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Old 10-05-10, 01:28 PM   #1
FlyingZombo
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Newbie assembling a bike

I'm getting a bike (single speed) in the mail and it needs the following parts assembled:

Front Wheel & Quick Release Skewer;
Handlebar/stem/brake
Pedals;
Seat/seat post set;
Reflectors;
Connection of front brake cables;
Adjustment of brakes, derailleurs

Sounds like it shouldn't be too tough, but I'm a complete newbie when it comes to this stuff. The most I've ever done is remove and replace the front wheel (yup! that basic!), and I certainly don't want to put it together the wrong way.

Will most bike shops assemble a bike that isn't bought in their shop ? If so, what would you imagine the average price for something like this to be? (I'm in NYC if that helps).

Sadly, none of my friends are bike-savvy enough to help, so I'm either left to my own devices (this forum, youtube, etc.) or maybe I should play the safe bet and have a pro do it.

What do you guys/girls think? Is something like this tricky, or do you think with some time, patience and help from the internets, I could figure it out on my own?

Thanks!
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Old 10-05-10, 01:33 PM   #2
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They'll charge you enough that you will not have saved anything by the time they are done.

You'd need to buy some tools and do some reading but nothing on it is that hard. You can find all the instructions to do what is needed and how to do it at www.parktool.com/repair . Just hover your mouse over the parts you are wondering about and click when the right flag name pops up.

The only custom tool you may need is a pedal wrench. They often need a much thinner than typical general purpose wrench. Or if you have access to a grinder you could use it to thin down a regular combination wrench to work as a very nice pedal wrench. Here's how to shape it.

One last item. A lot of newbies will tend to want to over tighten the small 5 and 6 mm machine screws typically used on bike stuff. You don't need to twist it until it snaps. If you are using a regular length L shaped allen key you can achieve a good safe torque with only two or three fingers on the wrench very easily and the pressure from the wrench should not be enough to hurt or leave a significant mark in your fingers.
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Last edited by BCRider; 10-05-10 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 10-05-10, 01:41 PM   #3
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Advice above is good, and the list of what you have to do is obviously generic - no derailleurs, don't know if you have no brakes, one or two. Put it together, have a shop check it over if you have problems - much cheaper than having them assemble it.
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Old 10-05-10, 02:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice and for the link. I've got the basic tools, I believe (and yes, the list of what to do was generic), but the good thing is that worst case scenario, I do as much as I can and then bring the rest to my LBS and ask them to help.

If anything, it should be good experience!
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Old 10-05-10, 02:47 PM   #5
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I don't see you having much trouble with assembling the bike. The step that may give you trouble is adjusting the brakes. Getting the chain tension correct could be tricky the first time, assuming the chain is off the chainring (front gear) or cog (back gear).

Some bike shops are very diligent in bike assembly, opening the bearings, greasing them and adjusting them. Other shops just whip the bikes together as fast as they can. I just purchased a bike from Holland. The Manufacturer insisted that I have it assembled by a professional to preserve the warranty. It cost $95.00 because the bike was quite complicated. As well as the usual items, the bike had front and back racks and fenders. Putting everything together was time consuming, not difficult. Setting everything up so that nothing is rubbing can be fussy.

My guess is that assembly of a single speed would be about $50. If you have it half done and take it in to be finished, I can see them charging you for a basic tune-up. These cost about $50.

Good Luck.
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Old 10-05-10, 03:43 PM   #6
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open box, pull out post and grease it, set aside. cut all zip ties and remove front wheel. grease seat binder bolt, insert post and put bike in the stand. strip packaging. grease all stem bolts and install bar. grease headset preload bolt. grease and install pedals. turn all barrel adjusters in. check crank torque/install. true wheels and check for tension. adjust hubs. adjust brakes. adjust derailuers. adjust headset.
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Old 10-05-10, 03:56 PM   #7
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Just a quick added note to the replies above. If this is your first single speed/fixie take note that the "proper tension" is just barely no tension at all. The chain should not be sloppy at all but on the other hand it should not go tight enough to feel "twangy" at any point over 5 or 6 pedal rotations. You need to check it over that many because as the rear gear and front ring move around and pass through all the possible combinations the "high" teeth, and there will be some, line up at different spots. So it may be fine for 4 or 5 pedal revolutions and then suddenly go G string tight on the 6th rotation. So check it properly. If it goes tight you'll feel it as a resistance in the crank arm and the chain will look like it is vibrating like a music instrument string. If that happens you have no real choice but to loosen the tension slightly or to try loosening the chainrings in the hope that it'll shift slightly and not create a similar tight spot elsewhere.
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Old 10-05-10, 04:14 PM   #8
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Just make sure you don't get the fork backwards. The fork should curve forward, not backward. I can't say how many times somebody has brought one of those into the shop that they proudly assembled [with the fork backwards].
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Old 10-05-10, 04:45 PM   #9
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After you feel the bike is as good as you can get it, call around to some LBSs and ask how much they would charge to give the bike a once-over... As implied above, some will resent the online purchase and quote youy a price high enough to keep you out of the store, but some might have a technician with free time and be happy to get $40 to fine tune a derailleur and the brakes.
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Old 10-06-10, 12:54 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tip. I'm not sure how far I'll get considering I know very little, but I'm sure I can get at least some of it done. My LBS said they'd charge around $40 for a single speed. I'm a bit torn between doing this and just buying a cheap ($200) used bike from a shop. The strange thing is that the used shops in my area all sell bikes that are 20+ years old. Not that that's a bad thing, but it seems like I can't find a used bike that's, say, 5 years old.

I know this veers out of the mechanics category, but for a sub $300 bike, for light commuting, city rides (again, low mileage) and something half-way decent, what would you recommend? Keep in mind, I need a small frame and don't want anything too heavy.
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Old 10-06-10, 02:52 PM   #11
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Look on craigslist for the used bike. just make sure that you know your size and how to fit a bike.

$40 is too bad for someone to lookover the bike and fix your mistakes.

I don't know what is a good deal without some specifics like, type, brand, model, year, some photos will help alot.

There is a lot of difference between a huffy one speed and a bianchi track bike.

if these are single speed, then ask in the single speed forum or if they are 20 years old, ask in the C&V appraisal forum.

Last edited by cyclist2000; 10-06-10 at 02:59 PM.
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