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What is the danger of extra headset play?

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What is the danger of extra headset play?

Old 01-02-07, 01:27 PM
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Dubbayoo
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What is the danger of extra headset play?

I've noticed the FSA headset on my Flyte seems to loosen up every now and then. It's not a tremendous amount but if I place the front wheel against a wall and push forward I feel a little bit of play. I adjust it but it seems to return within a few rides. Assuming the stem is properly tightened what is the danger in this? just in case it loosens during a ride. It would be a bummer to lose steering on a downhill but again, the stem is tight...or so it would seem.
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Old 01-02-07, 01:32 PM
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Um...on an integrated setup? You could ruin the frame...not much other than that.

Seriously this is one of the reasons Chris King gives for integrated setups being inferior to...well their headset. http://www.chrisking.com/pdfs/Int%20...0Explained.pdf
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Old 01-02-07, 01:41 PM
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pfft. is that all? I guess I better keep checking then. Thanks.
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Old 01-02-07, 01:41 PM
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Make sure the top cap (compression plug if carbon steerer) is tight with the stem loose then tighten the stem....
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Old 01-02-07, 01:42 PM
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This is a serious question... not an attack. I'm stating this only because it seems people have been overly defensive during the holidays.

If the internal headset has catridge bearings, how does a slightly loose headset cause frame damage? Aren't you only damaging races (correct term?) inside of the catridge? It doesn't seem to me that the catridge bearing itself is going to wear your aluminum headtube into an oval.

I could see how this would be a problem if the bearings were loose in the headtube - but don't they always have at least a steel race that still drops in?

Thanks.
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Old 01-02-07, 01:56 PM
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If there is play and you would eventually warp the frame by pushing the bearing assemblies around in the frame. It could happen...not sure how long it would take but that would depend on how loose, how heavy and strong the rider is and how strong/stiff the headtube is. But it could happen...best to make the simple adjustment and not worry about it.
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Old 01-02-07, 02:13 PM
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If I understand the problem correctly, I had the same exact issue on my PF QS2. I tried everything myself, including buying another set of good Vernier calipers, a long thread with [Ming] PF etc. I finally took it to my LBS, who after admonishing me for getting a "no-name" frame that wasn't milled properly, suggested I didn't have enough spacers. So, he gave me a new compression lug that seemed a bit longer/deeper and (this is the kicker) added a 2mm spacer.

That did the trick. My symptoms up until then was that I'd install the headset and tighten everything properly, but it would always work itself .. a bit loose. Not dangerously so, but enough that it was an annoying, but soft, "click" and some play, noticeable when I braked or when I did what you suggested there Dial_Tone.

So, this may help in your case .. (the additional spacer and a better compression lug). I dunno what brand he ended up using as I was just thrilled it worked. No problems since and I have put some miles in subsequently.
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Old 01-02-07, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankBattle
So, this may help in your case .. (the additional spacer and a better compression lug). I dunno what brand he ended up using as I was just thrilled it worked. No problems since and I have put some miles in subsequently.

Did the LBS suggest to you why a spacer would help? I bet it was simply a better compression plug that helped..

cheers-
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Old 01-02-07, 02:42 PM
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As we all know, you need to make sure there is around a 2mm gap from the top of the stem to the top of the steerer tube. Perhaps this is why he added the spacer. Without this gap, you can't get any compression down on the stem when you tighten the top cap.

oh, and extra headset play will ruin the bearings and/or races quick.
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Old 01-02-07, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankBattle
If I understand the problem correctly, I had the same exact issue on my PF QS2. I tried everything myself, including buying another set of good Vernier calipers, a long thread with [Ming] PF etc. I finally took it to my LBS, who after admonishing me for getting a "no-name" frame that wasn't milled properly, suggested I didn't have enough spacers. So, he gave me a new compression lug that seemed a bit longer/deeper and (this is the kicker) added a 2mm spacer.

That did the trick. My symptoms up until then was that I'd install the headset and tighten everything properly, but it would always work itself .. a bit loose. Not dangerously so, but enough that it was an annoying, but soft, "click" and some play, noticeable when I braked or when I did what you suggested there Dial_Tone.

So, this may help in your case .. (the additional spacer and a better compression lug). I dunno what brand he ended up using as I was just thrilled it worked. No problems since and I have put some miles in subsequently.
I believed this appeared after I moved the only spacer from bottom to the top. Maybe I'll put a 3mm back on bottom and see what happens. Due to the biconvex shape of the headset cap you pretty much have to have a spacer on top or the stem won't be clamping all of the steerer tube.
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Old 01-02-07, 02:44 PM
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Actually, I found that gently scuffing the compressor plug and the inside of the carbon steerer tube with 400gr sandpaper using horizontal strokes to cause it to lock better into the micro grooves, works beautifully. I haven't had a headset come loose since I started doing it on all my bikes.
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Old 01-02-07, 02:45 PM
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If your headset keeps loosening it's the stem which keeps slipping on the steerer tube. I would pull the stem off and check to make sure there is no grease on the stem and the steerer tube. That would be the very first thing I would check.
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Old 01-02-07, 05:11 PM
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Guys, with all due respect the compression plug has nothing to do with the headset developing play. With a properly pre-loaded headset, you could tighten the stem and take the plug out and ride around merrily forever without ever having headset play develop. There are two reasons for this play - not enough preload or a stem that's slipping. With an integrated headset you need more pre-load than with a standard, and the old trick of rolling the wheel with the brakes on is not an adequate estimate of the correct amount other than to know that there is not enough.

The best way is to set one up is to tighten it just to the point where it begins to bind and then back off a hair. Tighten the stem and go on. Should not come loose again assuming the stem is securely tightened on the steerer.
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Old 01-02-07, 05:15 PM
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Another thing to look for is whether the crown race is correctly seated; if it isn't it can be nearly impossible to get a correct adjustment.
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Old 01-02-07, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
I believed this appeared after I moved the only spacer from bottom to the top. Maybe I'll put a 3mm back on bottom and see what happens. Due to the biconvex shape of the headset cap you pretty much have to have a spacer on top or the stem won't be clamping all of the steerer tube.
not sure what all you're sayin here, but reasonably one only needs about 2/3 to 3/4 of the stem barrel to be clampin the steerer, rest of the stem can be above the top of the steerer.
The other Q should be, iff'n you're 'adjusting' the cap down enough to remove play and then tightening the stem clamp bolts, why would the headset be loosening up? I've seen (and had) where the small compression ring works down even tighter over time, causing a tight 'notchy' effect, meaning the headset compression ring and the whole thing had to be loosened and readjusted again to remove the issue. Seems a problem on some headsets, most notably Ritchey...
But loosening after clamping down? Either you're not getting it truly adjusted, because (as noted before) the cap has already bottomed on the top of the steerer before reaching proper adjustment OR somethin is getting crunched down more as you ride, loosen and readjust even tighter. If thats the case and it continues I'd pull the fork and take good look at the whole shebang. Not heard of cartridge headset bearings getting seriously munched, but I guess it could happen.
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Old 01-02-07, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
not sure what all you're sayin here, but reasonably one only needs about 2/3 to 3/4 of the stem barrel to be clampin the steerer, rest of the stem can be above the top of the steerer.
Some people believe THAT is what leads to cracked carbon steerer tubes....by clamping the very end of it.
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Old 01-02-07, 06:53 PM
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It would appear that having a spring below the stem to keep a constant force on the bearings would eliminate play?



Then again, it would depend upon the spring-tension and it may remove play while just spinning the fork by hand. But under braking, I'm sure the spring would compress fully and you'd end up with play.

Problem with play is that it loads the bearing strongly on one side on a couple of balls, rather than spread the force all over. You end up wearing out the races much faster. I agree with the others, if the play is removed when you adjust, then re-appears later, your stem is slipping somehow...

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Old 01-02-07, 06:57 PM
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*shrug*

why not just try the spacer and/or different lug and see. If it doesn't help, you can go back to the original setup .. and if it does, do reverse engineering to figure out the root cause if you are so inclined.

The wheel was discovered by accident, no?
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Old 01-02-07, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
I've noticed the FSA headset on my Flyte seems to loosen up every now and then. It's not a tremendous amount but if I place the front wheel against a wall and push forward I feel a little bit of play. I adjust it but it seems to return within a few rides. Assuming the stem is properly tightened what is the danger in this? just in case it loosens during a ride. It would be a bummer to lose steering on a downhill but again, the stem is tight...or so it would seem.
Dial Tone, I had this problem too until I ditched the stock Flyte compression plug for an FSA Compressor. The compression plug that came with my SRS-3 was the only blemish on an otherwise beautiful bike. I mean it's crap. Get a new one and you'll probably be happier. FSA and Problem Solvers look pretty similar, but I'm guessing that any higher-end compression plug will do the job.

I understand the argument that it shouldn't matter, but what I found happening was that as I tightened the plug it was sliding up inside the steerer instead of compressing the headset, so whenever I clamped the stem I don't think I was getting the actual compression I thought I was, and this eventually became more apparent.
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Old 01-02-07, 08:34 PM
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I didn't get the Flyte plug. Performance ordered something for me and I'm not sure who makes it.
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Old 01-02-07, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DrPete
I understand the argument that it shouldn't matter, but what I found happening was that as I tightened the plug it was sliding up inside the steerer instead of compressing the headset, so whenever I clamped the stem I don't think I was getting the actual compression I thought I was, and this eventually became more apparent.
Exactly. It's always a challenge to set a headset properly, but once it's done correctly, it's done forever. Crappy plugs take a lot more attention than good ones, and really crappy plugs can make it close to impossible. But while compression plugs play no role in how the thing performs once the stem is tightened, they certainly can make it difficult to impossible to get it right in the first place.
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Old 01-02-07, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
Some people believe THAT is what leads to cracked carbon steerer tubes....by clamping the very end of it.
before ever contemplating a carbon frame/bike purchase I started paying attention to stock fork & BB setups as they came from bike manus. By that I'll qualify it as manus who actually have materials & design engineers that design their frames, like Spec & Trek. Having looked at about 2 doz. bikes with carbon steerers, most came from the 'factory' with the steerer top 1/4 to 3/8 inch below the stem top.
So my money is with them, since they have a lot at stake and are not gonna put their stuff in jeopardy.
Both my Roubaix and Tarmac, currently bone stock, have steerers at 1/4 to 3/8 inches below the stem top.
I have seen a few bikes, most notably the S-works bikes come thru with the stem set down the steerer and a spacer above. But is it likely to allow more adjustment on stem rise? would be my guess, since the local Spec LBS didn't have a clear explanation of it.
Given reasonable handling of stem setup, I don't buy that clamping on the steerer top is gonna increase failure.
But back to the loosening headset.
You could make an accurate mark either on the steerer (currently if higher than the stem top) or inside the stem clamp surface to see if the stem does slip... If its not slipping, then something else is compressing.
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Old 01-03-07, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by stevecaz
As we all know, you need to make sure there is around a 2mm gap from the top of the stem to the top of the steerer tube. Perhaps this is why he added the spacer. Without this gap, you can't get any compression down on the stem when you tighten the top cap.

oh, and extra headset play will ruin the bearings and/or races quick.
Inside the head tube the bearings sit in a bearing cup top and bottom that can be replaced. My Litespeed has them; I dont need them but I found they want 50 bucks for a set of those suckers!
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Old 01-03-07, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by stevecaz
As we all know, you need to make sure there is around a 2mm gap from the top of the stem to the top of the steerer tube. Perhaps this is why he added the spacer. Without this gap, you can't get any compression down on the stem when you tighten the top cap.

oh, and extra headset play will ruin the bearings and/or races quick.
I had assumed this was a given.. But maybe not. I can see NO other reason that a spacer would solve the problem unless the steer tube was too long in the first place. besides as others have posted once the thing is pre-loaded you can remove the plug. The stem holds the thing tight.

cheers-
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Old 01-03-07, 10:31 AM
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Help with some mechanical understanding.....

The compression plug or top cap/star nut holds the headset tight. Then you tighten the stem to provide steering of the steerer tube.....

I understand if the compression plug were to loosen the stem would keep the headset tight but this is not the purpose of the stem or am I missing something....
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