Help! Good Mechanic in Asahikawa - Cycling the Length of Japan

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#1
I started my Length of Japan ride yesterday and seem to have developed a headset problem from the shipment of my bike from the US. I was able to get it reasonably tight, but even after tightening the bold on the headset, it's still a bit loose. I tried a few small shops in Wakkanai, but they had no idea how to fix it. I need a serious road bike shop mechanic.

Asahikawa is my next reasonably large town, and two days after that I'm in Sapporo. I can make it to Sapporo if necessary. So if there are no shops in Asahikawa, maybe someone can give me the name of a good shop in Sapporo.

Thanks for your help!
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#3
more information on headset and bike needed as we maybe able to tell you how to solve the problem.

If you are using a threadless headset it maybe that you need to compress the stem again and then tighten everything up. It its a threaded headset the lock washer may have worked it's self out and causing the play in the headset - you'll need to dismantle and rebuild.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,681
494
103
Japan
#4
Robert, sorry you couldn't get help in Wakkanai. What is the problem? Maybe up a photo and the smart minds here can walk you through. Is it a new bicycle or a tried and trusted one? What tools do you have with you?
 
Likes: Pete

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#5
It's a 10 year-old titanium litespeed, and the headset was in perfect condition when I rode the bike a few days before boxing it up. It's a threadless headset on a carbon fork using a standard compression plug. I wacked the top edge of the spacer to try and compress it more, and that helped a bit, but I'm traveling with not much in the way of tools. Definitely not a hammer! Everything LOOKS normal, it's just still somewhat loose, which is a particular problem traveling with a bar bag. A tad wobbly, but still very much ridable.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,681
494
103
Japan
#6
Try and set it again with the bar bag off, loosen the stem bolts and try and push down on the stem and up from the bottom on the fork crown. That should tighten it all up but just check all the races are sitting flush before you tension the compression plug. And then tighten the stem bolts when you have the stem pointing dead ahead. Good luck. Bobbish are still open.
http://yellow.kakiko.com/bobbish/
 

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#7
Thanks... I get to Asahikawa tomorrow. I'm in Nayoro tonight, so it's a short 75km... hopefully I can get there before they close. Shy of that, I'll try your suggestion; thought, I essentially did that the other day. However I may not have given it enough "compression" as I don't recall if I pushed up as well.

I rode 6 hours in the rain with a pounding headwind today and I can't bring myself to deal with it now. Drinking this 750ml Sapporo is about all I can handle at this moment.
 
Likes: kiwisimon

TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,362
1,291
133
#8
Headset Compression Servicing.

Disassembly and inspection.

1. Loosen the stem bolts (the stem bolts which clamp the stem to the fork steerer tube).
2. Loosen the compression top cap.
3. Unscrew the compression top cap all the way, and take off. Do not lose.
4. Slide stem off, as well as any spacers you may have.
5. Remove any bearing covers that may be on there.
6. Inspect the top bearing for damage. Also check the compression wedge is in place.

At this point, you have the option to take the whole fork out and inspect the bottom bearings too. This is not complicated, just adds a few more minutes to proceedings. It is also a good chance to clean everything and have a close look at the headtube both at the bottom and the top.

If anything is broken, cracked, wobbly, missing, etc, when you take everything apart, you have found your problem.

It would also be wise to clean each individual component until it shines. If you are travelling, and are near a convenience store get a cheap packet of 'Wet Tissues' (7-11 198yen packet is the best). You can use this to clean your entire bike (and face, hands, legs and neck), and just throw the tissues in the もえるごみ box.

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Reassembly.

1. If you took the forks out, put the bottom bearing back in, then slide the fork through, taking care to seat it correctly. You should be able to feel when it is in place, plus also see if it is visually out of place. Put the top bearing back in, then slide the small compression wedge down the fork steerer until in position. Do not hammer this into place, but slide it until snugly wedged in.
2. Put the bearing cover, and any spacers back on, and give everything a wiggle to ensure things are in place. Again, you should be able to feel if anything is 'out'.
3. Slide the stem down the fork steerer until seated.
4. Screw on the compression top cap on until it is snug, but not tight. (if you had any spacers between the top cap and stem, put these on first, obviously).
5. Lift the front end of the bike up gently, by putting your hand under the 'gusset' of the forks, so everything seats down a bit more, then slowly tighten the compression top cap. Check everything still aligned. Do not fully tighten the top cap at this stage.
6. Gently tighten the stem bolts until they pinch slightly and no more. You are just stopping the stem moving around too much and nothing more, at this point.
7. Sit on the bike. Squeeze the front brake with one hand, whilst holding the top bearing cover where it touches the headtube with the other, and rock your self back and forward very gently. If you feel any play at all, tighten the compression top cap. Repeat until you feel no more play. Then give it a short, 1/8th of a full turn just to make sure.
8. Tighten the stem bolts fully (fully being to the correct nm rating, and not until both sides touch, obviously).

Done.

If it develops a small amount of play again after this, undo the stem bolts, and repeat Reassembly steps 8 and 9.
 

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#9
Wow! thanks for the detailed instructions. I'll have time on my hands tomorrow afternoon after I get to Asahikawa, so I'll work through your process list then. Thanks again.... I'll let you know how it goes.
 

TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,362
1,291
133
#10
It should be noted that while this list of instructions appears lengthy, and complex the actual process is simple and will not take you a long time.

Perhaps of more importance is the fact that riding a loose headset is potentially damaging to all components involved; frame, stem, spacers, bearings, bearing cover, etc. and you would be wise to take the time now to fix the issue, rather than later where it simply 'merely' being loose has developed into actual damage.
 

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#11
TCC, I followed the instructions, and the problem persists. I was reading on this site that the steer tube should be about 3mm below the top of the stem (assuming no top spacer, which I don't have). My steer tube is flush with the stem. If this is in fact a normal requirement, maybe I lost a spacer in the process of dismantling my bike. I certainly don't recall having a very thin spacer on this bike, though I suppose it's possible. Do you think this could be my problem?
 

TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,362
1,291
133
#12
Without seeing the bike in person, it is impossible to say for certain, but that would certainly be a distinct possibility.

Posting photos would be good, and will allow more members to cast their eye over the situation.

Frankly though, yes, you probably lost a spacer which means there is no space left to compress between the top of the fork steerer and the top of the stem.
 

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#13
Well, thanks for all the support. I was in Nayoro this morning and concerned this issue might cause greater problems so I took the train to Asahikawa, and went to Bobby's shop which was just a few km from the train station. Five minutes, and 500 Yen later, problem solved. And yes, it was the spacer. Apparently I had a small one (and couldn't remember), and it must have fallen off in my bike bag which is probably in Ibusuki by now.

I almost gave the shop owner a hug. The bike feels fantastic (as fantastic as possible given the 30 extra lbs, including a bar bag).
 

RJMang

Cruising
Jul 19, 2013
20
4
23
#17
Microcord: There was a family medical emergency back home that required my presence; which, unfortunately, resulted in me boxing up my bike and jumping on the next available flight back to the US. The situation at home is fine now, so the big question for me is what to do about this unfinished adventure. Thanks for asking....
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#19
I'm sorry that you had to curtail the journey, but it's good to hear that you're well.

Perhaps you could do a reverse ride following the sakura zesen ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_blossom_front ) finishing near where you left off.
Interesting idea. The Japanese version of that Wikipedia page is a lot more informative. Google Translate or similar would be likely to present it as impenetrable gobbledegook, but I don't even get that, instead being told "Sorry, this URL is invalid". If somebody reading this can give a recipe for successful autotranslation (perhaps the Chrome browser?), then within the gobbledegook you may find a comprehensible table of what, where and when, from the far south all the way up to Wakkanai. Meanwhile, here's my (mis) translation of the top row, left to right:

Place, Budding date average, Budding date earliest (year), Budding date latest (year), Full bloom date average, Full bloom date earliest (year), Full bloom date latest (year), Variety of cherry

Hmm, maybe "budding" should be "flowering"; I believe it's the date on which more than such-and-such a number per tree have flowered. But from bud to flower takes little time. The process is all rather more volatile than the English Wikipedia article might suggest, accelerated by a few days of unusually warm weather, and of course curtailed by rain. Still, I wouldn't want to ride the crest of the cherry blossom wave; I'd tire of it. Better to be sometimes early, sometimes late.