Bike assembly – fork and headset

To complete the frame, we have to put the fork on the bike. The part that connects the fork to the frame is called the headset. It is responsible for holding the fork in place and allowing it to rotate with the front wheel. This is a 3 step process – placing the headset on the frame and measuring the proper fork length, cutting the fork and installing it on the frame.

Ingredients and tools:

  • a fork of choice, for city driving, 80-100mm (or a rigid fork)
  • a headset fitting your frame and some grease
  • a rubber mallet
  • a marker and a bike stem (just for measuring)
  • a metal saw and a fork holder (optional)
  • a starnut and a starnut setter (optional)
  • some rags or toilet paper for cleaning

Time and cost:

Half an hour. The cost depends on the number of components you already have or need to buy.


Stuff1. Collect all the materials you need. For starters, this is just the headset, the frame, some grease and a rubber mallet. Clean the headset as well as you can and grease the bearings. You should be able to rotate it’s parts without noticeable friction or sounds. Headsets come in different forms and sizes, so you need to get one that fits your frame. Most of them are intercompatible, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Use the rubber mallet to put the parts of the headset in the head tube.

2. Next, there is a part of the headset that fits on the fork crown. Place it there, make sure it is tight. Use a screwdriver and a mallet to fit it all the way if needed. On the next image this part is already placed on the fork. SizingInsert the fork through the frame and place all the parts of the headset on it. Also, place the stem you intend to use on the bike on the fork. Make sure everything fits snuggly. When you do that, mark (line with a marker) the place where the fork protrudes out of your setup (headset+stem). You will have to cut the fork about 3-4mm below this mark, otherwise, it will be too long. Use a metal Sizingsaw to do this. Try to get a nice, clean cut. Your fork is now properly sized.

3. Finally, you have to insert the star nut in the fork tube. This nut is used to hold the stem to the tube more securely. The star nut is usually quite difficult to put in the tube with normal tools. You can get a star nut tool online. A very high quality setter can beStarnut bought here. If you don’t want to buy this tool, you can use a screwdriver to put the nut in the tube (you will need significant force and patience to do this). Once the nut is in the tube, you are done. Feel free to install the fork on the frame at this point. To do it, you will also need to install the stem, which should be very simple. Make sure the alignment of the stem-fork-frame is good before you tighten the stem nuts. In the end, tighten all the nuts, including the star nut. If you don’t have a torque wrench, use common sense – tighten well, but don’t overtighten.

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