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I have a good amount of play at the head tube and I thought all I needed to do to eliminate it was to tighten the bolt through the top cap but no go unless something isn’t right because it’s not getting tighter.

The fork is 28.5mm and the head tube is 1 1/8”. I see a compression ring on the bottom but not one at the top. Is there supposed to be one on both sides of the head tube? If not how is the slop supposed to be removed from which ever side doesn’t have a compression ring?

I’m a noob when it comes to working on the bike so I may not have the basic knowledge needed to explain what’s going on correctly or even identifying my parts correctly. I believe I have a press fit with external cups (cane creek), and straight steer tube.

From the crown of the fork is a sealed bearing, compression ring and then on the top side is a dust washer(?), top race(?), spacers, top cap and bolt.

What am I missing or doing wrong?
 

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What I do is this:
  • Loosen the stem bolts that hold the stem on the steerer and the stem cap bolt (yellow dots in the photo below)
  • Put gentle pressure on the fork from above to make sure the lower headset cup is seated properly (or you can push up on the underside of the crown to do the same thing)
  • Wiggle the stem downward toward the ground to make sure it is snugged down against any spacers you have (white dots in the photo below) and the top cap
  • Tighten the stem cap bolt, don't need Hulk tightness here
  • Tighten the stem bolts where it attaches to the fork steerer

Fluid Camera lens Gas Liquid Camera accessory


Some headsets use/need a shim spacer under the top cap or they can have some play in them. If that is the culprit you will see it right after fitting a new fork or at the first install of a fork and headset but not randomly later on.

What you are checking for is that the fork and race are in the lower cup properly, the stem is snugged up against the top cap, and then tighten stem cap and then the stem itself.
 

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Some headsets use/need a shim spacer under the top cap or they can have some play in them.
excellent point i failed to think of! This can be perplexing if you don't realize what is going on. If the top cap bottoms out on the steererthen it cant cinch down the entire stem/spacer/headset assembly. Sometimes the tolerance is so tight you can't see the problem but if you are aware of it you can feel it.
 

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Yeah, I have had a couple times where I thought everything was good, it looks good, but I can feel play and the wiggle the stem back and forth down the steerer trick takes out the play and everything is money.

Anymore whenever I take my fork out for maintenance or build up a frame I just do the procedure figuring it will save me later from having play in the headset which makes me krazy.
 
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