Problem with Front Brake Clearance

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  • Hi all.

    Any suggestions on the following problem very welcome!

    Having had new headset bearings fitted to my bike I find that the front brake will no longer fit.

    The fork crown race appears to be too low on the forks, not leaving enough space for the brake to fit in underneath. I initially filed a small amount off the brake which enabled me to fit it but it seems like a bodge and the clearance is very tight on steering.

    Is it possible that the LBS who refitted the forks have re-cut the seat? Is it normal to do this? If so, does anyone know if spacers can be fitted to give me some clearance. Or any other suggestions?!

    Many thanks,


  • Just try spacers, as you suggested. How many mm extra clearance do you need?

  • I don't quite get it.. can you post a pic?

    What sort of forks? Ahead or quill?

  • Actually, yeah, as Hippy said, picture please!

    Changing the bearings shouldn't make a difference to, well, anything other than how smooth your headset is :S

  • Thanks guys.

    If you look at the pic below you'll see that the star washer couldn't be fitted into its original position (as per indentation in paint) because it will not clear the fork crown race. The brake itself obviously has the same problem.

    Any thoughts?


  • erm... that looks wrong!

    Are they loose bearings? perhaps they used the WRONG SIZE?
    Actually looking at the pic closely, the crown race looks really low on the forks..

    • get the LBS who fitted them to sort it [ as I have no other suggestions ;-) ]
  • Yeah, it does look a bit peculiar to me although I'm not a professional mechanic. Perhaps take it to another bike shop to get a second opinion, or just be insistent at the bike shop who fitted it.

    Maybe another member will have some comments?

  • I have similar issues on my bike (Even after Condor installed a new headset), but took a cheap Sora brake and filed a chunk out of it to make it fit.


  • I'm no professional mechanic either, but like provenrad can't help thinking they've fitted the wrong size bearings. If they've only fitted new bearings, not a new headset can't see any reason why they'd remove the crown race, it's extra work for no good reason, so there shouldn't be any change there, the only other variable I can see is the bearings. If it does prove to be they've fitted the wrong size bearings can you tell us who did this so we can all avoid them!

  • They replaced the crown race because I removed the old one, which was utterly shot, before the bike was sent away to be shotblasted and painted. It's definitely the lower edge of the crown race which is the problem, and it's hard to see how this could have changed position unless they've re-cut the face in some way. I'll phone the LBS in the morning and ask. I won't name them until they've had a chance to put it right! Simon

  • what headset you got?
    i have a shimano 105 and the crown race is really thin so it ends up down on the fork crown with that little clearance too, but it doesn't cause any problem like this on the pair of forks i have because the fork crown is bigger there's more space to drill the hole. so i bet it is really a case of having a right combination of headset and fork.

  • Ahhh! You didn't say they changed the crown race, if the crown surface wasn't perfectly smooth or had an irregularity in it then yes they may well have milled it to get a smooth/regular face to mount the crown/race onto. I guess the amount they'd mill off would be determined by the depth of the ding/irregularity in the crown, so it's possible that this could have caused your problem. I'm guessing in theory you could correct this by removing the crown race and mounting the thinnest (1mm?) aheadset type spacer you can find below it, never tried it but can't see why in theory it wouldn't work.

    Problems I see arising from this is having difficulty getting the race to seat securely on top of the spacer if it is to high or has a irregular edge. You could overcome this by milling the top edge of the spacer once it's in situ but you won't be able to do this if you can't stop the spacer from moving, you might need to epoxy it in place?

    If they didn't mill the crown then I'm guessing they've either as earlier suggested fitted bearings that are to small or they've fitted the wrong crown race and it's too thin! Seen your picture of your brake bit and brakes, I'll have a butchers around the workshop as soon as I get the chance and get back to you, good luck with your fork.

  • might not work with a spacer underneath as there might not be enough metal (you know the thicker bit at the bottom of the steerer) to hold the crown race tight on the fork?

  • Thanks for all the advice guys. I dug out the original crown race, which had a step on its lower edge hence more clearance, and I took this along to the LBS this morning and matched it up with the nearest one they had. They fitted that while I waited and also gave me a longer allen bolt so that I can space the brake forward a bit if necessary. All I need now is to find a new bolt for the brake which I damaged (as per my 'wanted' thread!).

    It's a tricky call with this LBS. They're real enthusiasts and it's always a pleasure going there but they've made a few mistakes lately. I reckon the boss is good but the other guys working there are careless. The bike always comes back covered in red grease which one guy obviously believes in smothering everything in and not wiping off. He's also marked my stem today with some careless use of an allen key. Perhaps I'll try somewhere else. Or do more stuff myself!

    Thanks for all your help with this one. I was getting well frustrated with it last night and it really helped!!!


  • I've had the same problem on a couple of bikes. I just used spacers but its not ideal. Especially if it worked fine before.

  • Argh, that'd really annoy me if they marked my stem (or any part of my bike). I'd make them pay for another.

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Problem with Front Brake Clearance

Posted by Avatar for Simon @Simon