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Some Assembly Required!!!(18 posts)

Some Assembly Required!!!Texican
Jan 21, 2003 12:23 PM
I'd like to give a shot at building my next road bike up from scratch, except of course building the wheels. I'd estimate that I'm reasonably mechanically inclined in that I can tie my shoes correctly on the first try every time.

However, I'd like some experienced advice on the degree of difficulty for a novice rider to assemble his/her own bike. I'd be willing to purchase bike specific tools as required. I'm a little more focused on my bike ownership experience versus bike value per dollar expended. Additionally, can anyone recommend any good bicycle mechanic books that might help in my endeavor. Thanks for the input.

Good Choicelampshade
Jan 21, 2003 12:42 PM
I think building a bike up from scratch is a very rewarding experience. The best and easiest to understand book I have read is, "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintainence", by Lenard Zinn. It can be found at most book stores (B&N, Boarders, Amazon, etc.) The only truely specialized tools you will likely need are the ones dealing with the bb and head set instalation. You may even find it better/cheaper to let your LBS handle these areas anyway. Good luck.
re: Some Assembly Required!!!Alpedhuez55
Jan 21, 2003 12:52 PM
I would recommend The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt for a book. Sheldon Brown's website also has a nice essay on the subject. I like the Minora Truing Stand. It is also sold as the Spin Dr. by Performance Bike. That will run about $50. Get individual spoke wrenches as opposed to the ones with three or more sizes on the wrench. THere is less chance of stripping. I like the Park but I hear the Spokey's are good.

You should have most of the Lubes or grease that you will need. Linseed Oil works well and will gum up a bit and help keep the spokes from coming loose.

If you have an old wheel. I would suggest you practice on it. Even something out of a the garbage. Try to take it apart and put it back together first. For me I was always trying to put too much tension to quickly at first. Do it in small steps and you will have a better wheel.

Good Luck!!!
Mike Y.
Jan 21, 2003 1:00 PM
Thought wou were looking for wheel building advice.

Zinn & The Art of Road Bike Maintenance is great. I think you will be happy with it. Be sure to use grease on all the threads as well. Also consider buying a Tourque Wrench. Take your time and I am sure it will come out great!!!

Mike Y.
Another suggestion....Dave Hickey
Jan 21, 2003 1:26 PM
Buy a yard sale or Good Will 10 speed for $20. Take it completely apart and reassemble it. It's great practice.
Jan 22, 2003 7:08 AM
Any piece-of-crap old bike you'd buy for $10 will be so different from a road bike that this exercise will be nearly pointless. 1 piece cranks, rusty old derailleurs, old loose-bearing headsets-nothing at all like modern components, plus you'll need different tools, too.
No, just get a good book and learn as you go. Leave the old junk bikes to the junk collectors.
More adviceSamDC
Jan 21, 2003 1:29 PM
I also recently built up a road bike from scratch. It's really not as hard as it would seem, it just takes some patience (although I did have some problems with my front derailleur, but that turned out to be my own stupidity and not the fault of the derailleur). It seems bikes practically build themselves these days.

Anyway, some tools I found useful were:

-- Cable and housing cutters (get the bike specific ones, trust me on this one),
-- Allen wrenches,
-- BB tool,
-- Chain tool,
-- plenty-o-grease (I like Phil Wood), lube for your chain, degreaser (trust me on this one too), and rags.

I had the head tube faced and headset pressed by the LBS.

Also, I personally didn't find Zinn to be as helpful as other people have. I thought the instructions that came with the individual parts (shifters, derailleurs, etc.) to be of more value. With that said, HOLD ON TO THE INTRUCTIONS!!!

Good luck and most of all have fun!

re:Well worth the effortdzrider
Jan 21, 2003 1:42 PM
Just allow plenty of time so the task doesn't become frustrating. I think everything recommended thus far has been good advice, especially the one about breaking down a junk and putting it back together. Don't, however, buy tools for the junk assuming they'll be useful on a new bike. Some of the stuff has changed.
re: Some Assembly Required!!!Tig
Jan 21, 2003 2:01 PM
In addition to Zinn's excellent book, save the Park Tools Repair Help website to your Favorites:
as well as Sheldon Brown's bicycle repair articles:

If in doubt, don't be afraid to get some help from your local bike store (as long as they're dependable and helpful). Where in Texas do you live again?
A workstand, bike cable cuttersteamsloppy
Jan 21, 2003 4:11 PM
I built a bike from new frame and new parts. (Wait for sales on components and shop ruthlessly).

1) Buy an inexpensive ($70 ?) workstand / repair stand from performance, nashbar, etc. It makes the assembly much more enjoyable if you aren't propping the bike up (and watching it fall) using chairs, books etc. At first I tried using my trainer as a workstand; you don't have to make that mistake.

2) Don't use pliers or electricians cable cutters for your brake and derrailleur cables. Buy a Park tool or Performance cable cutter ($25, the more expensive the better). You will easily save money by not having to buy new cables to replace the ones you screwed up with the wrong tool. The cuts look so much nicer too.

3) The instructions you need come with the Shimano components (torque, adjustment instructions). I assume Campagnalo too.

4) Like others mentioned, a Bottom Bracket tool for your type of BB.($8?).

5) A Torque wrench ( I used my Sears Automotive wrench and converted inch-pounds to foot-pounds, Divide by 12).

6) A Cassette Lockring remover (I used it to tighten my cassette)

7) Buy a frame with a fork and headset installed. If you have to cut your fork, the right way is to use a saw guide to make the cut square. I didn't have to; either my LBS cut it when they recieved it or it came like that from Klein. If you need to install a headset you maybe required to 'face' the head tube to accept the headset. Way more tools too purchase if the fork is not already installed.

7) The allen wrenches are just metrics ( $4, half the price at Home Depot compared to LBS or on-line bike stores).

8) A chain tool to remove some links and press the new pin in. Pliers to 'break off' that stupid shimano chain link pin guide.

9) depending on your pedals, a pedal wrench (some pedals use an allen wrench now)

10) Magnifiying glasses (e.g. reading glasses) to really see what is happening ($3). (Misaligned "new" brake pads are sharp and will cut through your sidewalls).
A workstand, bike cable cuttersTexican
Jan 21, 2003 7:05 PM
You people Rock!!! I'm more encouraged with each posting.

re: Some Assembly Required!!!Texican
Jan 21, 2003 7:02 PM
Thanks for the advice. I am in Houston, TX, well actually Friendswood, TX.
Friendswood? I'm in Clear LakeTig
Jan 21, 2003 7:56 PM
If you find yourself in a mechanical bind, go to Bay Area Schwinn on Hwy 3 at Bay Area Blvd and they can help you. I'm an long time customer so they actually let me use their tools and a workstand for emergencies (OK, don't expect THAT much help as a new customer!). Jamie (store manager) is really cool, and the two mechanics, Edgar and Dennis are good. Tell them Doug from the Wolf Pack sent you. Also, you can contact me if you need advice over the phone or in person. I've wrenched for a shop years ago and still do all my own work (except wheel building and MTB shocks). Email me at ** (remove the spam-blocking *'s first)

If you don't already ride with a group, come out and ride with the SCCC or Wolf Pack on weekend mornings.
re: Some Assembly Required!!!Skidoo
Jan 22, 2003 5:57 AM
I too have entertained the notion of building-up a new bike by myself at home, but wouldn't you also need to have the bb shell faced & chased? That would probably require additional expensive tools.
Depends on the Frame Manufacturer ?teamsloppy
Jan 22, 2003 8:17 PM
My experience is a sample point of one. I bought a Klein Q-Pro from a LBS. As I mentioned above, it came with the headset installed and the fork with the steerer cut to a reasonable size.

All I did was screw the Bottom Bracket in. No facing or chasing.

Maybe it depends on the Frame Manufacturer or the price you pay ($1800 - ouch!) or how the LBS obtained the frame. Maybe a cheaper frame requires more prep.
Depends on the Frame Manufacturer ?Trent in WA
Jan 22, 2003 8:32 PM
From what I've heard, there's not a direct correlation between the cost of the bike and the amount of prep it might need.

Having said that, the one thing I'd recommend would be to have a shop install the headset and, if you're using threadless, the star fangled nut or expander plug for carbon steerers. If you have the tools, both of those jobs are trivially simple, but the workarounds if you don't are real pains in the glutes, if you dig me.

Also, a torque wrench is really useful. Tighten all fittings to manufacturers' specs and you won't have to answer the question "Did I get that tight enough?" while tearing down a twisty descent.

Follow Up ???Texican
Jan 23, 2003 7:18 AM
The Impression I'm receiving is that the installation of the headset and preparing the frame for the bottom bracket are the major headaches. This I would happily allow a LBS to perform for me.

As a follow up question, how difficult is it to get the bar tape wrapping down so that it doesn't look like a four year old did the job. Any tips?

Follow Up ???JS Haiku Shop
Jan 23, 2003 10:24 AM