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Thread: Bike Building

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    Bike Building

    How hard is it to build a bike? Got offered a job at the LBS building bikes. I've done my fair share of work on bikes with the old DIY method. They expect truing wheels, hub tightening, derailleur adjustments, and brake alignments. How hard is it to get a hold of these things? For some reason I find it particularly hard to get v brake pads perfectly even to hit the rims. Those conical washers always throw me off. Any tips, advice? Thanks!

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    Bike Building

    Once you learn the techniques, if you are meticulous, it's simple.

    Building bikes is pretty standard entry level bike shop work. I was taught to take my time on them at the first shop I worked in. I take my time and am meticulous. My current shop wants me faster and less meticulous so I can hand the bike to a mechanic for the meticulous stuff. I have a really tough time doing it that way

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    Bike building is a great way to gain experience in a shop. There is a lot more involved in it than most think. You will learn tricks to speed up the process, especially if your shop stocks the same models of bikes over and over. Be ready to have to run or re-run cable on road bikes, true badly out of true wheels, replace broken spokes, fuss with front derailleurs that won't set up right etc. Also, there will usually be someone around to help out if you get stuck.

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    For those V brake headaches, my method has always been (but probably wrong) with the pads loosened and the cable the approximate length (and tightened to the brake arm) Squeeze the brake lever and pull the pad to the rim (both sides can be done at the same time if careful) adjust the pad (may have to release some pressure), when aligned really squeeze the brake and tighten up on the pads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnum Ti View Post
    For those V brake headaches, my method has always been (but probably wrong) with the pads loosened and the cable the approximate length (and tightened to the brake arm) Squeeze the brake lever and pull the pad to the rim (both sides can be done at the same time if careful) adjust the pad (may have to release some pressure), when aligned really squeeze the brake and tighten up on the pads.
    That's exactly what I do. Similar with road bikes: tighten the cable, loosen the caliper fixing bolt, squeeze the lever, adjust pads, tighten fixing bolt, release lever. That also centers the caliper over the wheel.

    If it works, who's to say that the method is wrong?
    I've made some bad decisions like taking the gears off my bike. So here's the warning: Do not as I say, nor as I do.

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    Thanks Bro!, but you said it much better
    One Gear Under God

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    Bike Building

    Quote Originally Posted by Bro View Post
    That's exactly what I do. Similar with road bikes: tighten the cable, loosen the caliper fixing bolt, squeeze the lever, adjust pads, tighten fixing bolt, release lever. That also centers the caliper over the wheel.

    If it works, who's to say that the method is wrong?
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    If you think v brakes are hard, you missed out on cantilevers - and the super fun under chain stay u-brake.

    True the wheel first. Twist in barrel adjuster all the way. Back it out one turn. I always do one pad at a time. Just move one brake arm at a time with your hand and adjust that pad.

    Adjust the pad so it is vertically centered on the rim with the front/center/and back of the pad about parallel to the top of the rim (last part varies with pad shape). The surface of the pad should be parallel/flat with the rim contact surface. The rear of the pad should have about a dime size gap from the rim when the front of the pad makes contact with the rim. That minimizes vibration and brake squeal.

    After the pads are adjusted and tight, with one hand hold the brake arms so the pads are firmly touching the rim. With your other hand pull the cable tight and tighten the onto the brake via the cable binding bolt. (You should not need a third or fourth hand tools)

    Then pull the brake lever. This stretches the brake cable, which allows slack for the pads to retract from the rims.

    Cut the cable. Crimp on a cable end cap. I used to do a particular crimp pattern. That way when the bike came back for adjustment I knew whether it was built properly (by me).

    On some brakes you have to adjust or bend the spring to get equal distance between the pad and rim.

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    sorry dude, but if you can't dial in derailleurs and v-brakes in your sleep, you don't belong anywhere near a bike with some tools...


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    Quote Originally Posted by .WestCoastHucker. View Post
    sorry dude, but if you can't dial in derailleurs and v-brakes in your sleep, you don't belong anywhere near a bike with some tools...
    Not true. As an apprentice he'll learn the different aspects of the work through experience. That isn't to say that there doesn't need to be a good foundation to work with though, such as the difference between a flat head and cross shaped screwdriver, hex tools, etc..

    As long as the foundation is there, and he is willing to learn, and take ALOT of daps at his ego, he'll be a bike mechanic for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomGuyOnABike View Post
    Not true. As an apprentice he'll learn the different aspects of the work through experience. That isn't to say that there doesn't need to be a good foundation to work with though, such as the difference between a flat head and cross shaped screwdriver, hex tools, etc..

    As long as the foundation is there, and he is willing to learn, and take ALOT of daps at his ego, he'll be a bike mechanic for sure.
    I concur.....there is definitely a place in the business for bike builders. When I first got hired (right out of UBI) I did nothing but build bikes for a month. I would get to the shop super early in the morning and just build bike after bike using the techs stands and tools before they came in. Now I'm second tech and working full time. Bike builders in my opinion fill a much needed niche in large high volume chain stores where 30 bikes or more a week are sold. The techs don't have time to build bikes when facing a full repair schedule. Most builders end up helping out with flat repairs, wheel truing, accessory installation, etc. It does get kind of redundant though, as all of the bikes being built have to be signed off on by a tech later anyway.

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