Crashed out a couple of months ago, broke my front wheel, fork, and left collarbone. The crash busted my fork pretty bad, I can't even turn the front wheel now without it getting stuck on the frame. Will I need to replace the headset as well? As much as the front wheel permits, it seems to turn smooth, with no noise or resistance. Thank you.

UPD: Ended up replacing the headset, the old one had a little resistance as the wheel passed the center. The repair guys said that it was good as new and probably just needed a new fork that's not bent to hell. However, my old headset was loose ball bearing and the new one is on sealed bearings, so I don't regret replacing it.

  • 7
    If the fork and front wheel are broken badly I would be worried if the frame is still intact after a head-on crash. Which bike do you have. Otherwise if it runs smootly it should be ok. Perhaps you could just change the bearings. I had front crash with an aluminium frame where the wheels and fork were ok but my lower part of the headtube was ovalized.
    – nollak
    Jun 28, 2018 at 6:28
  • 1
    Take out the front wheel and check if the headset turns properly. It's more difficult to check the frame to see whether front and rear wheels still run on the line.
    – Carel
    Jun 28, 2018 at 8:38
  • Sounds like you're weighing the cost of a replacement fork and wheel plus whatever unknown damage remains, against a new bike. If you're the one who will fit the new fork, simply take the old one out and inspect. If you're not feeling competent to do the replacement then it might be time to involve a Local Bike Shop for their expert opinion.
    – Criggie
    Jun 28, 2018 at 9:18
  • 2
    Also, examine the frame carefully. It's not uncommon for the top and down tubes to be bent slightly in such a collision, causing the fork (even if new) to be permanently pushed backwards. Jun 28, 2018 at 11:44
  • 1
    Another thing to note: if - as @DanielRHicks mentions - either of the top or down tubes are bent or distorted at all so the angle of the head tube and therefore the fork is bent back even just a bit, that could significantly reduce front-wheel trail and seriously impact the stability of the bicycle. Jun 28, 2018 at 14:55

3 Answers 3


I am sorry to hear about the crash!

You do want to get a bike store to inspect the bike. Headsets can take damage in crashes like that, but we don't know for sure. If the headset was damaged, how it happened was probably that the fork steerer banged against one of the races and dented it, which would cause your fork to feel loose in the headset and not turn smoothly. Ride like that, and over time, I think you have a good chance of damaging the head tube.

As @nollak and @DanielRHicks mentioned, you also want to make sure that your frame is in alignment (and this is not something most people have the tools for at home). Guys, your comments could have been answers.


Some years ago I crashed into a car. I was probably exceeding 50 km/h and went into a completely stopped car. The symptoms were the same as those of your bike but my wheel was salvable. I didn't need to replace the headset, just the fork, and I still ride that bike everyday.

It is important to say that my bike and fork are made of aluminium. If your frame is made of carbon, you may need to do a further diagnosis, not for the headset but for the frame.

  • Aluminum is just about the worst material possible in this case as it doesn't have a fatigue limit. Carbon fiber and steel frames do - which means they can last effectively forever under light load like a bicycle frame normally is under. Aluminum - with no fatigue limit - will eventually fail. For lack of a better term, a large impact is likely to "use up" a lot of that lifetime, especially in high-stress places you can't see. Aluminum also cracks when bent or distorted. More: quora.com/How-does-carbon-fiber-CFRP-behave-in-fatigue Jun 28, 2018 at 14:50
  • I second @AndrewHenle. Head-on crash for such a frame would be an automatic discard of the frame if it was my own bike.
    – Gabriel
    Jun 28, 2018 at 15:22
  • @AndrewHenle your comment is interesting. But the thing about carbon may be that you may not detect whether it is broken or not, it can at some point crack abruptly. In aluminium, even if it is "used", you could detect some bending or malfunctions before it finally gets dangerous. And the way of breaking would be softer in aluminium.
    – riqui
    Jun 29, 2018 at 15:50
  • @riqui Take an empty aluminum soda can. Put it upright on the floor. Place your foot on top and put a bit of weight evenly on the can. Carefully bend over and just tap the side of the can with your finger. The entire can will collapse. Thin,hydroformed aluminum frames will fail just like that - once it deforms just a little, the structural integrity is lost and the entire thing collapses. CF tubing resists that deformation much better. Also AL doesn't bend much at all - you can't widen the dropouts on an AL frame like you can a steel one. Jun 29, 2018 at 19:10
  • Aluminium is the worst material when it comes to crashes. Worse than carbon by a wide margin. A carbon frame either explodes catastrophically or is visibly gouged, which can be repaired. An AL frame might not even show it is fatigued and on the verge of failure. I had a AL main/carbon stays road frame with which I was hit by a car directly on the right-hand crank (hit my leg at the same time). The frame seemed fine, no misalignment, but from that moment on I could feel it much more flexible when under heavy pedalling. I never really trusted it again and bought a new one.
    – Gabriel
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:02

A headset isn't that expensive but why not try a new fork and wheel in the existing one? Nothing to lose really. The only thing you might damage is the bearing race on the fork when you set it. And if you do, just buy a new headset.

I'd be more worried about the headtube/downtube welds being weakened, but it's CrMo so it's probably fine.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.