Four Elms 2 (SFA)

Distance: 70.1 miles. Elevation: 3197 ft.

Another club ride with the Sunday Intermediates. It was a cold (8°C) morning with almost no wind. It was a dull, grey day with a mist that ultimately turned to fine rain. The roads were dry though and I took the Colnago.

Due to possibly snoozing my alarm-clock in my sleep, I was very late leaving. So I sprinted to Marden, averaging 19.2 mph. I got there at 08:57.

There were 6 riders out today. We had a good, although uneventful, ride to a garden centre café in Four Elms that was packed with other cyclists. On the way back we got pretty damp, cycling through the fine rain.

When I got back home, I had covered 68 miles so I rode up and down a few times to round it up to 70! Job done!


Wye (SFA)

Distance: 66.4 miles. Elevation: 3082 ft.

Another club ride with the Sunday Intermediates. It was a cold (7°C, feeling like 4), windy morning. So it was on with the winter gear: skull cap, Roubaix longs, base layer and winter jersey, The roads were quite dry though so, unlike last week, I didn’t feel the need for mudguards and I took the Colnago.

I was late leaving so I rode with haste to Marden, averaging 19.2 mph. Just as I got into the village, the church clock was chiming 9, so that was good timing, or cutting it fine, depending on your perspective!

There was a good turn-out of 8 riders. We set off soon after and made our way to Wye. It was a windy day and the wind was mainly behind us for the 28-mile ride there. It was sunny but chilly. My feet were cold and my body wasn’t that warm either. I’d had nothing for breakfast again, so I was really ready for some food by the time we arrived at Wye. But, to our dismay, the café was closed, possibly for good by the look of it. Plan B involved riding 8 miles to Great Chart Golf Club, which took us another half an hour. By now I was even more ravenous. But the small snack bar at the golf club wasn’t geared up to serve eight hungry mouths in a hurry. It took another 40 minutes before I finally got some food inside me, in the shape of scrambled eggs on toast.

Eventually we set-off again, this time mainly into the westerly breeze. Just as we left Staplehurst, with about 5 miles of the ride remaining, we rode into heavy rain. I didn’t have my rain jacket and I got drenched, which was particularly uncomfortable due to the chilly wind. Despite that, and various other delays that we had on the way back, we averaged 15.4 mph on the return journey


Cured Headset Rattle

This post is more of a note to self, so unless you have a headset clunking noise when going over rough surfaces, there’s nothing to see here – please step away…

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that there was a frustrating rattling or clunking sound coming from the headset area of my Colnago when riding on uneven roads. I had recently changed the handlebar stem so I assumed that maybe the stem wasn’t far enough down on the steerer tube, causing the bearings to be loose. I checked for play in the bearings by rocking the bike back and forth with the front brake applied and feeling for any movement between the top of the fork and the head tube. It seemed that there was a very slight amount of movement detectable, so I loosened the stem bolts and tightened up the pre-tensioner bolt on the top of the stem until I could feel no play, then I tightened the stem bolts to 4Nm using a torque wrench.

On the next ride, I was still experiencing the clunking sound, and yet off the bike it was impossible to recreate it even by bouncing the bike up and down at the front. I started to suspect other things. I checked for loose wheel nuts, loose bottle cage bolts, etc. I even changed the front wheel in case it was due to wheel bearings. But the noise remained.

So I took the whole stem and spacers off to see if there was anything amiss. I didn’t find anything. So I re-assembled the whole lot. This time I tightened the pre-tensioner much further than it had gone before – being careful to always see that the fork was still turning freely. I couldn’t believe that I could still keep tightening it without the fork seizing up. I periodically took the top cap off to check the distance between the top of the steerer tube and the top of the stem (or spacer). The gap was reducing slowly, indicating that I was taking up slack in the bearings. Headset

Then, the top-cap could be tightened no further – I knew what this meant – that the top cap was now coming into contact with the top of the bung in the steerer tube, meaning that there was no more adjustment left. The photo shows that there is only about 1mm between the top of the spacer (outside) and the fork bung inside, and that is not enough clearance for the dished top cap, so the cap was ‘bottoming out’. However, I had tightened it significantly more than I had done previously, so I hoped it would be enough.


The fork was still turning freely at this point so I knew I had not over-tightened it.

I ordered another 3mm spacer just in case I needed to tighten it further in the future.


This morning I went out on this test ride:

The noise had gone, and the bike was back to its smooth Rolls-Royce style feel! I also managed to beat my previous best up Yalding Hill by over 10 seconds. Yay!

Edit (25th May 2014): After the headset started rattling terribly on this ride, I decide to investigate. I removed the handlebar stem completely, and this is what I found: P1000296b-r The bung in the steerer tube was not seated fully. It had pulled out by about 6mm. That accounts for a couple of problems I wrote about in the original post above. It explains why the forks didn’t seem to be getting tighter when I was tightening the top-cap – obviously as I was tightening, the bung was gradually being pulled out of the steerer tube, so the stem wasn’t being fully tightened onto the forks. And now it’s obvious why the top-cap ‘bottomed out’ on the bung.

So I loosened the bung and pushed it down fully into the steerer tube. Because the steerer tube is carbon, I wanted to make sure I used the correct torque setting when tightening the bung. I spent at least half an hour searching the internet for this elusive piece of information. When I came to tighten it, I realised that the torque setting is printed on top of the bung – doh! It was 8Nm. So I tightened it to that torque and refitted the handlebar/stem assembly. I tightened the pre-tensioner top-cap down to the correct torque (4Nm), and tightened the stem bolts.

Now there is no rattle. Although the unseated bung explains some of the things described in the original post, it doesn’t account for why the headset became loose when once it was tight. For that to happen the stem must slide up the steerer tube to some extent (maybe that can happen on really rough roads). Either that or the bearings ‘settled in’ somehow.