How to Adjust Your Headset: In 3-Steps

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How to Adjust Your Headset: In 3-Steps

Your headset is the bearings in your frame that allow the fork to turn smoothly.  As with any bearing, your headset must be adjusted properly to operate as designed.  Too tight will cause the bike to not want to steer, and too loose will allow the fork to shuck back and forth inside of your frame.

There are two types of normal headsets.   Threadless headsets and threaded. Most modern bicycles use a threadless setup.   The basic principle of a threadless headset is that the bearing preload is set by the top cap (above the stem),  and pinch bolts are tightened to lock down the adjustment.


With any bearing there are two steps to adjustment.  

  • Preload: Applying pressure to the bearing to eliminate play while still keeping the bearing moving freely.  

  • Locking down the adjustment:  Tightening a lock bolt to secure the adjustment.

With a threadless headset, the preload is set by first loosening the stem bolts connecting the stem to the steerer tube of the fork.  Once the stem bolts are loose the top cap of the headset should be tightened until snug but not tight. Then re-torque the stem bolts.  We have put together a few easy steps to help you adjust your threadless headset.

Threadless Headset Adjustment

Before you start adjusting: Hold the brake and rock the bike back and forth while holding on to the upper headset cup. This will confirm that The headset is in fact loose.

1. Loosen the pinch bolts holding the stem to the steerer tube of the fork

    2. Snug the top cap bolt on the top of the fork while holding the brake and rock the bike back and forth to check that there is no play.

3.  Make sure the stem is still straight and torque the pinch bolts to their recommended torque spec using a Torque Wrench.

When your headset is tight and you are sure it is working correctly, it’s time to go ride!

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