I have a half recumbent tandem bicycle. The front fork headset (under the front cyclist) is loose: I can feel some play when I put the front brake on and try to move the bicycle front and back. I tried to tighten it with no success. I disassembled it and was surprised there was no upper bearings. Could this be normal, given the bicycle geometry (not much clearance between the front seat and the headset and no need for a stem) ? I found some kind of seal which was torn out. Could this explain the loose headset ? Any help would be appreciated.

NB: the bike frame is from Bilenky (viewpoint) but the set up was done by another company.

the front seat with the headset below it the headset with the upper parts disassembled the headset upper parts with the torn seal the headset upper parts the bearings used at the bottom of the fork

  • 2
    This really looks like a faulty, bad built. Something is missing, unless the second item right is some kind of heavily damaged graphite(?) ring working as a bearing. 1 and 3 definitely look like bearing races.
    – Carel
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 20:02
  • Thank you @Carel. I added a better picture with the parts cleaned up. Does this confirm what you thought: 1 and 4 (on the 4th picture) are bearing races, with 2 and 3 something supposed to work as a bearing ? What would you suggest to fix this and have a more regular and robust setup ? Do I need to buy some sealed bearings (like the one from the bottom of the fork shown on the last picture) to replace 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 ? Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 20:53
  • 2
    Another option is to contact Bilenky / Viewpoint and ask them directly. This doesn't look great, but the top bearing on a headset carries very little load The top bearings are more about preloading the bottom bearings. This is an interesting question - please do give updates.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 1:14
  • 1
    @Jean-BaptisteRudant That's exactly what I thought I had seen. I think your problem will be solved if you install a complete (new) headset.
    – Carel
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


I found more info about this kind of headset. It uses what Cane Creek calls a Norglide Composite Bearing. It is not regular ball bearings (as @Carel suggested), but just a small piece of metal with a special coating. It's intended for road bikes, and I think it was not a good pick for a heavy tandem bicycle.

Nordglide composite bearing


A single bearing race really isn't very good at resisting torque perpendicular to its axis, so I'd be surprised if there wasn't meant to be a set of bearings in the top. Even closely spaced sets of bearings aren't great in that regard. Unless there's a special arrangement inserted from below, the lack of a top bearing would be likely to cause play, and possibly damage. The lower bearing should be checked in any case. The load on a tandem is quite high so I'd expect a robust design using the full available steerer tube length.

  • Thank you @chris-h. Could you suggest the kind of bearings I would need to buy and which parts they would replace ? I added a picture with the sealed bearings found at the bottom of the steerer tube. Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 20:57
  • 1
    At this point I'd probably go to a well-stocked bike shop, even though I have a set of Vernier calipers and could measure up (the old lower bearings may be labelled). I can't really tell which of the bits in pic 3 are which, though the right 2 could be the remains of a bearing housing and its seals. Not having seen this steerer tube assembly I reckon the collar (4th from L in pic 3) goes over the top of the headtube, the clamp goes where a stem would go, and the bolt and cap preload the steerer up. New top and bottom bearings would be fitted as in youtube.com/watch?v=5lSN9hWHIN4
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 21:13

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.