Headset installation

Headset Installation

The headset installation involves a couple of specialized tools. These tools can be fabricated out of some basic hardware store supplies (stay tuned for an update that shows how to do do this at home) but for simplicity sake this is a good job to swing by your local bike shop and have the mechanic install. Expect to pay about $10 for this service.

Ok with that being said, here’s what you should see when he installs the headset.

Here’s the pieces that are involved. Don’t be intimidated. All that you are looking at is two cups that get pressed into the head tube on the frame. Then inside each cup goes a bearing.


The mechanic should coat the cups with grease on the outside before he presses them into the frame. Also look at the cups, they have writing on them, this is a great way to figure out which one goes in the top head tube hole and which one goes through the bottom.

Note: Most bike builders will say the frame head tube needs to be cut to the right diameter at point, however Surly does a great job and the frame interior diameter is just the right size to press these cups into


So here’s one of the cool tools I was talking about. The mechanic will use it to press each cup (one at a time) into the frame head tube.

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Once both cups are pressed into place, you can install the top bearing by covering it with grease and sitting it into the top cup. The bevel side faces down.



Next the mechanic will install the crown-race onto the fork tube. This is done by slipping a tube over the fork tube and pressing the crown-race (metal ring with little blue rubber seal) into place on the fork.

Note: The mechanic needs to be careful to press only on the metal ring and not the seal material. This seal is what keeps water out of your headset bearings when you are riding in the rain.



Next install the remaining bearing (covered in grease) onto the fork tube. Make sure bevel is facing up.

Now insert the fork tube into the frame head tube. As it comes out the top, hold the top bearing and let the fork tube slide through.

Once the fork tube is all the way through, slide the top bearing cover over the top bearing.

Next slide your stem over the fork tube and temporarily tighten the bolts to prevent the fork from falling out. Note, at a later time we will install spacers under the stem, but for now this will work.



Just for reference here’s a photo of how this will look when you are complete with the bike.



Proceed to Handlebar buildup 1