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Hands on vs. LBS(24 posts)

Hands on vs. LBSMonte2
Jul 27, 2001 4:08 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
because you're a 1st timer.....onrhodes
Jul 27, 2001 4:26 AM
I would not recommend you installing everything yourself if this is your first time doing any sort of major install/tune-up. You may be asking for a lot more then you bargin for with things such as how tight to cinch the stem, proper greasing of all threaded parts, not to mention the learning curve it is going to take with getting your front and rear derailluers dialed in.
I would more recommend that you start small and maybe tune a der first or read a good book (like Zinns) before attempting such things. Not to mention if you don't have the tools already you may want to just save the cash and pay your shop instead. Having worked in a shop going through college, it is more of a hassle to fix some ones mistakes when they tried to be "joe fixer upper".
As far as toold go, you are going to want to start with a good quality Allen wrench set, a pedal wrench, high quality grease, pliers, a file, and some metric open ended wrenches (such as craftsman)
I totally agreeak
Jul 27, 2001 7:18 AM
I totally agree!
I've seen too many people try to adjust derailurs and F them up, center brakes and F them up, install a chan and F it up. Its not a hard thing to do, you just need to know what the heck your doing. just about all the problems you create can be fixed without new parts, but if you've got a bare frame, the shop shouldn't charge more than $75 the ones I've worked in charged between $55 and $65 providing nothing fancy needed to be done. (re-tapping BB shell, cutting threads into a steer-tube, fixing a part damaged during shipping. There's even a host of commonly practiced WRONG ways to tape your handlebars. Point is: the guys in the shop can probably do it in an hour or two, if you've never done it before and you've never really touched your components before take it into a shop. it'll save you a whole world of agony. if you're that worried about the shop cost, give me 20 bucks and I'll do it. besides, if you're having them install your headset, bb, & fork anyway. The cost of having them do the whole job isn't that much greater.
Yikes!!!grzy mnky
Jul 27, 2001 8:40 AM
Pliers and a file have very little business building up a bike w/DA!! This is exactly how the "user error cycle" gets started.

I'd say get the Zinn book, but drop the bike at the LBS. They should charge their normal labor rate and be able to build it up in about 2 hours - so the cost is going to be around $100 to $200. Your other option is to find an experienced and knowledgable buddy who will guide you through the whole process. It's not really rocket science, but there are enough "gotchas" for the first timer that it can result in you having to buy some replacement parts - some of which can be pretty expensive. Personally I enjoy working on and building up quality bikes - I work on my buds bikes for no charge, but they usually trade something. Getting the front and rear der. dialed in can be a bit frustrating, but the supplied directions are decent. Park has a great section on their website on how to do a lot of the work - you might want to review it to see what you'd be getting yourself into. Learning to work on your bike is invaluable and will allow you to keep it finely tuned like an instrument or be able to tell a mechanic exactly what you think the problem is.

As far as tools go the basics are fine to start with and you can not go wrong with Park - they represent the best value and most thought in aftermarket bike tools. Pedros and others are also offering good products. Cheap tools end up costing more in the long run from the damage they cause and the need to buy replacement parts. Getting a good torque wrench like a Craftsman dial type is a very worthwhile investment and will help you develop a sense of feel - especially for the BB. You'll quickly wind up spending more on tools than what it would cost to get it built by the shop and then you won't have a lot of need for the tools - just occasional work.

I'd advise that you get one of the Ultimate Repair stands (they're not cheap) - not only does it make working an the bike a lot easier it's great for cleaning the bike - something you'll want to do on a regular basis (get a Pedros Pit Kit). Some even find it a cool way to store their baby.
pliers are fine forG. Orwell
Jul 27, 2001 11:01 AM
holding cables taut while tightening down the cable clamp bolts. Every bike shop also has a good set of files.
Totally unnecessarygrzy mnky
Jul 27, 2001 12:32 PM
Call me anal, uptight, perfectionist, etc., but if you're not going to learn to use the right tool for the job, then there's no point in doing your own maintenance or asking for advice. Your LBS will "love it" when you step through their door with the latest screwup. They'll also make a tidy profit selling you replacement parts. Your advice and staunch defense is a great disservice.

Pliers mess up the lay of the cable, but if you're far enough away from the der. it won't really matter. However, there is no need for them if you do it right. Shift all the way down, allow the der. spring to deflect to the end, snug cable by hand, tighten cable binder bolt. You'll find that you're almost perfectly dialed in and all that's required is some fine tuning with the barrell adjuster. Use a quality pair of housing cutters to trim the excess and crimp the cable end.

What exactly does one use a file for when assembling a new bike with quality components? The only thing that comes to mind is filing the steerer tube after cutting - which he said he isn't going to do - and would require a cutting guide and a headset press to complete the job. Every bike shop has a lot of things that most home mechanics won't ever use or are not economical to buy for just one use. I have a slew of pliers, files, crescent wrenches and they hardly ever get used on a quality bike. I've also got a bunch of specialty bike tools that have no business being in the hands of someone unfamiliar with their use. What was the last thing you filed on a quality build?

Pliers, files & adjustable wrenches are mostly for hacks, but there are times when they are necessary. I cringe at the thought of someone learning bike maintenance and these being the first tools they reach for. It goes along with the old saying: If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

The best way to mess something up, after not lubricating it and leaving it out in the rain, is to use the wrong tool and really bugger it up.

BTW - growing up there was a bike shop that simply used a rubber mallet to true a wheel instead of the spokes. As funny as this sounds it kinda works, but not very well.
Your remarks:Totally unnecessaryAill
Jul 28, 2001 3:22 PM
You are not a perfectionist just self-rightious, anal and uptight. I have worked in several shops, all had files and pliers.
There are dozens of different types of pliers and files, each designed for different jobs, check out any tool supply catalog and you will see. Pliers and files are not for hacks, so cringe away grzy.
You are Wrong Grzy Monkey :Eat your words grzy mkyHonest roadie
Jul 28, 2001 3:56 PM
Shimano's own installation/service instructions for several components say to use PLIERS!! They even show pictures of PLIERS. I bet other readers here can find more instances that manufacturers discuss the use of pliers and files on the servicing of thier bike components.

Eat my shorts grzy mnky! You were too concerned with finding fault with somebody that you were wrong yourself! Ailll (whatever his name is) is correct, you are self-rightious, anal and uptight.
Wrong Again Grzy mnky!!!Stevvo
Jul 28, 2001 4:22 PM
Boy, when you are wrong, you are wrong! Parks Tools recommends both pliers and an adjustable wrench in your first bike toolbox. See thier web site Those guys from Park Tool are a bunch of hacks, right grzy?
All shop mechs will tell youpeloton
Jul 28, 2001 7:20 PM
that pliers and a file are invaluble tools. Find a shop in which these two tools don't get used every day, and I will show you a shop that isn't open every day.

Grz usually has some good input, but I'm guessing he has never worked in a shop putting together lots of new bikes and making old ones work again. You wouldn't not have these two tools in your kit if you have wrenched in a real shop.
From experienceonrhodes
Jul 27, 2001 12:31 PM
I've worked in shops, and I have been working on my own bikes for 10 years now. Trust me when I say that Plier and a good set of files in very important to your tool kit. You could need plier for anything from pulling cables taught, to crimping the ferrule end onto your housing, to doing minor fixes such as bent H2O cages and the like. Files are even more important for fixing your brakes if the shoes are starting to wear unevenly. smooth out rough valve holes in a rim, if you cut down your handles bars (more mtn bikers for that) you want to file down the edges afterwards. Plus filing down a steerer after it has been cut, pliers can help retrieve bearings from places your fingers can't fix.
Your statement about them never being needed is a pretty open one, and didn't really consider all the minor aspects of working on a bike.
We're Talking 1st Timer Heregrzy mnky
Jul 27, 2001 12:52 PM
Think about it: new frame, DA parts, general assembly, inexperienced person.

I totally agree that there are times when a pair of pliers or a file is the right tool for the job, but for the jobs he'd be interested in doing there is no real need. Of course dealing with MTBs and all the mashed components that goes with them often does call for some drastic measures, but not on a new roadbike build. I've got quite a collection of the mentioned tools, but it's not often that they're used on a quality new build. Hey, you can also hammer with a pair of pliers, but I wouldn't advise it. Being a "gear head" I've been messing with all sorts of mechanical things all of my life - from boats, to bikes, to airplanes, to racing cars. My biggest nightmares are when I have to fix something that someone else messed up. Once things are sufficiently messed up then it's usually time for the hammers, chisles, hacksaw, grinder, drill press, milling machine, cutting tourch, pliers, lengths of pipe slipped over wrench handles AND the trash bin.
We're Talking 1st Timer HereJamm
Jul 28, 2001 5:41 PM
Sounds like you have a lot of experience messing things up. Well, they say you learn by your mistakes :)
From reading the other posts:ak
Jul 27, 2001 1:33 PM
I too have had pleanty of shop experience and have files and pliers in my tool kit, but I can also read. You see, the origional post is about a guy looking to install a brand new grupo, if you're using pliers to pull cables taught on D/A components, you're doing it wrong. (if you want to argue with me on that point go ask CABDA.) If you've got brand new D/A berings in places you can't reach with your hands, then you already messed up your headset, but this guy is having it installed by the bike shop anyway so I don't know where you're getting these berings from. If you have uneven wear on brand new brake pads, you should either send them back or consult a mental health professional. (If you have uneven wear on used brake pads you either didn't install them correctly or should have trued your wheel a long time ago.) If you're taking the fork in to have the steerer cut & and headset installed, then you're probably not going to try to file down the edges. the moral of the story: lay off the crack and go call 1-800-ABCDEFG for your very own HOOKED ON PHONICS tape.
because you're a 1st timer.....A few more tips
Jul 27, 2001 9:42 AM
1) If the frame hasn't been prepped at the factory (bottom bracket shell faced/chased, headtube faced/reamed), then take it to a bike shop and have them do it. The tools required to do this cost several hundred dollars and aren't worth it unless you do this for a living.

2) If you haven't wrapped handlebars before, get tape without an adhesive. If you make a mistake, which is quite likely, you can just unwrap the bars and try again.

3) Grease all fasteners before installation. Grease the seatpost and quill stem (if you have one) where they enter the frame.

4) Check the hubs. They often come misadjusted from the factory. But keep in mind that they should be a little on the loose side since pressure from the skewer tightens them up.

5) Get a good book and read it before you start. Zinn's book is pretty good. Dura Ace instructions tend to be terse, one page affairs, so a book that explains things comes in handy.

6) Take your time and think things through. It's tempting to slap everything together and go out and ride, but taking your time to do it right the first time will pay dividends. While you're not likely to break any major components, you can do dumb things like cut a cable housing too short.
re: Hands on vs. LBSAkirasho
Jul 27, 2001 4:42 AM
... for the most part, building up a frame with a gruppo takes only a few specialty tools...

Depending on how tool adept you already are, it's more a matter of patience and having the right tools on hand to complete the job. The added expense of specialty tools could be spread over a period of time... and the build process would familiarize you with mechanics of your machine, giving you confidence and skills to handle roadside repairs.

'Bout the only aspects of bicycle repair that might be better left to a "pro" would be facing or straightening a frame (even headset installation and removal is fairly simple if you've got the right tools) and wheel builds (though this is not a bad skill to pick up... but it takes time and practice).

Good luck and...

Be the bike.
re: Hands on vs. LBSSteeve
Jul 27, 2001 4:43 AM
Shimano components come with very thorough installation instructions. If you have fairly good mechanical aptitude you should do well. With the exception of installing the components you listed (and the cassette), I don't think you will require any bicycle-specific tools. If you take your time, follow each instruction step, start all nuts/bolts etc with your fingers (not with a tool), and do not over-tighten you should be OK. It may take you significantly longer than one with experience but you can do it.
bike shopbianchi boy
Jul 27, 2001 5:12 AM
Bike shops in my area will install a whole group for $75-125. Money well spent in my view, but I am not very mechanically inclined. If you do it yourself, you probably still will have to get the shop to do some of the work -- like installing the headset. However, if you really want to learn how to work on your bike, it's probably the best way to do it. I doubt if you would save any money on the installation, with all the tools you would have to buy and stuff you screw up, but down the road it would be a great learning experience and could save you money on maintenance.
yeah, I think it's a labor of love, not an economical one. nmbill
Jul 27, 2001 5:49 AM
yeah, I think it's a labor of love, not an economical one. nmcycleguy
Jul 27, 2001 8:16 AM
Back in the ten speed friction days I did all my own repairs. Never did wheel builds or headset install though. After 20 years of letting others do the work I just installed a new Daytonal group on an older frame this summer. Had to get new tools since old did not fit. However the cost of the tools was much more then having someone else do it. But It's the best way to really know how a bike works. Takes time and some basic mech. skills but nothing most of us don't have. Zinns book is good as are the intructions that come with your parts. Also online sights also have more into. Such as campy. tech etc. I also had a 2nd bike that I used while relearning!
Go for it!Jerry Gardner
Jul 27, 2001 9:28 AM
Do it!

I consider myself relatively mechanically inept, yet I've built up several bikes from the bare frame and group and have not had any problems. About the only thing I don't do myself is install the headset, but only because this requires specialized tools that are expensive to buy for occasional use. Installing a BB is almost a no-brainer. Everything else is just a matter of bolting the part on in the right place and then adjusting everything so it works smoothly.

Even building wheels is not hard. It can be tedious the first time, but it's not hard.

As far as tools, you'll need an assortment of metric allen wrenches, a BB tool, pedal wrench, various screwdrivers, a couple of metric open-end/box wrenches, and maybe a cassette cracker and chainwhip if the cassette isn't already mounted on the freehub. I use a torque wrench and recommend them. They let you get the torque set to specification without guesswork.
re: Hands on vs. LBSjaybird
Jul 27, 2001 10:01 AM
This is the best excuse to buy tools... Go for it, it's not rocket science...
Do it...mk_42
Jul 27, 2001 12:32 PM
People here like to assume that a beginner will mess up. While it's true you won't save too much because you need to buy tools, you don't neccesarily have to screw up and pay to fix it. Just think before you do, plan everything and then be slow and patient. You will have to readjust a lot of things but it's unlikely that you'll break things. If this is your only bike be especially careful to go slow. Being without a bike might encourage you to just slap it all on. I'd suggest spreading the work out over a couple of days so you have time to think and reflect on problem you encounter rather than plowing through it.
The zinn book has good "how to" style instructions. Don't know about DA specifically but the manuals tend to be detailed but somewhat cryptic.

There's no better way to learn.

re: Hands on vs. LBSMonte2
Jul 27, 2001 7:34 PM
Thanks for all the advise. I'm going to have to think about it a little more and price out the tools and stand. Thanks again guys.