How To Adjust A Headset

Ensuring your bike’s headset is correctly adjusted is key – after all, it’s the part of your bike that helps you steer in the right direction!

If you ride often, then the pressure from your arms and various bumps in the road may cause your headset to loosen, meaning your control over the front wheel may not be as effective as it could be. This is where a quick headset adjustment can get things back to normal.

What you’ll need:

Just a hex key set! Make sure the one you have fits the adjustment nuts on your headset.

Before you begin, figure out how much play there is between the handlebars and the front wheel. Grab the handlebars and the front fork firmly and give it a good wobble. There should be no movement at all. If there’s even the slightest bit of movement, you’ll need to tighten up.

Next, do a visual check of the front wheel. Align the handlebars as straight as you can, then look down at the front wheel from above. It should point dead ahead. If not, then you’ll need to adjust your headset!

Adjusting your bike headset

Grab your hex key and loosen off the adjustment nuts that sit on the side of the headset. These are the nuts that keep the headset firmly in place on the stem. If you’re just tightening up, then you can simply wind the hex key to the right until there is medium to strong tension. If you need to align your wheel or handlebars correctly, then take the pressure to just about off so you can move each component without them rolling away loosely – this will make things easier to control.

Once you’ve lined everything up, just tighten the adjusting nuts back up and give the headset another wobble test. If everything feels firm, then you’re good to go!

Removing the headset

If you need to remove your headset or handlebars, then you’ll need to loosen your adjusting nuts completely and take out the connecting bolt at the top using your hex key. Take care to store any covers and loose components safely if you are changing out your handlebars or installing a new headset.

Shop headsets and stems

If you’re struggling to get your headset loosened or would rather leave the fiddly jobs to a professional, then don’t forget that Halfords can fully service your bike for you. We also offer a completely free bike safety check, handy if you feel that your bike’s front wheel is affecting your ability to stay in control.