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Old 10-10-08, 04:25 PM   #1
HellaStoned
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[B]Assembly and tuning for a new bike?[/B]

Hello, I'm expecting my new bike to arrive soon and had a few questions about putting it together. The bike is single speed and was shipped in "bike shop ready" condition. I plan on bringing the bike in for an initial tuning but wanted to save some money by putting it together first if possible. Would it be safe to put it together myself and ride it down to the shop? Or does the bike need to be tuned, greased, tensioned, and all that good stuff first?

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Old 10-10-08, 05:43 PM   #2
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Personally, I love assembling bikes- especially if they're mine. (I should probably mention that I'm a mechanic)

Last edited by frankenmike; 10-10-08 at 06:00 PM. Reason: clarifying
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Old 10-10-08, 05:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by HellaStoned View Post
Hello, I'm expecting my new bike to arrive soon and had a few questions about putting it together. The bike is single speed and was shipped in "bike shop ready" condition. I plan on bringing the bike in for an initial tuning but wanted to save some money by putting it together first if possible. Would it be safe to put it together myself and ride it down to the shop? Or does the bike need to be tuned, greased, tensioned, and all that good stuff first?
That bike needs to be assembled completley, by a competent shop who knows what they're doing. I really have to stress the last point. Most shops will do the fastest possible assembly (the quality will obviously by shyte).

If you don't know how to put a bike together, don't even take it out of the box. Bring it complete to a shop. A complete assembly by a competent mechanic should take roughly an hour, unless the bike is *really* nicely preassembled - which is quite rare and the shop should charge you around $50-$75.

Can you tell us which bike it is?
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Old 10-10-08, 06:15 PM   #4
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It is pretty straight forward. The most important thing is to tighten everything but don't overtighten. The smaller the fastner, the greater care you need. The way you'll know they are not tight enough is the thing being tightened will move. Snug and tight is the watchword. This applies to the the cranks, the chain ring bolts, the seat post, seat rails and handlebars. When you feel the need to go past tight be careful as these little fasteners can snap. That's why a small hand allen wrench is best as opposed to a socket-based allen. It keeps one from applying too much torque. I personally like the bike-specific tri size allen wrench. I take it with me for adjustments.

The wheels can take a good amount of tightening because they are large nuts. Tip: don't use a long socket with a long handle. Use a 15 mm box/open wrench. These are right for the job. You'll need it in your bike bag to fix flats. With the bike upside down on its seat and handlebars, make sure the wheels are centered and the chain should have a little slack in it - enough such that the chain doesn't bind when you slowly turn the cranks.

Re-check everything for tightness. Ride the bike around, stoping and adjusting for fit and once set up, re-check everyting for tightness. Do this regularly for all the fasteners and you'll be fine. A single speed is the easiest to maintain.
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Old 10-10-08, 06:23 PM   #5
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"That bike needs to be assembled completley, by a competent shop who knows what they're doing. I really have to stress the last point...."

This is actually the better answer for safety-sake.

Last edited by keesue; 10-10-08 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 10-10-08, 07:12 PM   #6
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How much and what sort of work on other bikes have you done so far? Really the question is one of the sort where the answer is "if you have to ask then you shouldn't be doing it". But if you have done some of your own minor to moderate tuning and replacement work before and had success then I'd say you can do this just fine. But feed us a bit of a "resume" so we can judge your knowledge and experience level.
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Old 10-10-08, 07:22 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice guys. I guess i'll wait to see how assembled the bike is and go from there. I'm just trying to avoid paying someone $50 to do something simple like attach my seat or handlebars.
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Old 10-10-08, 07:42 PM   #8
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Well, there's more to it than that but not a whole lot. Mostly the assembly is pretty obvious. The tricks come in with the adjustments to the brakes and getting the bolts to the correct torque.
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Old 10-10-08, 07:45 PM   #9
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I can't imagine too many people not capable of assembling a single speed bicycle. If you already own enough tools to do the job you probably have the skills to put your bicycle together.
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Old 10-10-08, 08:01 PM   #10
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Come on... It's rocket science. If you dont have a PHD in "out-of-the-box Bike assembly" don't attempt it. You'll likely die in a heap of parts before you even exit your driveway.

On the otherhand if you choose to ignore my advice above at least have a shop check your work before any major riding. It's really not that hard to put on handlebars, pedals and the seat. Save your $50 and use it toward getting that PHD or some nifty assessory.
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Old 10-10-08, 11:05 PM   #11
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Or spend $20 of it on a nice maintenance book like Zinn's.
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Old 10-11-08, 09:06 AM   #12
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Well, there's more to it than that but not a whole lot.
This could not be a bigger understatement.
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Old 10-11-08, 09:07 AM   #13
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I can't imagine too many people not capable of assembling a single speed bicycle. If you already own enough tools to do the job you probably have the skills to put your bicycle together.
Any ******bag can assemble a bike, assembling it properly is an entirely different question.
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Old 10-11-08, 09:11 AM   #14
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Thanks for the advice guys. I guess i'll wait to see how assembled the bike is and go from there. I'm just trying to avoid paying someone $50 to do something simple like attach my seat or handlebars.
Even if the bike is assembled, you cannot trust any of it. I've built hundreds of "bike shop ready" bikes out of a box. It is not just slapping on parts that were taken off to make it fit into said box.

If you do not check everything on a new assembly, you will **** something up. Which is going to end up costing you much more than having it properly assembled to begin with. Again, which bike did you purchase?

It almost sounds like that you just want confirmation to not have to pay someone to put it together rather than actually asking a question you want an answer to. So which is it?
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Old 10-11-08, 11:10 AM   #15
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This could not be a bigger understatement.
And how do you think WE all learned how to work on our bikes? ? ? ? Give the guy a chance.

Hellastoned, no one has mentioned it yet but you can find a lot of helpful details on doing all the tasks you'll need to do by going to http://www.parktool.com/repair/ . Hover your mouse over the area you need advice on and click when it turns into a finger.

Since it sounds like you're new to bicycle working there's also a wonderful resource on bicycle work and knowledge at www.sheldonbrown.com .

Between those two resources and some help from here you shouldn't run into anything you can't handle.

The only real issue is bolts threaded into aluminium parts. You obviously want to torque them down well enough to hold but not hard enough to strip out the threads. If you doubt your ability to do this then go buy a smaller inch-lb torque wrench in 1/4 inch drive size and pick up a set of 1/4 inch drive metric sockets and metric allen key tips from a tool store. With time you'll develop a feel for how tight to make stuff and won't need the torque wrench but for now it could save you a lot of time, frustration and replacement parts costs. A basic one from somewhere like Harbour Frieght for $15 isn't all that flashy but it'll keep you from doing damage. Or if you're confident that you have a feel for this sort of stuff then you can skip it.

Now having said all this if you're the sort that doesn't work with tools much and wouldn't know how to begin doing things like changing the oil on your own car and smiles with glee when you manage to put air in your tires without harm to yourself or the tire then I'd have to say take it in to the shop. But if you've tinkered successfully with other mechanical work then working on a bicycle is just an extension of that with a few new bits of skill and knowledge to be picked up along the way.
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Old 10-11-08, 12:53 PM   #16
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Just by the way you have worded your question, and this is not meant as a slight, its clear you don't have the knowledge/experience to do it right. If you are taking it to a shop anyway, any good shop is still going to go through the whole thing so you really won't save any money.

I worked as a wrench assembling new bikes at a good bike shop and initial assembly is by far the most important step in getting a good bike. We did it right, and our bikes worked correctly new and would last for years with essentially minimal maintenance.
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Old 10-11-08, 01:19 PM   #17
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"It almost sounds like that you just want confirmation to not have to pay someone to put it together"

umm.. ya basically.

My main concern was the parts not being greased if I put it together myself. Some guides will stress this step while others don't even mention it. Also concerned about proper chain tension so I wanted to post here and get some feedback/tips. I'm not really worried about lacking the "skills" of knowing which part goes where and what tool is needed. I just wanted to find out if there was anything else that I might overlook in the process and maybe get some tips on technique.

but ya like I said, I plan to ride the bike directly to the shop. So I'm sure they'll be able to adjust any of the damages I cause.

Thanks to all the constructive posters. The park tools repair page is very cool.
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Old 10-11-08, 01:43 PM   #18
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Just by the way you have worded your question, and this is not meant as a slight, its clear you don't have the knowledge/experience to do it right. If you are taking it to a shop anyway, any good shop is still going to go through the whole thing so you really won't save any money
If I had the knowledge/experience to do it right I wouldn't have created this post to begin with. Also I can't imagine them charging the same service fee for an assembled bike vs. one that is still in the box.
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Old 10-11-08, 01:44 PM   #19
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The only real issue is the brakes. You want to ensure that the pads are set right and the cables pinched tightly enough so that they don't slip when really, really needed. You can test this for yourself by applying the brake lever hard but not with a death grip. Use a "strong hand shake" sort of force. If the cable doesn't slip you're fine and the clamping screw is tight enough.

Chain tension on single speeds is a topic that seems to bring on a lot of religious fervor. The right tension is NO tension. You don't want any big degree of slack but you do NOT want the chain to get tight to the point of binding the system at any point as the pedals travel around. Due to tolerances you'll find that the free play will alter over the course of 12 to 15 circles of the pedals as the chainring, rear sprocket and chain all engage at different points and combinations. So you want to check the tension every 1/4 turn of the pedals over around 6 to 8 turns of the pedals until you get to know how "true" your system is or isn't. At the tightest point you should still be able to feel around 1/4 to 1/2 inch of easy vertical play mid way along the run. If the loosest part is more than 1 inch of easy play then check on Sheldon's article about fudging or bumping the rings for single speed/fixed gear installs. But generally if you set the tightest point to around 1/4 to 1/2 inch of easy play then the loosest portion will be fine.

When I install my single speed wheels I just pull back firmly on the rim while pinching the nuts by finger pressure and then tighten with the wrench. If by some chance it's too loose (rarely) then I'll move the cranks around a bit and do it again the same way.

There's chain tensioners of course but they really are mis-named. They would be more accurately called "axle holders" or "chain limiters" or some such drivel. They are there as insurance to make sure the axle can't slip ahead if the axle nuts are not tight enough. To set them you should install the wheel as I noted above (and as per Sheldon's site btw) and then just bring the tensioner adjustment screws up and into contact and then cinch down the locking nuts for those screws. Yer done....

Greasing or not the threads is another fairly religious topic so you may or may not see info on it. My own practice is to grease pretty much everything other than the brakes.... Keep in mind that when you grease or liberally oil the threads you should reduce the torque values to 80%'ish of the values given unless those instructions state that the torque is given for lubricated threads or have been instructed in the sentance before to lubricate the threads which implies a torque based on lubed threading.

Yes, the intitial setup is important. My apoligies to anyone that thought I was slighting that aspect. But it's a bicycle, it's not rocket science. If HellaStoned has done any basic bicycle maintanence in the past or has a semi decent background at casual wrenching on other stuff he should be able to manage an assembly and tuning. Especially since there's no shifters to worry about. And we all had to learn sometime. Assembling and tuning a single speed is not the worst way to learn this stuff. Is some of the advice to NOT do his own work based on the idea that he asked about the whole bike instead of just one part? Seems like we give out advice on how to do stuff to people that don't know about these things all the time. Just not often for a whole bike build. If he goes slow, studies the Park site and asks a couple more questions here when in doubt there's no reason at all why the bike won't go together just fine and at most would only need a quick checkover at the shop if any checking at all.

Last edited by BCRider; 10-11-08 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 10-11-08, 07:33 PM   #20
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If you want to learn about bike maintenance go ahead and do it yourself. You only learn y making your own mistakes. Later you will read about some procedure that makes you do it better next time, but you will never learn unless you start wrenching! Here are some of the things I would expect a professional to perform when setting up a new bike:

1. Adjust head set, it "should" come correctly greased.
2. Adjust bottom bracket bearings and chain line
3. Check dropout and derailleur alignment, additional charge if frame needs alignment.
4. Check and/or reinstall cranks
5. Check wheels for tension/true adjust as necessary
6. Set up derailleurs
7. Set up brakes
8. Clean and oil chain depending on how the bike was delivered
9. Install tires and tubes if necessary
10. Adjust bars and seat to fit rider.
11. All the above done with appropriate grease, loctite, oil, etc.

12. Sometimes it can be worth the money to ask the shop to upgrade and/or reinstall the cables on a new bike as this can make a huge difference in how the bike works, but some bikes come with well set up cables from the factory.
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Old 10-12-08, 05:16 PM   #21
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Some shops will do a free safety inspection of your bike. Then you could have them (pay them of course) correct any shortcomings in your assembly. I recently had such an inspection of an older bike I took down to the frame and built back up. I was looking for some feedbac/critique of my work. Only thing I needed to do was a slight cable adjustment on the RD.
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Old 10-12-08, 07:10 PM   #22
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If I had the knowledge/experience to do it right I wouldn't have created this post to begin with. Also I can't imagine them charging the same service fee for an assembled bike vs. one that is still in the box.
Wrong.

Having a customer crappily assemble a bike is WORST than building one that had not been touched. Basically that's extra labour to find out what you did wrong and then fixing it. Which is

a) more annoying
b) takes longer
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Old 10-12-08, 07:13 PM   #23
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And how do you think WE all learned how to work on our bikes? ? ? ? Give the guy a chance.
This is *really* not the way to start learning to work on bikes. Especially since the OP has already he knows jack all about bike repair re: post #18.

None of the smattering of advice offered on this thread about bike assembly is concise, complete or accurate. You are not doing him any favours.

Please, take it to a competent shop.
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Old 10-13-08, 07:08 AM   #24
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Maybe get the shop to do it, but don't make a habit of it. You see parts work themselves loose, and if I had to pay 20 bucks each time a bottom bracket had to be tightened or changed, each time a wheels bearings were loose, or each time my gears needed adjusting, I would be broke.

DON'T believe that bike assembly is a set and forget job. Most bikes bought from shops will offer you 2 years of regular services for free. Usually 1 month, 6 , 12 , 18 and 24 months. Thats alright, but if you commute 20km a day, 4 months of clicking from your bottom bracket will drive you crazy.

We've all learned through experience. We've sat there listening to mysterious clicking noises, and taken apart a pedal only to have all 30 of the loose ball bearing fall out all over our carpet. (and they're the really small ones that are really hard to find). We've had to force open bottom brackets by sticking pipes onto the end of our wrenches, and learned the hard way the importance of grease.

ANyway I gotta go to sleep but you get the point.
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