I got run over a car a few weeks ago and now i have to change the fork. It's an old racer, as you can see in the picture, with a 1 inch fork. I am trying to loosen it from the frame, but I can't loosen the bolt marked with 2 because of the rust and now it's completely gone. Any advice?

I couldn't post any picture, but the stem and fork is similar to this one: similar fork

And the bolt I am talking about is the one that is in the stem and goes to the fork.

4 Answers 4


You'll need an allen key - probably a 6mm one to take off the stem, which is the silver part that holds your handle bars. If you loosen the bolt and it keeps coming up, hit it with a plastic mallet to knock it back down which should loosen that.

Once the stem is off you will need a headset wrench, probably 32mm. Having 2 helps because it's basically a double nut that holds the stem on. The lower one holds the stem in place and the upper one locks it into position. If you've stripped the nut, I would take it to a shop and they'll have to do some additional work on it and most likely replace your headset.

If you were in a crash, I'd have a bike shop inspect your bike front to back. A crash can do a lot of damage that the untrained eye will not be able to spot and you could be riding a cracked frame or otherwise dangerous bike.

  • 2
    Be aware that many vintage headsets use loose uncaged ballbearings. When the fork separates they may go everywhere. My solution is to hang the bike from the ceiling or bike repair stand. Place a large plastic container under the fork to catch the balls as they fall. It may help to line the container with rags so the bearings don't bounce out.
    – mikes
    Jun 8, 2012 at 19:31

If it's rusted, you will also want to try some "Creep" (lots of brands out there, Liquid Wrench is popular on East Coast) penetrating oil. Straight oils won't get in where you need them.

Note that the penetrating oils have solvent in them so you will want to clean, degrease, and re-oil after you get everything apart.

If you still have issues, you might consider cutting off the fork from the bottom with a hacksaw (since you are replacing it anyway) which will give you more access to the stuck parts.


What you need is the proper size of headset wrench. Take your bike into a bike shop and ask them for the proper sized headset wrench for your bike.

Occasionally it helps to have two headset wrenches or a nice big adjustable wrench so that you can work the bolts against each other if they are binding.

If you're stripped the bolts, I would recommend filing off the rounded bits if they aren't stripped too badly, or using some channel locks if they are stripped too badly.

headset wrench

  • The thing is that I managed to loose the lower one, is the bolt that's inside the stem that I cant get out. Is it possible to just saw the stem? Would I get the fork off the frame?
    – Andreas
    Jun 8, 2012 at 16:06
  • @Andres so your stem is stuck in place? Generally you would just loosen the bolt that is holding it in place by about 1/4 inch, then whack the bolt with a hammer. This will dislodge the wedge that holds the stem in place. If this doesn't work it likely means that the stem is either fused or rusted into place. In that case, you start by letting it soak in penetrating oil and then trying to remove it. If this doesn't work you will need to resort to more extreme measures. Jun 8, 2012 at 16:13
  • Already tried oiling it, but thanks for the help anyway. I will have to bring the big tools!
    – Andreas
    Jun 8, 2012 at 16:21
  • Keep in mind that anything you use "big tools" on may end up torqued to unusable. If it's the damaged part, no biggie, but try not to kill your frame in the process
    – Ken Hiatt
    Jun 8, 2012 at 19:15
  • Andreas, yes, you can cut the stem to remove it. You will destroy the stem as well as the fork, but that will work. When you're cutting remember that there's a bolt inside the stem so be ready for the impact as your cutting tool hits it. The bolt will still be wedged in the fork afterwards, but you're discarding it anyway so that doesn't matter.
    – Kohi
    Jun 14, 2012 at 3:48

If you're ok with destroying your stem, sawing through it will definitely work. You won't even have to get all the way through it, just a bit over half. Once you've sawn through the bolt that runs through the center it'll all come apart just the same as if you'd unscrewed it until it came out.

That said, I've never sawn through a stem before. I don't imagine that the metal would be too hard for your garden-variety hack saw, but some bike parts are (I'm thinking specifically of a bottom bracket spindle).

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