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Loose headset - need help with fix(4 posts)

Loose headset - need help with fixwulf
May 15, 2002 10:20 AM
A racer friend of mine put my bike together (I wasn't around to watch), and I've got a slightly loose headset, and don't know how to tighten it up.

I've got an Aheadset (threadless, I recall from him), with Cinelli alter stem. There's a cap on the stem, which I removed, but inside, there's only a clip, and nothing to tighten.

The movement is only slight - ie. if I pick the bike 1" off the floor and let it drop, it rattles. I've isolated the headset area - everything else it tight. If I work it very slowly, I can just barely feel movement - we're talking probably a part of a mm, but it's annoying (don't know how much of a problem it is, though).

Any help?

Thanks guys (and gals).

- Mike
re: Loose headset - need help with fixlaffeaux
May 15, 2002 10:31 AM
1) Put that cap back on.

2) Loosen the bolts that hold the stem to the steer tube.

3) Tighten the bolt that holds the cap that you removed earlier.

4) Gently rock the bike back and forth with the front brake applies, and see if you feel any movement. If so, go to #3. If not, go to #4.

4) Retighten the stem bolts.

5) See if your headset is better.
re: Loose headset - follow upwulf
May 15, 2002 11:53 AM
laffeaux -
Thanks, that worked - no more rattle. Now, if you'll excuse my ignorance, I want to know what was going on. Here's my novice take (I don't know maintenance at all):

1. threadless = the fork and stem "sandwich" the frame steer tube (maybe not the correct anatomical term), no threads involved here in tightening it.
+ the "steer tube" that's part of the fork itself is what the stem "floats" on.

2. By loosening the stem bolts, I freed the stem to move up and down the steer tube (part of fork assembly), also making it possible to drive down that cap bolt, which determines the level at which the stem itself "floats" on that steer tube.

3. I tightened that cap bolt such that there is still free movement, but presumably, I could OVER-tighten this cap bolt when the stem is loosened, and actually restrict motion. I'm guessing I'd know if I'd made it too tight.

Thanks for the step-by-step. I'm learning how to take care of this thing, piece by piece, and want to make sure I understand what's happening, rather than just doing...and having to ask again later...

- Mike
You are correctlaffeaux
May 15, 2002 1:13 PM
Everything that you said is correct.

For a lack of a better term, the headset is "sandwiched" between the fork and stem as you described. The cap does nothing to hold the system in place, it's only used for adjustment. The stem holds the whole set up together. And, yes it is possible to overtighten the bearings and bind the headset, so be careful.