Chris King GripNut headset needed frequent adjustment
Often pitched as the “worry free” solution to loose headsets, the Chris King GripNut has some quirks that are important to consider when dealing with a headset that loosens despite constant adjustment.
First, if you are dealing with this for the first time and viewing this article, not that all headsets will come loose after initial installation. We have a hydraulic press that we use to install the headset cups but if we go too far we’d literally crush the cups themselves. So we can never quite get them 100% fully seated. The way to make this happen is to ride the bike for a while. The natural vibration will cause them to fully seat, thus making your headset loose. Re-adjusting to the proper amount will, at least with a King, get rid of any other problems, assuming it is assembled correctly.
This brings up the next possible cause if you have a constantly loosening headset. It may be that the internal collet is not seated properly into the bottom nut. If this is the case, especially if it has been this way for some time, the cause may be that the collet is damaged and needs to be replaced.
The other thing that may be the case (and may be related to all of the above) is that despite your constant adjustments you have never got it tight enough, either because you weren’t using shop grade wrenches (we recommend a long handled wrench to get the proper leverage) or because you didn’t tighten it down enough.
First, disassemble the headset and inspect the collet. King uses tight tolerances and the lip that fits into the bottom nut should be square and straight and the fit into the bottom nut should be solid.
If there is any question about the state of the collet, contact us, your local dealer, or a bike shop well-versed in the intricacies of a GripNut. Any one of those sources should be able to get replacement parts easily.
If the collet is ok, re-assemble the headset, adjust the bottom nut to the proper amount for the headset. It should be loose enough to allow the steering to move easily, while being tight enough to make sure there is no “rocking” in the steering. You can grab the front brake, turn the bars sideways and rock fore and aft to test the latter.
Next, hold the bottom nut in place while using another wrench to tighten the top nut against it. Now here’s the important part: make it REALLY tight! This is not necessarily true of most headsets but it’s very important with the Kings.
If you have everything adjusted correctly, you should be able to put both wrenches on the headset and loosen them simultaneously with all your might and not be able to budge either one of them.
If you have any problem with this adjustment, or lack the tools, again, contact us, your local dealer, or a local bike shop well-versed in the GripNut system.