Headset Maintenance (photo heavy)

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2/13/2014 3:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/24/2014 4:59 PM

Bottom Bracket Maintenance

I'm making this thread for future reference for people who have questions on how to maintain their headsets, this is what I do.



Things you'll need:
1- A board or something, anything really, to sit the headset pieces on so you don't get your table or whatever else all messy
2- A small razor or something to pop the bearing seals off with
3- A rag to wipe grease off onto & clean with
4- Allan Keys the correct size for your stem & compression bolt, mine are both a 6mm
5- Most importantly, grease. I use Mystik, but most any general purpose grease will work just fine
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First, loosen your stem bolts FIRST. Don't loosen the compression bolt first, that's wrong. Lefty-loosey/Righty-Tighty
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Next, loosen the compression cap & take it out.
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Lay your bars/stem down, and take the bearings & headset pieces out & sit them on the board (not pictured, computer decided to delete this photo for some reason)
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Clean everything out! Start with the headtube, clean all the old grease out & any dirt
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Same with the fork bottom bearing race, clean that off nice too. Mine's an integrated race, but still needs cleaning
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Clean the bearings off really well, this one pictured is my bottom bearing & you can see how much dirt collects there
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Pop the bearing seals off with the razor, be VERY careful to not damage them when doing so, if you do they can rub & make your bearing feel sluggish. Just stick the razor in the edge of the bearing & the seal, and pop them off. Make sure to clean them while they're off too!
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Next, take some grease & rub it along the opening where you just took the bearing seal off of. The razor might help getting the grease in a little better. Do this for both bearings then pop the seals back on & wipe any excess grease off. Also, clean the grease/dirt off the rest of the headset pieces such as the small shim, top cap, and compression ring
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Now you want to grease the bearing seats in the headtube, just a little, don't go too crazy with it. Do it on the lower bearing race as well
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With both headset bearing seats greased, slide the steerer tube back through
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Grease up the compression ring with a lick, then slide it onto the bearing. Leave a little bit on the top of the compression ring so it'll put a small lick of grease on the tiny spacer as well
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Put a small lick of grease on the bottom of the top cap too
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Slide the top cap back on & wipe any excess grease off
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Slide the stem back on and clean the steerer tube threads out too. This step can also be done when cleaning your headset pieces up, doesn't really matter. Also, I see a lot of people have the top of their stem nearly flush with the top of their steerer tube, don't do this! It can compress down & then cause your headset to always be slightly loose. Also make sure you don't have the steerer tube too low in the stem either. I'd say the most you want the steerer tube to be down in the stem is about 1/4" inch depending how tall your stem is on the fork, and at least be 2mm or 3mm below the top of the stem. Mine's about perfect & I never have any problems with it
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Next, grease the compression bolt up nicely. Also if you use the spacer that comes with it that goes in between the stem & the bolt, grease very lightly JUST between the bolt & the spacer, just a lick. Some people don't use this because their fork didn't come with it, or they think they don't need it, but I ALWAYS use it. If it comes with it, there's a reason. My guess being it helps prevent seizing up & gives a better grab on things, sometimes I'll take friends' compression caps off & it's a bit harder getting the ones without the spacer off
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Lastly, you want to tighten the compression bolt enough to remove any wobble, but not too much that it's overtightened. That's not good for the bearings. Find that happy medium & it might take a few times to get it right. Then, line your stem up straight on the fork, and tighten the side bolts on the stem, and you're good to go. MAKE SURE you tighten the compression bolt first, not the stem bolts
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Hope this will help a lot of you out, those who need it now, those who will need it, & those who will stumble upon this thread in 2 years from now & bump it adding something completely inane/not relevant to the conversation.
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2/13/2014 3:10 PM

noice

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Old bike VVV

California Living

I now have a more or less stock sunday scout with a complete Demo rear wheel. Sue me

2/13/2014 4:10 PM

Very good, if only I had this years ago, took me fucking forever to figure these things out haha.

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45 refs and counting check profile.

2/13/2014 5:01 PM

Really nice! Good job with this.

I'm curious why you say it's wrong to un-tighten the compression bolt first?

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2/13/2014 5:06 PM

pnj wrote:

Really nice! Good job with this.

I'm curious why you say it's wrong to un-tighten the compression bolt first?

I was thinking the same thing

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Freestyle is the answer to everything --
a fresh way to approach a dull or a
dangerous thing.
to do a dull thing with style
is preferable to doing a dangerous thing
without it.

Os 94
Ms 01
Ns 12


2/13/2014 5:15 PM

pnj wrote:

Really nice! Good job with this.

I'm curious why you say it's wrong to un-tighten the compression bolt first?

To me it just seems more logical since putting it together you would tighten the compression bolt, then side bolts, so to remove, you would work backwards & do the stem bolts first, then compression bolt. Also some people I know try removing the compression bolt first & have a hard time doing so, maybe cause the stem is pinching the steerer tube? Idk guess it's not necessarily wrong, just easier haha thanks though everyone

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2/13/2014 5:42 PM

Good idea for a thread man!

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Honestly? Who gives a shit. Its the fucking internet. I hate all of you equally.
-HardBMX_Tim

2/13/2014 5:54 PM

I usually just buy a new bearing for 5 bucks and replace the bottom one because drops can be really hard on it, along with dirt and stuff. Not a whole new headset. I have had the same top bearing for forever and i have had like 3 different bottom ones. Haha keeps it working great!

This can work for everything though! Bottom Brackets, sealed bearings of any type, (although i dont recommend doing that unless they need it)

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References: OneGuyIlluminatiEye, robinson79, Brian Griffin, The Horror Contact, StoreBoughtChild, C_Johnsonbmx, dkTechEthan, etc.

2/13/2014 10:30 PM

MaximusBikes wrote:

I usually just buy a new bearing for 5 bucks and replace the bottom one because drops can be really hard on it, along with ...more

My bottom bearing felt a lot more catchy than the top one, so I spent more time cleaning & regreasing it. Usually can fix them right up that way.

I'd do the same thing I did here for a BB but I just regreased my shit like a week or 2 ago, so not yet am I gonna redo that but if I remember, I'll make a thread for it. Same with hub bearing & next time I do my cassette, I'll make one for anyone who has a Mix/Match/Remix hub

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2/13/2014 10:50 PM

Helpfull thread

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