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can you over preload a headset?

BoffingtonBoffington Posts: 281
edited February 2008 in MTB workshop & tech
I was adjusting my stem today and it occured to me as i was preloading the headset that i could be over-tightening the topcap bolt. is this possible, does it cause damage and how do i know if this has happened.

I didn't hang of it like a monkey and i was using a short allen key so i don't think i have over tightened it but i thaught i better check.

I took falling off bikes...and turned it into an art!


  • dav1dav1 Posts: 1,298
    yes you can. tighten it until there is no play but the steeing fells smooth and easy, its easy to find after you have done it a few times.
    Giant TCR advanced 2 (Summer/race)
    Merlin single malt fixie (Commuter/winter/training)
    Trek superfly 7 (Summer XC)
    Giant Yukon singlespeed conversion (winter MTB/Ice/snow)

    Carrera virtuoso - RIP
  • right. are there any tell tail signs of over tightening eg. stiff, noisy steering?
    I took falling off bikes...and turned it into an art!
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    indexed steering.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    I've bought a new bike....ouch - result
    Can I buy a new bike?...No - no result
  • haha i think you've got the wrong thread. still clever words. Not wise, but clever
    I took falling off bikes...and turned it into an art!
  • dave_sdave_s Posts: 4,362
    I think you answered your own question though.

    If you over preload bearings it will make the handlebars hard to turn because the bearing are really grinding in the headset.

    I think Nick's comment refers to the feeling of the steering becoming sort of indexed as you turn the bars you'll be feeling the bearings click.

    You don't have to tighten the topcap down with much force at all to preload bearings and this is why a SFN and a topcap is plenty to preload a headset because all the clamping force needs to be on the stem bolts once the headset is preloaded.
    Dave S
  • zaynanzaynan Posts: 180
    You can also end up pulling out or dislodging the star-nut if you over tighten the top cap - unless you are using a hope head-doctor ttype thing that generally stay put.
    The home of cargo bikes
  • dave_sdave_s Posts: 4,362
    You can safely say that if you pull out a starnut by tightening the top cap, you're overtightening it or you haven't fitted the SFN properly

    The proplem with Hope Head Doctors I've found it that either quite literally they do stay put (I've got one completely stuck in an old set of forks I had on my Heckler) or they pull out of the steerer really easily when you start tightening the top cap
    Dave S
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