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  • stevecowles

Common bike assembly mistakes

Many bikes are bought online these days, it is how I got my first one. They arrive in a huge box and you are left to do the final assembly, this is not overly difficult but if you are not familiar with bikes there are some mistakes which are easy to make and seen quite often.


I noticed one of these on eBay earlier in the picture below which I have cropped significantly to hide the seller's location. They have been trying to sell this for a while and never get any bids despite it being a reasonable bike (I have one like it myself) and an attractive starting price, in fact, I'd probably buy it for spares at the asking price if it was closer to home but it is on the other side of the country. I believe people are just scrolling by the advert as it looks 'wrong' at a glance, that is because it is.

The front fork is 180 degrees (i.e., half a turn) out of alignment, the brake caliper should be behind the axle and on the other side of the bike towards the camera. This shortens the wheelbase and changes the frame geometry, it will make the bike very twitchy and unstable (especially when braking), and if left long enough it may also damage the forks. The advert states 'just a few short rides', I bet they were not much fun.


Anyway, I've sent the seller a message, I think that if they resolve the issue and readvertise they will get a far better price. Before you think that is good of me, I have a confession to make, one of my bikes was bought with two of the three common assembly faults for massively under the market value at the auction opening price and I didn't say anything then.


So, while we are here, what are the other two common assembly errors;

  1. Handlebars or stem at the wrong angle (the one I bought was vertical and must have been a mighty scary ride with the forks wrong too)

  2. Saddle at wrong height and angle

These three things are very easy to get wrong but make a massive difference to the ride quality. Personally, I think I'd recommend buying the first bike from a shop as they will assemble it and do a basic fit to your size.

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