Problems installing headset, fork binding when rotated
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  1. #1
    Slow Runner
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    Problems installing headset, fork binding when rotated

    I'm building up my Ridley Fenix SL Disc frame and right off the bat I ran into a problem with the crown race. This frame came with an FSA headset. I placed the bearings, slid the fork in, added a few spacers and installed the stem. I snugged everything down and did a test rotation of the fork before proceeding any further. The fork won't turn freely. It looks like the fork crown is binding against the head tube. The bearings themselves turn freely so it's not the bearings that are binding. It looks like the ream depth of the lower bearing is too deep for the headset that came with the bike.

    I have a brand new Chris King DropSet 2 integrated headset still in the box so disassembled everything and installed the Chris King. Same problem. I've install integrated headsets before no problem so I do not have any bearings in backwards or anything like that.

    The fork that came with the bike does not have an integrated crown race and I do have the metal crown race installed properly. It sits flat against the crown and is even all the way around.

    At this point it looks like I need a crown race that is 3mm to 5mm thicker than normal. I wanted to add a temporary spacer underneath the crown race to see if that was indeed the problem. However, I do not have anything around the house that I use as a makeshift spacer. I believe it would be a very bad idea to use a spacer for production use, this was just for testing.

    I ended up reinstalling the FSA headset but this time I also added the Chris King lower bearing to act as a kind of spacer to push for fork out further from the frame. I didn't tighten anything down beyond a very slight snug. With the fork moved out further from the frame, it now turns freely. Extra bearing now removed.

    So this seems to confirm to me the crown race needs to be thicker. I don't want to get rid of this frame, I'd like to find a solution even if it costs me a few bucks.

    Am i on the right track here? Crown race thickness?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    While I get what you're saying, pictures would help.

    Sounds like you're on the right track.

    Are there any Ridley dealers, or a forum/website where you can contact people who may have experienced this problem?

    Try the Ridley web site.

    Your solution sounds workable; you may have to stack thinner shims to get the clearance you need. But where to get those spacers is the question

    Chris King mentions base plates on their web site but I don't see photos.

    I don't think you need 3mm of clearance but the minimal clearance necessary.

    Please report back when you find a solution.

  3. #3
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    What you are describing sounds like a manufacturing error, as in the machinist made an incorrect depth. Perhaps the manufacturer has relevant blueprints? A large number of clear pictures would help. It sounds like a spacer would be the solution, but first you need to know what width would be needed.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  4. #4
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    sounds like the issue is with the frame's headtube. I'm assuming the fork comes as OEM equipment with the frame?

    i'm thinking it's a bad idea to use spacers under the crown baseplate. The reason extra spacers would raise the baseplate, and this would then puts additional leverage on the fork-steerer junction when you're actually riding the bike. The fork may snap at this junction.

    if this is a new frame, i'd definitely return it. This is the easiest solution.

    If you can't return the frame, and you'd still like to keep it, then here's what I'd try. Get another aftermarket bearing with THICKER (3-5 mm thicker) then the one that goes into the lower headtube. But make sure both the inside and outside races have the 45-deg angle (as opposed to being all squared). This will effectively raise the headtube, allowing for fork clearance. You'll need to go look at a bearing speciality shop
    Last edited by aclinjury; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:26 AM.

  5. #5
    Slow Runner
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    Yes, the fork came with the frame and so did the headset. Taking pictures shortly.

  6. #6
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Looking at pictures of this specific frameset, I can see a couple of places where incorrect machining could be the problem; first would be on the fork where the crownrace could be improperly positioned, but also on the frame, at the bottom of the headtube and even on the downtube. There's not a lot of clearance there.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  7. #7
    Slow Runner
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    I went ahead and took the frame in to my LBS, the one where the pros go. I took pics but I forgot to take the last pic with the fork fully installed so none of the other pics mean anything. I was going to buy an extra thick crown race like this one

    https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...s.php?id=93742

    but decided to wait before wasting any more time and money. I'll have them check it out.

  8. #8
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Just return the frame as defective. You have a $1500 frame and you want to screw around with front wheel steering geometry just to do a kludge repair that's likely to leave you with an oversized gap between the fork and frame??
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Another problem is, the frame is carbon. I don't think they could machine the headtube to remove material and correct the issue.

  10. #10
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Another problem is, the frame is carbon. I don't think they could machine the headtube to remove material and correct the issue.
    Well, yes they can and do, just like any other frameset. The trick is to get it right BEFORE you put the outer coating on....
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  11. #11
    Slow Runner
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    I'm not sure the frame is defective and I would not perform a kludge repair. The reason for taking the frame to a reputable LBS is to have them verify the status of the frame. If the problem is the frame, it's going to be sent back. If the problem is the bearing, it will be replaced with the proper bearing or crown race for the application.

    If the frame is sent back, I'd like to mark it as defective with a black sharpie marker so they can't sell it to someone else.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    sounds like the issue is with the frame's headtube. I'm assuming the fork comes as OEM equipment with the frame?

    i'm thinking it's a bad idea to use spacers under the crown baseplate. The reason extra spacers would raise the baseplate, and this would then puts additional leverage on the fork-steerer junction when you're actually riding the bike. The fork may snap at this junction.

    if this is a new frame, i'd definitely return it. This is the easiest solution.

    If you can't return the frame, and you'd still like to keep it, then here's what I'd try. Get another aftermarket bearing with THICKER (3-5 mm thicker) then the one that goes into the lower headtube. But make sure both the inside and outside races have the 45-deg angle (as opposed to being all squared). This will effectively raise the headtube, allowing for fork clearance. You'll need to go look at a bearing speciality shop
    I agree with ACL, sounds like the bottom of the head tube where the bearing inserts was formed incorrectly (it's a carbon frame, right?). I'd return or see if a bike shop can even it up but I'd be really nervous about too much material being removed and/or voiding the warranty.
    Well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion man. - The Dude

  13. #13
    Slow Runner
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    The bike shop verified the frame is OK. They are saying the headset that came with the frame was not the correct headset. They have contacted the manufacturer to determine the correct part number. Ridley is based out of Belgium so it's been difficult to get a response from them so far. Hopefully I can get this put together before it gets too cold to ride.

  14. #14
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    I know Ridley is not a tiny company and the frame was probably put together somewhere else, but I have this vision of some guy reaching in the wrong bin for a part while his head is turned because he's watching some race like Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

  15. #15
    Slow Runner
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    Turns out the tech where I bought the frame is on vacation for another week so they can't do anything until he gets back. I went ahead and bought that Cane Creek +3mm x 40mm crown race for $18. My LBS pulled the old crown race off and installed the extra thick race. He used that slick race puller from Park Tool. Didn't deform the old race at all.

    I did this because I wanted to test to see if the head tube had any alignment issues that was causing the problem. Using that new race, the fork installs and turns smoothly for the entire 360 degrees. I would estimate I need a bearing and race that is about 1mm thicker than what came with the bike.

    The mechanic said this new race matches up with the FSA bearing just fine and it is safe to ride it the way it is. I think I will go ahead and build the bike this weekend and ride it while the dealer comes up with a permanent solution. I'll have a week to ride it and if I don't like the frame I'll return it. Right now I don't have a working bike so I need to get going. I said I wasn't going to perform a "kluge" repair and this is kind of a "kluge" repair but the mechanic says it's safe and I still have two more weeks to get this taken care of properly. In the mean time, I want to get out and ride as much as possible.

  16. #16
    Slow Runner
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    I now have a permanent fix. Chris from mtbtools dot com machined a custom crown race that is 1mm thicker than the factory race. They make extended crown races to order. USPS will deliver it this week and I can finally move on.

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