Installing a Mountain Bike Headset with Free Rental Press
Building up my new Yeti 575 frame and it needed a new headset bearing and race installed. I ordered the parts, but not a press so when it went time to install it I took a look around my garage to see what would work and I landed on a spring compressor for vehicle shocks. I happened to have one, but you can rent them for free at any autozone or similar autoparts store.
Optional: Impact Driver
First thing I did was clean out the old headset area. Used a wire brush, simple green and a rag. It looked decent with no major imperfections from the old race being removed.
Next I greased the bearing race and insides of the headset. Then I placed the top race WITH ALL BEARING PARTS REMOVED on top of the headset. You really do not want to be putting any force on the bearings so make sure they are completely removed from the race. Then I used my car shock compressor and reversed the orientation of the pieces that grab the spring, this way I had a larger flat area on top of the race. Threaded it onto the bottom spring grabber piece and used an impact gun to take out the slack and line it up.
Then using a socket wrench I tightened the spring compressor making sure the race was being pulled into the headset evenly by changing the angle of the compressor if needed. Once it seats completely to the headset you will feel the difference on the wrench.
Next I removed the compressor, repeated the process with the bottom race (grease, insert, install spring compressor with the flat sides against the race. Using the same method with the impact gun to take out slack.
Then tighten it down completely with a socket wrench.
Once it is completely installed make sure to inspect that the bearing race in sitting evenly on the headset. Then install all bearings and caps, the bottom bearing rack on the fork and then install the fork into the headset and attach handlebars.
Everything should fit together nicely.
A lot of people make their own tools for this project which work great, I just happened to have this spring compressor already (from the lift kit install on the 75 bronco in the background). They can be rented for free at autozone and seemed to work really well for me.
Comment with any other DIY homemade tool ideas you guys have for installing a headset!