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  1. #1
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    Loose headset on Monkey

    Okay ya'll here is my dilema. Every time I take my Karate Monkey out on the trail my head set developes some play. It is usually not a lot of play, just enough to be able to spin the spacers. Frame is an '11 Monkey with Cane Creek S-3 headset, Raceface Dues XC stem, Sette carbon spacers. I'm running the stock fork with Avid BB-7 brakes and a 180mm rotor. I'm not much for the rear brake but this is a fully rigid and I don't hammer up hills and bomb down the other side. I'm more of a conservative type chap when I'm rolling on the Monkey. Any help is greatly appreciated
    “Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

  2. #2
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    Make sure your star fangled nut is staying in place when you're tightening your top cap. I had one that would inch up and prevent me from getting proper compression.

    Also, I've seen Chris King headsets for as cheap as $40 on the classifieds here. They're pretty bombproof when you get them dialed in.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Also make sure there's at least 1/8" space between the top of the steer tube and the top of the spacers... (you want the spacers to be taller than the steertube to properly tighten the star nut).

  4. #4
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    You might want to confirm that your headset bearings have the correct orientation. I installed the lower bearing on an S3 once and was able to ride okay but everything felt a bit loose afterward. I'd suspect the starnut first, though. Also (may seem like a no-brainer) make sure you're tightening the stem around the steerer properly. You shouldn't be able to rotate the stem relative to the steerer after you tighten things down.

  5. #5
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    +++++1 on the star fangled nut! I just tapped mine down another 1/4 inch on a head set getting loose. No problems now!

  6. #6
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    Yep done all that. Followed the instructions, got the gap, bearing oriented correctly, star nut way down and good preload. Even torqued the stem bolts every time. Did not use grease between the steerer and stem. My old Rockhopper used to eat a crown race a year so I've had plenty of practice. This problem is new to me. I threw this up in the Surly forum thinking maybe this is a Karate Monkey issue. This is my first 29er and my second rigid mtb.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jvan_wert View Post
    Yep done all that. Followed the instructions, got the gap, bearing oriented correctly, star nut way down and good preload. Even torqued the stem bolts every time. Did not use grease between the steerer and stem. My old Rockhopper used to eat a crown race a year so I've had plenty of practice. This problem is new to me. I threw this up in the Surly forum thinking maybe this is a Karate Monkey issue. This is my first 29er and my second rigid mtb.
    I don't want to say it, but maybe it's an ovalized headtube?

  8. #8
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    Thanks Johnny that at least gives me something else to check
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  9. #9
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    Did you get you head tube faced? They need to be parallel and free of paint. Use aluminum spacers only. The plastic/ crabon fiber might be compressing. Yes crabon is the right word.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyb View Post
    I don't want to say it, but maybe it's an ovalized headtube?
    How would that cause a loose headset? Bearing and races are quite hard and would break before bending very much. Maybe allowing the races to shift and rock?
    “Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Did you get you head tube faced? They need to be parallel and free of paint. Use aluminum spacers only. The plastic/ crabon fiber might be compressing. Yes crabon is the right word.
    No I did not have the head tube faced. How many people really do? I suspect the carbon spacers but there is no evidence of fretting on the spacers. I have carbon spacers and the same model stem on my Anthem and have no issues with it loosing.
    “Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

  12. #12
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    If the HT is ovalized it would probably cause movement with the cups, not the bearings. That would be the worst case scenario. Have you gone to a good bike mechanic yet?

    I've built a lot of bikes at home and I've only had faced two frames, all the others I carefully scraped the paint off the faces with a sharp razor blade (taking care not to cut into the metal).

    Surly has a page.devoted to prepping their frames; The Information Hole | Surly Bikes

    Quote; "Many headtube facing tools*are also reamers.* This means that not only do they*shave the tube ends, they also*mill the inner circumference of the headtube.* Reaming is not generally necessary on good quality frames (such as ours), on which manufacturing tolerances are kept in check, unless there is excess paint inside the headtube.* Reaming is probably not harmful if the tools are sharp and of high quality, and if performed by someone with experience.* All that really needs to be done, however,*is the facing itself.*

    Since Surly frames are faced prior to painting, it is possible to*shave the paint off the head tube and BB shell ends with a carpet knife blade.* This usually results in an acceptable*result, saving*you money, but we still recommend having it done the proper way to ensure longest life from your components."

  13. #13
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    Let us try to help. Face the headset. Use aluminum spacers. I have all my headtubes faced on a new build. Go to your LBS for troubleshooting. See what cane creek recommends. Running rigid you want to get this right.

  14. #14
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    on a rigid 29" there is a tremendous strain for a standard mtb stem to keep things tight IMO there is no way a xc style stem will stay in place if you ride aggressive at all..I have come across this before so the easiest,cheepestway to solve it is to get as burly of a stem at the length you want as possible..problem solved...the headset has absolutely nothing to do with it...and try not to use a bunch of spacers...that will cause things to slack too...if you dont believe me throw a xc mtb stem on a BMX and go jump around town and see how long your headset stays tight.

  15. #15
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    How'd you install the star nut? Once in my rooooookiiiiie days wrenching I was driving one in at home as best as I could and it was all sorts of crooked. No biggie I thought, and away to the dirt I went. Well whaddaya know, the headset loosened up. Tighten it down and kept riding. Again with the thunka thunka. Get out of the woods and back home and sure as shinola, the star nut wasn't where I set it. Next day at the shop I tapped it out and installed a new one using the RIGHT tool and presto! No more loosey goosey.
    You are not what you own.

  16. #16
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    I instal my star nuts with the butt of a screw driver handle, which is more or less roundish and sits well on the starnut. I've instaled many, many nuts this way, they always sit properly. Anyway, that star nut is not really important to keep things tight. It only helps to regulate the headset on the inital setup, then its the stem what's holding things in place

  17. #17
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    Not true there. It's a system. Both the stem and the star nut come into play for headset adjustment. Remove the top cap on any bike and ride it around for a bit. That thing will loosen up in short order. If the star nut isn't inserted square it can come loose incrementally as it slowly crawls up the steerer tube. The butt of a screw driver may work some of the time, but it won't work all of the time. Also of note, some star nuts are designated for use with 1" steel/1 1/8" aluminum or 1 1/8" steel/ 1 1/4" steerers. using the wrong one won't necessarily provide the proper bite, in turn allowing the star nut to creep up the steerer. In either case, star nuts are relatively cheap and abundant. Might not be a bad idea to check into it.
    You are not what you own.

  18. #18
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    ^^ I don't agree with this. It's a system in the sense that the star/top cap adjust the tension and the stem holds it. I've riden multiple times without a top cap for various reasons and the tension was kept.
    I even know xc racers that never use a star or top cap (mostly for weight, go figure...). They just tension the headset with a threaded shaft through the fork/headtube and then ride.

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