19. How to Overhaul a Threaded Headset
Overhaul your headset at least once a year to check for wear and re-grease the ball bearings.
If you ride your bike a lot, you should overhaul your headset at least once a year to check for wear and to make sure the bearings have enough grease.
For this tutorial, you’ll need some waterproof grease, an old toothbrush and some cleaning solvent. If you have an older 1″ headset, you’ll need a set of 32mm spanner wrenches. Larger 1 1/8″ headsets usually require a set of 36mm spanner wrenches.
Before you begin, you’ll need to disconnect the front brake and remove the brake cable from the lever. You’ll also need to remove the front wheel. To remove the stem, simply loosen the stem’s tightening bolt far enough so you can give it a light tap with a hammer. This will knock the inner wedge loose and allow the stem to slide up out of the fork.
Now loosen and remove the locknut. Holding the fork in place with one hand, remove any spacers and unthread the adjusting race. Make sure to note how many spacers there are, and what order they came off. Gently slide the fork down and out of the frame. Make sure to make a note of which way the bearing races are facing before you remove them.
Wipe clean all of the bearing races located on both the frame and fork as well as the upper threaded race. Inspect all four of the bearing races to make sure they are not grooved or pitted. If so you will likely have to replace the entire headset unit.
Thouroughly clean the ball bearing cages with your toothbrush and solvent. Then wipe them dry with a clean rag, and set them aside to air-dry. Inspect the ball cages to make sure they aren’t bent or worn. You can replace the cages without replacing the entire headset, but you’ll have to bring the old set to your local bike shop for proper sizing.
If all of your parts are ok, apply a layer of grease to all of the bearing races. Then install the ball cages the same way they came out and add another layer of grease on top of them.
Once the bearings are in place and fully greased, carefully slide the fork back into the frame and finger-tighten the adjusting race. Wipe off any excess grease that may have squirted out the sides. Slide the spacers back on and thread the locknut on finger tight.
To adjust the headset, hold the lower adjusting race with a spanner wrench and use a second spanner to tighten locknut against the adjusting race.
To test the adjustment, check that the headset turns freely and check for play by rocking the fork back and forth in the frame. Re-adjust as needed until the bars spin freely and have no play.
Reinstall the front wheel. Before reinstalling the stem, coat the shaft and wedge with a thin layer of grease. Then reinstall and tighten the handlebar stem, and reconnect the front brake.
Then re-test the headset adjustment by making sure the bars spin freely, and using your front brake, rock the bike back and forth to double check there is no play in the headset.
[attachment=4796]I just got this bike and it needs work, the headset moves alot, i thought it was the bearings, it still might be, i cant see any, unless they are sealed? if they are sealed it seems everythings fine, though the gap from the forks to the stem is small so it wont lock all into place, making it move, i added a spacer but now the bolt will not reach the fork thread, the bolt is also slighty bent making it harder to tighten and work out whats up with it, do i need bearings? a new bolt? something completely different? im not very good with bearings at all so i need help please,... Read more >>
Is there one or two bearings in this assembly? If there is two .... then im gonna need one. Elgin 1938. Does anyone by chance have any diagrams of the Elgin 37,38?
Monk... Read more >>
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I just got my hands on a 2nd hand Dahon folding bike.
There seems to be a little play in the headset but as this is my first folder I'm not sure if this is inherent in folders or not.
Would anybody know if it is inherent and have any ideas on how to fix it? I have some experience of changing threadless headsets on mountain bikes but I'm not sure about folder headsets.
Ben... Read more >>
I've acquired an old frame, I think early '80's Japanese or Taiwanese (thanks to nfmisso for his help there!) and I'm planning on building a single speed out of it. This is my first bike build so its a learning process for me, I'm pretty excited about the whole learning thing I must admit! I have a million and one questions to ask you bike guru's about bike building etc!
I plan on building the bike on a relatively low budget so I'll be looking on ebay for second hand parts etc. I want to keep the bike looking like an old bike not a new build where possible (as original as possible but n... Read more >>
Hi; I just bought a used, rather nice Columbus frame to build a lightweight for my daughter. It has (had) a no-name roller- bearing headset which was decidedly crunchy, to the extent that when the forks were turned backwards it almost jammed. Also there is a half-ring patch of bare metal on the lower front of the steering tube ..... no sign of damage to the forks or frame, so I suspect poor installation of a worn headset and have bought another. Anyone else come across this type of uneven friction? Don't want to put out a bike with wonky steering!... Read more >>
my first post here.
i decided i needed a little project so i boughta 1968 Hercules with a 21" frame. it will be a surprise for my daughter.
I'd like to replace the parts shown in the pics with new ones. When i took it apart all the bearings fell out. i wonder if i could replace the bearings with caged ones?
what are the names of these parts please?
[attachment=4173]... Read more >>
I'm new to the forum and need help. I bought a used year old Trek 7300 and then bought a headset extension to give me a more up right riding position. I'm 67 and bending over is no longer an option. Anyway to get to the point I installed the headset extension and after tightening the headset bolt there was still a little play in the headset. I'm pretty sure I tightened the headset bolt before the clamp bolts but after several attempts I can't say for sure I didn't forget something along the way as I said I'm 67. Anyway after several attempts I thought well maybe I just ne... Read more >>
Hi guys, I have a 2001 Gary Fisher Marlin. I took off the stem on my bike and didn't realize as the fork was loose the bearing fell out and broke. I'm not sure what size they are and the orientation it is suppose to be. The top bearing is still there. All i know is the bearing is in a retainer that is all. Any help would be amazing. Thanks... Read more >>
I'm trying to raise the handlebars on an old ladies Schwinn Traveler. I loosened the bolt to raise the handlebars, and once the handlebars are at the desired height the bolt will not tighten down anymore. I've been searching threads on here and learned there is a nut in the frame that I'm assuming I'm not catching anymore. Does anyone have any advice as to how I can raise the handlebars and still be able to tighten the bolt down? Or how to catch that nut so I can tighten the bolt? Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I will upload some pictures wh... Read more >>
Can anyone tell me what type of headset I have. If so any advise on how to service or videos on how to do so would be a great help.
Geoff... Read more >>
This may be a stupid question but I have read that headsets are not all that necessary for a build. Are they required or should I leave it out of the parts list completely?... Read more >>
Please Help! I'm trying to overhaul the headset on this old English roadster (circa. 1938-45) I'm at my wits end and I just can't get either the stem or fork out.
I loosened the stems tightning bolt and gave it a tap with the hammer. The wedge becomes and loose and drops into the head tube. However the stem won't even budge.
I can loosen the locknut but there is no hope of unthreading the adjusting race.
The tightening bolt is the only think I can remove.
I don't want to start tapping this with a hammer worrying that I coud be strippi... Read more >>
I have a road bike with a modern stem (threadless) & head set (1 1/8 size).
I bought it used and have been experiencing an awkard behave of my road bike in relation to steering: the steering seems rather loose.
I picked a 5mm allen key and tightened stem via clamp bolts and cap bolt. But the steering is very loose.
It comes more noticeable when pedaling with hands of handlebars or when holding the bike (and it keeps tumbling do... Read more >>
I wonder if anyone has ever come across a spring loaded headset. I just bought a Motobecane Grand Jubile and when I turn the handle bars it snaps into set positions. I assume it is spring loaded to do that. I've never seen anything like it and was wondering what the benefit is. I'm also about to refurbish the bike and I'm afraid of what I'm going to find if I take the headset and fork off.
Thanks!... Read more >>
I'm overhauling the headset on this crusty Supercycle.
Should there be this much space between bearings? Should I fill in races with more bearings?
I'm also curious as to the size of the bearings, they are definitely smaller than the 3/16" and I'm not familiar with them.
Thanks!... Read more >>