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How to assemble your bike

Got a new bike but not sure how to build it from the box? We've got you covered with this step-by-step guide

How to assemble your bike

New bike day is a wonderful experience, similar to Christmas, but you already know what you’re getting. However, sometimes it can be hard to know how to assemble your bike.


If you’re collecting your bike from a shop this shouldn’t be an issue, as it’s likely that it’ll be ready to ride. But if you’re buying a bike in a box delivered to your home, there’ll be a few tasks for you to do once it’s through your door.

What do you need to assemble a bike?

To begin with, aside from a trusty Allen key, there are two items we would recommend to make the job easier: a workstand and a torque wrench, the two most vital pieces of kit in any workshop.

Being able to work on a bike off the ground and held in place makes tasks such as setting up the gears and brakes much easier, and it also means you’ll always have both hands free.

A torque wrench is a tool designed to let you know the tightness of a bolt as you’re doing it up, and nearly all bolts have a maximum torque setting written on them. This means you’ll never snap a bolt by overtightening it and, likewise, nothing should come loose once you start riding.

If you’re unsure on any of the terminology used, take a look at 220‘s essential guide to bike components.

How do you assemble a bike?

1. Remove all of the packaging

Once your bike arrives, the first thing to do is carefully remove it from the box. Inside the box should be a smaller box with additional parts, manuals and possibly some tools to aid set-up. Remove all the packaging from the bike and see how complete the bike is.

In some cases, the front wheel, seat post and handlebars might not be attached. If possible, we’d recommend doing this outdoors where you have more space to work from.

2. Fit your seat post

If the seat post is loose, fitting it’ll be your first step so that your work stand can clamp onto it. To do this, cover the lower part of the post in either anti-seize grease if it’s a metal post and frame, or carbon safe fibre grip if either is made of carbon.

Insert the post into the seat tube, set it to the correct height and ensure the saddle is straight; point it directly at the stem top cap, and then tighten the clamp to the correct torque setting with the wrench or an Allen key.

3. Fit the front wheel

We can now place the bike in the stand and can proceed to fit the front wheel. If it’s a disc brake bike, we may need to remove a spacer from between the pads in the caliper prior to trying to fit the wheel. Check the tyre of the wheel for a rotational arrow and fit the wheel with it pointing forwards.

If it’s a quick-release wheel, tighten it until the lever clamps firmly against the fork and if it’s bolt-thru, check the torque setting and tighten it accordingly. Spin the wheel to see if the brakes rub and adjust them where necessary.

4. Centre the handlebars

Now we turn our attention to the handlebars. We need to make sure these are centred correctly, with the shifters in the correct position, so they fit into the hand comfortably while riding. Most handlebars and stems will have markings on to make this easier.

Ensure there’s the same number of markings on each side of the stem face plate and evenly tighten the bolts to the required torque, usually 5-6nm (newton-meters). (The best way to tighten evenly is to tighten each bolt little-by-little, moving diagonally from bolt to bolt).

5. Attach the pedals

Next, we fit the pedals. It’s important to remember that the left pedal has a reverse thread, designed to prevent it from unwinding itself as we ride. Smear a small amount of anti-seize grease on the threads as this will help us screw the pedal into the crank arms, as well as avoiding corrosion so we can easily it remove in the future.

Depending on which type of pedals you’re using, you’ll either have a 15mm spanner fitting next to the pedal body and/or an Allen key fitting inside the axle itself, whichever method ensures that you do them up tightly.

6. Check the gears

At this point, we can now safely check the gears. With the bike in the stand, visually inspect the drive train and make sure no rogue pieces of packaging are caught in it and that everything looks straight and undamaged.

Slowly, pedal and shift through the gears to make sure they change correctly and don’t over shift with the front of the rear derailleur.

7. Inspect the brakes

Now we know the bike can be pedalled, the next thing to do is to make sure it can stop. Apply the brakes and see if they work correctly, they shouldn’t come all the way back to the bar or feel spongy.

If it’s a rim-brake bike, check the position of the pads so that they sit squarely on the braking surface and not on the tyre. They should also have an even gap on each side of the rim.

8. Do some final checks

The final thing to do is double check every bolt on the bike is tightened correctly and pump up the tyres. It’s a good idea to put the bike on the floor at this point and visually inspect everything is in the correct place, the saddle is level and straight, and that the bars are in the correct position.

All that’s left to do is to fit all your cycling essentials such as bottle cages, saddle bags and computer mounts and you’re ready to ride!

If you encountered any issues with the bike while you built it, then take a quick trip to a local bike shop for advice or a basic service to make sure it’s all good to ride.

For more information visit: evanscycles.com


Top image credit: Getty Images