RockShox Domain Fork Rebuild - How To

Jan 25, 2011 at 0:07
Jan 25, 2011
by Carlos Correia  
 
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RockShox's Domain fork has a great performance to price ratio, which is why it is such a common sight on the front of many bikes. It's simple to adjust and is easy to understand, but like any suspension product, it still needs some scheduled maintenance to keep it running smooth. Pinkbike user Carlos Correia put together this great "How-To" so that everyone will know how to keep their Domain running at 100%.

Step by step rebuild instructions inside,




Before beginning, it is important to understand the inner workings of what you'll be working on. Prior to turning a hex key or pouring any oil, have a look at the instructions provided by RockShox. Read through the steps before starting, and if you are not absolutely sure that you can handle this repair, take it to your local shop. Likewise, you'll need all of the tools listed below in order to do this job correctly. Do not start the repair if you are missing anything.


<span style='font-size:19px'>What's needed:</span> <br><br>1. Eat, drink, and take your time - no hurries, especially if it is your first time doing this<br>2. Grease for general use - use on main spring, negative spring, and the spring's detent<br>3. Thin suspension grease - used on bushings, oil seals etc...<br>4. Suspension oil - 5W for the damper and the RockShox recommended 15W for lubrication<br>5. Plastic bottle or any other containers are always useful to pour used oil into. Reuse first, then recycle<br>6. Paper towel or rag<br>7. 5mm and 2mm hex keys - 2mm for removing the compression cover (<I>model 318, the 302 does not have</I>) and the 5mm to loosen the foot bolts<br>8. 24mm socket and ratchet wrench<br>9. Syringes measuring cup to measure the oil volume (<I>15ml in each leg for lube, 200ml in damper</I>)<br> Hammer or rubber mallet
What's needed:

1. Eat, drink, and take your time - no hurries, especially if it is your first time doing this
2. Grease for general use - use on main spring, negative spring, and the spring's detent
3. Thin suspension grease - used on bushings, oil seals etc...
4. Suspension oil - 5W for the damper and the RockShox recommended 15W for lubrication
5. Plastic bottle or any other containers are always useful to pour used oil into. Reuse first, then recycle
6. Paper towel or rag
7. 5mm and 2mm hex keys - 2mm for removing the compression cover (model 318, the 302 does not have) and the 5mm to loosen the foot bolts
8. 24mm socket and ratchet wrench
9. Syringes measuring cup to measure the oil volume (15ml in each leg for lube, 200ml in damper)
Hammer or rubber mallet

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 1.</span>  Remove the front wheel and brake caliper, then remove the fork from the bike.
Step 1. Remove the front wheel and brake caliper, then remove the fork from the bike.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 2.</span>  Open the rebound and compression to the fullest position, taking note of your settings before doing so. Remove the red knob (rebound)  - just pull with your hand.
Step 2. Open the rebound and compression to the fullest position, taking note of your settings before doing so. Remove the red knob (rebound) - just pull with your hand.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 3.</span>  Use 5mm hex key to loosen both foot bolts by 3 or 4 turns. Do not remove either completely.
Step 3. Use 5mm hex key to loosen both foot bolts by 3 or 4 turns. Do not remove either completely.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 4.</span> Tap both foot nuts with the rubber mallet until you feel the rods come free of the lowers. Remove the foot bolts, being careful of any lube oil that may drain from the fork lowers.</span>
Step 4. Tap both foot nuts with the rubber mallet until you feel the rods come free of the lowers. Remove the foot bolts, being careful of any lube oil that may drain from the fork lowers.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 5.</span>  Pull the lowers off of the stanchion tubes and set them aside after cleaning.
Step 5. Pull the lowers off of the stanchion tubes and set them aside after cleaning.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 6.</span> Using the 2mm hex key, unscrew the small bolt that holds the compression knob in place. Remove both and place somewhere safe. (<I>only for Domain 318, the 302 does not have adjustable compression.</I>)
Step 6. Using the 2mm hex key, unscrew the small bolt that holds the compression knob in place. Remove both and place somewhere safe. (only for Domain 318, the 302 does not have adjustable compression.)

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 7.</span> Loosen the damper side top cap with the 24mm socket wrench.
Step 7. Loosen the damper side top cap with the 24mm socket wrench.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 8.</span> Holding the crown and stanchions upright, pull up to remove the compression damping assembly. Wiggling it side to side gently may make this easier, but pull slowly to keep the damping oil from making a mess.  If your Domain is the 302 version, it has a cap in the place of the compression cartridge. Pour the remaining oil out of the fork and into your container.
Step 8. Holding the crown and stanchions upright, pull up to remove the compression damping assembly. Wiggling it side to side gently may make this easier, but pull slowly to keep the damping oil from making a mess. If your Domain is the 302 version, it has a cap in the place of the compression cartridge. Pour the remaining oil out of the fork and into your container.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 9.</span> Using the 24mm socket, remove the spring side fork cap. Now you can take out the spring.
Step 9. Using the 24mm socket, remove the spring side fork cap. Now you can take out the spring.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 10.</span> Remove both the damping rod from the right side, and the dummy rod from the spring side.
Step 10. Remove both the damping rod from the right side, and the dummy rod from the spring side.

<span style='font-size:20px'>At this point, your workbench should look something like this:</span><br><br>1. Top right stanchion<br>2. Top Left stanchion<br>3. Damping rod<br>4. Spring side dummy rod<br>5. Negative spring<br>6. Main spring<br>7. Spring spacer
At this point, your workbench should look something like this:

1. Top right stanchion
2. Top Left stanchion
3. Damping rod
4. Spring side dummy rod
5. Negative spring
6. Main spring
7. Spring spacer

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 11.</span> Grease both the negative and main spring. Insert the rod into the left stanchion with the negative spring up, then drop in main spring.
Step 11. Grease both the negative and main spring. Insert the rod into the left stanchion with the negative spring up, then drop in main spring.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 12.</span> Pull the dummy rod to full extension through the bottom of the stanchion tube. If you're having trouble aligning the rod with with the hole, you can use your 2mm hex key to help locate it.
Step 12. Pull the dummy rod to full extension through the bottom of the stanchion tube. If you're having trouble aligning the rod with with the hole, you can use your 2mm hex key to help locate it.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 13.</span> Once you are sure that the spring is seated correctly, reinstall the spring side top cap.
Step 13. Once you are sure that the spring is seated correctly, reinstall the spring side top cap.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 14.</span> Use a rag to clean the inside of the damping side stanchion, being sure that it is free of any bits of rubber from worn O-rings or lint from the rag.
Step 14. Use a rag to clean the inside of the damping side stanchion, being sure that it is free of any bits of rubber from worn O-rings or lint from the rag.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 15.</span> After submerging the rebound piston in the new oil, install the damping rod into the stanchion tube. Pull it gently to full extension.
Step 15. After submerging the rebound piston in the new oil, install the damping rod into the stanchion tube. Pull it gently to full extension.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 16.</span> Measure out exactly 200ml of 5W damping oil. It is imperative to not use too much  - this will cause hydraulic lock and prevent full travel, or too little - you'll have inconsistent damping.
Step 16. Measure out exactly 200ml of 5W damping oil. It is imperative to not use too much - this will cause hydraulic lock and prevent full travel, or too little - you'll have inconsistent damping.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 17.</span> Pour 1/3 of the new oil into the damping side stanchion tube. Cycle the rebound rod gently until you see the oil level drop. Repeat until the full 200ml is in the leg.
Step 17. Pour 1/3 of the new oil into the damping side stanchion tube. Cycle the rebound rod gently until you see the oil level drop. Repeat until the full 200ml is in the leg.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 18.</span> With the rebound rod fully extended, gently sink the compression assembly into the oil and tighten the top cap with your socket wrench.
Step 18. With the rebound rod fully extended, gently sink the compression assembly into the oil and tighten the top cap with your socket wrench.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 19.</span> Take a few minutes to thoroughly clean the inside of the fork lowers before beginning to reassemble the fork.
Step 19. Take a few minutes to thoroughly clean the inside of the fork lowers before beginning to reassemble the fork.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 20.</span> Spread your thin suspension grease onto the bushings, seals, and the gap between the oil seals and dust wipers.
Step 20. Spread your thin suspension grease onto the bushings, seals, and the gap between the oil seals and dust wipers.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 21.</span> Align the stanchions with the fork lowers and very carefully slide them past the outer dust seals. It can help to start on an angle to prevent tearing the rubber dust seal. This may take a few tries.
Step 21. Align the stanchions with the fork lowers and very carefully slide them past the outer dust seals. It can help to start on an angle to prevent tearing the rubber dust seal. This may take a few tries.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 22.</span> Measure out 15ml of 15W suspension oil. With the fork upside down, pour in the lube oil through the foot bolt holes at the bottom of each leg. Each side should receive 15ml.
Step 22. Measure out 15ml of 15W suspension oil. With the fork upside down, pour in the lube oil through the foot bolt holes at the bottom of each leg. Each side should receive 15ml.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 23.</span> Still holding the fork inverted, slide the lowers down the stanchion tubes until both the damping and spring rod make contact with the bottom of the lowers. Reinstall both foot bolts to the proper torque, being sure to use the hollow bolt on the damping side and the solid bolt on the spring side.
Step 23. Still holding the fork inverted, slide the lowers down the stanchion tubes until both the damping and spring rod make contact with the bottom of the lowers. Reinstall both foot bolts to the proper torque, being sure to use the hollow bolt on the damping side and the solid bolt on the spring side.

<span style='font-size:20px'>Step 24.</span> Reinstall both the rebound and compression knobs. Reset them back to the same position that you had them in prior to rebuilding the fork.
Step 24. Reinstall both the rebound and compression knobs. Reset them back to the same position that you had them in prior to rebuilding the fork.


Be sure to go for a short test ride before heading out to your local trails. You should not only take special care to make sure your caliper and stem bolts are properly torqued, but the fork should also feel smooth and consistent. If you have any doubts, take your bike to the local shop and have them do a proper check over of it.
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95 Comments

  • + 13
 Those domains are actually really great for the money and easy to take care of. I went from a bike with an older 7" totem solo air to a newer 6" domain and like the domain far more. It is heavier and not quite so smooth feeling. That being said though, it doesn't creek (the totems were loud from the start), it rides higher in the travel which I like, and it costs half as much! Also, the totem (as with most of the older ones) had a very small adjustment range with the dials, the newer domains have a FAR larger adjustment range. I was only planning on using the domain until I got the money for a Fox 36 Van, but this rides well enough that I can no longer justify spending so much extra money to replace a fork that is this good. I am glad you guys showed the rebuild because it is such a common fork and it hits a great price point.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Grande Carlos Correia!
Parabéns amigo! não é todos os dias que um post tuga aparece no pink, alias... é primeira vez?!? =P
Abraço
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  • + 8
 Great job. I would love one of these for a fox 36.
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  • + 3
 This is definitely something I can do on my work stand, never realized it was that simple to change out the oils. I assume that all coil forks will be relatively that same concept? Now how difficult is it to truly rebuild your fork? I have a Totem that needs a rebuild, one seal is leaking and I am beginning to feel play from the bushings. Is that part of the rebuild as easy as this or am I now looking at special tools for the seals and bushings?
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  • + 2
 The socket should be flat ground so that you don't destroy the topcaps putting them back on You should ALWAYS use a torque wrench you're dealing with a loaded spring do you want that in your eye And pound your starnut into the proper depth.
  • + 1
 I definitely agree with the star nut bit
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Haha, funny you post this since I just rebuilt mine yesterday. Really simple forks to work on and new damper oil makes a huge difference.

Next up you should do a tutorial for the Motion Control IS "Speedstack mod" which removes the redundant set of HSC shims inside the motion control damper. Some older boxxer forks and OEM Lyriks have them as well. It gets rid of the spiking these forks have over washboards and rock gardens and takes about 5 minutes.
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  • + 5
 Um bom trabalho só podia tar aqui pra toda gente ver Wink parabéns
  • + 2
 subscrevo!
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  • + 3
 tip: mix a bit of grease to the lubricant oil. The fork will work smoother Wink rock shox has red ram to mix with the oil but its exspensive...
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  • + 5
 That was sick could you guys to Fox 40's next.
  • + 2
 ohh yes, that's what i need
  • + 8
 Go to foxracingshox.com and look up their tech documents for full length videos made by the Fox fork service techs on how to rebuild every one of their products.
  • + 1
 just never rebuilt a fox by yourself when it is still on warranty cuz you wont have warranty service if something break Razz
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  • + 4
 muito bom senhor correia ahaha bom trabalho Wink
  • + 13
 Best and most help full things needed #1 I think :p
  • + 6
 thanks again! but please could you do a 2010 boxxer one! Smile
  • + 0
 save a rock, throw a domain great video!
  • + 8
 THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR FOR SUCH A LONG TIME!!!! THANK YOU!!!
  • + 5
 So is this supposed to replace Tech tuesday's? What happened to those?
  • + 1
 @jhowlett its the same as the domain just different volumes of oil and oil weight all the rock shock atre basically built the same just different internals if you goto the rockshox site they have repair manuals you can download to pdf and print off i got everything form there site and now i got a manual for every model fork rock shox put out up to 2010
  • + 1
 @danny-oli
believe it or not its even simpler then domains. and less steps to it.
  • + 1
 fine buy me! id still prefer a step by step like this^ or even better a video?
  • + 1
 maybe ill video my rebuild when i go to retune it for a lighter weight.
  • + 1
 yeah mate get it up,i prefer watching someone do it as i do
  • + 4
 no sexual punn intended there......
  • + 1
 haha brilliant!

EDIT: is your 888 2008/2009? if so rebuild will be different to my 2007 (since 2010+ is open bath as well its same as pre 2008 )
  • + 1
 2008 with an open bath system
  • + 2
 ah fair enough then will be the same, since sealed carts are different in the rebuild. (including performance, reliability and weight. sealed carts are only better in lighter weight)
  • + 3
 You don't mention if there are any differences in oil levels depending on the travel. I'm guessing this is the 318 180mm?
  • + 1
 Price on these puppies? anyone know?
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  • + 2
 This is just great ! A friend of mine just bought a Domain. I will FW the URL to him Big Grin . Could you guys do this for the FOX 40's next ?

Cheers,
Dan.
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  • + 4
 Need to have more of these.
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  • + 4
 Grande Carlos Correia! Wink review impec
  • + 3
 a Norte CO ainda vai ser melhor qe os Coastal
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  • + 1
 are the main principles the same for a lyrik? i assume there'll be some funky u-turn thing in the same leg as the spring, and the MiCo cartridge in the other leg, but are they the only differences?
  • + 2
 yes. it's pretty much the same except that with u-turn the spring and the rod are attached together.
  • + 3
 And pretty much the same for any RS coil forks, Pikes, Argyles, Revelations etc. Beautifully simple to work on.
  • + 2
 RS coil forks are cake to rebuild.. My boxxer team and lyric U-turn have been super easy to work on.. 15 mins and your ready to go ride again. Awesome forks and easy to maintain.
  • + 1
 What is the difference between the domain and the lyrik? They seem to be in the same class.
  • + 2
 the lyric has aluminium stanctions and more adjustments, its also lighter
  • + 1
 my boxxer team is so simple to work on ... i did all the work on my own this summer and save loads of cash ... fork ran like new after every time i opened her up and cleaned it
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  • + 3
 All in a nice, white t-shirt.... (cool tutorial - thanks!)
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  • + 2
 Dont you wash inside the lowers with any solvant ? Or any other cleaner ? then with water and let it dry out ?
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  • + 3
 portugal knows better!! \m/
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  • - 1
 I tried to be excited about this, but it is rudimentary. It does not show things that needed to be replaced during a fork service which are actually very easy and necessary to do on a fork regularly. He could have at least pointed out o-rings, crush washers, seals...etc. Go watch Chuck do a fork overhaul on Sram. Good easy follow on Sram's website. Or track it down youtube.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/5601134
I think this picture can explains that right?
The spring should be in a way to be limited by to plastic limiters.
  • + 1
 Yes I can see where the spring goes but the spring has 2 sides, one with o'ring and one without!! It fell out of the stantion before I got a chance to see which way around....doh!! Any help would be appreciated!! By the way each end of that small spring has a different sized diameter in the plastic ends!!
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  • + 1
 Hi! my foot bolt from the Spring side dummy rod is broken. i think that threads in bolt and in rod are now dead. the bolt is rotate endless... what can I do? pls help
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This might sound like a dumb question, but is it ok to use fork oil for dirtbikes or are there specific mtb fork oils? (I got a stockpile of yamalube in the garage)
  • + 1
 I think the suspension/damping oil is about the same. In fact, rockshox, marzocchi and fox oils are just repacked from other brands. For instance: RockShox repackages Torco RFF oils for their forks. Rockshox 5 oil for fork damping is just the Torco RFF 7.

You have to pay attention just to the weight of the oil (look for kinematic viscosity usually in centyStokes-cSt...one companies 7W oil is another's 5W or 10W...)
I use motorex fork oil and I buy it in MX/dirtbikes store.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Once I get my forks serviced will it make them harder? Mine are quite soft atm
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Another stupid question but the positive spring can be slid on two ways, o'ring faces up or down??
  • + 1
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/5601134
I think this picture can explains that right?
The spring should be in a way to be limited by to plastic limiters.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 My mistake that was for dual sus.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 did rebuild my lyrik 2 step very easy to do and rock shox gives all the info you need to have on there web site.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 What happenned to the tech tuesday. it would be nice to have one on winter repairs and general stuff like that
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  • + 1
 Thats dead set awsome, Would it also work for totems and boxxers?
  • + 2
 as long as its coil, its almost exactly the same
[Reply]
  • + 1
 very helpful, i only swapped springs from med to X-soft though.
  • + 2
 Thanks. BTW, how much you weight?
I weight about 63kg (138.8 opunds) with gear. First I buy the soft spring looking for the rockshox spring table, but when I test it I came to conclusion that it must be the x-soft.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome will b doing this very soon cheersSmile
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  • + 1
 Shouldnt the lowers get 40ml says so on the sram website?
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  • + 1
 Man I need one these forks... this rebuild is way too simple!
  • + 1
 I'll sell you a barely used Domain 302 180mm
[Reply]
  • + 1
 does anyones domain 318s top out as well?
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  • - 1
 this isnt really a "rebuild." its basically a oil change. it should have shown replacing the bushings/seals which is part of a "rebuild"
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  • + 1
 Good idea! Helpful article! Smile
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  • + 1
 i have one with uturn what xtra steps would i kneed to take
  • + 1
 The u-turn have just a dial in the topcap that engage and turn the main spring. It's all about the same.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 the star nut doesn't look like it's far enough inside the steerer tube. Anyone else notice?
  • + 0
 its definitely not deep enough
  • + 3
 That is a 1.5 steer tube and I can not find the specific tool. Since I install the star nut like you see in photos with some home made tool and It stays aligned perfectly, I never touch that again to avoid mess the things up.
I just use a spacer between the stem and the top cap....simple.
Thank you guys for the worry but I ride DH with that more than 2 years and never have problems or loose headset.

If you want you can send me a 1.5 star-nut installer I will appreciate a lot....then I put the star-nut just the way you want it. Razz


This is a simple how to just to change oil and maintain the fork clean with good performance. Avoiding major problems in short term.
I change the lub oil about every 2 or 3months and change the damping oil at last every year. I don´t change the seals, o-rings, open the motion control so frequently like I do with the oil change of course.... I wiil do it soon.

Thanks to everybody to all comments!
Special thanks to pinkbike team for the corrections and consideration. Many thanks. Smile
  • + 2
 The reason why you put the star nut in further isn't just because your headset might come loose. Its because riding it the way you have it with spacers to push the top cap up will put much more stress than the designed load for the steer tube. Basically you may be riding one day and have on hard hit and notice your stem and handle bar break off the top of the steer tube. It sounds nit picky, but something like this could double or triple the local stresses compared to having it pushed in a half inch or so further in. It's up to you though, I install mine with home tools and just take extra time and care to get them in straight.
  • + 2
 Didn't catch it the first time through. That's sketch.
  • + 2
 @kevinthelilbiker and all star-nut nightmare
"hard hit and notice your stem and handle bar break off the top of the steer tube"
I said "I just use a spacer BETWEEN the STEM and the TOP CAP/COMPRESSION BOLT". The spacer is above the stem.

The steer tube fill ALL the stem.
Se here: www.pinkbike.com/photo/6112115

Please, focus on the main propose of the how-to. And again, send me a 1.5 star-nut installer and I solve all your problems.

cheers
  • + 1
 Just install it on the bike, including headset and spacers, then back the bolt out a 1/2" and whack it, whack it hard.
  • + 3
 Kinda worrying that a tech article is published by a guy that can't fit a star nut properly! You don't need a specific 1.5 star tool. A 1.8 one will do the job or just use an old bolt and a big hammer....
  • + 2
 An old bolt and a hammer just bend the things up...it will miss-aligned the "nut" in the star-nut. It may cause the top-cap to NOT compress the headset ALL around but one side more than another. That could do lateral stress in the headset and could ruin it.

Kinda worrying that there's so stupid guys can not understand what I just said.

I already, in the past, use a bolt and a hammer to press a star-nut and I notice that is extremely difficult to perfect align the nut so the press-bolt stays perfect aligned too.

(sorry again my poor English)
  • + 0
 Sorry that you couldn't grasp what I was getting about. I'll just inform you that what you are doing is unsafe, I understood you used a spacer above it, it still will be prone to overstress and cracking. Sorry bro but biking a bunch does not an engineer make, if your publishing a how to guide maybe you should figure out the basics first.
  • + 2
 Unsafe? Overstress and craking what?!
Do you know that after pre-load the headset and tighten the stem bolts, you can take out the topcap, the bolt (and the starnut) and ride like that?!
Tell me that is unsafe.

I just give up. Book
Happy riding.
  • + 0
 Ok. It's unsafe.
  • + 1
 Your argument is the equivalent of saying if you bolt your car wheel on with 2 bolts it will hold and be stiff so why bother putting the other bolts in. It seems like these things are just a little over your head so maybe just stick to reading and replicating the manuals.
  • + 2
 It seems like you would agree with me that backing it out 1/2" and whacking it would be fine since you "don't really need it anyway" after you get everything tightened up on the steer tube. Who cares if the star of the nut is bent if you don't use it.
  • + 3
 I understand entirely what you mean. And I agree it's not "dangerous" as what you say about removing the top cap is true once the stem is all tight.

It is however pretty damn easy to get one in far enough and straight enough without the proper tool. Just takes a bit of skill with a hammer!
[Reply]

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