I went out for a leisurely Sunday ride, heading south to Playa del Rey, stopping for some coffee and taking in an absolute gorgeous (as in no coastal fog) morning and watching the world (as in skate boarder, in-line skaters, cyclists and walkers) go by. The coffee was as good as the scenery and after sitting back for a while I figured it was time to head for home.
After some riding I hear this faint intermittent noise, sounding like “tog-tog-tog, togtogtog – tog”, then it went away. What was that? Nothing more for a bit and then: tog-tog-tog and so on without going away and not faint any longer either. Great! – now what? I really was trying my best but kept second guessing myself if the noise came from the headset or the cranks. The good thing is I had about 14 miles still ahead of me to pay attention to the noise, which was now consistent and not letting up at all. By the time I got home I decided that the noise came from the head set.
It was time to see if I could get to the bottom of this, put the bike into the repair stand and started disassembling the front end. Once I head the headset lose and the fork out I could tell that I was on the right track. The rings and seals of the headset, both top and bottom, were bone dry and I could see chafing residue. I took the seals of the rings, cleaned it all and put some much needed grease into the rings before reseating the seals. Before inserting the bearing rings I flipped the top one to the bottom and vic-a-versa, put the fork back in and loosely secured the assembly.
Since I was at it I also took the opportunity to flip the stem, which has +/- 7% angle, and was installed in the negative (as in pointing down and away)position. You might remember that I complained of ‘reach issues’ especially on long rides, so I flipped the stem to the +7% angle (up and towards the rider), and aligned the front and tightened everything up.
I made a quick spin around the neighborhood including a quick climb up a steep hill and the verdict: NO tog-tog-tog!!! Very satisfying and the handlebars feel/are a bit closer, still not quiet what I want, but better. I measured the stem while I was doing the work (110 mm) and think that replacing it with a 90 mm stem would probably make all the difference. However, that will have to wait until I have money to spend. In the meantime, I am happy with my recently rebuild wheels and a silent bike.