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  1. #1
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    Installing computer, lights, etc for newbie: how hard is it?

    I'm buying my first bike and the LBS (not very local) offers free installation of accessories you purchase there. I'm not sure if I like their offerings -- although I suppose they're probably fine.

    How difficult is it to self-install a little computer, lights, change out a saddle, and maybe add a rear rack and such? I may get fenders at some point, but not really ready for that yet, I guess. I'm not a gadget genius and I'm new at this, but I can follow directions.
    Fitness rider on a 2010 Specialized Sirrus Sport, traveling on windy, hilly country roads with gravel shoulders. Hate the wind but love to ride! :)

  2. #2
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Those accessories are very basic, if you've used common
    hand tools(screwdrivers, allen wrenches, etc.); you should
    have no problems. If you do come across any difficulty,
    you can always get help from Bikeforums

  3. #3
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    Lights are easy. Computer may be a little tricky depending on which sensors you add (cadence, wheel) and/or wire routing. You will definitely want water bottle cages and a seat bag to carry a spare tube, patch kit, multi-tool, and a place to carry your keys, ID, phone, etc.

  4. #4
    I am a caffine girl colleen c's Avatar
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    It's really not that hard. Reading the instruction of setting the time on the computer is harder than installing it.

    Since the LBS is willing to install it for free, than why not use their service this time around and check out how they install it and follow that example? Then the next time you can DIY when you buy upgrade stuff.
    "Difference between a well dressed cyclist riding a two wheeled bicycle and a badly dressed cyclist riding a Recumbent is only a-tire"
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    Thanks for the input, guys. So based on what you're saying, I'm thinking I should have the LBS do the bike computer and a kickstand (yes, I need one), and they throw in the bottle cage; then I can handle the lights, seat bag, and (if needed) saddle change. The rear rack can wait. Appreciate the feedback!
    Fitness rider on a 2010 Specialized Sirrus Sport, traveling on windy, hilly country roads with gravel shoulders. Hate the wind but love to ride! :)

  6. #6
    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Sure. Get a basic computer from them, the CatEye Enduro is more than enough and is a solid choice. Shouldn't be > $35 (list price) hopefully a bit less. Anything from Planet Bike is good too. These are all solid choices and will last years. Don't go crazy on the computer; you may not need one at all (I have one and hardly ever pay any attention to it - what, are you worried you're going to exceed the speed limit?) but you certainly don't need more than current/average speed, odometer and time of day. Max speed is amusing to have and all comps have it. You don't need cadence unless you're training, which means you don't need it, and cadence runs both the price and complexity up.

    Installing a basic computer is very easy. Just be sure to mount the magnet and sensor as close to the hub as you can get (no need to get silly about it though), and make sure that the wires can't touch the wheel or interfere with the brakes. Use zip ties or electrical tape to secure the wire, loop extra wire under the stem. If your bike has a suspension fork, make sure to leave a bit of a loop around the spring so that it can flex there and won't head into the tire when it does.

    The trickiest part is setting the wheel size but if you follow the instructions that's easy too.

    Nothing else outside of messing with the derailleur is even as hard as that. If you decide to start working on the bike yourself, wait for Nashbar or someone to put a basic tool kit on sale, you can buy it for < $40, and pick up the Park Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair (or just use Park's website for help)
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
    It's really not that hard. Reading the instruction of setting the time on the computer is harder than installing it.

    Since the LBS is willing to install it for free, than why not use their service this time around and check out how they install it and follow that example? Then the next time you can DIY when you buy upgrade stuff.
    I agree with Collen. Free is a GOOD 4 letter word that starts with F.
    You'll get it on the bike 1-2-3 and most likely at a fair price with little stress.

    My suggestion is to stick with WIRED vs Wireless for many reasons.
    I like Cateye and still have one about 7 years old keeping track of my rides.
    I only care about Speed as I lead rides and want to keep the pace as listed and mileage so I can follow cue shets and total miles for the day.


    Good Luck
    Robert
    Not The Slowest, Never The Fastest, even Solo

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    Lights are easy. Computers can be finicky, but bike shops know how to install them, so let them. You may as well learn how to install the saddle, because there's a fair chance you'll want to adjust it later (tilt and setback), and it's easier to see how to do that when the seatpost is off the bike and upside down.

    Fenders, do it yourself. Yes, they're finicky to install. But if you have any mechanical abilities at all, whatsoever, to the point of being able to put a cap back on a pen, you can figure out how to put them on just as fast as most LBS employees. To be fair, unless they've been around for quite a few years, they've never had to put them on.

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    Yeah, but the advantage of having the shop install the saddle for a newbie is that the shop "usually" installs the saddle in a relatively neutral position. I've installed a saddle myself before and put it in waaaaay the wrong position - nowadays I would never do that, but when I was a newb it's something that I've done...

  10. #10
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    The trickiest part is setting the wheel size but if you follow the instructions that's easy too.

    If your LSB is a Trek dealer and the computer you are looking at is a Bontrager, let them install it. My wife got one for her bike for me to install and the instruction totally suck. The computer may be a good one; she's only had it for two weeks, so I can't make a definite statement. However, if someone didn't explain or mention wheel size setting's you would never know about it because it is only mentioned once but doesn't tell you how or where to set it. That holds true for the other functions as well. The instructions are nothing but a single piece of paper printed on both sides with 80% instructions in a foreign language. The other stuff you mentioned is child's play, even if you aren't mechanically inclined.
    Last edited by John_V; 06-30-11 at 02:31 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Great specifics -- and thanks for the brand info too. Just what I needed to know! You guys are great!
    Fitness rider on a 2010 Specialized Sirrus Sport, traveling on windy, hilly country roads with gravel shoulders. Hate the wind but love to ride! :)

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    it will save you some time and aggravation to have them do it. I can't tell you how many times I've struggled to get something to fit.

    however now that everything is on and on the way I want them on - I'm maybe happier than if someone else did the work. also there's a good likelihood that you'll want to make some changes.

    bottom line - you'll be on the road sooner with less annoyance. this is good because there are lot's of other things to learn and get good at. lots of people get discouraged so the fewer things that stand in your way of your first fun rides, the better.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  13. #13
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    A girl rider resources

    Hi Mysterious Lady:
    Nice nick, uber misterious!
    Well, I am a girl like you, and I can also follow directions which is a commandbile quality for a girl (at least some guys think that). I have been installing most of the bike parts myself. The ones you mentioned are basic, and the tools required are very basic as well. My rule is, if it has a manual, and it is sold to the general public, then it is installable.
    In case I run into trouble, here are some resources in my tool box:
    1. youtube.com - if a product video is not there, something similar is.
    2. ehow.com - usually provides some good step-by-step directsions
    3. manufacturer's sites and tech support
    4. calling bicycle shops (LBS) and getting some free advice
    5. and, if all else fails, getting my husband to install it for me.
    Alexandra

  14. #14
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    If your LSB is a Trek dealer and the computer you are looking at is a Bontrager, let them install it. My wife got one for her bike for me to install and the instruction totally suck.
    The instruction booklet included with the Bontrager computers is very limited. Here is a link to the Bontrager Web site where you can download the complete owner's manual for the various computers. These owner's manuals are much more detailed and will probably answer any installation or configuration question you have:

    http://bontrager.com/support/owners_manuals

  15. #15
    Papaya King waynesworld's Avatar
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    A few thoughts on computers:

    The Enduro mentioned above is a solid choice. Personally, I went with a Sigma 1009, for under $20. It was the first one I'd ever installed. I watched some youtube vids, read the instructions, and it was easy. I also wanted a wired one. One less battery, and wireless ones don't seem to have the kinks worked out yet, from all the complaints I read. Some like them, though.

    You really need to measure your tires, not just use the guide in the manual. My 32's were way off what was listed in the manual. The best way (that I know of) to do this is by putting a drop of oil or grease on you tire, then rolling the bike across your driveway, garage, whatever. Then measure the distance between the marks. Do it twice and make sure they are the same, or within a millimeter or so. Even if you have the LBS set up your computer, you might want to do this, and then check the settings. There is no guarantee that the person setting it up will care like you will. I can't take credit for this idea, I read it here on BF
    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
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  16. #16
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    I just bought a Trek 7100 WSD and bought a bike computer (Bontrager Trip 2--has everything except cadence and HR) at the same time, so the shop could install it, and I'm so glad I did. I know I could have gotten a bike computer cheaper elsewhere, but I think it would have been difficult for me to install it well. It attaches with zip ties, and the wires need to be routed just right. It was definitely worth getting them to install it imo. They also installed the kickstand I bought.

    I don't have any of the other accessories you mentioned, other than a little underseat bag. I got the Avenir Bigmouth, size small, from amazon for $10, and I like it a lot. It's little and holds everything (essentials) that I need. Very well made with a waterproof bottom. It also comes in med and large. The straps go straight up between the saddle rails, then over and down each side and around the bottom to click together. A third velcro strap goes around the seatpost. Very easy!

    Have fun with your bike!
    Last edited by goagain; 07-07-11 at 08:21 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Commando303's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mysterious Lady View Post
    I'm buying my first bike and the LBS (not very local) offers free installation of accessories you purchase there. I'm not sure if I like their offerings -- although I suppose they're probably fine.

    How difficult is it to self-install a little computer, lights, change out a saddle, and maybe add a rear rack and such? I may get fenders at some point, but not really ready for that yet, I guess. I'm not a gadget genius and I'm new at this, but I can follow directions.
    The things you mention can be quite easy to do, but, when I'm beginning to learn something, I frankly become rather annoyed by people who've been at it for years telling me how simple the work is. Some of the equipment you buy might come with installation instructions; your success, then, could come down largely to how well-written/-illustrated these are (I, for instance, hate many of Ikea's furniture-assembly diagrams). Here, however, is a quick run-through of the specific jobs you've mentioned:

    Saddle: it's held onto the seatpost (the metal rod directly attached to the bottom of what you sit on) by a clamp assembly (part of the seatpost) that bites onto a pair of rails (permanently fixed to the underside of the saddle). When you buy a new saddle, it won't come with a new seatpost; you'll get just the thing you sit on, with its own pair of rails, underneath. What you'll do is loosen the clamp assembly (using a screwdriver), slide out the the old saddle from the seatpost, slide the new saddle onto the post, and tighten the clamp around the new saddle's rails.

    Lights: if battery-operated, they often come with some little assembly that can be wrapped around the handlebar of the bike (for a headlight; a taillight typically is placed along the length of the seatpost, or on the rear rack), then tightened with a screwdriver. The complexity of installing bicycle lighting tends to manifest when you're using lights that are run by a generator powered by the bicycle; matters are further complicated if you choose to run the wiring (from the light to the generator) through the inside of the bike's frame (which is hollow), rather than over its outside.

    Cyclocomputer: I don't use one, but I have seen a few, and the difficulty of installation tends to be greater than that for a saddle or for battery-run lights, but it still is something you can do yourself (i.e., you don't tend to need any special tools or a strong amount of knowledge or dexterity).

    I will say, most bike-shops, like auto-shops, make a good deal of money from selling labor (fine, the car folk rely on this a lot more). Unlike with an automobile, though, working on many aspects of a bicycle is something most people can handle on their own, if they get over the initial intimidation. Unless you're talking about something like building a wheel — which even professionals need plenty of practice to get good at — you'll probably be able to manage a lot of your bike-stuff, yourself.

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