Headset trouble.

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Posts: 129
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:02 pm

by YoKaiser

Hoping to pick the brains of WW. Pretty much since I built up my bike I've never been able to keep the headset tight. I have a Planet X SL Pro with a FSA internal headset and a Ritchey WCS stem (torqued using a Ritchey torque key). Initially I thought the tensioning method was to blame and swapped the USE ringo set up for a Exoctic components tensioner and then finally to a FSA expanding wedge type expander. In retrospect apart from the USE being a bit of a pain all were tensioning and it was only after riding that the front end would loosen up, so I was probably barking up the wrong tree in that respect. I then tried cleaning everything thoroughly and using a carbon prep, this hasn't worked either. I then started thinking that the headset top cap was not acting on the wedge enough and tried a spacer between them to ensure the cap was not bottoming out on the top bearing. This hasn't worked either. I'm now thinking that the stem isn't retaining the loading as it should, is this a reasonable next step?

So I'm wondering if anyone else has had problems with Ritchey WCS stems not being secure enough, or if anyone has had problems in the past with FSA headsets and carbon steerer tubes.

Any free tips would be appreciated also, I'm considering roughing up the steerer and stem with some scotchbrite, but I've a feeling this will only partially help but not totally cure the problem.

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by ghisallo2003

What spacers are you using beneath the stem.

Problems can arise if spacers ends are not parallel creating low points.

Posts: 129
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:02 pm

by YoKaiser

Thats a very good call, the spacers were non branded coated(white) ones from ebay because I wanted them match the stem, and there is signs of the paint being worn in places. Cheers, its definitely worth a swap.

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by thisisatest

Unless other items are changing shape, deforming, or pressing together further, the only way a headset can loosen is if the stem works its way up the steerer tube.
You mentioned you cleaned and assembly prepped stuff. What, specifically?
My recommendation would be to take everything apart, clean it all again, and grease everything except for the steerer tube and inside the stem clamp. Make sure you grease the stem bolt threads. Apply assembly grip paste to the steerer and/or the stem clamp. Put it all together, adjust the headset. Once there is no play at this point, tighten down the stem bolts. Make sure you increase the torque incrementally. Once the torque wrench clicks on one bolt, go back to the other til it clicks. Then I go back to the first, loosen 1/8 of a turn, retighten til it clicks, making note if the bolt turned any farther. If it did, repeat. If not, you should be done.
This is all assuming you have whatever the fork manufacturer recommends inside the fork steerer (compression plug, sleeve reinforcement, nothing). Some forks that are intended to have an expanding sleeve are intolerant of it not being there.

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