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  1. #1
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    Jet9 Carbon headset creak, what to do.

    I've been riding a Jet9 Carbon for about a month now. It's a solid performer, but the creaking and popping I've been getting from the headset under braking is driving me nuts. I can eliminate it for a few hours by loosening everything up, and tightening it back down. But I'm getting tired of doing that every ride.

    On any other bike Id add a bit of grease between the bearing and the cup and be done with it, but this frame has no metal cups in the frame. Just a pair of sealed cartridge bearings riding inside a raw carbon up (which is different from both of my other carbon bikes). So I'm assuming that means no grease... thus I have no idea how to eliminate the annoying creak.

    Anyone experiencing this? What did you do?

  2. #2
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    I hear you. Have the head tube inspected, for flaws and/or cracking....something don't seem right.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  3. #3
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    Its only under braking? Why is the headset and not the hub interface, or the rotor bolts, or the brake caliper, or the brake pads? The headset is an easy target but not necessarily the right one.
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    If I told you I saw a unicorn ****ing a leprechaun trail side, you'd probably be suspicious.

  4. #4
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    It's not any of the things you mentioned because loosening and retightening the stem and headset would not eliminate noise 100% of the time if it were.

    I can also reproduce the popping if I turn the wheel and rock the frame fore and aft (the same way you'd check a headset for play).

  5. #5
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
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    By loosening everything up and re-tightening I assume you mean the stem? If so the problem may be the stem/steerer tube interface. Sounds to me like it is not tight enough and is moving when you ride creating a loose headset. Sometimes the gripping surfaces are slightly greasy (even just oil from your hands) making the problem worse.

    I've had similar problems with my two bikes that have forks with carbon steerer tubes and was able to solve the problem by cleaning the stem and steerer tube with alcohol before installing.

  6. #6
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    Possibly. However typically when the stem is slipping some play will develop in the HS. I never get play, just a popping/creaking.

    Knowing what I know... i.e. installing bearings in a headset dry will usually result in creaking. I did some research yesterday to find some carbon compatible grease. It has now been added between the bearing and the frame.

    I'll put about 3 hours on the bike tonight. My bet is that the creak is gone.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by h2otaco View Post
    Possibly. However typically when the stem is slipping some play will develop in the HS. I never get play, just a popping/creaking.

    Knowing what I know... i.e. installing bearings in a headset dry will usually result in creaking. I did some research yesterday to find some carbon compatible grease. It has now been added between the bearing and the frame.

    I'll put about 3 hours on the bike tonight. My bet is that the creak is gone.
    I'll be interested to hear how that carbon compatible grease works out.

    Did you notice, when you were applying the grease, how tight is the fit of the bottom headset bearing in the frame? When I was assembling my frame I noticed a loose fit (side to side) compared to the top bearing. In theory it shouldn't matter since the carbon bearing seat is tapered and *should* prevent the bearing moving around. None the less it concerned me so what I did was wrap a very thin strip of clear packing tape around the outside diameter of the bearing to help snug up the fit between he wall of the steer tube and the bearing. Might be something to try if the grease doesn't stop the noises.

  8. #8
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    I didnt notice a ton of play, but it is a fairly loose fit. Way looser than any press fit headset I have ever seen and looser even than the 4 other integrated headset bikes I own or have owned.

    To be honest I'd feel better if Niner did what most manufacturers do with the integrated headsets, and that is have a steel insert pressed into the frame for the bearing to contact. Of the bikes I have owned with integrated headsets, Giant (MTN), Specialized (MTN), Ridley (road), and Litespeed (road), non of them have had a bearing riding on raw carbon.

    BTW This is the grease I am using:
    Park Tool Co. » PPL-1 : PolyLube 1000 Lubricant (Tube) : Cleaning & Lube

    Note: it says... "PolyLube 1000 will not harm carbon fiber"

  9. #9
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
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    Quote Originally Posted by h2otaco View Post
    I didnt notice a ton of play, but it is a fairly loose fit. Way looser than any press fit headset I have ever seen and looser even than the 4 other integrated headset bikes I own or have owned.

    To be honest I'd feel better if Niner did what most manufacturers do with the integrated headsets, and that is have a steel insert pressed into the frame for the bearing to contact. Of the bikes I have owned with integrated headsets, Giant (MTN), Specialized (MTN), Ridley (road), and Litespeed (road), non of them have had a bearing riding on raw carbon.

    BTW This is the grease I am using:
    Park Tool Co. » PPL-1 : PolyLube 1000 Lubricant (Tube) : Cleaning & Lube

    Note: it says... "PolyLube 1000 will not harm carbon fiber"
    I share your concerns about the bearings riding on raw carbon and would prefer they had stuck with pressed in cups (Zero-Stack, or "Internal"). I guess this is one of the trade-offs to get such a light frame and if you start using metal inserts anywhere a bearing will be seated this can potentially add unnecessary weight.

    It seems like the headset bearings should not be moving around enough to cause creaking or popping. Grease could potentially attract dirt into this interface (since there is no rubber seal between the headset race and the frame) and over time become a sanding compound, wearing the carbon and leading to more movement and then more wear. For this reason alone I wouldn't recommend grease.

    Maybe the noise is from a bad headset bearing?

  10. #10
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    I'm curious to know if applying the grease fixes your issue. I have a 6 month old Jet 9 Carbon build and when I ride I'm getting (what I believe to be) the same sort of noise. It's a strange creak/rattle/noise coming somewhere from the front of the bike. I first thought it was my front brake housing slapping the head tube, but I ruled that out after putting a rubber grommet on the hose.

    I don't have any play that I can find in the headset (like if the stem or star nut wasn't fully tight), but when I ride over roots and rocks I get the noise. When on the flats, no noise. It's been driving me nuts and maybe it's the same issue.

    I'll have to pull my headset bearings, clean them and put them back in as a start. Maybe the Polylube is the solution. I don't remember if I put any grease on the bearings when I first built up the bike or not. I may have put a thin bit of tri flow red grease on them, but I can't remember since it was so long ago.

    Oh and I just noticed that White Lightning makes a Crystal Grease that is also safe for carbon fiber, FYI.

  11. #11
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    Problem solved I think. Put in some good time on the bike last night, not a peep.
    Also, after I got back from the ride I had this in my inbox from Niner...

    "You can use grease on your headset bearings. Give that a try.

    Ride On!

    Ralph."

  12. #12
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
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    Quote Originally Posted by h2otaco View Post
    Problem solved I think. Put in some good time on the bike last night, not a peep.
    Also, after I got back from the ride I had this in my inbox from Niner...

    "You can use grease on your headset bearings. Give that a try.

    Ride On!

    Ralph."
    Glad to hear grease fixed the problem, and that Niner OK'd doing so.

    Thinking about it I realized that the carbon should be made of materials tolerant of grease as it is common for bearings (especially new ones) to ooze grease a bit.

  13. #13
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    The whole "grease damages carbon" thing is looking more and more to be some kind of myth, as every shop guy I've spoken to uses all different kinds of grease on carbon bikes. White Lithium, Park Poly 1000, and Triflow Clear Synthetic, are just 3 that were rattled off by various shop guys.

    Still on things like carbon stems , handle bars, posts, and seat rails it's safe to say carbon assembly paste is probably the best idea just to stop slippage.

  14. #14
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    Got this reply from Niner when I asked.

    Thanks for being part of the niner nation!

    I would get some carbon prep for the seat post interface and you can use pretty much any grease for your headset bearings.

    Ride On!

    Ralph
    Niner Jet 9 RDO
    Titus Racer X
    Lynskey Singlespeed

  15. #15
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    Took my J9RDO for her maiden voyage today. Rode Hewlett's Gulch up the Poudre Canyon (about 15 mi NW of Niner's HQ in Fort Collins, CO actually)... noticed a annoying creak/squeak/rattle in the head tube area on a sustained switchback/rocky descent about 8 miles into my ride. Retightened everything mid ride and still was able to get a creak.

    I'll try to Park Polylube tomorrow... hoping that's all it is.
    '14 Bronson C
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  16. #16
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    I have had a not quite all the way tight thru axle result in loose headset sensations on my jet9 rdo.

    dunno if that helps but worth a look.

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