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Centuries and headsets - little long(5 posts)

Centuries and headsets - little longt0adman
Jun 30, 2003 10:26 AM
Saturday I rode a 75-mile ride with the Cascade Bicycle Club. We started with about 16 riders of varying ability, roughly 30% females. The ride started in north Lake Washington (Kenmore - Tracy Owens Park) and headed through Woodinville into Snohomish, then up to Monroe and out to Sultan, then back. The group spread out quite a bit and I rode with the stronger riders at the front. With anywhere from 6 to 8 riders in our paceline, we averaged around 24 mph on the flats. Although I enjoy riding fast and can hang on the flat, when we hit the hills I got murdered. I'm about 15 pounds over weight and have only been on the bike seriously for about a week now. The hills ate me alive and I got left behind. With the group so spread out it was difficult to figure out the exact route back. We ended up back tracking more than once, adding miles and extra hills that challenged me mentally as much as physically. It was a hot day (by PNW standards) and despite constant hydration, carbs and thermolyte to prevent sodium deficiency, I still got a couple cramps that forced me off the bike. I mean full hamstring seizure that required such aggressive stretching that it cramped my quad in the process. Fun stuff. Anyway, the countryside was gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for a nicer day. I'm excited to do the ride again when I get in better shape. Anyone here do the ride with me? I was the one in the Liquigas team kit, sweating profusely and sucking wind. You would have noticed me as you rode by me up every hill. I also had the stupid headset issues (see below). Including the distance to and from the starting point, my odometer rolled over to 101.01 as I pulled up to my doorstep. First century in 11 months - I'm happy. I have another one scheduled in a month but I might try to squeeze in another before then. I sure love my new bike.

Now on to headsets: I got my new bike shipped to me with the bars and stem off, headset loose, etc. I haven't upgraded my bike in over 17 years so threadless headsets are totally new to me. My bike also didn't come with any documentation so I just did what seemed right and tightened down the headset firmly. About 10 miles into my first ride I realized the steering was incredibly stiff. I immediately loosened up the headset until it was smooth but still tight. On my ride Saturday I noticed it getting stiff again so I pulled over and loosened the headset even more. I had someone on the ride coach me through correctly setting the bolt tension, etc. but it continued to be stiff. It lasted the rest of the ride and after having it looked at by a LBS they said it was correct but the bearings were probably damaged when it was first cranked down and ridden. Yesterday I bought a new set of bearings and attempted to swap them out myself. I was careful to notice the order in which the different washers, etc. disassembled and put it back together the same way with plenty of grease. I even downloaded the Cane Creek manual for S6 and S2 models and followed it closely. As I started to tighten things back down in the correct order, I noticed a little movement in the headset. Naturally, I continued to turn the bolt a quarter turn at time, checking the stiffness of the steering, and whether there was any movement. At one point the bolt cut loose and was much easier to turn. BAD SIGN! I took the whole thing apart and found that the star-looking bracket inside the fork tube (sorry if the terminology is off) had cut loose and broken. Great, more parts to buy. What did I do wrong and how do I fix it? It's a 2002 Cane Creek S2. Thanks for your help.
Cane Creek S2TNSquared
Jun 30, 2003 11:16 AM
I have a similar Cane Creek headset, the IS, which came stock on my Trek. I'm not entirely crazy about it. Every few hundred miles it develops a squeak from the bottom, like the rubber seal is not seated properly or something. I just remove the stem, pull the fork out about 1/2 way and reinsert, and the squeak goes away.

Not sure what to tell you, except that it requires very little pre-load, so you shouldn't have to tighten the stem cap very much. My guess is that you probably damaged the star nut with the initial stem installation being way too tight, and the adjustment you made after replacing the bearings finished it off.

You may want to have your lbs install the star nut if you've never done it before. My understanding is that while it can be done with standard tools, it is much better to use a specialty tool. The star nut has to be a precise depth into the head tube, etc.

Despite the annoyance of the squeaking, my headset performs just fine. Hopefully yours will too with some more work.

Good Luck
re: Centuries and headsets - little longasphalt assault
Jun 30, 2003 12:02 PM
I have a CC S2 and it's fine for a median priced HS.

Your problem is not with the HS itself but as you'v seen, with the star nut. Sometimes if they're not installed properly (pressed in crooked), they'l loosen up after a little while. Your lbs ought to be able to fix you up for 10 bucks or so...maybe a 12 pack? It won't cost you much.
Update (read: I'm dumb)t0adman
Jun 30, 2003 2:50 PM
I realized I failed to install the top race when I put the thing back together, which is why it wouldn't stop moving when I checked the tightness and led me to overtighten and break the star nut in the steering tube. Ahhh yes. Remind me never to start a project after dinner and wine, and try to finish it the next day. $30 mistake isn't too bad and I sure as heck won't make it again. Thanks for the help guys.
Not at all....TNSquared
Jun 30, 2003 5:25 PM
If that's your biggest wine induced mistake, then you're way ahead of me. Wine turns me into the village idiot. :)

Glad to hear it turned out to be relatively minor. Go get some good riding in!