Why is my headset not staying tight?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Why is my headset not staying tight?

    So I recently finished turning a 91 Schwinn High Plain into a "gravel" bike. I have taken it on two rides so far and on both rides my headset has ended up being a little lose after a knock. I went to bunny hop a log mistimed it badly and it brought the front wheel down hard and after that the headset was lose (applying the front brake the fork moved). Then on the second ride I went OTB in a flooded part of a gravel road which turned out to have a hole in it and the headset was lose again after that. Is this normal with threaded headsets? If I tighten it down anymore it seemed like it was adding resistance to turning the bars, which seems like it would be too tight. The headset is Tange headset. I have never had a bike with anything other then a 1 1/8" threadless.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), 91 Schwinn High Plain (about town bike), Nashbar CXSS (on trainer)

  2. #2
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    Do you have a thin wrench to hold the top bearing race while you tighten the locknut against it? If they're not locked together it will never stay tight. Otherwise you may need to overhaul it and inspect the races & bearings to see what's wrong.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  3. #3
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    Crown race fully seated on the fork?
    =sParty
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Do you have a thin wrench to hold the top bearing race while you tighten the locknut against it? If they're not locked together it will never stay tight. Otherwise you may need to overhaul it and inspect the races & bearings to see what's wrong.
    Yeah I did. It is a brand new headset with now about 35 miles on it.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), 91 Schwinn High Plain (about town bike), Nashbar CXSS (on trainer)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Crown race fully seated on the fork?
    =sParty
    I will double check that.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), 91 Schwinn High Plain (about town bike), Nashbar CXSS (on trainer)

  6. #6
    taste death, live life.
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    I had a Ritchey headset that would not behave. I ultimately installed a Gorilla Headlock...problem solved.

    Mountain Tamer Chainring Adapters, Gorilla Brake Beefers, Gorilla Headlocks and more

  7. #7
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    you can also get a threadless headset, threadless fork, and new stem. i've done that before. works every time. threaded headsets aren't the easiest to use.
    You just can't beat the person who never gives up. - B.Ruth

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    Yeah I did. It is a brand new headset with now about 35 miles on it.

    If you're getting the adjustment right and locking the race and locknut tightly together and it still comes loose right away then something's not right, sometimes it can be as simple as a dust seal on upside-down.

    Adjusting a threaded headset can be trickier than threadless but principals are the same. The best test I know of to make sure a headset isn't loose after adjustment is to give the front wheel a knock with your fist (on stand) or let the front wheel bounce on the ground, if it's even slightly loose it will make a distinctive noise from the vibration. Conversely it's too tight if the wheel won't return to center when released from ~45% (again, on a stand.)

    Also the adjustment should be a smooth progression from smooth to tight, if it goes from too loose to too tight with just a small turn of the top bearing race it's almost always an indication that something is wrong inside, as mentioned it could be a crown race that isn't seated or several other things.

    Sorry if that's too much info, good luck!
    I brake for stinkbugs

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    If you're getting the adjustment right and locking the race and locknut tightly together and it still comes loose right away then something's not right, sometimes it can be as simple as a dust seal on upside-down.

    Adjusting a threaded headset can be trickier than threadless but principals are the same. The best test I know of to make sure a headset isn't loose after adjustment is to give the front wheel a knock with your fist (on stand) or let the front wheel bounce on the ground, if it's even slightly loose it will make a distinctive noise from the vibration. Conversely it's too tight if the wheel won't return to center when released from ~45% (again, on a stand.)

    Also the adjustment should be a smooth progression from smooth to tight, if it goes from too loose to too tight with just a small turn of the top bearing race it's almost always an indication that something is wrong inside, as mentioned it could be a crown race that isn't seated or several other things.

    Sorry if that's too much info, good luck!
    Thanks. I will give everything a once over again. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the LBS and see what they say.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), 91 Schwinn High Plain (about town bike), Nashbar CXSS (on trainer)

  10. #10
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    Check the stack height. Maybe the lock nut is bottoming out on the steerer tube before properly tightening. If that's the case, you can often get away with adding a second keyed washer between the upper race and lock nut.

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