Crown Race Won’t Fit on Fork? Here’s How to Fit it

You just bought a brand new fork for your mountain bike. After a few tries, you realize that the crown race won’t fit on fork. You’re confused and wondering, WHAT NOW?

To clear up any misunderstandings, this article outlines why it won’t fit and HOW a crown race should be installed on a fork that doesn’t appear to be the correct size.

Let’s right dive in!

Does My Fork Need A Crown Race?

When torque is applied, the bottom headset bearing will get fixed to the base of the steerer tube if there is no crown race present. The section of the bearing’s interior that could once rotate freely has been restricted in its movement. The bearing’s inability to move freely causes the front end to become rigid, which in turn adds additional resistance to the steering inputs. So, YES your fork NEEDS a crown race!

The crown race serves an additional purpose which is- it prevents dirt and debris from entering the internal components of the headset. If dirt is allowed to enter the headset, the user will experience a grating and abrasive sensation when steering. The head tube and the internals of the headset should be free of debris so that you can have a smooth steering experience while preventing premature wear. 

Also read: Bike chain won’t go backwards

However, the only thing that can be seen to differentiate the headtube and the fork is the crown race. If you don’t have it, the headtube of the frame and the fork will touch while they’re in their normal positions.

Because there is no space in between the two surfaces, they will grind against one another, which will cause damage to the headtube as well as the forks. (This is a Problem!) The grinding will also make steering DIFFICULT, and in certain instances, it will be IMPOSSIBLE. 

Why Won’t the Crown Race Fit On Fork?

When you are trying to install a new crown race on your fork, it can seem like there’s something wrong with your bike or with the crown race if it doesn’t fit. This is not necessarily true.

fitting a crown race on fork

There are many reasons why your crown race won’t fit on your fork, including:

  • The wrong size crown race was ordered for your bike. It is either too big or too small.
  • The crown race was not properly cleaned before being installed on your bike. If this is the case, you may see rust or dirt inside of it.
  • Your fork has been damaged and now has an uneven surface where the crown race should go.
  • The wrong type of crown race (eccentric vs non-eccentric).
  • If the steerer tube is bent, it can cause problems with installing the crown race because it won’t sit straight on top of the steerer tube.

How To Fit A Crown Race Won’t Fix On Fork?

Fitting a crown race onto a fork can seem CHALLENGING. The crown race will either crush the fork which is a huge problem or won’t fit at all. However, there are some simple ways to fit your crown race

  1. Make sure you have all the right parts (crown race, bottom bracket cups). If you have Shimano components on your bike, they should all usually come together in one package . If not, you’ll need to purchase everything separately.
  1. Clean off any dirt from around where the crown race goes so there is no debris interfering with the fit.
  1. Make sure that the screws are tightened down enough so that they don’t fall out but not so much that they strip out or break off when tightening them down further. This can happen if you tighten them too much at once without checking how tight they were first. 

However, if it appears that your forks have been used, remove the race and rub your finger along the elevated region where the race will be positioned. Check for burrs, high areas, gouges, and other irregularities. If there are any, use a tiny single-cut file to carefully clean them up.

After completing this, set the race back on the fork. Now put an old 1 1/8 stem over the steerer tube. When it comes into contact with the race, it flattens and lines it up. Tap the stem with a rubber hammer or mallet to force the race on (tap in circles around the stem).


Are All Fork Crown Races the Same?

No, all fork crowns are not the same. Different sizes correspond to different size forks. Races vary by bearing type and headset form. Some are similar, but most are incompatible.

How do you Fit a Crown Race Without Tools?

Get a piece of 4×2 that is longer than the fork vertical and place the crown’s base on top to create a crown race. After then, place the race on the fork and grab two smaller pieces of wood. Hold them in one hand, one on top of the other, with the steerer in the middle. Using a hammer, gently beat the ends alternately. Because the wood deforms before the metal race, it will seat the race precisely without warping.

Certified bike mechanic based in Orlando, Florida. With over 15 years of knowledge and experience in the industry, I can help you diagnose issues and fix them.

4 thoughts on “Crown Race Won’t Fit on Fork? Here’s How to Fit it”

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    • Amazing shot! Thanks for uploading it to Pixabay! If you could send us some more photos, we would be happy to post them and credit you under them.


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