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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am learning as I go with bicycle mechanics, so tell me if I'm on the right track please.

I have a new bike that I've put about 300 miles on in a couple of weeks. It has been making progressively more ticking noises from the frame, especially when climbing. Today it got worse and pretty consistent when standing going up steep hills. Seemed like head set, and maybe something in the rear too.

So I took the head set apart, removed the steerer (carbon steerer in carbon frame). It has 2 sealed bearings, and they seem fine, but there was almost no grease around them. The outer rings that seat into the carbon were starting to rust, and it all felt a bit gritty like dust or fine sand was in there. It is a gravel bike and I have been on the trails and in the rain a bit. So I wiped everything clean and smeared a good film of grease on every surface that contacts anything and snugged it all back together. A lap in the driveway in the dark, and all seems good. I will do my 34 mile commute with some dirt trail hills tomorrow.

Did I do the right thing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Is there ever a concern about grease or oil in contact with carbon fiber creating some reaction that softens/degrades the resin in the carbon fiber?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Caustic delivery, but I guess you are trying to help.

There is an expanding cylindrical block/bolt inside the steerer. I tightened that to what felt strong enough to hold in place, but not so cranked that it would distort the steerer tube. I reassembled all components in the proper order, replacing one spacer that was very tight on the steerer for some reason. put the stem on and left it loose. Put the 1 small spacer and stem cap back on. Tightened the stem cap (sort of one big nut) onto the expanded bolt in the tube enough to prevent play in the assembly, then just an 1/8 turn or so more. then aligned the bars with the wheel. Then tightened the stem bolts to 5nm. I could redo it all and use a torque wrench on the expander and the cap if i know the values, and it is deemed critical.
 

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Caustic delivery, but I guess you are trying to help.
Just trying to help.

There is an expanding cylindrical block/bolt inside the steerer. I tightened that to what felt strong enough to hold in place, but not so cranked that it would distort the steerer tube. I reassembled all components in the proper order, replacing one spacer that was very tight on the steerer for some reason. put the stem on and left it loose. Put the 1 small spacer and stem cap back on. Tightened the stem cap (sort of one big nut) onto the expanded bolt in the tube enough to prevent play in the assembly, then just an 1/8 turn or so more. then aligned the bars with the wheel. Then tightened the stem bolts to 5nm. I could redo it all and use a torque wrench on the expander and the cap if i know the values, and it is deemed critical.
Sounds like you got it right. Only thing I'd add is after you give it a ride, double check for play in the headset. Sometimes the bearings will seat deeper and give a little play
There's no torque on the expander/cap as they're adjustable.

replacing one spacer that was very tight on the steerer for some reason
When you tighten the expander it swells the steerer. If you were to loosen it, you'll find that the spacer slides over easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Both good points. It did loosen a little bit on my way to work. I loosened the stem, retightened the cap, tightened the stem again. No ticking noises though!

As to the tight spacer, I thought of that expander expanding and loosened it, but the spacer was on there good none the less. I had to dribble silicon lube and twist it off with channel locks. I had an extra one to replace it with, and it was a mm or two larger ID.

Anyway, it is not rocket science, but I'm finding the mechanics and tinkering to be nearly as fun as riding. Thanks for the inpuit.
 

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Is there ever a concern about grease or oil in contact with carbon fiber creating some reaction that softens/degrades the resin in the carbon fiber?
Yes, there is lots of concern on that topic. Completely unfounded concern, but concern nonetheless. CF is used extensively in rear derailleurs, which are pretty much in an oil and grease environment continuously. No problems result. I've used grease on a CF seat post for more than a decade; no issues.

But you will constantly see people post not to use grease with CF because it will damage things. Wrong but constantly repeated.
 

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Both good points. It did loosen a little bit on my way to work. I loosened the stem, retightened the cap, tightened the stem again. No ticking noises though!

As to the tight spacer, I thought of that expander expanding and loosened it, but the spacer was on there good none the less. I had to dribble silicon lube and twist it off with channel locks. I had an extra one to replace it with, and it was a mm or two larger ID.

Anyway, it is not rocket science, but I'm finding the mechanics and tinkering to be nearly as fun as riding. Thanks for the inpuit.
Sounds like you know how everything works and are doing a better job of this than 99% of the people that try to do their own work. Well done:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good to hear. Thanks.
Yes, there is lots of concern on that topic. Completely unfounded concern, but concern nonetheless. CF is used extensively in rear derailleurs, which are pretty much in an oil and grease environment continuously. No problems result. I've used grease on a CF seat post for more than a decade; no issues.

But you will constantly see people post not to use grease with CF because it will damage things. Wrong but constantly repeated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The steering head was definitely the culprit. No more snap, crackle, pop.

Why are bikes delivered like this, starved of grease and loosely put together? My last new bike, a Disc Trucker, had similar assembly issues with the bottom bracket that I had to r/r to make quiet.
 

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Yes, there is lots of concern on that topic. Completely unfounded concern, but concern nonetheless. CF is used extensively in rear derailleurs, which are pretty much in an oil and grease environment continuously. No problems result. I've used grease on a CF seat post for more than a decade; no issues.

But you will constantly see people post not to use grease with CF because it will damage things. Wrong but constantly repeated.
Sunlight, cold temps and water (yeah, water, couldn't believe when I read that one) will also destroy carbon according to some.

Anyway OP, from all I've read here you're doing things right. One thing though is that you really don't want to guess at torque when it comes to putting the stem on the steerer (and bars for that matter). So if you're not using a torque wrench you should probably get one and do it all over again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've been using one of those 5nm torque key things for stem and seat tube, but I do have a torque wrench. For most things though, I tend to just go by "feel".
 
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