How to Fix Sloppy Bike Steering in 5 Steps

Riding a bike is lots of fun until its parts start malfunctioning due to prolonged use. Regardless of what type of bike you ride, even if you ride a bike for 60-year-old women or the biking sport you’re into, your bike will eventually develop a fault or two after some time.

These faults aren’t necessarily as a result of inappropriate or harsh use, they happen when bolts and nuts, or even chains, slip out of place due to friction and road bumps.

This article focuses on faulty bike steering. Knowing how to fix sloppy bike steering will be useful at some point.

How to Fix Your Bike Steering

When fixing sloppy bike steering, you need to shift your focus to the bike’s headset. After going through the steps in the article, you’ll come to see that fixing your bike’s steering is a very simple process.

Why is the headset so important? The headset is a part of your BMX bike for adults that enables both your head tube and the wheel to move about their axis.

Using the right equipment, you will be able to fix your bike’s headset within the shortest possible time.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. Loosen Pinch Bolts

The first thing for you to do is to loosen the pinch bolts. If you don’t know where these bolts are (usually 2 of them), look for them on the bike’s stem.

These pinch bolts, or stem clamp bolts, are positioned parallel to the horizontal axis and are centered on the head tube. Both bolts go into the bike’s stem from opposite ends.

With the appropriate wrench size in hand, loosen these pinch bolts so that there’s enough space to adjust the bike’s steering.

2. Tighten Headset

Next thing to do when fixing sloppy bike steering is that you’ll need to tighten the headset.

There’s a pre-load bolt which you easily locate at the upper end of your cruiser bike’s stem – tighten this bolt with the aid of the appropriate wrench size (if a 5mm one doesn’t fit, try the 6mm).

Be careful not to excessively tighten the headset; if you do, the steering wouldn’t turn with ease.

3. Test Things

This is a typical step for most repairs; testing tells you if any further adjustments are to be made.

To test your adjusted headset, engage the front brake while pushing your bike to and from in a uniform line. You shouldn’t hear any funny metallic sound if you’ve made a good adjustment.

You can also hold the bike’s stem while performing this test drill. If all seems good, you can proceed to align the handlebars.

4. Carefully Align Handlebars

Now, the next thing you want to do is to align your bike’s handlebars. While the steering remains untightened, position yourself across the road bike, and paint a mental picture of how the handlebars should be straightly aligned.

Try to shift the handlebars into a position where they look perfectly in line with the front commuter tire. Try to get it the first time so as to avoid the additional stress of re-aligning it later.

After the alignment, tighten the grip of the pre-load bolt. After this step, with the confidence that your pinch bolt is well tightened, you’re good to go.

5. Consult with a Mechanic

The final recommended step is consulting your mechanic. You might not really be interested in fixing the single speed bikes yourself, or you might be having trouble identifying some parts, so your mechanic is your next stop.


Now that you know how to fix sloppy bike steering, you should be able to go about the adjustment process by yourself and we also recommend you use bike handlebar tape for extra comfort.

However, you can always call your mechanic if you’re having a hard time. If you’d be doing it yourself, take your time and get the required tools ready (a range of hex wrench sizes).

Start off with locating and loosening the pinch bolts – they are basically responsible for your steering’s flexibility. The idea is to realign the steering with respect to the front tires. Be careful not to excessively tighten the bolts when you’re rounding things up.

Follow the given tips, and you’ll have a smooth time fixing your bike’s steering.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out cycling through the best routes, reviewing the latest gear, and sharing tips on everything biking.

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