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Rusty red gunk from head tube

rob39rob39 Posts: 479
edited January 2019 in Workshop
Bike only 6 months old, full carbon + fork with alu stearer, went for a run in damp/wet conditions the other day, on returning at the bottom of the head tube where fork enters was a small amount of rusty red gunk. Anything to worry about?

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  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,286
    rob39 wrote:
    Bike only 6 months old, full carbon + fork with alu stearer, went for a run in damp/wet conditions the other day, on returning at the bottom of the head tube where fork enters was a small amount of rusty red gunk. Anything to worry about?

    Yes. I think your bottom headset bearing has water in it. The red stuff is indeed rust. New bearing required. A clean and regrease may delay the replacement. Catastrophic failure is unlikely so you have time to think about it.
  • rob39rob39 Posts: 479
    Cheers, how can I improve water proofing of the bottom bearing in the future
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,038
    Mudguards.
    However, for on trend road bikes - maybe not an option for you because it dont look right.

    Learn how to change the headset bearings - get a few in stock and schedule a replacement cycle.
    Stuff like this is not fit and forget.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 14,364
    rob39 wrote:
    Cheers, how can I improve water proofing of the bottom bearing in the future
    pack them with a good waterproof grease, use the same on mounting/contact surfaces (including the steerer tube, if galvanic corrosion occurs it's the steerer than will lose vs. steel and carbon fibre)

    check that seals at the top of the head tube are ok, in heavy rain water can also get in and run down from there

    some water ingress is inevitable, using stainless steel bearings will at least avoid rust
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Vino'sGhostVino'sGhost Posts: 4,129
    remove them

    clean the gunk and mess off

    apply lots of good quality general purpose grease to bearings and interface surfaces as suggested above. NB theres no need for speciality greases or those with thickeners to deal with moisture etc as this is a very low load component thats periodically exposed to humidity and some very light water ingress. Alternately buy something probably called awesomeness headman grease, specially formulated just for headset applications. just £29.99 per 10ml.


    replace

    unless notched it will be fine

    ride for years and re grease occasionally
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    rob39 wrote:
    Bike only 6 months old, full carbon + fork with alu stearer, went for a run in damp/wet conditions the other day, on returning at the bottom of the head tube where fork enters was a small amount of rusty red gunk. Anything to worry about?
    No.

    Although you might want to run mudguards on a bike that is routinely used in the wet/on wet roads, to reduce the risk of premature failure. Many riders like to have a dedicated bike for wet conditions in order that they can still have a best bike unburdened by such accoutrements for nice days.

    I've neglected many headsets, they aren't particularly hard to replace, and they aren't particularly expensive.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I've always run full mudguards on my winter bike and last year I had a look at the headset bearings for the first time in 10 years, and only then because somebody on here was asking what size they were. Astounded to find them both still silky smooth and not a hint of corrosion, and I could easily read the identification written on them!

    Your experience suggests water is getting in somewhere at the top / bottom of the headtube, or possibly both. Bottom bearing is likely to go first since it can be sitting in water.

    As above, just drop the fork out and take the bearings out for inspection / cleaning / regreasing or simply replacement. Plenty of grease on reassembly may help reduce the ingress of water, but if it's getting in at the top loads of grease at the lower bearing may actually prevent it from draining...
  • johnmioshjohnmiosh Posts: 211
    I have a Scott CR1 from a few years ago. I use it as a fair weather bike, no guards, although after having it for a few months, I was caught in a downpour. The next day I discovered that the headset bearings were destroyed, with red gunk running down the forks. I replaced them with slightly better bearings, but the same thing happened the next time it rained.

    I replaced the whole unit with a cane creek one and have had no problems since.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    That's interesting. My summer bike is one of the ubiquitous 2012 CR1-SLs. Frameset came with a Ritchey WCS headset, and despite being soaked a few times it's still in pristine condition. Which I'm happy about since the replacements aren't exactly cheap. Maybe I've just been lucky...
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