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Help with threadless headset!(13 posts)

Help with threadless headset!EO
Oct 1, 2001 6:21 PM
I've only had threaded headsets before, got this bike three years and 10k miles ago with a threadless headset and havent had to touch it before now... but it has finally come a bit loose. I have no clue how to tighten it... can anyone give me some hints? Maybe a site with a description of how threadless headsets work? Thanks!
Help with threadless headset!Atombomber
Oct 1, 2001 7:33 PM
The basic design of a threadless headset is this. There is a screw at the top of the steerer tube which tightens the bearing play. But you need to loosen the stem bolts which clamp the stem to the steerer tube. If you haven't touched your headset in 3 years, you might want to do a bit of cleaning and lubing before tightening everything back to proper. Make sure that the stem moves freely once the bolts ae opened and the top cap screw has been unscrewed. If the stem requires a lot of force to move it, then it will be very difficult to adjust the headset play.
Cute trick I found out from a wrenchMarlon
Oct 1, 2001 10:29 PM
If you're having problems tightening down your stem using the top cap to remove play (that's after loosening the stem bolts), try this: get a piece of thin rope, loop it around the top of your stem and around your fork at the bottom of the head tube, and tie the free ends of the rope around a screwdriver or allen key. Then, twist the allen key or screwdriver around, tightening the rope and forcing the stem down the steerer tube, removing play. Tighten the top cap down when you've got enough tension in the rope, then tighten the stem bolts. No more play (hopefully)!
Is it possible to over tighten the cap??Cima Coppi
Oct 2, 2001 5:23 AM
I too am not familiar with threadless systems, but am looking to convert. By your method described above, or any other method, is it easy to over tighten the mechanism, as it is with a threaded headset. On threaded headsets, there is that fine line between too loose, too tight and just right. Is this the same with the threadless system?

Thanks in advance.

Oct 2, 2001 6:17 AM
You shoulndn't have to tighten the top cap down much at all...just enough to eliminate play.If too tight it will bind and ruin your headset.
Cute trick I found out from a wrenchgrzy
Oct 2, 2001 8:45 AM
Kewl - that's called a Spanish Windlass and has been used around boats for centuries. It's a pretty quick and dirty clamping method. I'd be a bit nervous to use this on a high end bike with something like a ti stem for fear of bending it.
Agreed! Not for ti stemsMarlon
Oct 2, 2001 8:05 PM
The only stems I've tried it on have been fairly beefy aluminum stems (Deda Zero, Ritchey Pro, Profile H2O, 3T Mutant, etc...) so I think it's safe to use, but I would also hesitate to try it on a ti stem. Still, when you're out on a ride and you don't have all your tools on you, it works:)

So far I've used the Spanish Windlass trick (as you've named it) on a few of my friends' bikes, especially those who've bought 1 1/8" stems with shims to fit over their 1" steerer tubes. The problem seems to be with the shims being slightly too tight to allow the stem to slide down along the steerer tube when tightening the top cap. While I'm a big fan of grease, I'm not quite sure that lubing the contact point between shim and steerer tube would be a good idea.

Any other ideas asides from the windlass trick to try?
Agreed! Not for ti stemsgrzy
Oct 3, 2001 10:15 AM
Dunno - the only problem I've experienced is the expansion plug (Reynolds) being pulled up the steerer while tightening tthe top bolt. Snugging up the expansion bolt worked and allowed my to get the proper setting. My steerer is 1" (carbon), stem is Ritchey WCS (w/shim since it's only a 1-1/8" unit) and I run a King headset. Once I got it dialed in it has needed zip for adjustments. I don't think grease is a good idea in this area. If you're concerned about corrosion I'd use some anti-sieze compound. Zinc chromate will also work, but it tends to be a bit messy and yellow in color.

You could probably get away with the windlass trick on a ti stem, but you'd have to be quite carefull. Not sure I'd be wanting to risk it with something that costs that much
How long to dial an a-head in?DannyBoy
Oct 2, 2001 12:22 AM
I've a similar problem (see post of yesterday) in that I'm not familiar with the set up of this type of headset.

In short, should this be a quick easy job, or a long one. I just couldn't adjust my new h/s right myself, and the framebuilder tinkered with it for 40 or so minutes before he was satisfied it was 110% dialed in. Is this normal??

On my older bikes adjusting the h/s was a 10 min job if that??

I'm worried that all the time he took indicates a bad fit - which I would be suprised at as a result of their rep (No.1 UK frame builder etc). I just don't wanna end up ovalising my head tube or something!!!!!
2 seconds?MiniMe
Oct 2, 2001 6:18 AM
I have a King headset and I think it took all of 2 seconds to tighten the top cap and then secure the bolts.
How long to dial an a-head in?Birddog
Oct 2, 2001 6:31 AM
It's easy, certainly less than 5 minutes with the Cane Creek S5 that I recently installed.
How long to dial an a-head in?Birddog
Oct 2, 2001 6:33 AM
Ooops, I should clarify. I had my LBS install the headset. It took 5 mins to get the stem and top cap installed.
If it takes too long, something is wrong.Atombomber
Oct 2, 2001 12:45 PM
If the headtube and the fork crown seat are not 100% perpendicular to the steerer tube, then adjustments can be a bit of a pain. If you can't adjust the bearing play in a few minutes, then you need to check that the headset is pressed in properly and that the headtube and fork are faced properly. I won't press a headset in without first checking the headtube using a facing tool.