TeamCBC Cycling Tip – How to Tighten your Headset

Recently I noticed the headset on my bike move slightly whenever I applied the front brake. Everything seemed tight, but it became even looser on the next ride.

I just had a new stem installed and the bearings replaced, so it didn’t make sense that anything was broken or worn out. My first thought was to take it all apart. However, before creating an even bigger problem, I decided to look for a simpler solution. I found it on YouTube. Here are the step by step instructions:

  1. Undo the bolt on the stem cap using an Allen wrench.
  2. Undo the bolts on each side of the stem also using an Allen wrench.
  3. Note the numbers next to the bolts. They indicate how much torque to apply when tightening them later. For example, 6 Nm.
  4. Now tighten the bolt on the stem cap. This pulls the forks up and pushes the stem down compressing and centering the headset.
  5. Check to see if the stem is tight. However, ensure that it is not too tight and you still have free movement in the headset.
  6. After properly aligning the stem with the front wheel, tighten the bolts on each side of the stem using a torque wrench.
  7. Do not crank each bolt down to the maximum. Get each one close and then tighten them slightly less than the maximum.

This is a simple solution to a simple problem. Also, if it is difficult to move the handlebars back and forth once you tighten them, it may mean that your headset needs to be cleaned and serviced. However, that’s another cycling tip.

Here is a video that demonstrates what is described above:

Stay safe!

Rick Bunnell

President, TeamCBC