I am fixing this bike for a friend. The headset is wobbly. All the instructions I find online for how to tighten it stress loosening the stem bolts first, but this bike has none. Is that why, despite my tightening the top cap, it's still loose? If not, what could the problem be? Thank you in advance!

Photo here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/g1i8mJXnquoCLsji8 threaded headset

  • How about a photo? Sep 12, 2018 at 11:14
  • 1
    This is an older, threaded (opposed to the newer, thread-less stem with stem bolts) stem. Which part is wobbly: the stem itself (the L-shaped thing attached to the handlebars) or the entire fork?
    – StefanS
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:18
  • You adjust it just like you'd adjust a wheel hub. Sep 12, 2018 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


You have an older type of stem that is used with a 'threaded steerer' fork.

In this system the fork is held on by the large nuts on top of the head tube, the stem is held in the steerer tube with a wedge that is tightened by the bolt on top. On newer, now much more common, 'threadless' steerer systems the fork is held on by the stem clamping the steerer tube.

If the fork is moving in the frame the headset bearing need adjusting. If the stem is moving it need to be tightened (I suspect the former as you say you have tightened the stem bolt already.)

Here are a couple of videos that deal with threaded steerer systems:

Adjust The Bike Headset On A Threaded Steerer

Adjust A Bike’s Handlebars Attached To A Threaded Steerer

  • 1
    I would add it may be time to service the headset bearings. Generally the headset doesn't become loose if it was adjusted and tightened correctly.
    – mikes
    Sep 12, 2018 at 12:57
  • And it's quite a delicate job. Much trial and error because tightening the locknut (the top one) will affect the tightness of the bearing!
    – Carel
    Sep 12, 2018 at 15:52

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