Mechanical Services Headset

Mechanical Services & Maintenance


Adjusting the Headset

The headset is a bearing fitted into the frame of the bicycle that allows the handlebars to turn smoothly. If the headset is not properly adjusted, handling will suffer and premature wear is possible. To test if your headset is tight, with the bike on the ground, grab your front brake tightly while pushing the handlebars forward and back. If you hear a knocking sound or feel any movement as you push on the handlebars, you likely have a loose headset. Most modern headsets use what is called the "Aheadset System". In the Aheadset System, the top cap of the fork is used to adjust the pressure on the headset bearings. When you tighten this bolt it presses on the stem and the stem transfers this pressure to the spacers below and then into the bearings of the headset. Below is a step by step method of adjustment that anyone can do.

Tools Needed:

  • Allen Wrench that fits stem and headset bolts (most likely 5mm)
  • Grease

1. Remove bolt and top cap to inspect steering column. Lubricate adjusting bolt and re-install cap and bolt by hand only. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.

2. Loosen stem bolt(s) that secure stem to the steering column. Lubricate these bolts if they are dry.

3. Wiggle the stem side to side to see that it is loose. If the stem does not move freely, no adjustment can be made.

4. Align stem straight to wheel and gently secure the top bolt. Stop when any resistance is felt.

5. Tighten stem bolt(s).

6. Check for play by pulling back and forth on fork. Turn the handlebars in different directions while checking for play. There may be play at this early setting. Grab upper portion of fork.

7. To adjust bearings, LOOSEN STEM BOLT(S).

8. Turn the adjusting bolt in center cap only 1/8th turn clockwise.

9. Secure stem bolts, check for play again.

10. Repeat adjustments as above until play disappears. Remember to loosen stem bolts before turning adjusting bolt in cap.

11. Check alignment of stem and tighten stem binder bolts fully.

Fit Werx

Fit Werx