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  1. #1
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    Creaky headset - Loctite?

    After one ride on the newly built Foil (carbon stem and steerer), the headset started creaking. I was pretty sure it was the headset, because:

    - It sounded like it was coming from the headset
    - Pedaling, not pedaling, feet on the pedals, feet off the pedals, standing, seated all netted the same creak
    - Riding/Pedaling no-handed netted no creak

    So, I loosened the stem bolts, readjusted the top cap bolt, tightened the stem bolts to 5Nm (factory spec), and went for a ride. No creak... till the next ride. This was done with an old torque wrench that hasn't been calibrated... uhm... ever.

    Stumped (and assuming their torque wrench was calibrated), I took the bike to the shop. The mechanic said (when I picked it up) that the stem was loose.

    The bike had no creaks for the next two rides. But, the same creak is back.

    I bought a "top rated/recommended" torque wrench (3-15Nm), and will start over, e.g. remove, reinstall, retorque. But, I'm wondering if using a bit of Loctite/thread lock on the stem bolts would be advisable. If not, any other advice?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by OldZaskar; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    I'm confused. What do stem bolts and a torque settings have to do with the headset or visa versa?

  3. #3
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    Okay, maybe I was vague/inaccurate... the noise is coming from the stem/steerer/headset/headtube area. It appears to be caused by the stem coming lose. The noise is eliminated by loosening the stem bolts, resetting the preload and retightening the stem bolts. But, the creak comes back.

  4. #4
    'brifter' is a lame word.
    Reputation: cxwrench's Avatar
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    Check to make sure the expander in the steerer tube is tight.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks cxwrench. I'll start there. I have Scott's build guide - it lists the torque spec for the expander at 8-10Nm... I'll shoot for 10.

  6. #6
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    okay, I would/do use loctite on stem bolts however I kind of doubt yours are coming lose so quick without it. Also carbon assembly paste on the fork where the stem clamps is something some people think is a good idea. I don't do this but it does seem like a decent idea. Just make darn sure it doesn't get near the headset.

    Spacers and top caps can also creak. Put a thin layer of grease on the bottom of the top cap where it has force applied. Also on spacers. Pretty much just grease any interface between spacers/topcap/stem. I've had creaks in that area cured with this greasing.

    I also had one that was with the actual headset. Bike shop took care of that one and he just cleaned everything. Obviously dirt wouldn't be your problem with it being a new bike though.

  7. #7
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    I've sometimes had a creak develop after a wet ride. When you remove the stem, give its interior face and the steerer tube a good wipe down with alcohol.

    Insufficient preload could allow the spacers to rub together. Clean them too.

    Is this a reputable brand? A poorly made stem could creak just because it's not fitting well.
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  8. #8
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    Okay, I now want to do each of these things one at a time and see what works. Kidding, even I'm not that OCD. I'll do all of the above - starting with expander bolt, wiping things clean, adding a small bit of grease on the bottom of the top cap, etc.

    The stem is the Syncros rr.1
    Under that little fairing (back of stem) is a normal pair of stem bolts

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    If not, any other advice?
    IME every contact surface should be greased, including (obviously) threads. If the CF contact surfaces are too slippery, assembly paste can be used. Assembly paste is simply "grease and grit" so there's no need for it unless things won't stay in place with just grease. It's hard to imagine how greased surfaces (stem, steerer tube, head set parts, etc.) can result in creaking and clicking.

  10. #10
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    Sounds like a no-brainer that the stem bolts are getting loose. The correct product for that is blue loctite.
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  11. #11
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    Sounds like a no-brainer that the stem bolts are getting loose. The correct product for that is blue loctite.
    Interesting the you keep bringing up Loctite. I don't know anyone that uses it on things like stem bolts. A lot of them come w/ it applied when they're new, but every mechanic I've ever known or worked with at either the shop lever or on a team greased their fasteners.
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  12. #12
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    I tend to use grease on threads also. I'm going to start with the expander (making sure it's at 10Nm) and work forward from there. If, after doing all the above recommendations, the creak persists, I'll put a dab of blue on the two stem bolts.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Interesting the you keep bringing up Loctite. I don't know anyone that uses it on things like stem bolts. A lot of them come w/ it applied when they're new, but every mechanic I've ever known or worked with at either the shop lever or on a team greased their fasteners.
    I didn't realize I keep bringing it up. Where else did I mention it?

    Carbon steerers have led to limited 5nm bolt tightness. The OP described what sounds like bolts working loose when torqued correctly. If that's the case, why wouldn't you try removable Loctite to supplement whatever traction the bolt isn't getting?

    I'm not in favor of Loctite-ing bike parts in general, but this seems like a simple and removable fix that will at least rule the bolts out as the problem.

    The other function of Loctite is to prevent thread corrosion, so it serves some of the same function as grease. It fixed an old Campy downtube shifter for me which had a tension screw that would move with enough shifting.
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  14. #14
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    Did OP ever say they were coming loose?
    That is just what he kept 'fixing'.
    If they were coming loose, I would take it back to the shop where he got it and have them give it the going over.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    I would take it back to the shop where he got it and have them give it the going over.
    Thanks duriel. The bolts were/are suspect here, but not confirmed. To your point - just "fixing" those may not do a thing, since they haven't yet been confirmed to be the culprit. But, I built the bike at home - not shop involved prior to the assist on the noise.

    Overall, the bike is just $%#*ing incredible. It's like 99% perfect... gotta get that last little issue sorted out.

  16. #16
    What the what???
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    Creaky headset - Loctite?

    If you havenít yet, Iíd suggest pulling all the bolts. Do a thorough cleaning and inspection of all bolts and threads (put a flashlight in there), and then reassemble with grease and proper torque. If I had to guess, Iíd say a portion of a thread is damaged somewhere and allowing enough play to cause your creak.

    Otherwise (and Iíll defer to those with more experience with carbon) is it possible there is flex thatís causing the creak?

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    Last edited by Opus51569; 1 Week Ago at 05:10 AM.
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  17. #17
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    I had exactly the same set up - Foil, slammed stem/bar - and the same creaking.

    What worked for me was re-inserting a few of the thin plastic stem spacers. Minimal change in height as they were very thin but they are more solid than the single rubber fairing.

    I also tightened the steerer tube bolt. Plenty of carbon grease around the expander.

    Creak came back so retightened. After repeating process 2-3 times it was fine.

    As a slight digression, make sure you have spare headset bearings ready. The plastic spacers and aero fairing trap moisture and so it becomes a regular job to replace bearings.

    A great bike with this one area of design weakness.


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  18. #18
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    I hate to suggest this as an option, and hope it is not the case. But...

    ... it is possible that the races are not quite parallel, and that might be from installation, or it might be the HT is improperly faced. If nothing else stops this problem long term, you might want to check/have this checked.
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  19. #19
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    Yep. Uneven contact of surfaces could be the culprit, if bolts are torqued down satisfactorily, hold it together for a couple of rides, then loosen up and the creak comes back.

    Zaskar, did you check alignment of head tube upper and lower faces with a facing tool? Are the races pressed in parallel? They're often overlooked. BBs especially creak if not seated evenly in the BB from the same lateral forces that would make a head set creak. If the creaks aren't responding to greasing up and torquing down the bolts, they usually symptomize a bad fit somewhere. Start with the frame head tube and build out from there.

    Agree with others who stay away from Loctite. If it won't hold together snugly with greased threads, there's a fit problem somewhere. Loctite just puts a Bandaid on it.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 1 Week Ago at 06:37 AM.

  20. #20
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    I did not verify the "parallelness" of the races. This (and the pressing in of the BB) was performed by a shop for me. If the other steps don't resolve the creak, i'll remove the fork/stem and have that verified.

    I'm in a holding pattern while I wait for my new torque wrench to arrive from.

    Thanks guys!

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