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  1. #1
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    Internal headset

    Hello all,
    After riding quite a bit recently I have began to notice play in my headset when hitting rougher terrain, and even when braking with the front. Naturally I went around with the torque wrench and with no luck, still play. The more I ride the more I seem to notice it. I looked into getting a new headset, and after some research this appears to be way over my head due to it being an internal headset. Can anyone break this down for me? What are my options to remedy this problem? I want to weigh my options before handing out some serious $$ to my LBS. Their labor is not cheap, understandably.

    My whip: konaworld

    I did buy this bike (my first real mtb) second hand about 6ish months ago.

    Thanks for any and all help.

  2. #2
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    Are you familiar with the basics of adjusting a threadless headset?
    ie - loosen the steerer tube clamp bolts on the stem, tighten up the preload adjustment (top cap) just enough so there's no play but no more than that, make sure your bars and wheel are still aligned correctly, then retighten the steerer clamp bolts?

  3. #3
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    Internal headset

    Quote Originally Posted by dillwill View Post
    Hello all,
    After riding quite a bit recently I have began to notice play in my headset when hitting rougher terrain, and even when braking with the front. Naturally I went around with the torque wrench and with no luck, still play. The more I ride the more I seem to notice it. I looked into getting a new headset, and after some research this appears to be way over my head due to it being an internal headset. Can anyone break this down for me? What are my options to remedy this problem? I want to weigh my options before handing out some serious $$ to my LBS. Their labor is not cheap, understandably.

    My whip: konaworld

    I did buy this bike (my first real mtb) second hand about 6ish months ago.

    Thanks for any and all help.
    http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...ice#adjustment
    mtbtires.com
    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Are you familiar with the basics of adjusting a threadless headset?
    ie - loosen the steerer tube clamp bolts on the stem, tighten up the preload adjustment (top cap) just enough so there's no play but no more than that, make sure your bars and wheel are still aligned correctly, then retighten the steerer clamp bolts?
    I did do that, though I may not have tightened it enough. Any idea what torque spec it may be? I think I did 71 inch lbs.

    Thanks shiggy, thats some great info!

  5. #5
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    Clamp bolts have no bearing (no pun intended) on headset preload, just the top-cap bolt. The clamp bolts will prevent you from preloading the bearing if they are tightened already, though.

  6. #6
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    Internal headset

    Quote Originally Posted by dillwill View Post
    I did do that, though I may not have tightened it enough. Any idea what torque spec it may be? I think I did 71 inch lbs.

    Thanks shiggy, thats some great info!
    As per the Park instructions, there is no torque spec for the bearing adjustment. You preload until it is "right". Then tighten the stem bolts to hold the adjustment (I have never used a torque wrench for that, either).
    mtbtires.com
    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  7. #7
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    What is this 'tourque wrench' you speak of?



    Basically, you want to tighten everything up vertically. The stem needs to move a little closer to the fork to take up some slack. It can only do that if you release it's deathgrip on the steerer tube first by loosening the bolts on it's side(s). The top cap simply adjusts the tension in the system. Mess with it 'til it feels right, than lock things in place by retightening the stem bolts.

    There are times when a headset gives up the ghost too. I've had some that I just couldn't get working the way I wanted. The local shop might not charge you more than a 6 pack for a diagnosis and some advice.

  8. #8
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    It's possible he doesn't have enough spacers in the stack.

    Edit: Or it's possible the opposite is true, too. Maybe there isn't enough steerer tube in the stem.

    1. Check to see if the steerer tube is taller (even if just by a hair) than the top of the stem. if so, add a spacer underneath the stem (or arrange them as such that the steerer tube is below the stack).

    2. Check to see that the steerer tube is at least inside the stem to the top clamping bolt of the stem (typically about 3/4 of the way or more). If it's not, then either remove spacers if you have them, or get a new fork...or I think there might be a way to add an extension to the steerer tube, but i'm not positive.
    Last edited by will-lee wonka; 07-03-2013 at 10:17 AM.

  9. #9
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    There are a few reasons why there would be play in a headset. Best way is to remove the fork and headset bearings and just reinstall them, which would take less than 5 minutes to do. It also helps to grab the fork under the steerer tube and kind of wiggle it in to make sure the bearing is sitting on the crown race correctly. Make sure your bearings are seated properly and with the bike on the ground (not in a stand) slide in the top bearing and insure that the compression ring is seated perfectly. If the stem/spacers aren't in full contact with the top cover, the compression ring can wiggle its way loose enough to develop play. I like to compress the front shock while pushing down slightly on the stem then tighten one bolt just to test it out.

  10. #10
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    Wow, thanks for all the responses!

    So, I did exactly what many of you suggested and tightened the top cap bolt after loosening my stem. It seems to have helped some, but did not completely solve the problem. I got to where I was nervous about tightening it any more, I cant afford to break anything. Should the spacers be slightly taller than the steerer tube? Mine are almost exactly the same length. I may just take it to the shop, they are good about educating me as they fix things.

    On a side note, happy 4th to you all!

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dillwill View Post
    Wow, thanks for all the responses!

    So, I did exactly what many of you suggested and tightened the top cap bolt after loosening my stem. It seems to have helped some, but did not completely solve the problem. I got to where I was nervous about tightening it any more, I cant afford to break anything. Should the spacers be slightly taller than the steerer tube? Mine are almost exactly the same length. I may just take it to the shop, they are good about educating me as they fix things.

    On a side note, happy 4th to you all!
    The top of the stem should end up being higher than the top of the steeer tube - sounds like the earlier suggestion that you may need to add a spacer might take care of things. Hit the shop, show them what's up, buy a spacer or two, drop off a rack of beer for the advice.

    Happy 4th.

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