Not everyone is lucky enough to live close to a bike shop, so buying bikes online is pretty common. Online purchases are convenient, but it means you will have to set up the bike on your own. Does that make you worried?
Follow my step-by-step guide on how to assemble a bike below, and you will be able to finish the whole process at home with ease, even if you are an absolute beginner.
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What You Need to Set Up A Bike
Before getting down on assembling a bike, you will need to gather the necessary tool kit first. The exact tools depend on the type and level of the bike you are installing, but in general, you will need:
- A small torque wrench
- Scissors or Clippers
- Philips head screwdriver
- Cable cutters
- Bike grease (or carbon assembly paste)
Additional equipment may include a tire pump and a suspension pump if the bike comes with a spring suspension. For more details, refer to the manual guide.
How To Assemble A Bike Step-by-step Guide
Step 1: Prepare
Preparation is as important as the whole process itself. It is the key to a successful and hassle-free bike installation.
First off, prepare your knowledge by reading the owner’s manual. Each product comes with a manual, in which you can find a detailed guide as well as useful tips and tricks. Do not miss out on such a helpful piece of work.
Second, prepare your work area.
It is best to have a well-lit garage or an outside space. Building a bike indoors is fine too, but make sure you have covered any exposed surfaces such as the carpet and furniture with some sort of covering.
Third, prepare your tools.
Gather all the tools in one place so that you can find the one you need quickly. You do not want to search for a screwdriver in the middle of assembling the bike, do you?
Finally, unbox the bike package.
Keep the box upright and use a scissor to cut along the taped edge.
Generally, the frame and wheel are attached to cardboard for delivery. Thus, take out other parts first and set them aside. With the cardboard, cut the zip ties on the frame and lift it out of the box. Alternatively, you can use the box to hold the frame for extra space if needed.
Step 2: Install the seat post
Insert the seat post into the seat tube and do up the clamp. If the seat post is carbon, you may need carbon assembly paste. Meanwhile, a little grease is enough for a metal seatpost. Afterward, wipe off any excess paste using a clean rag.
In some cases, you will need to tighten the clamp bolt or release the clamping mechanism quickly until the seat clamp matches the bike’s torque spec. The correct saddle height can be set later.
Warning: Do not ride the bike without tightening the seat post securely and adjusting it to fit your height.
Step 3: Attach the handlebar
It is time to attach the handlebar now.
I will show you how to attach the handlebar in two different cases depending on how your bike is shipped.
In the first case, only the handlebar is removed from the bike, the stem is already secured to the fork steerer tube using two or four bolts. You need to use a 4mm or 5mm hex wrench to remove these bolts.
Then, install the handlebar by holding it against the front end of the stem. Secure the faceplate over the bar and gently install all bolts into the stem.
Before tightening the bolts to the proper torque, make sure of the following:
- The rear brake housing runs from the right brake lever into the cable stop.
- The left brake housing is directly connected with the brake caliper on the fork.
- Two derailleur housings run along the head tube length into the cable housing stops.
Now you need to position the handlebar properly. Put the handlebar in the center of the stem and adjust the brake lever angle depending on your preferences.
For example, some mountain bike riders want the brake levers to be in a 45-degree plane with the ground. Meanwhile, most riders find it comfortable to ride a road bike that has the top or the bottom of the drop bars parallel to the ground.
When the bars are positioned, tighten the bolts as evenly as possible. Secure handlebars are critical for a safe ride, so pay attention.
Tips: If you have a torque wrench, secure the bolts to the torque value marked on the handlebar.
In the second case, the handlebar is attached to the stem, and both parts are removed from the bike.
What you need to do first is to find the minimum insertion mark on the stem post. Slide the stem into the steerer tube so that this mark is below the top of the headset locknut. Do not ever leave this minimum insert line above the top of the headset; otherwise, it could be dangerous for you to ride.
One small tip is that after inserting the stem into the tube, make sure the mark is not visible.
Then, align the handlebars perpendicular to the front wheel and secure the stem to the steering mechanism. Now you are good to go. For extra safety, you can test the stem and the handlebar security before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Install the front wheel
To install the front wheel, you need to release the front brake first so that the wheel can slide between the brake pads.
Generally, there are three types of the axle on a bike, each of which is installed in a different way.
The skewer is probably in the parts box.
Remove the first conical spring and the nut first, then insert the skewer through the hollow axle, which you can find in the middle of the hub. Reinstall the spring then reinstall the nut by threading it onto the threaded end of the skewer.
This type of front wheel is similar to the quick-release mechanism, but it is 12-15mm in diameter. It may come with a hex fitting instead of a QR-type lever.
The wheel is attached to the fork dropouts with an outer hex nut on each side. That is why it is called a nutted axle.
To install a nutted axle, you need to turn the nuts counterclockwise and fit the axle to the fork dropouts. Do not forget to lay out the axle washers for some space first.
Place the wheel in fork dropouts and tighten the nuts using a 15mm or adjustable wrench.
Once the front wheel has been put in place, you will inflate or adjust the air pressure in the tires. It is recommended to use a floor or hand pump rather than air compressors.
If your tires are equipped with a Presta valve, you need to loosen the tip until resistance is felt. Next, attach the pump head to the valve and inflate it to the middle of the air pressure range indicated on the sidewall of the tire.
Finally, secure the front wheel. This is a really important step since it ensures your safety on the road. Riding with an improperly secured wheel can lead to severe consequences, even death.
With the quick-release skewer, make sure both sides of the axle are firmly attached to the fork dropouts. Hold the lever end of the quick release and turn the adjusting nut clockwise to tighten it. Stop when the nut touches the face of the dropout.
Now try closing the lever. If the lever is easy to close, you need to tighten the adjusting nut again. If it is too hard or not possible to close the lever, you may want to slightly loosen it. The goal is to tighten the nut just enough so that closing the lever can be closed with significant force.
Also, make sure the lever does not clash with the fork or caliper while moving.
Similarly, you need to ensure that the through-axle at both ends of the hub is fully engaged with the fork dropouts. Ask your helper (if you have one!) to hold the bike upright and push down on the front of the bike.
Then, push the threaded end of the axle through the dropout hole and also the hub. Turn the integrated lever clockwise on your axle many times to feel the axle threading in until it stops. Next, turn with the lever to tighten the through-axle.
Step 5: Install the pedal
Determine the left and right pedals first since they are not interchangeable. Each comes with different threading, so you cannot force the wrong pedal into the wrong crank arm.
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to identify the left and right pedals. Generally, each pedal will be marked with an “R” or “L” sign to indicate the direction.
To install the left pedal, stand on the left side of the bike, align the pedal and turn it carefully counter-clockwise. Thread it carefully by hand before tightening it with the wrench.
Repeat the process with the right pedal, and you are good to go.
Step 6: Tick the final assembly checklist
To ensure your bike is totally ready for a ride, review this final checklist:
- All the axle nuts or quick-release levers are securely tightened.
- The seat post binder bolt is securely tightened.
- The handlebar is securely tightened.
- The saddle clamp is securely tightened.
- The brakes are properly adjusted.
- The pedals are installed properly and securely tightened to the crank amp.
- The tires are inflated to the correct pressure.
- The chain is well lubricated.
When everything is in place, go take a ride!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to fully assemble a bike?
A: It depends on whether you have assembled a bike before or not. With practice, a person can fully set up a single bike in about 20 minutes only.
But if it is your first time, expect to spend as much as one hour or more. That is not to mention the amount of time you need to adjust the gears after finishing the bike assembly.
Q: How many components that I have to install in assembling a bike?
A: Up to 20 I guess. There are many parts to put together, including the frame, front, and rear wheel, tires, tubes, stem, handlebars, shifters, crank, chain, and so on. You can also check out the assembly instructions to make sure you do not miss out on anything.
Q: Can a newbie assemble my bike without looking at the guide?
A: You can figure the steps out on your own, but it takes much more time and effort than simply consulting the manual. Not to mention the fact that you can do it wrong and have to dismantle the parts to start again.
In the end, I advise you to follow the guide closely to complete the process with less hassle. Some manufacturers even include some great tips and tricks in the guide, so it is worth checking out.
Q: Is it hard to build a road bike on your own?
A: Road bikes are one of the simplest types of bike, it is not hard to build one yourself as long as you are inclined enough, and you have the right tools.
Q: How much does it cost to assemble a bike from scratch?
A: It costs up to $1000 to build a bike from scratch, but you can save some bucks by buying used bike parts. Of course, you should ask some experienced people for help, since buying second-hand components is not an easy task. A newbie will hardly know if a used frame is still performing well or not.
The Bottom Line
I hope you know how to assemble a bike at home now. The instructions should be clear enough, but if you find any step confusing, you can always ask me in the comment section. And I advise you to also watch the bike assembly video to fully understand what you are doing with your bike here.
Thank you for reading!