I need to service a headset of bike as it was initially not even turning without applying strength. And even then it would make an awful noise. I suspect a lot of rust in there.

I have removed the bolts and spacing rings, one more spacer at the bottom. And I am left with this enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here I have hit it lightly with a hammer, and wood cushion in-between. It has not bulged. I am about to hit it harder, but I do not want to do anything destructive. From the picture does it look like I need to remove more spacers?

Edit: I have got my hand over removing the fork and putting it back together, after servicing the bearings and cleaning up. The end result is not good though, there is still friction, steering feels rough and there is noise from metal on metal scratching. I suspect it's the state of the top bearings. They seem to be loose ones as per these pictures

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

How shot do they look? I have never seen this type of bearings. Some of the "teeth" holding them look crooked and I suspect them of being culprit of rubbing.

  • 1
    I'm not real familiar with this style of fork, but that bottom ring looks like a lock ring. What happens if you stick a screwdriver in the crack and twist? Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 19:42
  • @DanielRHicks it does not feel like it wants to come off. Can try again. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 19:43
  • I'm talking about that gap in the ring. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 19:44
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    OK, apparently that ring is a "conical compression ring". On the bottom part that you can't see it's tapered so that, as the stuff above is tightened against it, it's driven down into a crevice between the fork tube and the top race. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 21:45
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    @MaplePanda - Not that I've had to disassemble. Most of the bikes we get donated have quill stems, and the few threadless ones we get don't require disassembly. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 0:54

2 Answers 2


To remove the fork the tapered spacer on the top need to be loosened. Tap the top of the fork (maybe a little harder than you have). Then push the fork back up into the seated position. This should allow some clearance between the tapered collar and the headset bearing. Removing the split tapered collar should make everything loose enough to disassemble. Lay all the pieces out as you remove them and take a photo. It can be confusing putting it back together as the parts only fit together one way. If the bearings are open caged type you can clean and regrease them. If they are sealed then they will need to be replaced.

  • Have managed to open by hammering it down. Took the bearings off. Loose ones at the top and attached to a retainer at the bottom. I have cleaned them and regreased. Cleaned the fork too. I am struggling with putting it back together though. It's the part of putting down the tappered spacer as you call it, i cannot push it down. It just sits loosely on top of the top bearings. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 21:56
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    If everything is assembled correctly the tapered insert will seat when you set the preload by tightening the topcap.
    – mikes
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 23:15
  • Indeed I got my hand around putting things back into place and having it seat when tightening - enough and no more - the topcap. Though the steering was feeling crunchy, I reopened it and am sharing pictures of the top bearings if you can have a look. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 13:40
  • The top bearing looks bad. There are balls missing and as you noticed, some play. If you have access to a dial caliper you can take some measurements and use an online headset finder app. Disassemble it and look at the races that are fixed in the frame. You may jjust need new bearings. Alternatively bring the pieces to your local bike shop and source them there.
    – mikes
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 14:45
  • I am gonna take measurements of the bearing case. Aren't these supposed to be quite standard in the sizing and bearing count? Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 15:19

What you have are "caged" bearings. Pull the cage out and rinse it in some sort of degreaser. Make sure all the bearing balls are intact -- if some are missing or appear damaged buy a complete new caged bearing assembly at a bike shop.

Clean and inspect the "race" below the bearings -- make sure it's smooth.

Regrease the bearings before reinstallation.

  • Is there a way to know if I have lost some of the bearings? Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 13:48
  • @Learningisamess - If there is a notch in the cage with no ball in it then you've lost one. (Though note that you can "manage" with one ball missing, but two adjacent balls missing is bad.) Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 13:50
  • Isn't it weird for bearings to come loose from a bearing case? Does this mean it's already broken? Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 15:15
  • Loose or caged bearings once removed should be replaced by new ones according to an old cycling tradition. They are not overly expensive.
    – Carel
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 16:33
  • I did pop the bearings. They are good for a replacement, because of the missing ones. The race has a bit of paint chip but it's feeling smooth enough, as in should be smooth after butting with grease. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 18:15

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