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Headset play

geomickbgeomickb Posts: 147
edited April 2019 in MTB workshop & tech
My headset seems to have lots of play in it.

When I rock the bike with the brakes on, I can feel more movement than usual.

Does this mean a new headset, or maybe just bearings?

Cheers,

Mick

Posts

  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,338
    It could just need adjusting. Assuming it's a relatively modern bike, to tighten it, you loosen the bolts holding the stem to the fork steerer tube, then tighten the bolt through the top cap until the play is gone but the headset still turns freely, then tighten the stem bolts up again. If you can't eliminate the play while maintaining free rotation, or if the steering feels notchy when it is tightened, then you're likely to need to start replacing bits - Whether you need a full headset or just new bearings would depend on the headset and how much damage has been done.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 1,996
    While you are doing that, why not apply some grease to the headset? It only takes a few mins extra and can prolong the life of the headset.

    Either Google "service your headset" and take your pick of the offerings, or just watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_NxyaFxB0g
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    Also, make sure it is the headset that’s knocking, not the brake pads or caliper mount. Grab hold of the fork bottom and try it to eliminate the brakes.
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    figbat wrote:
    Also, make sure it is the headset that’s knocking, not the brake pads or caliper mount. Grab hold of the fork bottom and try it to eliminate the brakes.


    Agree with this and also make sure the wheel is solid too.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,304
    Lagrange wrote:
    figbat wrote:
    Also, make sure it is the headset that’s knocking, not the brake pads or caliper mount. Grab hold of the fork bottom and try it to eliminate the brakes.


    Agree with this and also make sure the wheel is solid too.
    Also - based on my experience with my shockingly badly maintained fork - check the fork isn't merrily wobbling like mine does.
  • geomickbgeomickb Posts: 147
    I'm pretty sure it's headset.

    I'm away next week so will try and ignore it until I get back, then strip it down.

    How will I know if it is just bearings, or the whole lot?

    Cheers,

    Mick
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    There is a bit of guidance in this thread. First check brakes, wheel and fork. Check the top cap bolt for tightness. Check the star nut. If the ball race is gone it will be obvious replace it then reassemble and check again. Here endeth my knowledge. Enjoy your two weeks away.
  • geomickbgeomickb Posts: 147
    Took apart the headset and couldn't really see anything wrong with it.

    I replaced the bearing cartridges by following this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lSN9hWHIN4

    The play has now gone and it feels like a new bike. Simple.

    :-)
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