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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just wrapping up my first build attempt and all in all it went pretty well. However, I am having some trouble getting the headset adjustment just right.

Note: this is a used carbon frameset (alum. steerer tube) and a used Cane Creek S2 headset. I did not install the headset as it came with the frameset. All I did was run the forks back through and put the top ring and cap on.

If I tighten up everything so that there is no play at all while holding brakes and pushing back and forth on the handlebars then it is too tight to turn smoothly. If I back it out enough to easily turn right and left smoothly then there is a bit of play. I can't seem to find an adjustment that has both no play and a smooth easy turning of the wheel.

Right now I have it adjusted to allow it to turn easily which means it has a bit too much play. (by my standards) I did pull off the very top ring and apply some grease yesterday to try and make it turn easier but that didn't help when tightened up all the way.

1. Is it possible the headset is just toast and needs to be replaced?

2. Am I risking any damage to the frame or forks by leaving a little play in the headset?

3. Am I just adjusting it the wrong way?

Any help would be appreciated.
 

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A correct adjustment is just slightly tighter than the point of zero play.It should be possible to over tighten a headset pretty far beyond that before it begins to bind, so I suspect there's something else wrong.

Possibilities include, in order of commonness and ease of repair
1- inverted ball retainer,
2- extra ball if using loose balls
3- wrong size balls or retainer
4- missing or inverted spacer allowing direct contact of moving parts
5- inverted or otherwise mis-installed seal
6- mis-alignment.

The last is the hardest to deal with, and might be the result of poorly seated headset parts, or a bent or warped steerer or head tube. Curved head tubes aren't rare on welded frames, so if you've eliminated the easy stuff, put a straightedge against the headtube and check it.

Lastly, though not likely the way you describe it, is the possibility of a bellmouthed headtube, usually on the bottom not holding the cup securely. You can spot this easily enough by trying to remove the lower cup by hand. If you succeed, you have a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ummm... yeah.

It appears I had it assembled the wrong way. I mistakenly doubled up the bearing ring on the top and missed the bottom completely. I wish I could say that was the stupidest thing I did on this bike build but that simply wouldn't be true.

Oh well, it seems to be working correctly now and I have learned that I need to pay a bit more attention.

Thanks to perttime for the instruction pdf and FBinNY for the suggestions.
 

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Militant commuter
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Floppage said:
I wish I could say that was the stupidest thing I did on this bike build but that simply wouldn't be true.

Ha! You've got a good sense of humor about all this...it gets easier over time, and you're not afraid to a) ask for help and b) poke a little fun at yourself. You'll be just fine at this whole wrenching business!
 
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