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The front end of my bike was creaking when the handlebars were rotated. I suspected an overtightened top cap. I loosened the stem bolts and loosened the top cap, checking for the creaking as it loosened. Eventually it became quiet. However, there is now considerable play in the headset. So it appears either the headset is loose and dangerous or overtightened and creaky. What is the solution for this problem please? Could it be that the bearings require greasing?

Thanks for any help.

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    You seem to have proven that the headset bearings are creaking, so they servicing and regreasing, or they need replacing if they are very worn. Without more info on your specific headset there's not much more we can say. How old is the bike and what type (road, MTB?) for a start. Apr 19, 2019 at 12:36
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    You need to seek out a cheerful prophetess (happy medium). Apr 19, 2019 at 12:54

2 Answers 2

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So, thanks for your input guys. I solved it by dismantling the headset and fork and re-greasing all the bearings and where they are seated after a thorough clean. the 'upper' bearing below the headset had a little rust and was bone dry. After the greasing it is now buttery smooth and silent.

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  • Thank you for the closure. Do remember to mark this as the accepted answer.
    – Criggie
    Apr 20, 2019 at 13:14
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I seemed to have the same problem: a creaking headset when turning the handlebars with the sound disappearing after loosening the stem and top cap.

Without further diagnosis I went ahead an greased the bearings, but after putting everything back together the creak re-appeared. Turns out, the creaking came from the internally routed cable, not the headset!

I found others with the same issue and what solved it for me was:

  • a tiny drop of oil on the interface between the cable housing and the frame
  • taping two cables together such that they approach the frame less from an angle, as mentioned in this youtube video

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