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ReviewBikeRoad Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Felt z85 that I purchased last spring. I like it very much, and I've been spending more time riding in the drops as I have gained fitness and become more comfortable with the bike.

Currently I have three spacers under the handle bar, and I'd like to try lowering it down one spacer at a time to see how it feels as I move lower. Currently my handle bar sits just under the bottom of my saddle, perhaps 1 cm or so lower, so it's not a very aggressive setup. The stem is already flipped to the "flat" side, so I can't lower the bars by any more by flipping the stem.

Please let me know if this is what I should do, or if it's more complicated than I expect:

1. Remove nut from red cap covering the fork tube (no idea what this is called?).
2. Loosen nuts holding stem in place, lift stem over fork tube.
3. Remove one spacer.
4. Set handlebar back down into tube, tighten with torque wrench to specified Nm.
5. Place spacer back onto fork tube over stem.
6. Place cap back onto fork tube, tighten with torque wrench to specified Nm.

Anything I'm missing? Seems pretty simple, but I've never done this before. I know if I like the position and I move it down more, I may need to get a shorter stem to compensate for the increased reach length.

Here's a picture of my stem/headset area for reference. Thanks!

 

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Reverse 4 and 6. The screw on the stem cap tightens everything down and back together, then you clamp the stem on the bar with the stem bolts. If you try it the other way, then pick up the front you may notice some wiggle room, which could eventually lead to headset problems.

edited to correct numbers

Also, pay strict attention to lining the bars up correctly. I find it's best to have someone in front of the bike spotting me as I stand over the top tube. A small dif won't seem like much, but you'll feel it 20 miles into your next ride. I wish there was a tool to get this right, but I've never heard of anything.
 

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The top cap is what sets the correct amount of tension on your headset bearings and is therefore not set with a torque wrench. This is your headset adjustment. You tighten the stem (the thing connected to the handlebars) with a torque wrench AFTER the top cap has set the headset adjustment, to both hold the stem in place and lock the headset adjustment.

1. Cap off.
2. Stem off.
3. Spacer off.
4. Stem on, loose.
5. Spacer on.
6. Cap on, headset adjusted.
7. Stem tightened with torque wrench.

Are you sure you want to mess with this?
 

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ReviewBikeRoad Member
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ah, good to know, thanks!

So first tighten the cap back down, THEN tighten the two bolts on the stem.
 

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ReviewBikeRoad Member
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
rx-79g said:
Are you sure you want to mess with this?
Maybe? Doesn't seem that bad, and I thought it would be fun to try a slightly modified position before the weather gets bad and I'm stuck riding inside or outside on my crappy beater bike.

Is this something better left to a shop to do?
 

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My point is that this isn't just moving parts around in the right order. Do you feel competent to adjust your headset to where it turns well with zero play? If not, you are likely to trash the headset bearings.

I'm not saying you can't learn to do it, but if you don't really understand how your bike works and fits together, I am wary of recommending you start tinkering with bearing adjustments. That's all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
rx-79g said:
My point is that this isn't just moving parts around in the right order. Do you feel competent to adjust your headset to where it turns well with zero play? If not, you are likely to trash the headset bearings.

I'm not saying you can't learn to do it, but if you don't really understand how your bike works and fits together, I am wary of recommending you start tinkering with bearing adjustments. That's all.
No, that's a totally accurate assessment, and the reason I posted here before pulling stuff apart. :D

I'm a relative n00b but wish to be able to do more tinkering myself on my own ride. I didn't know that there were bearing inside the headset that would have to be adjusted just to move the stem down one spacer.

I mostly wanted to avoid a trip to the shop and paying for something I could do myself, but it's probably better to do that then to drag my ride in there after I screw it up and need to be bailed out. :)
 

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Go to the library or book store and find an up to date (last 10 years) bike mechanic book. The Bicycling Magazine one is pretty good. Aheadsets first came on the scene 15 years ago, so their design and adjustment should be covered.

I learned to do just about everything from books, before I worked at a shop.

You might also try the Park Tool website. I think they have illustrated instructions.
 

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I dropped my handbars about a inch this year, and now have an inch of spacers above the stem. Can I cut that top portion off? It's a carbon fork, but I think it's an aluminum
 

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Probably, but you'll need to more the star flange further down in the steerer.

Before you start cutting, post a picture or someone looking at the bike if this is the best way of doing it. A different stem might be better, and prevent you from losing some flexibility with your stem set up. And maybe 1/2" would be better. Follow?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
rx-79g said:
Go to the library or book store and find an up to date (last 10 years) bike mechanic book. The Bicycling Magazine one is pretty good. Aheadsets first came on the scene 15 years ago, so their design and adjustment should be covered.

I learned to do just about everything from books, before I worked at a shop.

You might also try the Park Tool website. I think they have illustrated instructions.
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll look for a used copy of a recent edition of that book.
 

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park tools

mcsqueak said:
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll look for a used copy of a recent edition of that book.
http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=65
This might help. The parts you want to read are toward the bottom of this rather long page.

I didn't know that there were bearing inside the headset that would have to be adjusted just to move the stem down one spacer.
Anything that turns has bearings, generally. And it's not exactly that they have to be adjusted to move the stem. The issue is that the clamped-on stem is what holds the bearing adjustment that you set with the top cap, so removing the stem completely loosens the bearings, and you have to re-adjust when you re-install the stem. The Park page explains the bearing adjustment process pretty well.

I think you can do this. Just go carefully, and maybe have somebody knowledgeable take a look at it before you go fast down a big hill ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
JCavilia said:
Anything that turns has bearings, generally.
Shows you how handy I am! :D

The Park site made it seem more complicated, but I generally find their descriptions of how to do things a bit confusing since I'm new to this. I'll have to look up the operation on a web or check out a good book and see if it seems like something I can do on my own or not.

I think for now I'll take a pass on trying until I learn more or I can find someone who knows more about it to perhaps help me.
 

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Adventure Seeker
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With a threadless headset, it's best to tighten the top cap til the fork starts to bind up (hard to turn), then back it off til it is barely free. Then, tighten up the stem.
 

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your on the right track but keep in mind depending how the brake and shifting cables were cut you may have to loosen the front brake cable to get the stem to come up. or loosen the derailluer cables so you have some play at the stem. no big thing if you keep track of what is loosened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
cmg said:
your on the right track but keep in mind depending how the brake and shifting cables were cut you may have to loosen the front brake cable to get the stem to come up. or loosen the derailluer cables so you have some play at the stem. no big thing if you keep track of what is loosened.
The brake and shifting cables are routed in nice arcs on the front of the bike and then down and back to the top tube and down tube, so to me it looked like there would be enough slack to easily lift the handlebar and stem up and off without trouble.

At any rate, I do appreciate everyone's help! I'm going to hold off for now, do some more reading first, and get some opinions from some of the more advanced riders in the club I ride with.
 

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I think everyone should know how to adjust a headset. Getting the handlebar position and spacer stack right can take some tinkering.

Just get someone to help you with it, or check the bike after you're done. Don't get crazy torquing the top cap - it doesn't actually hold things together once the stem is correctly torqued, and it's easy to overdo it. If there's no play in the headset, you're good. Play will feel like a clunk if you squeeze the front brake and try to move the bike backwards and forwards.

I really like Park Tool's site. Take some time over the pictures and instructions if you're not sure what you're doing.
 

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Larry Lackapants
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mcsqueak said:
I have a Felt z85 that I purchased last spring. I like it very much, and I've been spending more time riding in the drops as I have gained fitness and become more comfortable with the bike.

Currently I have three spacers under the handle bar, and I'd like to try lowering it down one spacer at a time to see how it feels as I move lower. Currently my handle bar sits just under the bottom of my saddle, perhaps 1 cm or so lower, so it's not a very aggressive setup. The stem is already flipped to the "flat" side, so I can't lower the bars by any more by flipping the stem.

Please let me know if this is what I should do, or if it's more complicated than I expect:

1. Remove nut from red cap covering the fork tube (no idea what this is called?).
2. Loosen nuts holding stem in place, lift stem over fork tube.
3. Remove one spacer.
4. Set handlebar back down into tube, tighten with torque wrench to specified Nm.
5. Place spacer back onto fork tube over stem.
6. Place cap back onto fork tube, tighten with torque wrench to specified Nm.

Anything I'm missing? Seems pretty simple, but I've never done this before. I know if I like the position and I move it down more, I may need to get a shorter stem to compensate for the increased reach length.

Here's a picture of my stem/headset area for reference. Thanks!

chances are you'll do it right - just remember at the end there should be no play in the headset and the bars should be able to turn freely under their own weight if you tilt the bike.

Just a suggestion - given your current setup I think you can toss all spacers above the stem and then add 1 at a time below the stem if it's too low. (could save you some time)
good luck
brblue
 
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