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Old 11-03-06, 11:33 AM   #1
parham55
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How to align stem and wheel

Any tricks on how to make everything true after replaceing a stem? The ride, adjust, repeat method is a bit aggrevating. Thanks
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Old 11-03-06, 11:37 AM   #2
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tighten stem so that it's not too loose but can still be moved, get it in postion, tighten. it's the only way.

Last edited by rea1high; 11-03-06 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 11-03-06, 11:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parham55
Any tricks on how to make everything true after replaceing a stem? The ride, adjust, repeat method is a bit aggrevating. Thanks
I find it is easiest to stand in front of the bike, turn the wheel about 45 degrees to one side. I grip the wheel between my knees, close one eye and sight down along the bar/stem/wheel.

Turning the wheel drastically to the side helps keep you from getting confused by the frame's top tube.

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Old 11-03-06, 11:38 AM   #4
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The initial eyeball and tighten method always works for me. No further tweeking necessary.
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Old 11-03-06, 11:46 AM   #5
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I have a long loop of velcro that I use for this. Wrap it over down tube and through front wheel and pull tight and attach it to itself. This centers front wheel under downtube and frees up both of your hands to get stem straight. If you are really wanting to get it straight, use a square and masking tape to lay out two lines 90 degrees apart on the floor and set bike one line of tape and align bars to other line of tape.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 11-03-06, 12:40 PM   #6
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What an opportunity for someone to come out with a $300 laser centering device. Then someone from China will knock it of for $5.99 and sell it at Harbor Freight.
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Old 11-03-06, 12:53 PM   #7
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What an opportunity for someone to come out with a $300 laser centering device. Then someone from China will knock it of for $5.99 and sell it at Harbor Freight.
I don't know about $5 precision instruments from China. My $5.99 digital caliper from Harbor Freight reads 27.0 against my 27.2 seatpost.
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Old 11-03-06, 01:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
I don't know about $5 precision instruments from China. My $5.99 digital caliper from Harbor Freight reads 27.0 against my 27.2 seatpost.
Which is why they keep their selling price low. They know that they can make crap and sell it cheap and the consumer will be sucked in by the price and then not be arsed enough to take it back, becuase it is not worth the $5.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 11-03-06, 02:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsharr
I have a long loop of velcro that I use for this. Wrap it over down tube and through front wheel and pull tight and attach it to itself. This centers front wheel under downtube and frees up both of your hands to get stem straight.
genius idea!

i was thinking about cutting some old handle bars down to width of my front wheel, and having something attached to which i could line up against the wheel.
I probably never will though, i guess if i was building a lot of bikes i'd make something though
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Old 11-03-06, 02:52 PM   #10
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Not that I want to argue with SB, but I like to straddle the top tube and sight down from the rear, using the top tube as a guage, line up the wheel, and stem to the top tube. Any variation along the line of the top tube I obvious.

How are you gettin along these days Mr. Brown?
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Old 11-03-06, 05:12 PM   #11
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Thank you Mr. Brown! That seemed to work great. Also thanks for your site. I spent the day pondering my fixed gear build. To everyone else I appreciate your help very much too.
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Old 11-03-06, 05:21 PM   #12
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I stand over the bars and sight down to the fork dropouts. This way the bars are aligned with the wheel.
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Old 11-04-06, 09:15 AM   #13
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I use a bit more quantitative method:

With the front wheel off, I use a tape measure to ensure an equal distance between symmetric features. For example, I'll measure between a feature on the centerline of the stem (like a bolt or logo) and to the front lip of the dropouts. Assuming the bike is symetric, an equal distance ensures alignment. The longer the distance you can measure, the more accurate you'll be. You can get to about 1/32" accuracy with a standard tape measure.

I've also used a string to do the same measurement. I've put a hex wrench into on of the bar clamp screw head that is on the bike's centerline, tied a piece of string around the wrench (made a loose loop so it is free to seek it's natural straight line), and marked the string where it contacts inside lip corner of the dropout. The marks should be at the same location for alignment. Note, the string should be pulled with the same tension at all times.

Of course, this only works if you have a known centerline, symmetric forks and a workstand.

I know it sounds nerdy.
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Old 11-04-06, 09:21 AM   #14
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no reason why you couldn't simplify that and run a piece of string though your stem (handle bars off) and through the drop outs on your forks, pull it tight and it should square it up.

In theory anyway.
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Old 11-04-06, 08:45 PM   #15
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"This is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules"

I LOVE that movie, one of my lifetime favorites!! I also use a quote for my sig, but on another site. It reads.....

"Oh boy, how you gonna keep em down on the farm once they've seen Karl Hungus."
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Old 11-04-06, 09:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
I don't know about $5 precision instruments from China. My $5.99 digital caliper from Harbor Freight reads 27.0 against my 27.2 seatpost.
Then again, where was your seatpost made?
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Old 11-04-06, 10:29 PM   #17
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"This is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules"

I LOVE that movie, one of my lifetime favorites!! I also use a quote for my sig, but on another site. It reads.....
Ay......MEN! One of my top faves!

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Old 11-05-06, 12:38 AM   #18
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I always use the one-eye-closed method, although I must say I have found slight imperfections on that when viewing the bike as it sits on my roof rack on the car. Not sure why that gives me a better angle to view it, though. Either way, I have had it off by a slight amount and never noticed a problem controlling the bike or any kind of drift in either direction, so I figure being off by 1-2 degrees does less than the amount of lean I'm doing because the energy bar in my left pocket doesn't balance the weight of the drivetrain on the right side of my bike (tongue in cheek, but you get the picture).
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Old 11-05-06, 12:56 AM   #19
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Easiest method is to sight the handlebar, not the stem. Lay a straightedge across the fork blades, then look over the handlebars and make them parallel to the straightedge. Much easier to see small variations than stem vs. top tube, tire whatever.
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Old 11-05-06, 07:33 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parham55
Any tricks on how to make everything true after replaceing a stem? The ride, adjust, repeat method is a bit aggrevating. Thanks
Back in the days when I had my own shop I would occasionally have a customer return with such complaints. My solution was to have the customer stand over the bike while I loosened the stem. Then I'd tell them to put the stem wherever they thought was straight and I'd tighten it back. Nobody ever came back for a redo afterwards so it must have been OK.

I have a personal friend who would actually hang his bikes from the back wheel. Then he'd hang a plumb bob from the stem and put a spirit level across the fork legs. Yup, you guessed it - he owns a computer software company.

It kind of reminds me of my youth. If my sister and I were going to share a candy bar my mother would have one of us cut it in half and the other choose first. We'd spend a lot of time with the cutting and choosing process but I learned that if it was so close that it was hard to tell which half was bigger it didn't matter. The same thing's true about bicycle stem alignment.
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Old 11-06-06, 02:06 AM   #21
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I just stand over the bike as one would as riding and sight the leading edge of the handle bars with the hub.
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Old 11-06-06, 11:30 AM   #22
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Why do people not trust there eyes?

Adjust so it looks right. If it looks out it's out. If it looks true it's true. I can come over and do the same for the pictures on your wall.
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