A Beginner and His first Bike: The Adventure.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    A Beginner and His first Bike: The Adventure.

    Ok, So a few of you might no me from my many many post's about bikes found on craigslist, and the often repeated questions on big box stores/bikesdirect/LBS's etc..So I thought I would put a thread together that would follow me through the trails and tribulations of a beginner one a budget figuring out if this is another fun hobby to hang on his belt. Also my grammar sometimes fails, Im sorry if this annoys you.

    =======non bike related life story below, skip if not interested========

    A recap of my situation is this. Im 29 and have crohns disease. About two years ago I got really sick, for the first time in 10 years. I was living in LA at the time with my girlfriend of + years and had been doing great for 10+ years. I got sick, she left me, I had to drop out of school, quit my job, and pretty much leave everything I knew. I eventually moved in with my parents in upstate ny, and had surgery to remove a small portion of my intestines. I have since been through a lot more, but have decided to be the healthy, fit, and active person I always have been. When I told people I had crohns they wouldnt believe me cause I looked like a well seasoned athlete. I however went from mo normal 160lbs at 5'11 to 205lbs. After doing the local gym thing, and picking up yoga, I wanted to add something more out doorsey to my arsenal. So I started riding an old box store bike in our garage. I had no idea it was a womens bike, it was falling apart, and rattled like it it wanted to bring the boys to the yard. I did not want to bring the boys to the yard.

    =========== /end sob story, more bike info below== =============

    So I started looking at new bikes. I ALWAYS do my research as I like to get the best bang for my buck. I can rarely afford the ferrari version of my hobbies, but the corvette version usually works for me. Im ok with the cheap interior. After a bunch of back and fourth, and riding a bunch of bikes at my LBS I was down to three choices. A specialized , trek 3500, and a Motobecane from BD.com. I loved the specialized and trek but the 500$ did not make sense for a person like me. I essentially taught myself to tear apart and rebuild a car from scratch. Im the type of person that buys the manuals, and figures it out. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get, and most people are too lazy anyways. Also im moving to florida in two months so any sort of relationship with my LBS would be short lived. So I went with BD.com and got the 400ht solely because it has disc brakes. I rather learn to wrench on something the has the newest tech, even if its not the highest of quality, to learn on.

    So it just got here yesterday. I have heard some people complain about the lack of instructions. To those people I say "figure it out, its not rocket science". So I got all of the packaging off (great packaging) and made a makeshift bike holder to assemble it on. First thing I popped the seat into its place, easy peasy. I then moved onto the handlebars. The stem is turned backwards for easier packaging/shipping. I rotated that and the bars were rather easy. Your going to be adjusting this a few times to get the right fit anyways, just try to get them as centered as possible. I then went to put the front wheel on, being the clumcly idiot that I am I screwed the nut off the skewer and everything fell off before I got to see how it was assembled. After figuring that out by looking at the rear I tried to get it on, would fit. I then realized there is a little plastic piece between the TINY brake pads (seriously smaller than quarters). Once removed, bamn! front wheel was on. I then started wiring the front brake. It took a video on youtube to help me figure out how the damn thing got wired into the brake lever, but got her done. Then moved on to The pedals, just make sure you match L with the left and R with the right. Seriously guys this isnt really that hard. Well at least this part. So after it was all assembled I took her out for a mile to check for noises etc. These are the two problems I have, and will hopefully fix today

    - the front brake lever I installed. Its not as tight as the rear pre assembled one. When I pull on it hard the metal latch with the end of the brack cable attatched to it comes out. I have messed with the lower part of the cable trying to get the slack out, to no avail. that brakes work, just not as tight as the rears.

    -Gears. Ok I can use all of the 1st main gear. Once I switch into 2 and 3 (and anywhere in between) the front derailleur is pushing on the chain and making the most awful noise you can imagine. Again I know I didnt order a ferrari, but this has to be adjustable, that metal chain surround on the derailleur that is. Those two adjustable screws on the top do nada. I didn't really have a lot of time to tinker this morning so any help would be great.

    So bottom line time. For me this thing is perfect. Also fit wise I am 5'11 and its a size 18 frame and fits like a glow. I looked it up and the geometry is VERY similar to the 3500 so I went to the LBS and tried every size. Turns out the 18" 3500 feels just like my bike. I'm not in the situation to take advantage of a LBS. I also believe 75% of the time they are doing things that you can do yourself with some effort. Some people are interested in that, some are not. There is no magic freaking voodoo they are doing in the back to your back that you cant learn. Some people just dont feel comfortable with this and that is fine, for them. The bike was delivered a day early, in perfect condition from bikesdirect.com. Before I purchased all 3 emails I sent for info were returned in a few hours (thanks mike).

    I will be using it mainly for fitness but also for fun. It will be on the pavement sometimes but mostly loose gravel and trails. I really want to try some singletrack stuff when I get to florida. Once I figure out if I like it or not, and im working again, maybe ill start looking at a new bike or upgrades. If I have to pay 300-400 for a shock im fine with that. I dont mind a hobby that costs money over time, but 1000$+ upfront just wasnt doable.




    Last edited by ryencool; 06-01-2012 at 04:55 PM. Reason: mis spelling

  2. #2
    Suckin wind like a boss
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryencool View Post
    I had no idea it was a womens bike, it was falling apart, and rattled like it it wanted to bring the boys to the yard. I did not want to bring the boys to the yard.
    LOL!! This made it all worth it

    Congrats man, nice looking new ride you got there. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.

    And it showed up early, and UNDAMAGED? I never would have guessed...

    /sarcasm (not directed at you lol)
    If you arent bleeding, you arent riding hard enough.
    http://about.me/bigterry

    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch3637 View Post
    I don't need sex. My life fvcks me daily.

  3. #3
    Call me Phred
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    Glad to see you got a bike! We all have to start where we can.

    Ya gotta get her up in the air to tune those derailleurs. Rig something up with rope if you have to. I built a stand out of 2x4s, a door hinge, and a lock hasp that works great for my needs.

    here are some links from my bookmark library that should help with the tuning:


    Derailer Adjustment
    Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog Front Derailleur Adjustments
    Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog Rear Derailler Adjustments (derailleur)
    http://www.bikewebsite.com/ftder.htm
    http://www.bikewebsite.com/rearder.htm
    derailleur install - YouTube
    How to install a Front Derailleur - YouTube
    How to Adjust the Front Derailleur on your Bike - YouTube
    Installing and Adjusting Rear Derailleur - YouTube
    How to Adjust Your Rear Derailleur - Bicycle Tutor Video
    How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur - Bicycle Tutor Video
    How to Adjust a Bicycle Rear Gear - YouTube
    Adjusting the Rear Derailleur - YouTube
    6 - Advanced Rear Derailleur Adjustment - YouTube
    9 - Front Derailleur Adjustment - YouTube

    When the shock/fork wears out you might want to consider a rigid if you don't do any heavy technical riding; They're cheap and last forever.

    It's a fun hobby. Enjoy

  4. #4
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    SO I take it you are in love... When thinking about my first bike it's like my first woman, in that I want to ride it constantly...

  5. #5
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    Also the Park Tool Big Blue Book is also worth buying, as well as a bike specific tool kit. Amazon has some decent ones for less than $50. They're not professional quality tools, but since you're not opening a bike shop you probably won't need that level anyway, but will be enough to handle 90% of your wrenching needs. Don't hesitate to email BD with questions on part questions, they are really good about giving good tech info. Congrats on the new bike, now ride it like you stole it!
    If you decide to keep wrenching on your own it might be worth getting a small torque wrench from Harbor Freight. Again they don't cost much @ $25-30 and you'll need it later on for some parts installation.
    Last edited by junior1210; 06-01-2012 at 01:15 PM.
    The ridiculousness of cycling clothes increase exponentially in relation to the distance from your bicycle.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by big terry View Post
    LOL!! This made it all worth it

    Congrats man, nice looking new ride you got there. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.

    And it showed up early, and UNDAMAGED? I never would have guessed...

    /sarcasm (not directed at you lol)
    Yeah it definetly made me chuckle so i left it in. Apparently a it snuck in their too but im too lazy to edit..

    LOVE the bike so far. Its cold and rainy up here but i still took her out for 4 miles on some loose trails. Its way better than the milkshake i was on . I just need to fix the front brake so its more reaponsive and the front derailleur from rubbing. It makes no sense to me as ill make the same adjust ment and two different things will happen. Ill shift from 1-2 and it rubs, from 3-2 and it doesnt..suoer weird. I understand there are overlapping gears and not to use a small front big rear and the opposite. Maybe its just the cheaper components? Doesnt botger me enough to take it to a lbs. I rarely use more than 1st gear on the loose flat trails here. Ill mess around with it for a few days.

    It may not look like it but the rig in the first pic has it elevated so i can hand pedal and adjust shifters..just dont have it down yet..no biggie. Takes alot more than that to get me all hot and bothered

    Having the front suspension? AWESOME. Yall can cry cheap sun tour all you want but it works for me, for right now..no idea how the preload nuts modify things, or if ill even notice. Just more to play with this weekend. Bumpy stuff is so much more smooth. If anything i have learned to try and center my woeght over the cranks morsoe now than when on a rigid. I thibk too much of my weight was on the bars. Seeee thats what fist bikes are for...

    And yes to the above post, just like a woman. Her name is Malay..named after a beautiful siamese cat i adopted with the ex for 5+ years. She was a runt and not supposed to make so naturally i adopted her. Grew into the coolest cat i have EVER been around. Had to leave her in LA and she died a few wrrks later. So it may sound corny, but it means a great deal to me..

    Feel free to ask any questions fellow noobs

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

  7. #7
    Clyde on a mission!
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    First of, I love your spirit, getting your hands dirty and learning as you go, kudos to that!

    From a safety standpoint make sure that everything is tightened properly.

    Start by checking that the wheels are properly mounted all the way into the gaps. It may sound silly, but it's a common mistake not to push the wheels all in before locking them in place, so check and double check.

    Standing in front of the bike, you tighten the two bolts holding the handlebars to the stem. The gap at the top bolt should be the same as the gap at the bottom bolt, so do a visual check from the side. If you leave a big gap at the top and a small gap at the bottom or the other way around, you get uneven strain on the bolts which is bad, so eyeball it and get the top and bottom gap as even as possible so both bolts work properly.

    At the other end of the stem you have a lid with a bolt on the top and two bolts on the side. Loosen the two bolts on the side, then tighten the bolt on the top just enough that the stem can't rock back and forwards. If you tighten the top bolt too much you'll crush the bearings, so careful. Too little and the stem and fork can rock back and forth. So tighten the top bolt just slightly, then tighten the two bolt on the side firmly, use the front brake and rock the bike back and forth to see if you can feel the stem making small "clicks". If it does so, it's too lose, then you loosen the two bolts on the side, tighten the top bolt a bit more, tighten the two bolts on the side again and repeat to see in it fixed the problem. Once you can't feel any rocking/clicking in the stem, you turn the handlebars from side to side to see if the steering is nice and easy.

    Once the handle bars and stem are set up properly you can pretty much go over every other nut and bolt on the bike and make sure they are tight. The wheel hubs and crank has bearings inside, so don't tighten those unless you really know what you're doing, normally they are just fine on a new bike.

    As for the front brake being too slack, it's probably just the cable being too lose. At the end with the brake pads, loosen the cable at the brake, pull the cable while pushing slightly on that arm that moves when you hit the brakes, then tighten the cable to the arm again. Check to see if the wheel runs free or you tightened the cable too much. Use the brake handle at the handlebar a couple of times to see if you've have the proper tightness. If it's almost there but just need a tiny bit more, you can turn the knob on the cable at the brake handle to tighten or slacken the brake cable slightly.

    Adjusting the rear gears you start by clicking the gear selector to slacken the gear cable as much as possible, that means going to the smallest cog on the rear cassette. If it only shifts to 8th out of the 10 cogs, the cable is either too tight or the adjuster screw on the gear is too tight. Find a bit of exposed gear cable under the chain stay or down tube and check if it's tight or slack.

    If the cable is slack and the gear will only go to say 8th out of 10, the problem is the adjuster stop on the gear. Locate the screw marked with a small H and loosen it, that should make the gear selector jump to 9th or 10th. The screw adjust how far "out" the gear will go, so adjust it so you can shift into 10th, but not any further.

    If the gear will only go to 8th and the cable is tight, you'll need to loosen the bolt holding the cable and slacken the cable to allow the shifter to go all the way to 10th. Again, adjust the stop screw so the shifter doesn't try shifting past the last cog.

    Once you get the gear into 10th and have the stop screw properly adjusted, click the gear selector once to get to 9th. If the gear doesn't change into 9th, tighten the knob on the cable at the rear shifter until it shifts into 9th. Play a bit with the gear selector to see if it shifts properly up and down between 8th, 9th and 10th. You might need to adjust the knob on the cable a bit until it works properly.

    Then it's time to shift up into first, each click on the selector should shift one gear up. Once in 1st gear, try pushing the shifter gently towards the spokes with your finger. Adjust the stop screw marked L so the shifter will only go to 1st and no further, not into the spokes on anything nasty. Once done, you should be done with setting up the rear shifter. Go through the gears from 1st to 10th and back a couple of times to see if all the shifts work like they should, one click shifting one gear and all that.

    The front shifter is pretty much the same. Pick the small cog at the front and 1st gear at the back, then adjust the L stop screw on the front shifter until the chain can just pass the shift mechanism without rattling. Then shift to the big cog at the front and 10th on the back, then adjust the H stop screw so it just stops hitting. For fine adjusting the shifts, you'll probably have a knob on the cable at the front gear selector on the handlebar.

    Hope you get it to work.

  8. #8
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    Perfect walk-through Sand thanks! First thing ill try when I get home. Also thanks for the comoliment. I dexided a while ago that i had too much to offer to give up. Ive also been a do it yourself person due to my intrest in things and usual lack of funds. My radiator went out on my 240sx like 5 years ago. I orderrd a new one online and used the manual just like a mecganic would. Saved 500$ and the car lasted 5 more years and a trip to cali from texas. Just wish more people were like that now days

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

  9. #9
    Clyde on a mission!
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    I know what you mean. My life has it's ups and downs too, but I really enjoy the ride and are planning on getting my moneys worth out of it..

    As for cars you can really tell who had an old car at some point and who only drove new ones. People who have had old cars at some point might not be full blown mechanics but they generally don't get rattled easily over adversities. Your sink is clogged up, old car owners get out the screw driver and duct tape and tinker with the problem, while new car owners get all twitchy and call a plumber straightaway.

  10. #10
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    Never saw it that way, great analogy!

    So I i got everything working! Thanks to the above posts my brakes are now equally taught and my gears are close to silky smooth. Im sure nicer rear derailleurs dont have plastic gears etc, but ill deal until they break. Got the cockpit dialed in a little more and took a new pic. I also ripped of the stock seat which suprisingly hurt my ass. Had a stock bontrager from a new trek the LBS gave me. It fits muh bum niiice.

    Hopefully lots of riding this weekend and ill report back


    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Beginner and His first Bike: The Adventure.-uploadfromtaptalk1338594659891.jpg  


  11. #11
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    Congrats on the new bike! I just picked up one as well and I'm trying to learn as much as possible to keep from having to pay the LBS to do everything...

    Where in Florida are you moving to?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryencool View Post
    Never saw it that way, great analogy!

    So I i got everything working! Thanks to the above posts my brakes are now equally taught and my gears are close to silky smooth. Im sure nicer rear derailleurs dont have plastic gears etc, but ill deal until they break. Got the cockpit dialed in a little more and took a new pic. I also ripped of the stock seat which suprisingly hurt my ass. Had a stock bontrager from a new trek the LBS gave me. It fits muh bum niiice.

    Hopefully lots of riding this weekend and ill report back


    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2
    Omnomnom now all it needs is a caking of mud but apart from that..

  13. #13
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    Haha..it did today rode about 10 miles to the local canal days festival here in fairport ny. Encountered some mud as it rained all of yesterday. The bike is great, now i need to work on my confidence lol..

    Well im having a small issue but i think its just the gearset not 100% tuned yet. In some gears when im pedaling it will click and for a second it feels like the chains is slipping/jumping then its fine. Then every 3-4 rotations of the crank it happens again..i just switch gears. Must be something not done right.

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2

  14. #14
    Probably drunk right now
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    Barrel Adjustment...

    Quote Originally Posted by ryencool View Post
    Haha..it did today rode about 10 miles to the local canal days festival here in fairport ny. Encountered some mud as it rained all of yesterday. The bike is great, now i need to work on my confidence lol..

    Well im having a small issue but i think its just the gearset not 100% tuned yet. In some gears when im pedaling it will click and for a second it feels like the chains is slipping/jumping then its fine. Then every 3-4 rotations of the crank it happens again..i just switch gears. Must be something not done right.

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk 2
    There's a barrel adjustment on your shifter. You will be able to turn it one way or the other in 1/4 turn increments until the ghost shifting stops.

    Cheers and have fun,

    Ken
    JPark - 3.5- don't listen to dremer

  15. #15
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    Nice looking bike man!

  16. #16
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    Nice bike. How much you paid for it?

  17. #17
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    good looking bike!

  18. #18
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    Congrats man. Inspirational story. Have fun on that thing, and ride it often. I have found that the more I ride, the better my life gets. +rep for you!

  19. #19
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    use it for all its worth!!!

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