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Loose headset

madeinleedsmadeinleeds Posts: 41
edited February 2012 in Workshop
I think I have a loose headset - there is a slight play on the front forks, the front wheel is juddery when braking, and it just doesn't feel "right"...

Question is, how dangerous is this ? Am I risking life and limb riding the bike until it gets looked at. I just need to get to the end of the commuting week (another 70 miles) and then will take it into the LBS.

Appreciate any guidance. cheers


  • Hi

    What type of headset is it?

  • Errh, now we have just stepped out of my bike knowledge comfort zone and my posting ability on this site (would put a picture on if I knew how).

    It an "on one smoothie light" I think - came with the bike 5 years ago and its had some bashing about (but also two rebuilds, not by me!).

  • Ok i think i found ot on google.

    If you lossen off the allen bolt on the top cap and then the 2 holding the stem to fork steerer. Once thats done push the stem down the steerer then do the top cap up 1st, this should help to squeeze the stem and headset together, dont over tighten it, it should be able to hold the stem straight and require reasonable force to twist the handlebars off centre.

    Line up the handlebars to the wheel so theyre straight, then do up the stem bolts.

    Thaat should do it.

    Any questions just ask :-)
  • cheers, I don't own a torque wrench so I'm guessing tighten up so its tight, but not too tight (if that makes sense..)
  • welcome to the world of home mechanics :lol:

    Ive built 2 bikes from frame up and never used a torque wrench, doing it by feel is good, you dont want them too tight you cant get them undone but u dont want them too loose they vibrate loose.

    Hopefully tightening down the headset should sort your problem, and save a bit of cash not having to go to the LBS.
  • cheers, I'll give it a go tonight. Thanks for the help
  • YossieYossie Posts: 2,600
    It won't kill you but it is wrong and rubbish and you'll kust funk your bike up.

    To tighten:

    Undo stem bolts.

    Turn cap bolt a 1/4 turn at a time until when you have the front brake on there is no forward and backwards rocking movement but the 'bars still flick from lock to lock with a finger. I then do an extra 1/4 turn but I don't think its necessary.

    Remove stem bolts, apply copperslip to threads, do up stem bolts one turn at a time each until torqued in correctly: by doing this you are applying equal pressure across the bolts.

    Oh - finally: buy a torque wrench and a pot of grease for moving parts, copperslip for non moving parts.


  • Thanks, I might take the prudent approach and get a torque wrench before I undo anything. Been meaning to get one for a while but putting it off so might as well get it now. How do you work out what torque to do the stem bolts up to ? Had a look on the steerer but can't see anything on it.
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