Threadless headset installation screwed up?


When I ride I feel like the wheel is buckled or something as it feels like it pulls to the left then right all the time. The problem is it’s happened with two different wheels (and one was brand new) and they don’t look buckled so I’m sure it’s out of the question.

Basically I’ve never installed a threadless headset before (races were already installed), so I just had to figure out where to put the bearings, etc. First time I did it the buckled feeling wasn’t there, but the fork was wobbly and could move backwards and forwards. Didn’t feel too safe.

After chucking it all back together I found a seal or something I forgot to put on which I put on top of the crown race under the bearing. It was then tight (a bit too tight) but now it developed the left-right issue.

Basically I have:
Cap bolt
Top cap
Compression ring
Bearing (with 2 washers on both sides)
Head tube with upper and lower races
Bearing (with 2 washers on both sides)
Seal thingo
Crown race

It was all second hand but everything felt fine when I tested the bike before I bought it. When I received it the fork was detached and all the bearings and washers were separate…

Also to make it interesting it’s a 1" headset with 1 1/8" stem so I have a shim and instead of a star nut I have an expandable adjusting nut into my carbon road fork (not sure if this affects it).

I don’t know how it’s working at all without a star nut…? That means it’s all going to be loose as hell I would have thought.

Pics are worth a thousand words.

Make sure you’re not feeling the wheel moving in the dropouts. Or the axle moving because your hub bearings are loose. Then post some pics of the headset.

You mention it’s a carbon fork, that is why it has an expander nut, not a star nut. Star nuts destroy carbon.
You mentioned it was ‘too tight’ then loosened up. Remove the fork and check everything is installed correctly (If you do a google search you will find pics of how a headset should go together). Also check the fork steerer for cracks/damage. Hopefully when it was ‘too tight’ it didn’t damage it.

Carry your bike to a bike shop.



You’re my bike shop Blakey.

Here’s some pics. When I take out the piece (seal?) on the very left after the fork it fixes the problem, but last time I did it the fork started to get loose after a while. Not sure if it’s needed and why it was given to me but felt like it should go there. Is this the correct order?




Note: I didn’t include the shim or spacers in the pic.

It looks like your fork has a steel/alloy steerer tube, in which case it probably should have a star nut and not the expander nut. Might explain why it keeps getting loose. Take it to a shop and ask them tho, hard to tell what goes where without physically seeing it.

I can’t see that making a difference. Once the headset is preloaded with the top cap bolt and the stem bolts have been tightened, the star nut/expander doesn’t do anything useful anyway.

But I agree he should just take it to a shop.