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Can I assemble a bike?

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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Can I assemble a bike?

Old 01-25-21, 06:56 PM
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Ursula
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Can I assemble a bike?

I plan to buy a fixed gear bike with hand brakes. I noticed that I can buy nearly the same bike on line, delivered to my door unassembled, for about half of what I would pay at the bicycle shop. According to Amazon commenters, it isn't hard to put together. But I don't know anything about assembling hardware. I'd hate get stuck halfway through and need to call on my know-it-all upstairs neighbor. Has anyone assembled a fixie and can you say how difficult it would be for a good reader with poor mechanics? I appreciate your advice.
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Old 01-25-21, 07:28 PM
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Depends on how mechanically inclined you are, what tools you have at your disposal, how patient you are, and how willing you are to seek out and follow instructions. I'd say it's extremely simple, but my experience makes me biased.
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Old 01-25-21, 07:41 PM
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Also depends on what needs to be assembled. For example, if the bike only requires installing the pedals, turning the handlebars and tightening it, etc., then you should be able to do it yourself. However, you'll have to make adjustments so the bike fits you properly eg. seat height, bars.

Anyone who can manage a can opener should be able to final assemble a fixed/single speed.....even your know-it-at neighbour shouldn't complain too much helping out......
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Old 01-25-21, 07:46 PM
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You can do anything with youtube as your assistant
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Old 01-25-21, 08:03 PM
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I'm sure you can do it, Speedway. You have all winter to figure it out!
You will know your way around your new bike much better than a rider that took delivery of a fully assembled bike.
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Old 01-25-21, 08:28 PM
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Almost anyone can "assemble" a bike out of a box and it will likely ride, but seasoned mechanics almost always find something that needs a little tweaking or additional adjustment beyond basic assembly. How discerning of a rider are you? Some won't care or even notice if there are minor issues while others demand better.
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Old 01-25-21, 09:39 PM
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I’d say go for it! You just might enjoy it and find it empowering. The good news is there’s really not much to a fixed gear, the only thing I see is cutting steerer tube and BB install, the BB if not installed already is pretty easy just need the right tool. Steerer tube 25 bucks @ lbs
If you do not have tools some of the money your saving would be spent on tools. But once you buy them you have them, also you can do adjustments and have a better understanding how your bike works. The mechanic sub here and YouTube and reading a lot also park tool has resources. Go for it take your time, have fun👍
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Old 01-25-21, 09:43 PM
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I've rarely encountered a new-in-box bike that didn't need the wheels trued to some degree.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:33 PM
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If you have the tools and knowledge (which it sounds like probably not) then yes you could do it. However an Amazon bike is going to probably need some serious work (if it doesn't come broken) and likely the people putting it in the box are literally trying to shove it into the box as fast as possible and putting it together just barely enough because they are probably getting paid by the bike so quality is not important nor is safety or anything like that.

Nearly the same bike is a scary proposition in this case because I can buy two bikes that on first glance look similar enough but are vastly different hence the difference in price. Plus with the bike at the shop it is built and ready to go with warranties and support behind it. Some companies really don't have warranties so if the bike gets built poorly who cares they are long gone from the equation or expect Amazon to deal with it (poorly in the case of bikes) and the ones that do will likely have it assembled by a professional mechanic to validate the warranty.

Keep in mind time is money! Though if you did want to learn a single speed or fixed gear would be the easier bike to learn on but without the proper tools I will still want to bring it to the shop so again time and then also more money.
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Old 01-26-21, 12:19 AM
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You should have no difficulty. You will learn things along the way and be proud of the result. You will also feel more confident embarking on long rides knowing you can fix anything that goes wrong.
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Old 01-26-21, 05:52 AM
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Check list of step to build a bike
This is all inclusive starting from a bare frameBuilding bikes



Headset cups

Fork crown race

Fork/frame grease and assemble

Insert "stand seatpost" and place frame in stand by clamping stand (if an odd size then lightly clamp top tube with soft towel protecting paint)

BB Chase

BB install (various degrees of complexity)

BB taper grease

Pedal thread inspection

Removal thread inspection

DS crank installation and runout check

NDS crank install

Dust caps

Shifter/brifter mount

DT cable stop mount (depending) w threadlock

Rd grease and install

Insert cassette or fw

Insert rear wheel to frame

Rd stop adjusting

Find the right ferrules to match frame

Fd alignment to chainring

Fd install light pressure

Adjust FD cable stops

Remove chain links to largest possibility

Install chain

Shifter cables inner insert into brifter or DT shifter

If brifters, carefully determine outside cable length and match each side, cut and dry fit

Trim or grind outer cable ends flat

Open cable inner wit dental tool and make sure inner cable passes through smoothly

Fit together cables

Tape all cables to bars with electrical tape at a few points as you go to maintain their proper position

Cable rest of the RD with appropriate furrles

Make sure brifter/rear shifter on little cog setting

Pull cable to remove slack

Set rd clamp lightly

Quick RD adjust on inner ring

Reset rd cable attachment if needed, lightly

Adjust FD brifter to low ring setting

Pull slack

Initial cable clamp of FD

Note SRAM modern FD's are completely different

Test and adjust the FD

Move chain to big ring and tune RD

Remove a chain link if needed

Put insulation pad on top tube to avoid dents

Install front wheel

Install brake calipers

Adjust pads to wheel, toe in etc

Slightly unscrew adjusters

Install brake inner cables

Inspect, measure and cut outer cables

Trim or grind cable ends flat

Open inner cable with dental pick and make sure inner cable passes smoothly

Fit up brake cables and tape to bars as needed

Use clamp or third hand tool to do initial cable clamping of brakes

Use adjusters to set brake play

Hard pull brakes to remove slack

Reinspect and adjust until proper

More fully clamp all cables and FD

Grease pedal threads add washers and install pedals

Remove stand seatpost and put the actual seat and post on the bike

Adjust height

Test ride then retune derailleur and brakes as needed

Tape bars

Install bottle cages if any

Take numerous DS photos

Post them on BF
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Old 01-26-21, 05:53 AM
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here is a suggested list of toolsBasic bicycle tools assortment:

Regular tools:
  • small regular screwdriver
small Phillips screwdriver

medium regular screwdriver

medium Phillips screwdriver

pliers

needle-nose pliers

small Vise-Grip pliers

medium Vise-Grip pliers

waterpump pliers

diagonal cutters

awl

box knife

6-inch adjustable wrench

12-inch adjustable wrench

8-ounce ballpeen hammer

plastic mallet

flat and half-round files

metal punches & chisels

scissors

2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 10-mm allen

wrenches

7- through 17-mm combination wrenches

hacksaw

tapered reamer

tape measure (marked in centimeters and inches)

outside caliper

8-, 9-, 10-mm “Y” tool

4-, 5-, 6-mm combination allen wrench
  • torque wrench
rubber gloves

goggles

Specialized bicycle tools:
  • repair stand
floor pump with gauge

chain tool

spoke wrench

2 to 3 tire levers

pedal wrench

13-, 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-mm cone wrenches (2 each)

cassette lockring remover

chain whips

bottom bracket cartridge tools

headset wrenches

third hand

crankarm bolt wrench

crankarm remover (puller)

chainring bolt wrench

suspension pump if you have front and/or rear shocks

Add these for more advanced repairs:

Regular tools:
  • taps (5mm x 0.8; 6mm x 1.0; 8mm x 1.0; 10mm x 1.0)
thread pitch gauge

Bondhus screwdriver allen wrenches (4-, 5-, 6-mm)

cable cutters

6-inch stainless ruler

bench vise

electric drill with bits

tapered reamer

torque wrench

tubing cutter

Specialized bicycle tool:
  • clipless pedal axle removal tool
Add these for a professional setup

Regular tools:
  • solvent tank
air compressor

vernier caliper

electric grinder

snap-ring wrench

Specialized bicycle tools:
dishing gauge

spoke tensionometer

valve tool for working on Schrader valves

dropout alignment tools

derailleur hanger alignment tools

headset installation tools
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Old 01-26-21, 08:21 AM
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It depends on who you buy the bike from and how much you pay for it. For example, I bought bikes from Wabi and Universal Cycles which were first assembled by professional mechanics in a bike shop, and then broken down sufficiently for shipment. Everything was already adjusted and tightened properly, and all I needed to do was install the wheels, turn the bars 90 degrees and install/adjust the saddle and seatpost. Even then I needed a set of hex (allen) wrenches. However, if you buy a cheap bike from say bikesdirect or on Amazon, you will receive a bike that was partially assembled and boxed in China without any adjustments that you will need to fix yourself with proper tools and no doubt some pieces will be defective or missing as well. In the end you will spend just as much as if you bought the bike from your LBS, and will still have an inferior product. So, while everyone says go for it, I say first get a bike at an LBS, learn how to maintain it yourself, then graduate to buying a bike online and assembling it.
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Old 01-26-21, 09:26 AM
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IME: new bikes out of the box often require hub bearing adjustments, as they come way too tight from the factory. wheels often have spokes that are a bit loose after they have been de-stressed.
grease the seatpost!
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Old 01-26-21, 12:02 PM
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With the possible exception of high end bikes most bikes are never fully assembled or tested before they leave the factory. The frames and wheels are assembled on different lines, and packed together in a box. Final quality control is up to the retailer or customer. Like the Ford Model T at its peak of production.

I'd treat any new bike like a used bike in good cosmetic condition. Notably I'd check the lubrication and adjustment of the bearings, the tension of the spokes, and the adjustment of the brakes. These things will add greatly to the reliability of the bike, and are not an insurmountable DIY task. They would not stop me from buying a bike.

And you've got to learn basic maintenance sooner or later anyway.
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Old 01-26-21, 01:30 PM
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Skip the Phillips screwdrivers people JIS, ALWAYS JIS! Also some of those tools I would skip at least in a basic tool kit some of it can be handy but a lot of it is just cool tools that are nice to have for a general home repair tool kit and aren't as needed with bikes but can be used.
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Old 01-26-21, 06:02 PM
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I think the tool list was useful, but excessive and possibly frightening if you're just assembling a starter bike. The fairly widespread advice is that you can use basic household tools for a lot of things, and buy the special purpose tools as the need arises. This has been my practice for 40+ years. More info could be provided if the make & model of the bike were known.

Of course if having a fully equipped shop is a hobby, then whale away.
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Old 01-26-21, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
I think the tool list was useful, but excessive and possibly frightening if you're just assembling a starter bike. The fairly widespread advice is that you can use basic household tools for a lot of things, and buy the special purpose tools as the need arises.
The problem is that a cheap starter bike requires more than simple assembly. It also requires a lot of adjustment, such as wheel truing and tensioning and wheel bearing adjustment. Wheel truing is not easy without a truing stand, and wheel bearing adjustment requires cone wrenches. And then there’s little details such as trimming brake cables, which requires a proper cable cutter, since an electrical wire cutter won’t work. How about the crank arm bolts, which are never tight enough from the factory, but you also don’t want to overtighten them, so you need a good quality torque wrench. How are you going to drive the star nut down into the steerer tube, so that you can cut the steerer tube to its desired length ? How are you going to make a clean square cut of the steerer tube without a hack saw guide and sturdy bench vise ? Many people who’ve bought cheap bikes online have ended having to take them to an LBS to get them properly assembled.
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I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
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Old 01-27-21, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ursula View Post
I plan to buy a fixed gear bike with hand brakes. I noticed that I can buy nearly the same bike on line, delivered to my door unassembled, for about half of what I would pay at the bicycle shop. According to Amazon commenters, it isn't hard to put together. But I don't know anything about assembling hardware. I'd hate get stuck halfway through and need to call on my know-it-all upstairs neighbor. Has anyone assembled a fixie and can you say how difficult it would be for a good reader with poor mechanics? I appreciate your advice.

do it! worst case scenario you bring it to a LBS to have it assembled or buy a friend lunch to help you. Fixed gear bikes are the easiest to assemble as most of them arrives 80% assembled.

Last edited by jay4usc; 01-27-21 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 01-27-21, 08:17 PM
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Thank you all very much for your advice.
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Old 01-27-21, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jay4usc View Post
do it! worst case scenario you bring it to a LBS to have it assembled or buy a friend lunch to help you. Fixed gear bikes are the easiest to assemble as most of them arrives 80% assembled.
Assembly is different then tuned and ready to go. Putting a part on a bike is not the same as making sure that part is properly installed and torqued. Not saying one couldn't do that themselves with the proper tools but bikes need more than just throwing parts on to be safe and ready to go.
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