adjusting the headset, the compression plug and cap only serve to set it while the stem is loose on the steerer. After tightening the stem, it's the stem clamping on the steerer that maintains the headset adjustment and the cap could be removed without affecting it.

Make sure the inside clamping surface of the stem and the section of the steerer that it clamps to are both completely clean and free of any lube or grease. Then use a torque wrench to tighten the stem on the steerer to the proper torque.

For carbon steerers, some might suggest carbon friction paste, but a few manufacturers recommend against this, and I haven't found it necessary if the surfaces were clean.
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