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VaultGuru 03-09-09 11:56 AM

Headset problems?
We probably have 1.5k miles on our new Calfee. We spec'd a Chris King headset when it was built up. Lately, I have noticed that I am getting a definite creaking noise (sounds like two pieces of composite material banging/getting stressed together with no lubrication) in the headset area when descending bumpy roads at speed, or when braking on rough surfaces. I have tightened the steerer tube and torqued the stem to correct Nm's. Yesterday, it was better in the early stages of the ride, but the creaking returned. There is no fore/aft headset movement when the bike is rocked back & forth with the front brake tight. I can't even feel any creaking vibration when I touch the forks and the head tube, and rock the bike. It just doesn't act like a loose headset. Any ideas? I'm beginning to think the headset has failed, but that is so unlike a King headset.
Thanks in advance

rishardh 03-09-09 01:21 PM

Check the QR on the front wheel if you have not already done so. I once had a creaking issue on my single and thought it was the BB and later found that the rear QR was not tight enough.

embankmentlb 03-09-09 04:34 PM

Bars to stem. Stem to bike. Lots of things can make this sound.

TandemGeek 03-09-09 04:46 PM

Creaks and the like have a strange way of travelling around on a Calfee so I wouldn't be so sure that it's the stem or headset. I think I made mention of chasing creaks on our Calfee and also thought that I had a stem or headset problem. It turned out to be the carbon stoker stem that was making all the those particular noises, but the sound travelled right up that big fat top tube such that I was certain it was coming from the front end. Turned out that it was Debbie's weight on the bars and my weight on my saddle/seat post that was torquing the stoker stem clamp on my seatpost and creating those noises.

I must have swapped stems half a dozen times and popped out and reseated the cups in my headset three times before I realized the front of the bike wasn't the problem.

Shortly after solving the stem creaks the front eccentric because the source of the next creaking sounds that also seemed to emanate from the front handlebars. Again, as my journal bears out, we eventually had the front eccentric shell updated to accommodate the newer design which may be what you already have.

The last set of creaks that I had to deal with came from our front fork drop-out and the hub, followed shortly there after by the wheel axle bearings. In both cases the headset 'sounded' like the culprit but it wasn't.

So, think about what else your body or bike is doing when you heard those creaks and see if you can't isolate it to something other than the headset.

I'mnotdeadyet 03-09-09 06:54 PM

There are posts just like this a few months ago on, especially when using longer travel forks. The CKs were creaking with the same sound as you describe. Don't know if its the same or not, but try searching for it over at

Carbonfiberboy 03-10-09 06:50 PM

I had the same thing with a CK on my single. LBS couldn't find anything wrong on repeated visits, nor could I. I greased and tightened. I cleaned all grease off and tightened. Nothing helped. After a couple of years, the CK became indexed and I replaced it. Never did learn what was wrong to begin with.

Onegun 03-11-09 05:55 AM


Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy (Post 8506724)
After a couple of years, the CK became indexed and I replaced it.

I thought CK billed their headsets as "possibly outlasting several frames" or some such, yet you had one index on you in a couple of years?

VaultGuru 03-11-09 10:59 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions. TG, I think the creak is at the stoker stem. Noticed a slight crack where the bolts tighten the stem onto the seatpost. Interesting. I torqued to the correct specs. I read Merlin's $7 stem thread and ordered one also. Should be here in a few days. Will let you know the results.

Carbonfiberboy 03-11-09 04:24 PM


Originally Posted by Onegun (Post 8508707)
I thought CK billed their headsets as "possibly outlasting several frames" or some such, yet you had one index on you in a couple of years?

Yep, that's what they say, isn't it? I don't know - maybe one of the bike shops overtightened it, maybe from maniac descending on rough pavement, maybe something was wrong with it, maybe it wasn't installed properly. It stopped creaking after it indexed! I bought another CK anyway, because none of my other headsets lasted as long. It's OK.

VaultGuru 03-11-09 09:57 PM

Hmmm...seems like we took a side road on this thread.
BTW Everett. Had several clients in your city and have been there many, many times.

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