Installing a Headset without the Proper Tool
The headset is probably the most difficult part of building a bike from the frame up.
There’s a tool called the headset press that’s specifically made for headsets installations that will make the job easier. But I’ve been able to install and uninstall a few headsets without the tool.
The headset press from Park Tool cost about $140.00. I didn’t want to buy the tool because it is expensive and I don’t think I’ll use it enough times to justify the cost. I think anyone can do the jobs without the special tool if they just use some care while working and not rush.
Some people will tell you that installing the headset cups should be done with a headset press. Otherwise, you may damage your frame and the cups. Basically, the headset press holds the top and bottom cups in place, and in proper alignment over the head tube, and then steady pressure is applied by turning the screws to press the cups into the tube.
Here is a picture of a homemade headset press from the internet.
There are others if your care to do some searching. But I didn’t bother making the tool after successfully installing my first couple of headsets using a rubber mallet, some grease, a block of wood and a work bench.
If you don’t want to install the headset yourself, you can always take the frame and the headset down to your local bike shop and pay them to put the headset cups in the frame for you. It’s probably a ten minute job for them since they should have the right tools.