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Annoying Headset Issue...

Hi,

I have a Trek Domane AL2, it has an integrated FSA Headset. I've serviced it myself twice in the past so I've a fair idea of how they work, etc. First service was back in June/July last year and it's been fine ever since. I have adjusted the bar height roughly 3 times since then which obviously requires a re-adjustment. The last bar height adjustment was roughly 3 weeks ago.

Last week I noticed a little bit of play, so I went to adjust it - the process I always follow is:

1) Slacked off the Stem Bolts
2) Adjust the Preload via the Top Cap Bolt to remove the play
3) Retighten the Stem Bolts when happy.
I always, always perform any adjustments to preload with slack stem bolts.

Points to Note:
1) I ALWAYS use a Torque Wrench set to 5nM for the Stem Bolts (its rated to 5.5nM) but I've always set it to 5.
2) When tightening the Preload I only tighten up as far as I need to. I never, ever tighten it up excessively although I believe there is no Torque setting on the preload.

Now, to my issue. I can set the Preload correctly so there is no Play, but when I tighten the Stem Bolts the play returns. I just can't figure out what is causing this. I wondered if the bolts being tighten were somehow causing the internal star nut to move? I can't see why, I've noticed that the play returns before I'm anywhere near 5Nm, roughly about 3Nm is enough. I have tried adjusting the preload so the play is removed and then going a half turn further just to "make sure", but I still get the problem.

Out of frustration I basically serviced the headset again, i.e. removed the sealed bearings, cleaned everything out, re-greased and refitted but I still get the same issue.

Has anyone out there had a similar and do you have any advice please?

Thanks.

Posts

  • masjermasjer Posts: 141
    It sounds like the top-cap is bottoming out on the top of steerer tube. The steerer tube needs to be slightly below (4-5mm) the top of the stem. If so, you'd have to cut the steerer tube if your handlebar height is now correct- or put a spacer under the top-cap.
  • brundonbianchibrundonbianchi Posts: 689
    edited 7 February

    As above, stick a 3mm spacer on top of the stem under the top cap, and see if you can get the preload. If you can, either leave the spacer in, or cut the steerer down. Be careful if / when you do cut the steerer though. If a 3mm spacer isn’t enough, try a 5mm spacer.



    Here’s one of my winter bikes, which had a similar issue to what the O.P. describes. You can see the spacer I’ve added between the top of the stem and the top cap. I’ve left the spacer in place, rather than cut the steerer.

  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,457
    How strange having your winter bike in the kitchen.
  • mully79mully79 Posts: 310
    What Brundonbianchi says though Ive had a fork where the top headset "collet?" was jammed on the fork so adjusting the top cap preload made no difference and seemed to loosen as soon as i set off.

    I had to bash the fork out to loosen the collet. It then went back together fine.
  • Hi,

    Thanks for the replies and advice. I've attached a picture of the headset.

    NOTE: Ignore the grease at the top of the headset, I forgot to clean it off!

    First one is showing the spacers, etc as setup.



    Second one is showing the gap between the spacer and the steerer tube, which is exactly 5mm.



    I'm wondering if mully79 is onto something, I guess you are meaning the Compression Ring? I will rebuild again today and see how it is seated.
  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 4,118
    Can we ask why you have such an awful ugly speacer there?
  • MattFalle said:

    Can we ask why you have such an awful ugly speacer there?

    Thats just how the bike came, i.e. with the two spacers and the stem on top of both. I just moved the spacers around for a better position. I mean, it doesn't matter right? I'm not going to die if I leave it there, surely?
  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 4,118
    well, its unnecessary, ugly and some say a safety hazard but hey, its your bike.

    tbh, cut the steerer down: smarter, safer.
  • MattFalle said:

    well, its unnecessary, ugly and some say a safety hazard but hey, its your bike.

    tbh, cut the steerer down: smarter, safer.

    Yeah, sorry I just read my reply back above and it sounds a bit arsy! I think I can drop the bar a little lower so I've ordered some smaller spacers. Once I'm happy I will cut it down like you say.
  • For anyone else's benefit either now or in years to come...

    I've done what mully79 I think was suggesting and so far it seems to of worked, as in tightening the stem bolts hasn't reintroduced any play.

    Basically, I've re-seated the Compression Ring. What I mean by that is I have taken the Compression Ring off the steerer and put it back on such that it just rests on the bearing edge, i.e. I haven't pushed it into place which I think was the problem.
    I've then let the preload bolt push it into place and that seems to of worked (so far...). I suspect that when messing about with spacers, etc I have accidently pushed the ring too far into the gap between the bearing and steerer, and therefore, the preload hasn't been working correctly. That is my theory and I will update this post after my next long ride to confirm whether is has worked or not.

    Thanks again to everyone for their input.

  • mully79mully79 Posts: 310
    Thats exactly what i meant :D
    If the compression ring is already compressed too tightly on the steerer then it wont move (preload the bearings) when you tighten the top cap bolt.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,102 Lives Here
    Thank you for reporting back what the problem is, always good to know.
  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 4,118

    MattFalle said:

    well, its unnecessary, ugly and some say a safety hazard but hey, its your bike.

    tbh, cut the steerer down: smarter, safer.

    Yeah, sorry I just read my reply back above and it sounds a bit arsy! I think I can drop the bar a little lower so I've ordered some smaller spacers. Once I'm happy I will cut it down like you say.
    Don't be a lemon - no offence taken.

    cool - set to the height you want, cut off the trash you don't need.

    #sorted
  • webboo said:

    How strange having your winter bike in the kitchen.

    It gets sorted / fettled in the kitchen, the lighting is superb, and there’s a hard floor, which is easier to clean than the carpets everywhere else.
  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 4,118
    superb lighting and a hard floor.

    what more can you want?
  • womackwomack Posts: 213
    I'd give me right arm for a 3mm spacer (see my post in Road Buying Advice)!
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 3,241
    edited 8 February
    ........
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,457

    webboo said:

    How strange having your winter bike in the kitchen.

    It gets sorted / fettled in the kitchen, the lighting is superb, and there’s a hard floor, which is easier to clean than the carpets everywhere else.
    I would have thought your mother would have made you work on it in the cellar where you live. :D
  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 4,118
    womack said:

    I'd give me right arm for a 3mm spacer (see my post in Road Buying Advice)!

    had a quick look but can't see anything - linkie?
  • womackwomack Posts: 213
    MattFalle said:

    womack said:

    I'd give me right arm for a 3mm spacer (see my post in Road Buying Advice)!

    had a quick look but can't see anything - linkie?
    In amongst this thread.
    https://forum.bikeradar.com/discussion/13114578/are-we-already-stuffed-for-quality-of-choice-with-purchasing-options#latest
  • webboo said:

    webboo said:

    How strange having your winter bike in the kitchen.

    It gets sorted / fettled in the kitchen, the lighting is superb, and there’s a hard floor, which is easier to clean than the carpets everywhere else.
    I would have thought your mother would have made you work on it in the cellar where you live. :D
    If I tried that at her house she’d have a blue fit. I once used her shower to clean my bike, when I lived with her (I was about 10 years old ). She went totally nuts, I never repeated that mistake.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,596
    womack said:

    I'd give me right arm for a 3mm spacer (see my post in Road Buying Advice)!


    I probably have one kicking around...
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
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  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 5,744
    I probably have one too.

    A spacer that is.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • womackwomack Posts: 213
    I have one now thanks but just as an aside whilst in town today tried a large chain ( won't get personal and mention the company but I think the owner is something to do with NUFC) they didn't have one, tried a long standing local bike shop with an attached Spesh concept store, they didn't have one.

    So on the walk back home stopped by the local bike charity shop, bingo he had one.

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