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How do I tell if my headset is "loose"(9 posts)

How do I tell if my headset is "loose"Timmy S
Jul 23, 2001 9:35 AM
I have a cane creek sl-5 headset on my bike. How much play is allowable? What are the symptoms of a loose headset? Any info you can supply is greatly appreciated. Thanks
re: How do I tell if my headset is "loose"young
Jul 23, 2001 10:18 AM
Easy test. Put bike on ground. Apply front brake. Push bike. Do you feel a click? Try this several times. If so, your headset is loose. What you are feeling is the play at the lower race on the HS stack.
It's harder to tell with suspension forks, but...MrCelloBoy
Jul 23, 2001 12:19 PM
Lock your front brake and rock the bike fore and aft. You'll feel the play pretty easily it if the headset is loose. With susp. forks there are more places with potential play, like the fork legs. You'll need to feel each area as you rock the front end to isolate where the play is located.
Tried the stuff you fellas suggested and still not sure....Timmy S
Jul 24, 2001 5:59 AM
Tried the same thing on my mountain bike and it seems to give no play or vibration in my hand when test is applied. The thing thats going on with my road bike is very slight which is why I'm not so sure. Can I attempt to tighten the headset myself (what tools would I need?) or should I make a trip to the LBS? Thanks again.
Go to a LBSgrzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 8:32 AM
If you're still unsure it would be best to deal in person with an experienced wrench. There should be zero play, but a tiny bit isn't the end of the world. If you're running a threadless then you'll need a 5 mm (and possibly a 6 mm) Allen wrench. If it's a quill setup then you need a couple 31 mm open ended headset wrenches. You can ask for advice when buying the tools.
Tried the stuff you fellas suggested and still not sure....ak
Jul 24, 2001 8:36 AM
just go to the LBS, they'll get it just right and probably not even charge you (at least mine wouldn't) Also, they'll be able to tell you if the symptoms you are feeling may be caused by something less simple and solve your problem. Adjusting a headset is simple and easy if you know what you're doing. if you don't, you can really F things up. If you're dead set on doing it yourself, send me an e-mail and I'll wlak you through it so that you don't impact your berings or anything.
I'll take you up on the walk thru offer in adjusting the headsetTimmy S
Jul 25, 2001 3:14 PM
AK, Thanks for the walk thru offer on adjusting the headset ( I could probably dissect it myself but why not get expert advice before proceeding!). I've never done one but I'm not a knucklehead. (EG I just installed a replacement water heater in my home today, I design and build speaker systems for a hobby etc) Since this site won,t let me e-mail with out logging in or registering (whatever) could you post the info here? Or e-mail me at Thanks again!
re: How do I tell if my headset is "loose"barney
Jul 24, 2001 6:03 AM
not too tight... just right
Fixed itTimmy S
Jul 28, 2001 7:55 AM
Realising I had just swapped out my stem and handlebars I apparently did not tighten the Allen BOLT on the top of the stem. DOH!