Sunday, February 24, 2013

Where's Your Head Set?

Adjustment is key

Where's your head set? Is it adjusted to be smooth and silky? Or cranked down so tight you can't turn? Does it have dents that cause you to steer some directions more readily than others? Is it well-lubed, or rusty? Silent, or noisy? Clean or gritty? 

From the outside

In outward appearance, is it shiny, or dull? Does it proclaim bold branding, subtle lettering, blank chrome, or dull corrosion?

Measure me this

How does it measure up? 1", 1 1/8", more, stack height, thread standard, crown measurements? Do you know these off the top, or do you require a Gary Gauge and caliper to check? 

Where's your head set? Is it time for a new one? Do you have the tools, or would you consult an expert? And, would you use "official tools," and if so which ones, or are we talking screwdriver, hammer, washers, and a length of all thread?  Keep the key washer, or discard? Cage, or no?

What if your best plans for your project get derailed by a cracked head tube, or a head tube out of spec? Too small, too large?

When you are just riding along, do you think about your headset, in your head, or does your head set not include your headset on a typical ride?

I'll tell you this much: when the press is precise, and the parts fit right, it's a moment of beauty.


  1. Since I am responsible for both the wife's and son's headsets as well as my own I have to confess, they are not where they should be. Both wife and son's road bikes have developed a glitch and don't spin smoothly anymore, and my mtb has begun to exhibit a little play. So much maintenance, so little time.

    1. My feeling is that a well-installed headset not ridden through a river under water on a daily basis ought to last a long time without much fuss. The bikes I have which came from the shop in proper headset installation shape don't require much attention in that area. So far the wife and kid's bikes are in that category, which is good.

  2. My headset is the same as yours (one of them, anyway - Trek950 standard issue). I notice mine at the start of every ride as it shifts at little at the bottom of a steep driveway. I need to do some more work on it. I just tightened it up a little last week but it's still lacking that "moment of beauty" quality. I think it's still serviceable - maybe I just need to dump a lot of grease into it.

    1. They seem to be good headsets mindful mule, like several of the other parts they put on this model. Little to no attention needed, very tolerant of being ridden hard over and over. Some fresh grease once in a while sounds like a good idea. Now if I can just remember to do that...

  3. Please don't over-tighten the top cap and bolt. If you over-tighten you will create headache for your headset (the bearings, they will grind they will) and eventual headache for your real head and wallet.Line things up as best you can, then light-tighten that one; it really doesn't need to be stronger than the universe.One of several others like that on a bike.

    I like this techy one from slowtwitch, pg. 2

    1. Thanks for the link, Don Graves, those are good articles. I find I don't use the front brake to adjust the pre-load, though, but just grab the fork and feel for myself directly. If only I could remember the point you make, most fasteners on a bike do not need to be stronger than the universe, I would do so much better in bike maintenance.

  4. Replies
    1. Iron, the pressed cup fitting against the head tube just so is a moment of ineffability.


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