Headset adjustment question

wilwil
wilwil Posts: 374
edited September 2008 in Workshop
I've read that you should only tighten the headset as far as it needs to go to not have any play.

With an internal headset with cartridge bearings where you are in effect pulling the chamfered edges together, rather than the ball races, should the headset be tightened tight?
My headset keeps coming loose and I'm wondering if it's because its not tight enough as I am scared of over tightening it.

Comments

  • COVEC
    COVEC Posts: 213
    You should only tighten the stem cap untill there is no play and then tighten the stem bolts to the torque level recommended (usually printed on the side of the stem near the bolts). Sounds like you are not getting the stem bolts tight enough allowing the headset to come loose over time.
    If you have an aluminium steerer tube you should not worry too much about over torqueing the stem bolts, use a finger at the allen key right angle and place your thumb at the end of the allen key(think of making a gun shape with you hand, finger is the barrel and thumb is the hammer) and you should get it right if you do it as tight as you can.

    COVEC
  • nicklouse
    nicklouse Posts: 50,675
    wilwil
    there is no difference in the setting up of any headset. they all still have balls and races so the adjusting is the same for all aheadsets.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • If the steering binds when you lift up the front wheel, you know you've set the preload too high. I tend to give the top cap an extra tweak AFTER tightening the stem bolts. It helps keep everything together... I haven't had a headset come loose after doing this, and most of my bikes have carbon steerer tubes.
  • wilwil
    wilwil Posts: 374
    nicklouse wrote:
    wilwil
    there is no difference in the setting up of any headset. they all still have balls and races so the adjusting is the same for all aheadsets.

    My point is that isn't the pressure created by tightening the headset cap on a cartridge bearing headset is not pressure put on the bearings but the bearing housings? Therefore the bearings are still free to turn. I have now tried tightening the top cap to see if I can inhibit the rotation and it makes no difference.
  • nicklouse
    nicklouse Posts: 50,675
    wilwil wrote:
    nicklouse wrote:
    wilwil
    there is no difference in the setting up of any headset. they all still have balls and races so the adjusting is the same for all aheadsets.

    My point is that isn't the pressure created by tightening the headset cap on a cartridge bearing headset is not pressure put on the bearings but the bearing housings? Therefore the bearings are still free to turn. I have now tried tightening the top cap to see if I can inhibit the rotation and it makes no difference.

    it makes no difference. most headsets now are cartridge type. Zero stack and standard type just have cups rather than the direct fit of the integrated. it is all the same. the bearings are a slip fit and you them preload the actual balls in their races.

    are you saying that you are getting the race rotating in the frame where it sits?
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • wilwil
    wilwil Posts: 374
    nicklouse wrote:
    wilwil wrote:
    nicklouse wrote:
    wilwil


    it makes no difference. most headsets now are cartridge type. Zero stack and standard type just have cups rather than the direct fit of the integrated. it is all the same. the bearings are a slip fit and you them preload the actual balls in their races.

    are you saying that you are getting the race rotating in the frame where it sits?

    I don't know if that is happening. I guess the rotation is along the path of least resistance which is the ball race. Here is my headset:
    http://www.ritcheylogic.com/dyn_prodfamily.php?k=98564
    Am I correct in thinking these do not need a headset press to install them? When I took the headset apart the cartridge bearings just sit on bevelled 'shelves' inside the headtube
  • nicklouse
    nicklouse Posts: 50,675
    correct just a slip fit into the frame.

    have a read of the headset standards on parktools if you want more info.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • If it's a carbon steerer then the bung might be creeping up the tube as you tighten the cap bolt. Take the cap off, pull the bung out, check it's not broken and re-fit with a little carbon assembly paste round the outside.
    The older I get, the faster I was.
  • Ironingman is spot on --- do check out what he's saying.
  • wilwil
    wilwil Posts: 374
    Ironingman wrote:
    If it's a carbon steerer then the bung might be creeping up the tube as you tighten the cap bolt. Take the cap off, pull the bung out, check it's not broken and re-fit with a little carbon assembly paste round the outside.

    Yes it's a carbon steerer. It has a thin metal liner inside it which is about 40 mm high and starts about 10 mm below the top of the steerer. I guess this is to protect the carbon from the metal bung. The thing is, it is going loose out on the road not after I've just tightened everything up. It has occurred to me though that tightening the top cap could easily pull the bung up.
  • The topcap just preloads the bearing to remove play, the stem bolts hold the the whole thing down tight. It is possible to ride the bike with the top cap removed, if the stem bolts are pinched up correctly, I had to do this for a short time on my MTB, rattling down mountainsides did not loosen off the headset.

    If the topcap 'bung' is moving he should feel this when adjusting the headset, i.e. he should not be able to tighten it properly at all.

    I'm not sure what the problem is, but 'creep' in the steerer tube nut is not the main problem.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Is the top of the steerer at least 3mm below the top of the stem. The cap may just be binding on the steerer top. This can cause the bearings to work loose.
    I normally adjust the bearings so I can just turn the spacers with firm hand pressure.
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    I've got a Crane Creek headset on my bike and I seem to recall the instructions saying
    something about tightening it up so that it had a "fluid" feel when you turn it with the wheel off the floor. Strangely enough it did sort of feel "fluid" yet not sloppy loose and not binding
    tight. Guess I got it close as I haven't had any problems. It's been on there a couple of years and never touched.

    Dennis Noward
  • wilwil
    wilwil Posts: 374
    John.T wrote:
    Is the top of the steerer at least 3mm below the top of the stem. The cap may just be binding on the steerer top. This can cause the bearings to work loose.
    I normally adjust the bearings so I can just turn the spacers with firm hand pressure.

    Yes its 5 mm which actually is a bit too much. I think it must be that I'm not tightening the stem enough. Although I'm reluctant to go too far and crush the steerer. I have degreased the steerer as the oily rag who built the bike had almost filled the head tube with grease. There wasn't any where it mattered but some did get on there when I took it apart. I will try and get some Ritchey carbon paste.