Steuersatz_6_ss.jpg

How to adjust headset play

Sebastian 24. April 2017

Is there movement between your fork and head tube? Or do you handlebars shake when you brake? Then you need to check your headset adjustment. Read on to find out how.

To properly adjust your headset, you need to watch for two things. First, the headset shouldn’t have any play or wiggle room. Second, the handlebars should still be able to move freely. Both of these depend on how tight the headset is. In this post, we will show you the right way to adjust yours.

Checking headset play

To check if your headset has too much play, use the front brake to lock up the wheel and move the bike back and forth. If the headset has too much play, you will feel the fork’s steerer tube moving with the bike. This is most noticeable as the handlebars move as well.

Pull the front brake and wiggle the bike to detect headset play.

Pull the front brake and wiggle the bike to detect headset play.

To ensure that the movement is not coming from a loose brake shoe or pad, you can repeat the process mentioned above, but with you hand on the headset cup / head tube and fork crown. This can also be done with the upper headset cups if you are still unsure.

If the steerer is moving inside the head tube, the headset is not tight enough.

If the steerer is moving inside the head tube, the headset is not tight enough.

Loosening the stem

Once you are positive that the headset has too much play, you need to first loosen the stem. This allows for the tension that is later applied to the Ahead cap to pull the headset together. To do this, you need to loosen the stem’s clamp bolts until it can easily pivot on the fork’s steerer tube.

Loosen your stem.

Loosen your stem.

Adjusting the headset tension

Now, you can adjust the headset tension with the Ahead cap bolt.

Carefully tighten the Ahead cap.

Carefully tighten the Ahead cap.

Do this a little bit at a time, making sure not to overtighten.

Proper headset adjustment

If the headset tension has been adjusted correctly, the handlebars will turn in one direction as pictured below. However, the headset should still have no play.

Make sure the handlebars move freely.

Make sure the handlebars move freely.

The best way to check if everything is correct, is to try and turn your headset spacers. If they cannot be turned, then the headset has enough tension on it.

If you can't turn the spacers, the headset has enough tension.

If you can't turn the spacers, the headset has enough tension.

Tightening the stem

The last step is retightening the stem. When you are bolting it down, make sure to note the manufactures torque requirements; especially if you have a carbon stem or steerer.

Retighten the stem. Note the required torques.

Retighten the stem. Note the required torques.

Once the stem is tightened, you are finished. It can happen that on your first ride the headset settles and there is a small amount of play again. If this occurs, you need to readjust the headset tension. You can do this by following the same instructions mentioned above.

Still have headset play after adjustment?

Then you might have worn-out bearings or a broken headset. If you need a new headset or a new set of bearings, head over to our headset world for more information:

https://www.bike-components.de/en/Headsets/headset-standards/