1. Home
  2. Component Adjustments for Riding Comfort
  3. Adjusting handlebars & stem for a personalized ride

Adjusting handlebars & stem for a personalized ride

Tips for adjusting your handlebars, stem, and headset

When you are adjusting the handlebars and stem on your bike for the first time as you prepare to go riding, you may, in some cases, make the headset bearing assembly become slightly loose. What this means is the steering bearing assembly may experience a shudder or heavy vibration on the front end, most noticeable when using the front brake, for example. It can be easily remedied by tightening the entire headset bearing assembly.

How to tighten the headset bearing assembly:
  • Loosen the bolts on the side of the stem, allowing the stem and handlebars to pivot freely on the fork tube.
  • Then, use the top cap bolt (also referred to as the compression bolt) to tighten the entire assembly, pulling the fork and front wheel up toward the stem and thereby reducing any looseness or play in the steering bearing assembly. Please note: This should be done with care and usually requires removing the top cap bolt all the way in order to put some grease on it to ensure everything fits up correctly.  
  • When adjusting the headset, if you happen to start disassembling it, either on purpose or by accident, take care to keep track of the small pieces. You can’t tighten a headset without all its parts

For a more detailed explanation of how to adjust a headset, refer to this link: https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/threadless-headset-service

You can also follow along with this video tutorial for headset troubleshooting, courtesy of Park Tool:

Updated on December 21, 2022

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave a Comment