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Headset Adjustments

One of the components most often overlooked by cyclists is the headset.

The headset connects your bike frame to the fork and supports the fork in the frame while still allowing it to freely turn. The most common type of headset, especially on low to mid-priced bikes, uses bearings sandwiched between a cup and cone arrangement. There is one set (referred to as a “stack”) at the base of the fork tube and one set at the top of the head tube (the tube which the fork tube fits into).

A more recent design is the “Aheadset” headset – originally designed by Diacompe. It’s easier to adjust, stronger and lighter in weight, but its overall function is the same as that of a regular headset.

To check if your headset is loose, turn the wheel sideways and grasp the fork with one hand and the handlebar with the other – now push and pull the fork toward and away from you – try it with the wheel in a few different positions. There should be no looseness.

To check for over tightness, lift the front of the bike and turn the handlebars. There should be no binding or tightness.

With the Aheadset, the stem is clamped around the fork tube so, first, loosen the stem bolts. With a 5mm Allen key, adjust the top cap bolt to the correct tightness (clockwise to tighten, counter clockwise to loosen).

REMEMBER: re-tighten the stem bolts when the headset is at the required tightness.

To adjust the conventional headset, first you need two wrenches: one to fit the locknut and the other to fit the top of the cone nut. Loosen off the locknut and adjust the cone nut as required. Once you have the required tightness, tighten the locknut while holding the cone in place.

As with hub adjustments, getting the proper adjustment may take a few tries – but be patient and, as always, it will get easier the more you practice. Headsets, and other bearing systems on your bike require occasional re-building (dismantling, cleaning, re-greasing).

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