Adjusting My Fixed (Chain & headset)

Posted on
  • Just a quick couple of question to those who have mucky hands.

    Been riding my fixed daily for a nearly 2 months and am loving it. Worth every penny and don't think I could go back unless there were some big hills. Anyway, couple of maintenence/adjustment questions to keep my bike in shape.

    1. Adjusting the chain
      Chain's making some noise, but feels fine while riding. Should I be adjusting it to be really quiet or do they make a little noise (can just about hear it while riding). Really not sure as I have nothing to go on. Not sure how to adjust it to line up. Also not 100% sure about the tension. I know it should be tight, but not over-tightened. What's the best way of testing?

    1. Tightening the headset
      The bike from when I bought it has a really loose headset. As it if I pick the bike up, push it by it's saddle or lean it against anything, the handbars and wheels turn until the bars hit the frame. You don't have to do anything. Lift it straight up off the ground and the bars takes a second to turn and hit the frame.

    The actual headset isn't loose, it just a really good/bad bearing as there seems to be no friction at all. Great while riding (i think), but it's a pain moving and carrying the bike around and standing it up against anything, as it hits stuff and falls over. Just want to tighten it up a little so they don't move quite to easily. Just not sure how to do it.

    Headset has got on it Shinamo STX on it.

    Any help on either problem (or both) would be great, as I'd like to do the work myself and learn a bit about it at the same time. Probably both newbie questions, but who wants to be a newbie forever.

    Thanks in advance to any practial replies ;-)

  • did the shop offer you a first service? usually after a few hundred miles. this is when things get tightened up cables adjusted etc.
    if it's a good shop they will be able to show you how much tension to put on the chain.

    1. chains can make a bit of noise, nothing wrong with that. visibly you shouldn't be able to see any slack in the chain if it is back far enough in your dropouts. however you should be able to move it up and down half an inch or so.

    2. headset sounds fine to me. you might want to consider putting something on your top tube to protect it from the bar swinging when carrying it.

    if you've had it a couple of months now then worth rolling over to blb and getting them to look over everything. it's good to learn though so make sure you talk to them about what you should be looking for/repairing yourself.

  • Is your chainline spot on? You can check it by measuring - a straight ruler from the centre of the seat tube to the centre of the chainwheel gives the front chainline (varies but normally 40 - 46mm). If your rear spacing is 120mm then measure from the inside face of the right frame dropout to the centre of the cog and subtract this from 60. ie 60-16 = 44mm. The two measurements ideally want to be within 1mm.

    If all this is too much faff then crouch down and sight from behind through the cog and chainwheel - easy to see if the chain is going to one side.

    As above the chain wants about 1/2" of movement at the *tightest *spot - you will (unless very lucky) have tight and loose spots, adjust the 1/2" for a loose spot and it may be too tight at a tight spot.

    Lastly make sure the chain is a decent one, not worn and you are using a quality dry lube.

    If all this is done your drivetrain really should be virtually silent more so with 3/32 than 1/8.

    If the headset is really not too loose then don't make it bind up just to stop the bars turning - all this will do is 'index' the bearings and make it all notchy.

  • some chains ie KMC are always noisy, some are noisy when they aren't lubed up properly.

    the headset sounds fine, but you could tighten it fractionally. get a big spanner and loosen the top 1/4 turn, then fractionally tighten the bottom one under the two spacers, not too much as when you tighten the top one it will push down a bit and over tighten eg bind. it sounds like it has cassette bearing in the headset, which are harder to stuff up compared with the old skool loose type.

  • Cleaning your chainset helps. I haven't cleaned mine for ages and it ain't exactly stealthily silent...

  • Post a reply
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Link
    • Image
    • List
    • Quote
    • code
    • Preview

Adjusting My Fixed (Chain & headset)

Posted by Avatar for wappingwarrior @wappingwarrior