Headset Installation Without the Right Tools
The headset I am installing on the Marin Palisades Trail frame is a used Ritchey that came off another bike.
I’m not using the proper tool to install the headset.
To install the cups of the headset, I first make sure that the inside of the head tube where the cups will sit is clean. Warning: Don’t run your bare finger along the metal. You could get cut by a piece of the metal sticking out.
Next, I make sure that I have the top cup for the top of the head tube and the bottom cup for the bottom of the head tube. A helpful guide is – sometimes – if the headset company logo is printed on the cups: If the logo is upside down with the cups installed, than the cups are switched.
Next, I dry fit the cups into the head tube just to check that the cups fit the frame’s head tube. Once I am sure that the cups will fit the head tube, I turn the frame upside down and hand fit the bottom cup into the tube and hand press the cup down snug into the tube as far as it will go. I make sure the cup is sitting as straight as possible and that one side is not in further that the other side.
That I rest the top of the head tube – the end without a cup yet – firmly on a block of soft wood – pine is good – placed on a workbench. Next I use a rubber mallet and softly tap the cup down into the head tube. The rubber on the mallet is soft enough so that it won’t damage the cup. The block of pine is soft enough not to damage the frame’s head tube. I try to keep the face of the mallet as flat as possible against the entire rim surface of the cup with every tap.
If you don’t have a mallet but a hammer and a helper. have the helper hold the frame and use another piece of wood placed over the the cup before tapping with the hammer … or with a rock.
I check the cup after each tap to make sure that it’s going in the tube straight down and adjust my taps with the mallet to straighten it out. I use light taps and go very slow.
Once the top cup is seated completely in the head tube, I turn the frame around and do the same with the bottom cup.
Headset Cups Installation Complete
The hardest part of building up the Marin Palisades Trail bike is done. The rest will be fairly easy.
Next, I will finish up the headset installation when I install the fork.
Here is a picture of the finished cups installation.