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Hands on vs. LBS(25 posts)

Hands on vs. LBSMonte2
Jul 27, 2001 4:09 AM
I'm debating whether to attempt to install a group (minus hubs, BB and headset) myself or have an LBS do the work. Of course since I'm not going to buy the Group from the LBS, they will want to charge a substantial sum over their "normal installation rates" for components purchased there. I have no problem with that. It's their business. My question is however, should a first-time wrench attempt such an installation on his own? What tools would I need, or rather, what "level" of a toolset do I need? For example, Park's Basic tool kit or Advanced tool kit? Would a good maintenance book like Zinn's have enough information to get me through the job? And finally, are there some aspects of installing a group which should be left up to a "experienced" mechanic?

I really enjoy this sport so I'd like to be able to learn to work on my bike as well as riding it, but I've spent quite a bit of money on Dura Ace components and wouldn't want to ruin them in a shoddy installation.

Thanks in advance
Give it a try - see Park Tool's website - good luck! [nm]davidl
Jul 27, 2001 4:59 AM
I'm facing the same issue; I've done a little of this and abill
Jul 27, 2001 5:34 AM
little of that before, but nothing major. I've decided to build up a bike. I've determined to do everything but the headset (the tools to install are expensive), and I probably won't cut the steerer myself, in large part because I haven't been able to figure out how to measure it on a new frame all by my lonesome. I intend to invest my LBS in that part of it.
I've got Bicycle Magazine's book (which is already a little dated), I'm going to get Zinn's newest edition, and the Park Tool site has a lot of good stuff. Plus this board. I've picked up tools one by one over the past few months.
"Measure twice, cut once" are very very wise words, and I'll just try to go slow and trade speed for accuracy and care.
installing headset cupsak
Jul 27, 2001 5:59 AM
tools required: 1 rubber mallett, 1 calculus book, either 1 heavy table/desk or one concrete stairwell

1)put the calc book on the table/desk/stair.
2)push the headset cup you'd like to install into the proper end of the head-tube as far as you can by hand
3)put the headtube on the calc book (headset side down)
4)pound the crap out of it with a rubber mallet until it is all the way in.
5)flip
6)repeat from step 2

park's headset-cup press is a wonderfull tool and I use it every time I install a headset in the shop, but when I'm at home or at school and I have to put a headset in (about 10 times so far) this method always works very well. If you want to come over, I'll show you the rings on the back cover of my calc book.
Finally, an everyday use for calculus!!! (NM)Cima Coppi
Jul 27, 2001 6:01 AM
exactly!ak
Jul 27, 2001 6:04 AM
You can make one for $3grzy mnky
Jul 30, 2001 9:31 AM
Get a length of threaded rod, a couple nuts, and a slew of washers.
and then I'll be able to do calculus? nmbill
Jul 30, 2001 9:43 AM
nnm
re: Hands on vs. LBSjaybird
Jul 27, 2001 8:02 AM
Give it a shot... What is the worst thing that could happen. I have broken more things than I care to count but I have always learned from the experience. I have also never broken the same thing twice the same way. Check out the Haynes Bicycle Maint. guide. It is pretty comprehensive and has a lot of pictures. Keep in mind that you can always call a LBS and get some phone support if you need it.
the worst that can happensobber
Jul 27, 2001 12:30 PM
is you lose a little face when you have to take the frame and all the parts in to the shop to get the job done right... oh yeah, and maybe a few bucks for their effort, and perhaps a little more $ for the parts that you screwed up. At most a new frame when you torque down on the front derailleur crimp the seat tube. And if you get it all together you might only lose some skin when you crash, at worst some broken bones. Go for it!
the worst that can happenjaybird
Jul 30, 2001 6:00 AM
I bet you never crimp the seat tube again... what better way to learn than hands on? I would rather spend the $ on replacemnt parts than labor... That is just me though, there are some people I woldnt let within 10 feet of a wrench...
LBS phone supportDuane Gran
Jul 30, 2001 5:47 AM
I agree with you about learning through trial and error. Every bike shop mechanic can probably tell some good stories about components they accidentally ruined. It is a rite of passage.

I have to take issue with the idea that "you can always cal a LBS and get some phone support if you need it." I used to do computer part installation and we always had people calling us asking how to do this or that. If they purchased the computer and parts from us we would give a gentle nudge, but we often had people who didn't buy a single thing from us and expected us to take time to help them. You wouldn't believe how upset people would get when you explain that they could bring it in and we would do it for X amount of dollars.

Anyhow, I don't think you were implying that someone ripp off the LBS, but I just want to remind everyone about a common courtesy. Although the LBS could probably tell you in 5 minutes how to do XYZ, it took them hours of training (or trial and error) to know this stuff.

I have found the best route for learning to wrench things (and I'm very new at this) is to hang out with cycling buddies who know the stuff. Generally they are happy to share the knowledge. I have simply hung out with some friends while they perform various maintenance tasks on their bikes. Being able to watch along and ask questions is invaluable. Bring some beer along and you have a personal mechanic friend for life. ;)
Another option!Len J
Jul 27, 2001 8:43 AM
One other option that I did on my first build. Cut a deal with the LBS where you pay him to let you do it under his supervision. It's a great way to "bond" with your LBS, learn a new skill safely, and you can usually use any speciality tools of his (as long as he's watching). I did mine over the winter but if you have a good LBS and you can schedule it on some slower time for him, it really can be worth the money.
Another option!jaybird
Jul 27, 2001 9:48 AM
Great Idea...
Another option!jokerville
Jul 27, 2001 11:58 AM
That's what i'd do, pay the local bike shop to help me build it up or see if they'll build it for you but let you watch them do it?

Hanging out in a BS for a weekend or two can teach you an awful lot and if you have given them business in the past they are usually more than willing to let you hang out and watch them do setups.
re: Hands on vs. LBSChas
Jul 27, 2001 10:27 AM
Give it a try. You'll need special tools to remove the old stack and to install the new bottom bracket. You may need another tool to remove the old cranks and bottom bracket depending on what type they are.
Its not rocket science and the Zinn book covers everything pretty well. Be careful installing the new dura ace crankset. Make sure you have the cranks seated on the splines properly and that the cranks are tight. May want to use a dork oh tork wrench. If you mess up the splines in the crank its about 175.00 dollar mistake.

I built my ride mainly to learn. Worst part was having the confidence to know its right after you finish. Dura ace instructions are not too bad. You can always pay the LBS to inspect it when you finish.
have fun
re: Hands on vs. LBSMonte2
Jul 27, 2001 8:04 PM
Thanks for the input. I felt a little guilty posting this question on both the components and general boards, but I'm glad I did since I got different varied answers from each board. I'm pricing tools and a stand and will make a decision shortly.
BTW: grzy mnky was wrongskinner
Jul 29, 2001 6:23 AM
about the use of pliers and files. (see your post in the General forum dated 7/27). Shimano DOES instruct to use pliers on some of thier component instructions, and Park Tools DOES mention a basic bike took box should have pliers and adjustable wrenches. Grsy mnky was incorrect.
It Ain't a Black & White Worldgrzy mnky
Jul 30, 2001 9:29 AM
I guess my point was there are times when pliers, files and other implements of destruction are required. However, they shouldn't be the things that someone building up a new bike with DA components should need. My experience has been that there are times when these are the right tools for the job (I have a fairly large collection of them also), but this isn't one of them. Nothing quite like working on a bike after someone who knows just enough to be dangerous has given up. Once something is buggered anything goes.

Please share your actual references for Shimano and Park.
Definitely - Hands on!DrD
Jul 28, 2001 7:53 AM
The only thing I would hesitate on would be installing the headset - but that isn't an issue for you as you aren't installing one! Everything else just bolts on - follow the instructions, and you should be fine. I would say install everything yourself, and then if you are having trouble dialing in the deraileurs, maybe bring it in to the LBS. The way I see it, the more skilled you are at wrenching on your own bike, the less likely you will be faced with a long walk home if something breaks on a ride.

The only tools you will really need are allen wrenches, a phillips head screwdriver, cable/housing cutters, a chain tool, a torque wrench w/8mm allen socket (nice for installing the cranks), a cassette lockring tool w/a wrench to turn it, and a decent book, such as Zinn's. (a friend who knows a thing or two is also nice to have looking over your shoulder the first time)

I wouldn't worry about breaking things during installation - it's actually pretty hard to kill the components during installation (well - you could mess up the splines on the crankset, but if you are careful and take your time, it's fairly easy to tell when they have or have not been engaged properly)
re: Hands on vs. LBSDan D
Jul 29, 2001 12:21 PM
I've pretty self-sufficient for years BUT I am pretty mechanically inclined. If you are also handy with tools and have reasoning ability, then you should be able to do it all. All you really need are a few allen wrenches, a couple of specialty tools (BB tool, for instance) and some patience. The only real tricky part, IMHO, is the front deraileur installation. But now, with the adjusting block that comes with the component from the factory, it's not even that bad. Just follow the instructions and go slow. Have fun!!!
just did it..dotkaye
Jul 31, 2001 9:15 AM
built up new (to me, actually 2nd hand) frame/fork with a combination of parts new and cannibalized from the old frame. Bought Zinn, tools as needed rather than a kit, because I already had metric wrenches, allen keys in all sizes, etc. It really wasn't that difficult, suprised me. I didn't do the headset (had to be replaced), because I don't think I'll be doing it often enough to justify buying the tools.

It probably depends on your mechanical background, I used to do my own car maintenance, and fishing reels (don't laugh until you've stripped and rebuilt a reel that has an automatic clutch for changing gears on the retrieve - not trivial). Compared to either of those, everything on a bike is fairly straightforward.

I don't think there's much you can hurt by doing it yourself, splined cranks excepted. For the rest, you're just bolting stuff on and adjusting it, a modicum of caution should see you through..
re: Hands on vs. LBSwjudd
Aug 1, 2001 6:59 AM
Am getting ready to do the same. When I used to ride alot in the 1980s I made it a point to be able to do everything except headset and wheels. Figured if I could do the rest I could afford to keep my wheels in top form. Built a recent retro Basso to get back in form. Next project is a Colnago with Ergoshifters. My first experience with these. What's a good manual?
re: Hands on vs. LBSStickers
Aug 4, 2001 6:24 AM
My Daddy gave me pliers and a screwdriver when I was a little girl, fixin' comes natural, and as life goes on, "do it yourself" was a necessity. Tried to fix a spinnin' reel, but failed. After buying a new bike, and wanting to exchange some parts and the LBS had a week waiting period, I bought a Park Stand, (thank you, I'll do it myself). Bought bike books, bought tools for the specific job, took bikes in LBS for head set until I checked the work on one mountain bike (the steerer tube had sharp slivers still attached), my daddy would have told me that I could do much better). My husband to be gave me the entire head set tools for my birthday four years ago. I took classes at another LBS on Thursday nights, they have a six part series on repair and maintanence. I save bike magazine articles on repair and maintanence. And since I found the web pages, a whole world of ideas are waiting to be grabbed. GO FOR IT! Nothin' better than riding a bike that you built, not to mention, it sure feels good to be able to adjust derailleurs yourself when on a road trip. Have fun.
re: Hands on vs. LBSClimbFast
Aug 4, 2001 3:49 PM
I'm all for doing it yourself. When I was about 14, I wanted a new rear derailleur. I asked a guy at my LBS what I needed, and he laughed at me saying "You can't do that." A week later I walked in with my brand new rear derailleur and a huge sh!t eating grin on my face.

The long and short here, I work at that bikeshop. I prefer having someone build their own bike, then tweaking it for them if need be. In my eyes, part of riding, and riding well, is knowing your bike. What better way to learn than putting it together yourself? I can tell you I have sure learned a lot that has helped me out those few times my biek has broken down far from home. I say build the bike yourself, then if you need it, have your LBS do a tuneup for ya. Just explain to them what the deal is.

By the way, the Zinn books are very good when it comes to telling you what to do. I used that when I was 14. HOpe this helps.