How to Assemble a Mountain Bike MTB - Headset and Suspension Fork

Chapter 1 - Headset and Suspension Fork

This hub belongs to a series of hubs about How to Assemble a Mountain Bike.


This part of the process is very important because if both the headset or the suspension fork are not well assembled it can cause an accident when riding the bicycle.

First step - Headset

I usually start by assembling the headset into the headtube of the frame and into the fork tube.

The headset is the rotating mechanism that provides rotational interface between the suspension fork and the bicycle frame itself.

The most difficult part is to insert the cups into proper position without scratching the frame and that is why I use another tool (Headset assembling tool) which presses both cups (which concealed the bearings) into the top and bottom of the headtube at the same time.

If you do not have this tool you must use a Polyurethane hammer (pu-hammer) or instead you can always use two pieces of wood and a normal hammer. The wood boards will protect the frame and assure that the cups are inserted properly.

Next it is necessary to insert the crown race (ring that connects with the headset) into the suspension fork tube.

Once more it is possible to perform this task with the help of a specific tool which will make it much easier but if you wish you can also use the pu-hammer to insert the crown race.

You must make sure that the crown race ring is totally inserted and completely aligned with the fork crown.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Headset assembling tool Crown race assembly toolCrown race in proper position
Headset assembling tool
Headset assembling tool
Crown race assembly tool
Crown race assembly tool
Crown race in proper position
Crown race in proper position

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Cutting the fork tube and assembling the stem

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using the tubbing cutter tool to cut the fork tubeAfter finishing the cuttingSmoothing the top of the tubeInserting the suspension tube into the headsetCompleting the headsetInserting the spacersFixating the stem to the suspension tubeFixating the stem to the suspension tube
Using the tubbing cutter tool to cut the fork tube
Using the tubbing cutter tool to cut the fork tube
After finishing the cutting
After finishing the cutting
Smoothing the top of the tube
Smoothing the top of the tube
Inserting the suspension tube into the headset
Inserting the suspension tube into the headset
Completing the headset
Completing the headset
Inserting the spacers
Inserting the spacers
Fixating the stem to the suspension tube
Fixating the stem to the suspension tube
Fixating the stem to the suspension tube
Fixating the stem to the suspension tube
Tube Cutting Guide
Tube Cutting Guide
Metal Handsaw
Metal Handsaw

Second step - Assembling the suspension fork

After having the race crown on the right place in the end of the suspension fork tube it is time to start the assembling of the suspension fork into the frame.

First thing to do is to insert the tube inside the mounted headset and then put the spacers and the stem to evaluate where do you have to cut the tube. Make sure you insert the fork tube until the race crown gets in contact with the lower headset bearing.

It is very important to use the spacers to allow the tube to remain long enough for you to be able to use it in any other bike or even to sell it and others can mount it on other frame without problems.

After deciding where you are going to cut the tube you should mark the place and remove the stem and the spacers from the fork tube. You should also take the fork from the frame to be able to cut the tube without any chance of damaging the frame.

Then you can use a tubbing cutter tool to cut the tube on the marked point or, if you do not have that tool you can always use a metal handsaw with the help of a tube cutting guide tool.

It is very important to get a leveled cut so that the stem can be proper fixed into place. In the end you should work the top of the tube to make it smother and cleaner.

Then it is time to assemble the spacers and the stem so that the suspension fork become fixed to the frame in order to continue the assembling process. Once again do not forget to insert the fork tube until the race crown gets in contact with the lower headset bearing. This way you can be sure there will be no clearances and the suspension will be working fine.

Make sure you use a torque wrench to fasten the stem bolts in order to have them tighten with the exact strenght (recomended by the manufacturer).

Install a Threadless Stem

Everything on this page (including the photos) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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You did not understood something or are having some difficulties? Please feel free to ask me, I will try my best to help you out. You can post your questions on the comments box bellow or contacting me through the Contact funride link.

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Comments 3 comments

health blog 7 years ago

Good info,thanks for your sharing!


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

not for me hun...but I see you sure know what you are doing...Nice hub...Love ya G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace


funride profile image

funride 7 years ago from Portugal Author

Thanks Health Blog.

Eheheheh... Oh G-Ma, you don´t need to worry about it because if you ever need to repair your bicycle you just need to call me and I´ll be there in a blink. Love you too...

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