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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just removed the headset from my 2021 stumpy alloy to swap forks and noticed what seems like unusual wear to the upper integrated bearing cup.

The bike has approximately 300km on it. During the first couple of rides I noticed the headset was slightly loose so I readjusted it.

This is what it looks like in the cup

Automotive tire Bicycle part Fluid Paint Fender
Drinkware Cup Fluid Tableware Automotive tire


Does this look like anything I should be concerned with?

This is my first frame with an integrated headset however I am familiar with how to correctly adjust a normal headset.

I have cleaned and regreassed upon reinstallation.

Any help would be great!
Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Looks like a little rough manufacturing but nothing I'd worry about. Nothing that would negatively affect the integrity of the tube of function of the headset.
=sParty
Right on. Thanks for the help. Just seems I have to tighten this sealed/integrated headset much more than any conventional/ball bearing headset to keep it tight. Maybe that's normal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's called fretting. It's not good but probably pretty common. The best thing to do is make sure the headset always stays tight. After that, you could use grease, and that might help.
Thanks for the reply! I greased the frame and bearing when reinstalling. Is it normal to have to tighten a sealed integrated headset more than a traditional press-in caged bearing type?
 

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Hey so I'm confused. Thats not the surface that the balls roll on, thats the surface that the headset sealed bearing is seated on. Looks like aluminum. Its sort of scunged and scarred. I don't see why this would happen from a new headset and wow you'd sure notice.

Anyone think this might have been done by some tool as part of the original install, a post machining step was needed here? I dont know what that is supposed to look like on your bike but it doesn't look very precise at all. Looks like yuck to me. Might be ok, depends on how the headset is supposed to seat.

As for integrated needing to be tighter than normal... no? I don't think so. But it looks like this awful surface for your top sealed bearing might not fit the bearing very well,. The bearing is supposed to seat precisely and lock into place, supported on all sides. If this top bearing area was too big you'll need to keep headset mighty tight to get to to stop moving, probably impossibly tight and would destroy the sealed bearings.

Did you buy this new and its only 300km old? Can you go talk to the shop you bought it from?
 

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Right on. Thanks for the help. Just seems I have to tighten this sealed/integrated headset much more than any conventional/ball bearing headset to keep it tight. Maybe that's normal?
That suggests you might not have enough clearance under your top cap, and it's bottoming out on the top of the steerer. Check that. You might need to create some clearance with a spacer or file down the steerer a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey so I'm confused. Thats not the surface that the balls roll on, thats the surface that the headset sealed bearing is seated on. Looks like aluminum. Its sort of scunged and scarred. I don't see why this would happen from a new headset and wow you'd sure notice.

Anyone think this might have been done by some tool as part of the original install, a post machining step was needed here? I dont know what that is supposed to look like on your bike but it doesn't look very precise at all. Looks like yuck to me. Might be ok, depends on how the headset is supposed to seat.

As for integrated needing to be tighter than normal... no? I don't think so. But it looks like this awful surface for your top sealed bearing might not fit the bearing very well,. The bearing is supposed to seat precisely and lock into place, supported on all sides. If this top bearing area was too big you'll need to keep headset mighty tight to get to to stop moving, probably impossibly tight and would destroy the sealed bearings.

Did you buy this new and its only 300km old? Can you go talk to the shop you bought it from?
Thanks for the reply, yes that is the 45* machined frame seat for the sealed bearing. Also, I did buy this new and have only ridden 300km or so. Haven't had the best experience with the LBS I bought it from so I am trying to avoid dealing with them (that and the fact I've just installed a new fork that's not OEM).

I'm very OCD and noticed the headset had become slightly loose on my 2nd or 3rd ride, tightened it up and all was well until I took it apart this evening and noticed this. I imagine the fretting is from the play in the upper bearing. The lower seat looks perfect.

The damage does look worse in the pictures and doesn't seem too bad in person. I guess I'll wait and see what happens after a couple of rides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That suggests you might not have enough clearance under your top cap, and it's bottoming out on the top of the steerer. Check that. You might need to create some clearance with a spacer or file down the steerer a bit.
Thanks. I have verified that I do indeed have enough room under the top cap so I should be alright in that regard atleast.
 

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It's fretting from the top bearing race moving ever so slightly against the seating surface.

It's not that serious and you can hit it with some fine sandpaper if you want. If you want to go even further you can have someone with the right tools ream it.

The solution is to stop the motion.

1. Tighten more. And make sure the whole headset is in alignment. If your crown race, head tube, and stem are not all parallel then tightening it more won't necessarily work. Poorly machined surfaces can fret even when they are pressed together with intense pressure. Un-parallel stems are a common and underrated problem.

2. Add locking compound. I would not recommend this but in principle, using a small amount of locking compound between the bearings and frame will stop the fretting and also will help compensate for misalignment. You have to be a true ninja warrior to make sure it is only applied to the seating surface.

3. If all else fails use grease. It won't stop the fretting, but it will make it last longer before the damage gets bad enough. This is usually what bike people do..."just grease everything".

It's hard to make a generalization between sealed and unsealed headsets but it does seem to me that sealed ones react better to being tightened more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's fretting from the top bearing race moving ever so slightly against the seating surface.

It's not that serious and you can hit it with some fine sandpaper if you want. If you want to go even further you can have someone with the right tools ream it.

The solution is to stop the motion.

1. Tighten more. And make sure the whole headset is in alignment. If your crown race, head tube, and stem are not all parallel then tightening it more won't necessarily work. Poorly machined surfaces can fret even when they are pressed together with intense pressure. Un-parallel stems are a common and underrated problem.

2. Add locking compound. I would not recommend this but in principle, using a small amount of locking compound between the bearings and frame will stop the fretting and also will help compensate for misalignment. You have to be a true ninja warrior to make sure it is only applied to the seating surface.

3. If all else fails use grease. It won't stop the fretting, but it will make it last longer before the damage gets bad enough. This is usually what bike people do..."just grease everything".

It's hard to make a generalization between sealed and unsealed headsets but it does seem to me that sealed ones react better to being tightened more.
Sounds good. I will keep an eye on it. When I put it all back together I greased all the surfaces with bearing grease. I'll make a mental note to inspect the headset preload before the next few rides.
 

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Sounds good. I will keep an eye on it. When I put it all back together I greased all the surfaces with bearing grease. I'll make a mental note to inspect the headset preload before the next few rides.
Yeah I'm giving my biggest Plus One to JackOfDiamond, especially mentioning non-parallel stems.

Its really a shame this happened. I would go back to the shop and complain but this is the sort of thing that distinguishes a bike shop, a bad shop can't fix this.

If you have a bike frame builder near you they might be able to help you out. Its not easy to make this become correct.
 

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That fretting is insignificant. Reinstall the headset using a liberal coat of grease, ride the bike in bliss and forget about it. Seriously. I don't understand why contributors to this thread seem so eager to unnecessarily elevate your angst, OP. Recommend you ignore them.
=sParty
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That fretting is insignificant. Reinstall the headset using a liberal coat of grease, ride the bike in bliss and forget about it. Seriously. I don't understand why contributors to this thread seem so eager to unnecessarily elevate your angst, OP. Recommend you ignore them.
=sParty
Awesome, thanks for the help! Time to enjoy the new fork! Thanks again.
 

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Yeah I guess we'll see. A lot easier to get warranty sympathy now than after another year when headset is busted. I wish manufacturors

The top part of headset sees pretty big forces, headset will be destroyed if it's not seated and aligned properly. My sons cannondale had a zs headset and kept exploding the alloy top assembly. Eventually 'fixed' by installing a massive solid steel headset, I think upper weighed 250g but it could tolerate the misalignment.

here's link to park facing tools.


down the line if you keep having troubleyou might look for some shop that has one.

also, when installing headset there's sometimes a cone washer between steertube and bearing, make sure this is not damaged and seated well. If not seated tightly the headset will move and destroy itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah I guess we'll see. A lot easier to get warranty sympathy now than after another year when headset is busted. I wish manufacturors

The top part of headset sees pretty big forces, headset will be destroyed if it's not seated and aligned properly. My sons cannondale had a zs headset and kept exploding the alloy top assembly. Eventually 'fixed' by installing a massive solid steel headset, I think upper weighed 250g but it could tolerate the misalignment.

here's link to park facing tools.


down the line if you keep having troubleyou might look for some shop that has one.

also, when installing headset there's sometimes a cone washer between steertube and bearing, make sure this is not damaged and seated well. If not seated tightly the headset will move and destroy itself.
Given that I am OCD, I decided to tear it apart again today to inspect it better. I took some very fine sandpaper and lightly deburred the upper seat. The lower was perfect.

Here are some pics of how everything looks now.

With the exception of premature bearing failure, is there any other negative risks associated with having the bearing preload a bit more than needed?

Drinkware Green Fluid Drink Gas
Automotive tire Wheel Tire Gas Rim
Water Automotive tire Wood Road surface Sculpture
Wood Jewellery Wedding ceremony supply Ring Strap
 
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