Wednesday, 18 March 2015

How to remove a Lefty SuperMax steerer tube

I wanted to make a warranty claim on my 2013 Lefty SuperMax as the lock-out had stopped working. Apparently it's a common issue in UK wet and muddy conditions.

Anyway, for UK warranty claims, you need to speak to TF Tuned. Great bunch of people who service all manner of suspension forks and shocks. Used them for years and will continue to do so.

They needed the fork to be sent to them and I don't much like going to the local bike shop after they screwed up a simple headset fitting, so that left me with removing the Lefty myself and that meant removing the steering tube.

The tools you'll need to remove the Lefty SuperMax steerer tube

  • Ernie - it's a Cannondale tool (KT020) that's specifically designed to remove Lefty steerer tubes. And it works on all types of Lefty too.
  • Mallet / hammer - you'll use this to bash Ernie which will provide the force to move the steerer tube. I use the Park Tools HMR4
  • Allen keys to remove the disc brake, wheel and stem and to loosen the Lefty clamp bolts
The Ernie tool fits into the Lefty steerer tube
and will go all the way through the head tube

Prepare the bike

  1. Remove the disc brake by undoing the 5mm allen key bolts
    • Unhook the disc brake from any cable management holders / zip ties
    • Bag the disc brake up so that it doesn't get contaminated
      • I wrap it in a bag and zip tie it up
  2. Remove the front wheel by un-doing the 5 mm allen key bolt on the hub
  3. Remove the stem cap
    • I've fitted a Thomson unit, so need to use a 5 mm allen key, but many Lefty's just come with a cap that be easily prised off with a small flat-blade screwdriver
  4. Remove the stem and any steerer tube spacers by undoing the allen key bolts on your stem
  5. Allow the stem and handlebar to naturally lay next to the bike
    • Optionally, wrap the bar in a thick cloth and zip-tie in place (this protects the stem, handlebar and cockpit controls from getting bashed or from bashing the frame)
The removed steerer tube

Removing the steerer tube

  1. Undo and remove the Lefty fork clamp bolts completely (5 mm allen key)
  2. Place the Ernie tool into the Lefty steerer from the top (the Ernie tool will fit flush with the steerer)
  3. You will need to hit the Ernie tool firmly and several times at least to dislodge the steerer tube
    • The steerer tube initially will be hard to remove, but then should come out easily enough
    • Watch the the headset seal that may fall off the top of the fork
  4. The steerer tube will fall out once you've hit it enough
    • Extra point if you can catch it before it hits the floor 
  5. With the steerer tube removed the Lefty fork can now be removed from the frame (slide it out sideways from the head tube
    • Pro-tip: add the clamp bolts back, so you don't lose them
Once done, you should be left with a steerer tube and a headset cap. They are the only two items, apart from the Lefty itself, that should come off the bike.

Headset cap in situ

Bearings underneath. There's no cap at this end

Lefty on the work bench

Re-attaching the steerer tube to a Lefty

  1. Clean and inspect the headset bearings and headset cap and grease as needed
  2. Place the Lefty fork around the head tube of the bike
    • Ensure that the Lefty clamp bolts are completely undone
  3. Place the steerer tube underneath the lower Lefty fork brace
  4. Push the steerer up through the lower Lefty fork brace as far up as you can go
  5. Place the Ernie tool into the bottom of the Lefty fork and tap up
  6. The steerer tube should move easily up and then get progressively hard as the taper start
  7. Hit the Ernie tool in the centre until the steerer tube has moved to sit flush with the headtube
  8. Do up the Lefty clamp bolts
  9. Add the stem, stem cap, wheel and disc back on and take the bike for a test ride to make sure it all works as expected
Hope this helps someone.

Note: If you have an OPI Lefty fork, I'm told the process is the same, except to remove an OPI stem, you need to undo it first from the bottom of the steerer tube in order to remove it. I believe there are specific tools for this.

Personal note: I need to get better at taking photos!