changing headset


New Member
My existing headset is getting on now, I want to upgrade, keeping my existing threaded fork.

I've found the headset, will this include the crown race?

What tools will I require? Please presuime I have no tools already, I'll be buying from wiggle so could somebody provide me with the links please.

I know its a lot to ask but it'd be much appreaciated.



Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
You will need a headset such as this one - 105 5501 Threaded Headset

The headset will include the crown race. If you do the job yourself you will need to tap the old race from the crown with a screwdriver, and tap both top and bottom races from the head tube. Fitting the new race needs a solid piece of tubing that will just fit over the steerer to bang the new crown race on as it is an interference fit. The new races for the headtube will need to be pressed in with a headset press, alternatively you can use a flat bit of wood over each race and tap them home with a hammer, making sure they go in dead square.

Without being patronising, headset fitting is the trickiest job you can do on a bike with a threaded steerer and the scope for doing damage is vast. I would suggest that it is something where if you have to ask you would be better off going to a bike shop and buying the headset from them where they will fit it for you, as you would also need to know the correct stack height of your exsisting headset as your steerer will have been cut to a length to suit that.

It might cost a bit more, but it will save a lot of potential heart-ache.


Über Member
South Norfolk
Agreed - it is the one thing I have always taken to the LBS as I don't trust myself enough/can't afford a mistake. If you cock it up and get the nut/bung stuck in the steerer at the wrong angle, you might be buying a new fork. Although there are bodge methods detailed on Sheldon Brown, it really is something that should be done by someone who knows what they are doing (even the bodge method).
Tools required;

Pro shop.

Headset spanners.
Cup race removing tool.
Steerer thread chaser.
Crown race removing tool.
Headtube facing tool.
Flat file.
Headset bearing press.
Crown race slide hammer.

Garden shed.

Blunt chisel.
Lump of wood.

Having said that, Ive witnessed professional frame builders and pro mechanics use the Garden Shed method (or a combination of both) with no problems because its quicker. If its done right its done right.

Its all about knowing what you're doing or at the very least a good grasp of what is required to do the job and some cofidence in your abilities.

Some folks are just inept when it comes to anything mechanical, if you can do everything else on your bike theres no reason why you shouldnt have a go at a headset install. As long as you are careful whats the worst that can happen?

Aside from wrecking the frame, fork and headset.....


New Member
Bromley, Kent
the cost it will take to buy said tools it's cheaper to get a LBS to do it for you. Take the bike to said shop and tell them what you want as headsets are tricky. It also depends on the bike as to what headsets are available (even though it might be a said size doesn't mean all headsets of that size will generally fit)

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
S of Kendal
I will add a couple of little caveats to Mickle's advice: If you have a aluminium race bike with lightweight tubing, it's a wise move to make sure the head tube has been reamed to ensure it's both round and has the required internal diameter. I have seen a number of cracks in headtubes that probably can be attributed to the welding distortions not being removed by reaming. It's worth doing it with all frames but steel / Ti are more resilient.

If you are going to fit a high end headset, make sure your frame has been 'faced' as well. This ensures the top and bottom edges of the head tube are square and parallel. There's no point in spending money on a high tolerance bearing if you install it on the slosh.

Both these operations only need to be done once before its initial build up, but it's often skipped. The cost of the frame is no guarantee it won't need doing. New Colnagos require the most prebuild fettling.

The cost of bike tools doesn't have to be recovered in just one use. If you 'enjoy' working on your bike and you look after more than one, then a headset press will be worth considering. The Cyclus model is about £40 and I find it's an improvement over using the vice. The race removers and seat setters can more easily by replaced by the careful use of bars, tubes, hammers and screw drivers, but each of these aren't that expensive if you want the real thing.

The reamers certainly aren't worth considering as they are very costly and you only need them once per new frame. Definitely a LBS job.


New Member
You can make your own tools if the cost of some of them is off-putting, I've used the 'threaded rod headset press' several times with no problems and I think you can put together a decent enough removal tool using a length of copper pipe and a bung! It's all here:
Peyote said:
You can make your own tools if the cost of some of them is off-putting, I've used the 'threaded rod headset press' several times with no problems and I think you can put together a decent enough removal tool using a length of copper pipe and a bung! It's all here:

Wow, knew about the old nut and bolt trick but am really impressed and rather surprised with the copper tube cup extractor. I am both a qualified plumber and a bike mechanic so might have been expected to think of using copper tube. It would never have crossed my mind, I'd have assumed that the copper wouldnt be up to the job of beating a headset out, at least the copper tube that we buy in this country. Im going to have to try it myself now.
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